Unleash the Hounds! (Link Roundup)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 16, 2011 — 43 Comments

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Anonymous

    Sorry to hear its Neo-Paganism in Estonia, rather than an effervescence of legitimate tradition, which persisted into the Middle Ages before the Teutonic Knights got there.

    • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

      So what they are practicing is illegitimate?

      • Anonymous

        Anything that does’t have a legitimate connection to tradition is illegitimate. Sorry, but that is the way it is with paganism. One reason Pagans gave up in the Roman Empire is, because once a temple is torn down and unclean signs of death like a cross are put up over the ruins, that cult is finished, its god proven to be powerless, and there is no way to start over, because religion has to based on the tradition of the ancestors (mos maiorum). Some fake witches Gardner made up in his imagination doesn’t cut it.

        • Nick Ritter

          Your comment ignores the reclaiming and resanctifying of temples by, say, Emperor Julian. Holy places can and should be reclaimed and resanctified. The cults of old gods can and should be restored in their proper traditions, and in their proper places.

          • Anonymous

            I agree the Roman emperor cold do it, but where is he now?

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

            Julian lives on in the hearts of many modern day Pagans.

            But the real question is not “where is Julian now?” The question is, “where are the Gods now?” If you cannot find them, then I would refer you to section XVIII of Sallustius’ “On the Nature of the Gods and the Cosmos”.

            But if you are able to find and worship the Gods, then how can you speak of a “discontinuity” in their worship?

          • Nick Ritter

            He’s dead, but I don’t see how that makes your point. He re-opened and re-sanctified temples that had been abandoned, desecrated, and forgotten. He re-instituted the sacrifices and the rituals. He did not merely “give up,” as you put it. And he did all of this after having been raised as a Christian and *converting* to Classical paganism.

            My point still stands: a tradition can be picked up again, and restored. Doing so does not make the tradition “illegitimate.” If you wish to argue otherwise, you will have to provide some reasoning having to do with the meaning and mechanics of tradition and legitimacy.

        • http://moma-fauna.blogspot.com/ Moma Fauna

          What does Gardner have to do with this article?

          I was just curious how you define “legitimate” since all religions in human history have experienced changes, adaptations & evolution over time. None of them are “pure” or “original” nor do they have the corner on the “Truth.” They have all been tampered with by time, politics, environmental & sociological factors, etc. Not one of us was there to recall the birth of any ancient tradition, so I seems a bit arrogant to think any modern human could deem them legitimate or not.

          • Anonymous

            Ancient tradition is what determines legitimacy.

          • Harmonyfb

            ::laughing:: And when the first peoples began to worship the Gods who called to them? Was their worship ‘illegitimate’ because it had no ‘ancient tradition’ to call upon?

            The Gods are timeless, immortal, and ever-present. They speak to mortals now as they have always done throughout the history of humanity, and we worship them them according to our natures, as human beings have done since the dawn of time.

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      Actually, from my (limited understanding) Estonia has an active ‘reconstructionist’-style Pagan revival going on which seeks to continue those earlier traditions.

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

        Yes, and even the Christians admit that Paganism continued clandestinely for centuries in the Baltic states after they officially “converted”. It is safe to say that this part of Europe was never completely converted at all.

        Christians (along with Ronald Hutton and his fans) like to portray conversion to Christianity as an instantaneous and irreversible process. In a word, they view Christianization as a “magical”, but not in a good way.

        Christianization is actually an extremely complex and un-magical process that occurs over a time span of centuries, and is arguably never complete, and has far more to do with politics and sociology than with appealing to anything spiritual.

        And when it suits them, and they think no one else is listening, thoughtful Christians freely admit that most Christians are much less than fully converted and that this has always been the case.

      • Anonymous

        That’s what I hope, though the linked article seemed to suggest otherwise. But this is something that would require much more study.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      That may have been a bureaucratic term.

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

    Estonia was forcibly “converted” to Christianity in the 13th century in the course of the Northern Crusades. Forced conversions like that are always superficial, and this appears to have been especially the case with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    One sign of the incompleteness of the Christianization of the Baltic states is the very high rate of belief in reincarnation. Over 1/3 of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians reported belief in reincarnation in the 2008 European Values Survey. This is (significantly!) higher than the percentage of those who stated, in the same survey, that they “belong to a religious denomination”.

    The 2008 ESV figures are pretty interesting (link). Here are some stats for Estonia:

    Do you belong to a religious denomination?
    yes 24.3% ; no 75.7%

    Are you a religious person?
    yes 41.3% ; no 52.0% ; convinced atheist 6.7%

    Do you believe in life after death?
    yes 36.4% ; 63.6%

    which is closest to your beliefs?
    personal god 15.6% ; spirit or life force 49.5% ; don’t know 20.4% ; no spirit or life force 14.5%

    Do you believe in telepathy?
    yes 55.1% ; no 44.9%

    Do you believe in reincarnation
    yes 37.5 % ; no 62.5%

    do you believe in supernatural forces?
    abolustely 24.4% ; somewhat 38.7% ; not so much 20.9% ; not at all 16.0%

    • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

      It was also during the Northern Crusades that Sweden would invade what is now Finland and forcibly convert the Finns over the course of the 12th-13th centuries. It is during this period that the first named Finn enters history: the, perhaps mythical, Lalli, who is supposed to have killed Bishop Henry (the Christian figure most associated with the conversion on Finland to Christianity). Naturally, in the Christianized folklore Lalli doesn’t come off very positively, but in more recent times some people have reclaimed the figure of Lalli as representing rebellion against foreign powers and oppression.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Kauko, what’s the state of the church in Finland? Does reclaiming Lalli in public risk evoking a religious backlash?

        • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

          I won’t claim to be completely up to date to be able to authoritatively answer that, but from my understanding and sense of things I don’t think so (anything is possible, of course). I think that Lalli’s symbolism extends beyond just a Pagan/ Christian conflict towards representing opposition to outside politcal rule. Finland was conquered by Sweden and remained a part of that kingdom for 8 centuries then in the 19th century Finland was given to Russia until Finland became in independent nation in 1918. So, given that history Lalli can represent a kind of nationalistic pride that could even be appreciated by a Christian in Finland, theoretically at least. I remember reading that there is even a, mostly humorous, modern created holiday celebrating Lalli, I think it falls on the day after (or somewhere around) the liturgical day that celebrates Bishop Henry. I’m not sure how widespread it is or what people do, but I have heard about it.

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

        Thanks, Kauko. I now have a new hero to add to my list!

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    I’m almost always irked when some public or media figure quotes Jerry Falwell’s 9/11 rant, whether to scorn or hail it, because they almost always omit “pagans.” We were not only mentioned, we were first!

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

      We’re Number One!!!

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        In one sense we’re Number Two. Look at the list of JF’s spiritual targets. If people really understood us we wouldn’t be as controversial as abortion but we’d be ahead of feminists and BGLTs.

        • http://heathenfaith.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

          I don’t want to be number two…

  • Pagan Puff Pieces

    It sounds like (but this could just be projection) Estonians feel free to be themselves, without the burden of being something or making sure their thoughts and feelings are aligned with it, though they’re free do do that if they wish.

    That is how things should be.

  • http://www.paganawareness.net.au Gavin Andrew

    Another mainstream media story today suggests that Paganism is illegitimate because it is only 60 or so years old.

    This is becoming the predictable go-to narrative taken by mainstream journalists as the Satanic Panic recedes from popular memory.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/religionbookreviews/8684807/Paganism-from-the-Beast-to-Buffy.html

    Interestingly, the author also takes aim at northern traditions, citing Romuva, describing their revival as ‘alarming’, and linking the building of a pagan altar in Vilnius to the rise of nationalism.

    The comments section is heating up too – apparently Christians don’t like it when their early Church is accused of appropriating pagan myth and imagery.

    Quel surprise.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      “linking the building of a pagan altar in Vilnius to the rise of nationalism.”

      This easily spun equation of national Paganism with nationalism is why I wondered if the reclaiming of Lalli in Finland would evoke a similar response.

    • Anonymous

      There are tremendous problems with establishing a new paganism, and its recent age is certainly high on the list. Also to be considered is that everything Gardner and Crowley ever said was a lie. that would all have to chucked out, and any new work done of the basis of legitimately pagan authors (i.e. Greeks and Romans–even the Eddas are filtered through a Christian tradition). But the continuity of tradition–or rather its failure–is perhaps an insurmountable difficulty. I think a private, Neoplatonic spirituality is the only hope, though that could conceivable produce new revelation that would permit the establishment of new cults. But nothing like that seems to be going on.

      • Nick Ritter

        Hey, now: don’t throw the Eddas away. The *Prose* Edda was written by a Christian, but this isn’t a problem if one has a thorough understanding of the text and the culture of the author. The poems in the *Poetic* Edda seem to me to be thoroughly Heathen: or do you have some evidence that they were actually composed by Christians?

        Go on and have your “private, Neoplatonic spirituality” if you like, but don’t be so quick to scoff at others’ attempts at restoring their traditions.

        • Anonymous

          You’re right about the Prose Edda but the context for it is still provided by the cosmogonic material in Snorri. Still, as a Classicist, I haven’t looked into too closely.

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        How can a private spirituality serve as the foundation of a legitimate new tradition, but the cultus that has flowed from the efforts or Gardner et al be dismissed over an argument about sources? It seems to me the real question is whether the tradition floats the spiritual boats of the practitioners. And one is almost forced to assume it does, because otherwise why would they practice it?

        • Anonymous

          Gardner never did the necessarily work, neither through scholarship, nor through mystical practice. He just made stuff up.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You put yourself in the peculiar position of granting to a hypothetical solitary seeker a higher spiritual authority than to Gerald Gardner because (you think) you know more about the latter.

          • Anonymous

            Helena wrote:
            Gardner never did the necessarily work, neither through scholarship, nor through mystical practice. He just made stuff up.

            because you were there, right?

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

        “everything Gardner and Crowley ever said was a lie.”

        I’ll bet you cannot provide one single instance of a verifiable “lie” in Gerald Gardner’s published writings.

        • Anonymous

          “I was talking to a very learned Continental professor…and he told me that he had obtained much information from witches.”

          –Witchcraft Today

          On the very first page I looked at. Who is this professor? Who are these witches? They have the same reality as the woman who told Bachmann the HPV vaccine caused her daughter to become mentally retarded.

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

            You have many questions. But no evidence of a lie. You did not accuse Gardner of being vague. Perhaps you should choose your words more carefully.

      • kenneth

        Continuity of tradition has nothing whatever to do with legitimacy.

      • Mia

        That’s why you don’t just look at literature, you look at archeology, law, and customs too.

        • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

          And folklore, folk songs, folk customs, folk tales, and other common-people stuff.

      • Anonymous

        Helena wrote:
        There are tremendous problems with establishing a new paganism, and its recent age is certainly high on the list. Also to be considered is that everything Gardner and Crowley ever said was a lie. that would all have to chucked out,

        assuming, of course, that we were just talking about Wiccans and not any of the other flavours of neopagans. Also, to re-iterate Apuleius’ comment, the burden of proof is upon you to show that Gardner or Crowley lied.

        Helena wrote:
        and any new work done of the basis of legitimately pagan authors (i.e. Greeks and Romans–even the Eddas are filtered through a Christian tradition). But the continuity of tradition–or rather its failure–is perhaps an insurmountable difficulty.

        I would offer you this quote from Moreihei Oeshiba, the founder of Aikido:
        “Contemplate the workings of this world, listen to the words of the wise, and take all that is good as your own. With this as your base, open your own door to truth. Do not overlook the truth that is right before you. Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees — should be your teacher.” -The Art of Peace, No. 14.

        Helena wrote:
        I think a private, Neoplatonic spirituality is the only hope, though that could conceivable produce new revelation that would permit the establishment of new cults. But nothing like that seems to be going on.

        Well, maybe that works for you, but there are plenty of other traditions out there now, with unbroken lineages (if that sort of rigmarole is important to you).

  • Mia

    I liked and agree with Sirius’s article. I’ve never been into any “big” deities, and I find that honoring “smaller” and/or local ones works out better for me. It’s like the distant CEO of a company vs. your immediate boss or supervisor.
    Besides, the only reason I think Yahweh/Allah/etc. is “big” now is because of all the energy given to him over time by the increase in followers. I don’t mean psychic/whatever energy, I mean the time and effort of humans to give him a high status within their societies.

    And I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the extreme denial at The Response. I really shouldn’t be surprised, but, seriously? Drought and wildfires sound like a rejoicing land to you?

  • Kilmrnock

    I gotta put my 2 cents in on this one. I’m not sure the old gods need their old places of worship to be back in place. Even if it’s new age , i welcome pagans in Estonia. Just for the record i’m a celtic recon . Altho i’d prefer an authetic Estonian Paganism , this is at least pagan . And getting back to the concept of old religous sites , reclaiming them is a long way off , if ever.Just by honoring the gods of our ancestors and living by the old ways we are restoring our ethnic gods and traditions.We donot need the old sites in our ethnic homelands to honor our old gods and the ways of our ancestors. Reclaiming them in the future would be nice , but not neccesary for us to honor our gods.Kilm

    • Nick Ritter

      “We donot need the old sites in our ethnic homelands to honor our old gods and the ways of our ancestors.”

      Feh. Reclaiming the old sites is something that we should most definitely do. In fact, we should gather as much information about as many of those sites as possible, in preparation for reclaiming them.

      This does not mean that new holy places cannot be discovered, but we should by no means forget about the old holy places.