What's the Best Way to Protect Our Pagan Past?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  August 31, 2011 — 45 Comments

Whether revived, re-imagined, reconstructed, or revealed, modern Pagan religions all look to our collective pre-Christian past for inspiration, connection, understanding, and a sense of continuity. Because of this phenomenon, many Pagans follow the world of archaeology very closely, both for new information, and to monitor the preservation of objects and artifacts that reach back to a time when pagan religions were the dominant expression of faith. When the Egyptian revolution started, many Pagans, particularly Kemetics and Greco-Egyptian polytheists, expressed great concern at reports of looting and vandalism of the nations many antiquities. However, there are ongoing debates within modern Pagan communities over what the best way to honor our ancient past is. Some, like, British Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (aka John Timothy Rothwell) want a hands-off approach to monuments and sites they see as part of a collective spiritual heritage, while other groups, like Pagans For Archaeology, argue that extensive scientific exploration enriches the body of knowledge available to modern Pagans.

The Parthenon atop the Acropolis in Athens.

“The more knowledge we gain about people of the past, the more it perpetuates their memory. People of the past wanted to be remembered, that’s why they built monuments in the landscape. Also, ancient texts such as the Hávamál talk about a person’s name living on after they die (another indication that people in the past wanted to be remembered).”

This debate grows more complex as pre-Christian pagan sites suffer ever more from years of vandalism, wear, and increasing environmental degradation. In Greece, statues and decorative pieces at the Acropolis in Athens have been slowly transitioned into a specially-built museum, while Turkey is currently debating on how to best preserve the ancient giant statues of gods and kings on Mount Nemrut in southeastern region of the country.

Statues near the peak of Mount Nemrut.

“A recent proposal by Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay to move the gigantic sculptures atop Mount Nemrut, which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, to a museum in order to protected them from harsh weather conditions has sparked controversy among Turkish archeologists and scientists over whether the sculptures should be preserved inside a museum or not. Günay put forth the proposal last week, saying the sculptures can be brought down from the mountain by helicopter and become part of the exhibit in a museum in Kahta, Adıyaman province.

“Many proposals, including those from [Middle East Technical University] ODTÜ, were brought to me for the protection of the sculptures on the mountain. However, none of them convinced me. Among the proposals were covering the sculptures with some chemicals. I asked them to bring me that chemical, but they could not. Some have proposed covering them with a tent or glass. Strong winds blowing on the mountain in the winter would damage the tent. The windows would break,” Günay said.

Noting that the best solution would be to move the stone heads to a museum, he added that he has personally observed the damage sustained by the heads over the past 20 years and that they need protection.”

Some local archaeologists and officials disagree with Günay, saying there is little evidence of the damage he describes. While modern Pagans are not a factor in this story, the situation starkly illustrates the debates currently raging over how to treat these sites. Another question is how moving the statues, if it goes forward, would affect the site’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and how would these changes affect tourism?

Sadly, scientific examination and debates over the best preservation strategies aren’t the only thing affecting ancient sites of interest to modern Pagans. In some cases sites are being endangered by construction, spurring protests and direct action by local Pagans in places like Greece to protect the newly-uncovered Altar of the Twelve Gods from reburial, or at the Hill of Tara in Ireland, which many feel is being systematically destroyed by highway development. As development, tourism, and environmental factors continue to clash these issues only promise to become more heated and intense. With austerity the buzz-word in a global recession, the preservation of our ancient heritage, and the protection of sacred sites seem to be  low on the priority list. Will these sites simply start disappearing? What is the best way to protect these sites and our religious heritage in a world that seems increasingly indifferent to preservation? What role should modern Pagan communities play regarding sites that we feel are important to our own understanding of the past?

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    Well I think that *one* approach to preserving these heritage sites would be to extensively document the existing sites in their present undisturbed state through photographs, videos and other media before seeking to preserve them in other ways.

  • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

    The issue of human remains should obviously be treated separately from how best to preserve ancient architecture, statues, and other physical artifacts, including sacred objects and places.

    The dispute between “Pagans for Archaeology” and “Arthur Pendragon” is focused on the specific issue of human remains.

    • Harmonyfb

      I think it’s important to study ancient remains – I’ve long maintained that I want to be buried with an engraved note stating that future archaeologists may dig me up and put me in a museum for study (and perhaps some day my future self will file past and gaze in wonder at its former shell? I’m sure stranger things have happened.)

      That said, I do think those same remains should be treated reverently and not treated to frivolous handling.

  • Dana Corby

    I’m pro-Archeology. Our Pagan past should be preserved, no question. How to do it is a more difficult issue. Human remains should not be handled the same way as man-made artifacts, but IMO they should be studied, from site context to DNA. When possible they should then be repatriated, though in many cases there’s no way to know to whom to repatriate them, and in a few cases (Kennewick man, for instance, or the so-called “Druid Prince”) the remains’ DNA is no relation to that of the people(s) claiming them as ancestral. When repatriation isn’t possible, in situ reburial is the next best option.

    Artifacts should be preserved in situ if possible, but when that’s inadvisable — as in Greece where the smog is eating the Acropolis — I have no problem with the originals being conserved elsewhere and accurate reproductions made of more impervious materials being placed on display. Had they done this in the 1950′s, the caryatids of the Erechtheon would still have faces; had they done this in the 1980′s the ‘fallen citizen’ casts of Pompeii and Herculaneum would not by now be mere vaguely human-ish lumps.

  • http://www.wellfur.com Heather

    While the intellectual part of me certainly sees a value in preserving these sites and artifacts for future generations to study and appreciate, there is also a part of me that questions this need we have to protect things that don’t need our protection, to hoard artifacts, and to try to make impermanent things permanent. We want to be able to preserve all of these things so that we can take them for granted and go study them later, or to be able to visit them again and again, knowing they’re safe in a museum. But a fact of life is that things are not permanent, and we run out of time to study things, and sometimes we have to make a choice whether to study this thing or that thing, and that we’re not always going to be able to go back and revisit things that are beautiful or meaningful to us. What would be so devastating about leaving these monuments as they are and just appreciating them during the time that’s allotted for us to do so? I personally think they’re more beautiful and meaningful that way, and that even the process of their aging and decay is something worth appreciating. But then, maybe that’s just me!

    • Dana Corby

      You have a point, Heather, but it just reinforces mine: We don’t have time to study everything that warrants study. But if we preserve it as best we can, those who come after us will have the option to study the things we couldn’t.

      • http://www.wellfur.com Heather

        Oh, the nerd in me definitely agrees with that sentiment (and the nerd is a huge part of me, lol).

    • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

      Actually, Heather, you are just flat out wrong on this. Most of the potential remains from just two thousand years ago (a tiny fraction of human history) are irretrievably lost already. Everything that still survives is incalculably precious.

      • http://www.wellfur.com Heather

        You seem to have just told me that I’m right. Things are impermanent by their nature and putting them in museums to preserve them longer gives us a false sense of control. Yes, innumerable things have been lost, and innumerable things will become lost in the future. All of this knowledge we’re trying to preserve for future generations will also be lost, some day. Heck, if we don’t one day colonize other worlds, everything on this planet will definitely be lost when the sun goes red giant and swallows us up. In the grand scheme of things, putting artifacts in a museum doesn’t matter. My feeling is that we should stop giving ourselves illusions about preserving things and having control over things, and learn to learn from things and then let them go.

        • Harmonyfb

          I couldn’t disagree more. Putting things in museums means that at least one more generation will be able to see and learn from the artifacts -it might not seem significant to you in view of the inevitable heat death of the universe, but it will be significant to those people. Two weeks ago I visited the National Gallery of Art, and gazed on ‘The Capitoline Venus’, among other wonders. Just from seeing it, I learned about Roman Pagans from the 2nd century. I learned what they thought beautiful, I learned about their sense of artistic proportion, and I learned about how they worshiped. Sure, someday that lovely idol will be dust…but not today, and not for our lack of care.

        • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

          In the grand scheme of things jumping off a cliff doesn’t matter either.

          • http://www.wellfur.com Heather

            In the grand scheme of things, it certainly doesn’t matter if you think there’s ultimately a point to putting things in museums and I don’t.

          • Crystal Kendrick

            That’s the best snarkiest answer I’ve seen in a long time, whether I agree or disagree; so touché, Heather.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

    One of the problems of preserving historical Pagan sites is the fact that Pagans themselves have been known to be “bad guests”. By that I mean swiping souvenirs from sites, like a piece of the Great Pyramid, or feel the need to fondle fragile artifacts because they just don’t have the common sense that part of preserving these antiquities and sites is to at least educate themselves about what to do and not to do. Coming from a background of egyptology and scholarship, it is very important.

    One of the biggest drawbacks is the hostility that the archaeological and scholarly community has toward Pagans in general is because of the ignorance on preservation, or matters of grave reparations, etc. Another reason is of course because of the (quite frankly) sloppy scholarship and the use of out of date, public doman materials in lieu of serious, more current information in the books that the Pagan community sees fit to publish. How many care enough about this archaeological heritage to get the degree, or to really write the professors and researchers that have done or are doing current research? How many are willing to shell out in some cases several hundred dollars for one book on an area that they are researching. How many know how to read the ancient languages and regularly study them so that they can rely on their OWN translations rather than relying on those of others? The numbers of those Pagans who are that dedicated to their faith are precious few – and those that are professionals or scholars and Pagan, keep very quiet about it – mainly to avoid being ridiculed by their professional peers and/or have their funding cut, etc. It’s sad but it’s true.

    • Crystal Kendrick

      “Pagans and Pagan sites will be taken seriously when the majority of Pagan worshipers start taking it seriously. Being able to interact on that level, in a manner which the areas of science and scholarship demand – and speaking in that language are key to making this happen.”

      I understand and agree with your broader points but I don’t think you actually mean what you say in your last paragraph. So most Pagans- that includes lay Pagans- need to put in the same amount of time of serious study as archaeologists? Why should Pagans be held to such high standards, in fact higher standards than other members of other religions (how many Christians do you know, for example, who speak ancient Greek or even liturgical Latin)? I agree Pagans SHOULD study and SHOULD take their spirituality seriously. I also agree Pagans SHOULD be good guests, absolutely. But the last paragraph left me boggled and with a sense of being measured with a different standard. The sort of study you’re suggesting is what is typically expected of clergy, or am I mistaking your meaning?

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        What’s needed is a cadre of Pagan scholars who can meet academic standards, who can go toe to toe with the keepers of the past in their own idiom. Isaac Bonewits of blessed memory tried to get something like this going.

        • Crystal Kendrick

          Yes, I agree. But I don’t think we can expect every Pagan to put in the amount of scholarship that Fanny suggests. I *try*. I put in hours when I can at the local university library. I hunt for rare books and read the classics, but I don’t expect this of everyone. Nor can I really do more than this without cutting out practice altogether. I’m a lay Pagan. I have a 9-5 job, a home, and a family that all need attention as well.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I salute your industry but I don’t think this can be achieved by inspired individuals. We need institutional support, which is what both other religions and the secular keepers of the past have going for them.

      • Anonymous

        Crystal writes:
        The sort of study you’re suggesting is what is typically expected of clergy, or am I mistaking your meaning?

        How many so-called “High Priest/esses” have you met who’ve been unable to study their way out of a paper bag? I don’t think that Fanny Fae meant anything different than she said – people will take Pagans seriously when Pagans take Paganism seriously (though I do grant a waiver to the Discordians – fnord!).

        • Crystal Kendrick

          “How many so-called “High Priest/esses” have you met who’ve been unable to study their way out of a paper bag?” Right. Which is why I’m all for real clergy and consider myself a member of the laity.
          “I don’t think that Fanny Fae meant anything different than she said – people will take Pagans seriously when Pagans take Paganism seriously (though I do grant a waiver to the Discordians – fnord!).” Which again holds Pagans to a different standard than every other religion. Idiots abound in every religion and sometimes they take authoritative positions. Mostly the Pagan problem has been a PR one. For a while the most outspoken Pagans were also the most idiotic. I think that’s changing. We’re organizing and showing a more refined and intellectual front. I feel just as uncomfortable as any other when some nutter gets on the news wearing a giant pentacle while raving about The Burning Times but my initial opinion still stands.

          • Anonymous

            Crystal wrote:
            Right. Which is why I’m all for real clergy and consider myself a member of the laity.

            ditto. While I honour the gods, I have no calling to be a priest, and gods help the deluded fools who think I ought to be one!

            Crystal wrote:
            Which again holds Pagans to a different standard than every other religion. Idiots abound in every religion and sometimes they take authoritative positions.

            How is asking pagans to take their religion seriously holding pagans to a higher standard than anyone else?

            Crystal wrote:
            For a while the most outspoken Pagans were also the most idiotic.

            This occurs in any group. Squeaky wheel and all that.

          • Harmonyfb

            How is asking pagans to take their religion seriously holding pagans to a higher standard

            How about the statement up-thread where Pagans are apparently assumed to not take their faith seriously if they don’t have advanced degrees?

            Personally, while I value study, it’s really not necessary for a serious religious outlook, for listening to the Gods, or for leading worship. Some of the best priest/esses I’ve ever met have only a high school diploma, and some of the worst had master’s degrees.

            I think Paganism as a whole can only be harmed by trying to fit our myriad religious definitions into the Christian ‘clergy’ mold.

          • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

            Really, I would hold pagans to a higher standard. For one thing, most pagans chose their religion, which indicates a higher connection and active participation than the majority of followers who inherited their religion from their parents.

            A familiarity with mythology and ancient history on the level of your average fantasy RPG enthusiast isn’t too much to ask.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, I’d expect a better understanding than that. Too many proud Pagans I’ve met are educated entirely by D&D & fantasy novels, with no understanding of real history, mythology or folklore. This is the equivalent of Xtians who have never read the Bible, but whose entire knowledge of their religion comes from reading the Left Behind novels.

          • Harmonyfb

            Why would a worshiper need a familiarity with ancient history when their relationship with the Gods are real and immediate? Did the ancients who worshiped their local spirits or who cared for nymphs feel the need to study history? Or did they simply heed their inner call?

            I find reading about how the ancients worshiped to be edifying, but I do not belong to a Religion of the Book, and do not require tales of others’ beliefs to validate my own. I was eight when the Antlered God came to me in the woods – and I had a ‘serious religious outlook’ without knowing a thing about Cernunnos/Herne.

          • Harmonyfb

            Reply to Artor:

            This is the equivalent of Xtians who have never read the Bible,

            And there’s the problem in a nutshell. The Bible to Christians is not (and imo, SHOULD NOT) be as history to Pagans.

            This shows a lack of understanding of both Christianity and the many faiths which make up the greater Pagan community. ‘Mythology’ is not a bible. It’s not a divinely-authored rule book. Instead, ‘mythology’ means collected tales which illustrate the relationship of the ancients to their deities. Those deities? Still right here. You are perfectly free to develop your own relationship with Them, to listen for Their responses, to learn from your own experiences…just as the ancients did.

            Paganism is not watered-down Christianity, and we don’t need any of their religion’s trappings to have fulfilling religious lives (such as: Bibles, Authoritarian Clergy, or Sermons.)

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Harmony, there are Christians to whom the Bible stands in the same relation as you claim for mythology: collected tales with illustrate the relationship of the ancients to their God. Those are not the loudest Christians or the most annoying ones, but they are out there.

      • Merofled Ing

        Thank you for the clergy analogy. It really got me thinking.
        It also got me to dust off that Latin book, and that Beowulf edition. (Thank you, and grrr. Setting homework, phh!)
        “Why should Pagans be held to such high standards …? … typically expected of clergy …” – So we can cut out the “clergy”. (Not to be confused with “scholars”.)

        A lot of the clergy’s spiritual power lay in their being able to read Greek and Latin, to the exclusion of everybody else. Then people started translating the bible, and any Tom, Dick or Jane could read it, and interpret it, or just babble about it (and then Henry VIII passed a law making it an offence to discuss bible matters in public). The question is what to make of Pagan Tom, Dick and Jane. I think we’re on the same page here. Surely not restricting “properly Pagan” to a tiny well educated elite.
        One way is simply to accept all forms of divination etc. to be as good as serious study. Hmm. I vaguely remember my own (young history student) two-year non-stop ranting whenever someone got “wicca”, and “early modern persecution of witches” in one sentence. I’ve calmed down since. As long as people don’t call it ‘historical’, the many forms of spiritual practice are fine.
        The other way is – study. I believe as Pagans we don’t want a “clergy.” So studying should be a matter of pride really, so we do not “bow” to “clergy”. It’s a matter of respect. And we do want experts, scholars, people with experience, willing to share, not to sneer.

        • Nick Ritter

          ” believe as Pagans we don’t want a “clergy.” So studying should be a matter of pride really, so we do not “bow” to “clergy”.”

          You will find that this idea of pagans eschewing clergy of any sort is not at all universally true. In Theodism, for instance, we have clergy, and we hold them to the highest standard.

          It should also be mentioned that there is a long history of pagans, in many cultures, having “clergy”. The idea of the religious professional does not spring from Christianity.

          • Crystal Kendrick

            I’m not against clergy. I think they are necessary. I also think many Pagans’ perceptions of clergy has been tainted by former religious affiliations, including myself. It took me a while to get over that and see the necessity of what they provide.

          • Merofled Ing

            I guess I had too sloppy a definition of clergy here, a blanket term, and I should have been more thoughtful. Never hurts.
            I suppose for me “priest/priestress” describes an individual´s relationship to their Goddesses/Goddess/Gods or to Nature – not for me to judge,obviously – and the other “position” or relationship to others, the community (“clergy?”) would be “teacher”. (And that could be a priest/ress or an expert, or both.) So, “clergy”? What, or who, does the term then mean, in a Pagan context? How do you (or others) define it?

          • Harmonyfb

            I firmly disagree. I don’t believe clergy are necessary – especially ‘clergy’ in the Abrahamic sense of the word. I don’t require a mediator between me and my Gods. I don’t require an interpreter for my personal gnosis, and I don’t require an authority figure.

            What I’ve seen a need for are elders, not clergy. Experienced individuals who can lead by example and give sound counsel.

          • http://paosirdjhutmosu.wordpress.com Djhutmosu Si-Hathor

            Let’s add “clergy” to the long list of…
            “Things That Christianity Did Not Invent And Which Pagans Should Not Automatically Eschew.”
            Let’s not throw the baby out with the Galilean bathwater, eh?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

        Crystal: I meant exactly what I said. There is no requisite for being clergy in order to care deeply enough about the Gods that you serve to want to know the truth and care enough about the ancestors, upon whose bones we build our own lives to want to do justice to them and connect to them through shared beliefs. It isn’t just about “us” as Pagans. It is about preserving the history. Doing it in a manner that allows Pagans and Paganism to be taken seriously entails at least some of us being able to meet the same standards and level of discussion that the scholars insist upon. Why wouldn’t we take that level of pride in our heritage and in the things we publish?

        • Crystal Kendrick

          Not to be rude, but what do you do for a living? Do you sleep at night? Do you have children? If so, do you participate in their raising? The average Pagan very much depends on others’ scholarship but I feel no need to hop a plane and study the remains myself every time I want to know something.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

            It is a rather rude question, however, I don’t mind answering it. I am a full time student, I have my own business as a filmmaker, I have an adult son, I maintain a household and I get four and a half hours of sleep a night. Am I insane? On some days even I would argue, “yes”. Wherein did I say that someone needed to hop on a plane ? My contention is that some Pagans (definitely not all) have a tendency to not particularly mind that scholars et al don’t take them at all seriously because they don’t want to put in the time, the money or even the effort to try to look like they are talking about on anything historical Why is this so difficult? I, confess, Crystal, that I honestly do not understand it. Email lists and Interlibrary loan are free for the most part.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I don’t particularly care if scholars don’t take me seriously because I don’t get my Pagan validation from scholars or scholarship. The Goddess whapped me upside the head in 1987 and I soon came to realize the God had been nudging me all my life (which I’d been ignoring).

        • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

          “I find it interesting that the word for slave and the word for Priest/ess are the same in Kemetic”

          There is something similar in Hinduism. The Sanskrit word for slave/servant is “dasa” or “das”. Devotees often go by names that end in “das” or “dasa”. Examples include Ram Dass and Krishna Das, as well as the great Sanskrit poet (possibly the greatest of them all) Kālidāsa.

    • http://egregores.wordpress.com Apuleius Platonicus

      There is no merit whatsoever to the claim that scholars are hostile to Paganism because they are put off by sloppy amateurish pseudo-scholarship coming from Pagan authors. For in this regard Pagans are no worse (although, sadly, probably not any better) than any other religious tradition.

      One of the more infamous cases of openly expressed hostility to Paganism expressed by a scholar was some crap that Mary Beard wrote in her blog a few years back ridiculing a group of Hellenic Reconstructionists. But it turned out that, at least concerning the specific points on which Don Beard chose to focus, the reconstructionists in question knew far more about ancient Hellenic religion than the “scholar” did.

      A less well known case is that of Christina Larner who wrote some rather ignorant and vicious things about modern Witches and Pagans in her (posthumously published) book “Witchcraft and Religion”. That is an extremely valuable book, by the way, and more Pagans should read Larner (despite her unfortunate hostility to modern Paganism, although, if anything, it makes her work that much more “objective”, I suppose).

      The point about Beard and Larner, though, is that these cases show that hostility against Paganism among scholars tends to be just plain old garden variety religious bigotry, pure and simple.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

        I think you and I are going to have to disagree on this one, Apuleius. I have seen the hostility and scholarly circles can be quite ruthless. I am speaking from personal knowledge from having observed the behaviour over 15 years within the Kemetic / egyptological arena. I know for a fact there are several scholars and/or professors who keep their own personal spiritual practices because not to do so is viewed as having an unprofessional interest and bias.The attitude is, ‘of course we have evolved so much since antiquity!’ To cite an example, a luncheon is held with scholars and a noted author and someone makes the remark, “and would you believe, some people actually BELIEVE IN the things the ancients did!” to which the response was a resounding, “Eww!” (real professional I know. But you get the gist) They are afraid of losing tenure, losing funding and not being taken seriously. In spite of Dr. Alison Roberts wonderful work, “Hathor Rising” which was taken from her doctoral papers, “Cult Objects of Hathor” the work gets more than a few sneers from scholars because she has what is described as a “Hermetic bent”. Unfortunately, in the realm of scholarship, that is not at all seen as a positive thing.

        Bigotry is alive and well in scholarship to be sure. No one is denying that. We can also take the necessity of scholarly study too far and it can completely disconnect a person from the intensity of spiritual experience to the point where it all is hollow. My favourite quote, by symbolist and mathemetician R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz, who has to date THE most intensive and accurate documentation and inventory of the Luxor Temple of Amun in or outside of Egyptology:

        “”Tradition is a surrender, a betrayal. What is handed down in a traditional way is a betrayal of the recipient, not of the content of transmission. The tradition is presented as truth, and therefore is psychologically disabling to the inquiring mind. A collection of hand-me-down beliefs against the search for a metaphysical truth that proves its justice in practice.” (“Al-khemi: a Memoir” by Andre VandenBroeck)

        It’s a very fine line to walk – whether that person is a layman, a scholar, a Priest/ess or someone who cares deeply enough about connecting with our collective human akhu (ancestors) via sacred sites and what went on before. However, there will always be some among us for whom preserving those sites, traditions and doing so in a thorough manner is important.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          I don’t think we have to choose between arrogant scorn of Pagan amateurishness and bigoted disregard of those who follow the older paths. Both exist in abundance in academia. I ran into this when, at a summer conference on “The Idea of God” at an institute or religion and science, I tried to get *one* Goddess speaker into a week’s lineup. You’d’ve thought I’d proposed a hands-on sex magick workshop.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

            To answer this comment and your other one up in the thread that would not let me respond. Not sure if that is the board parameter or what:

            “I don’t particularly care if scholars don’t take me seriously because I don’t get my Pagan validation from scholars or scholarship. The Goddess whapped me upside the head in 1987 and I soon came to realize the God had been nudging me all my life (which I’d been ignoring). ”

            That is very nice for you, but perhaps this is why you were met with hostility about your Goddess speaker at the week long event from the academics. You made it a point to underscore (to me) that you don’t care about how you come off and that you are just fine with their scorn and it makes no difference to you and yet it is obvious that such scorn does affect you on a rather deep and personal level. Which is it?

            We say that “we don’t need scholarly approval.” and yet it rankles that people sneer at our beliefs. The fact that there are far too many in our ranks who still seem to think that Wicca is in any way “ancient” beyond Gerald Gardner and that the so-called Burning Times were an historical reality and quote that “nine million” number to this very day certainly does not help matters any. Let’s just get over ourselves, huh? Academics have to meet standards to get published, to get funding, etc. Why then do we as Pagans or practitioners of pre-Christian faiths imagine that we are entitled to be so much above all of that when asked to actually cite sources beyond our own personal UPG?

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            The hostility I encountered was not to me personally; it was to putting one talk about Goddesses into a supposedly inclusive conference on the idea of God. The proposal was “offensive” because it would have meant going outside the old boys’ (and a few girls’) network that typically organized the theological side of the annual conference.

      • Crystal Kendrick

        “For in this regard Pagans are no worse (although, sadly, probably not any better) than any other religious tradition.” Ditto! My point exactly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gcthomson George C. Thomson

    There is a process using lasers to image an entire structure exactly as it is down to the tiniest crack. They have been using it in England on some historical buildings, then putting the entire building “online” so people can do virtual tours. Once the lasers are set up (a painstaking process apparently) they are then left for hours to scan the structure a millimeter wide line at a time. It is non-invasive, requires a crew of a half dozen and can be done any time the air is clear (not raining, snowing, dust storm etc) for outside work. Indoors it can happen “when ever.”