Archives For Morgan le Fay

Just a few quick notes for you on this Saturday.

The Ramifications of Playing Morgan: In a recent interview actress Eva Green, who currently plays the role of Morgan in Starz new series “Camelot”, admitted to “reading extensively” on the subject of magic.

“Real magic is everywhere,” says the 30-year-old actress. “It’s in the winds and the sun and the moon; the earth and the trees.” [...] she had no interest in magic before she began work on the series, but has now read extensively on the subject. She urges others to do the same. “People are not connected to nature any more. My character in the series is trying to restore the pagan ways.”

I’ve long been a fan of Morgan Le Fay in all her aspects, and I’ve developed a working theory that actresses playing her find themselves more interested in magic, mysteries, and pre-Christian religion than before. Most famously would be Dame Helen Mirren who played Morgana in Excalibur and recently took on the role of Prospera in a gender-bending version of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” In an interview during the run-up to that film Mirren noted that women with any interest in education are persecuted for being witches, herbalists, evil. I thought of all these women, now and throughout history, as I was playing Prospera. Perhaps Mirren and Green should meet up and chat.

Religion Journalist Looks at Modern Paganism: Former Get Religion contributor and religion journalist Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans has started a series in her religion column for the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal concerning Pagan and New Age religions.

“American religious history has always included those who marched to the beat of different drummers, and those who tried to shoo them back into line (happily, they no longer cut off their heads or subject them to torture). American religious practices reflect the diversity of our history, our democracy and our culture, confounding those who believe in “pure” heritage passed on from one generation to another. In the weeks to come, we’ll step back and take a look at the wider context of American religious life, and where New Age and pagan denominations fit in.”

I’m quoted in the column, as is a local Lancaster-area Pagan. It should be worth checking out and keeping tabs on future columns. Evans also passed word to me that she tried to capitalize “Pagan” for this piece but was overruled by her editor, so don’t be too hard on her for it. On the whole, this is a pretty balanced and fair initial look at our family of faiths and I look forward to seeing where she goes with it.

The Return of Dead Can Dance: A massive favorite among many Pagans, and an influence on several bands embraced by the Pagan community, the duo of Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, more popularly known as Dead Can Dance, are planning to put out a new album in 2012.

I have been talking with Lisa Gerrard this past week with regard to recording a new DCD album this coming winter. We hope to complete the album by the summer of 2012 and then embark on an extensive two month world tour in late 2012. I will be posting updates from time to time with regard to our progress……. and remember….. you heard it here first and yes it is official!

The band’s last full-length album of new material, “Spiritchaser,” came out in 1996. In the interim, both Gerrard and Perry have put out solo material and collaborated with other musicians (Gerrard has become particularly well-known for her soundtrack work). At my music blog TheSkysGoneOut (a companion of sorts to my A Darker Shade of Pagan project) I recently discussed the massive influence DCD has had on a generation of musicians. I’ll keep you posted once I know more.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Just a few quick news notes for you on this Sunday morning.

The Issue of Salem Psychics: While I’ve been covering the back-and-forth over the issue of licensing psychics in Salem, Massachusetts, this Atlantic Wire does a darn good job of encapsulating the issue to date.

What the Fight Is Really About: Government regulation vs. the free market. The Boston Globe’sRob Anderson puts it into context. “While it may not be the most conventional of examples, the dispute is not all that different from the dilemmas cities have dealt with licensing other businesses like taxicabs,” he notes. “In fact, the episode makes for what University of Michigan economics professor Mark Perry calls ‘a good case study of occupational licensing, with economic lessons in barriers to entry, contestable markets, and government regulation vs. market competition.’”

Barring some major political or cultural shift I can’t see Salem returning to its far stricter licensing policies. The last battle over regulations in Salem back in 2007 got truly strange, and what we have now is a compromise solution. For more on this issue, see my Psychic Services and the Law series.

Checking In with No Unsacred Place: This past Monday I introduced the latest Pagan Newswire Collective topic-focused group blog No Unsacred Place. Now that we are a solid week in, I wanted to check back in as it “explores the relationships between religion and science, nature and civilization from a diversity of modern Pagan perspectives.”

This is a very impressive set of opening posts, and I look forward to many more. I hope that you’ll head over and check out No Unsacred Place, participate in conversation, and subscribe to their feed (or like them on Facebook).

Morgan, Merlin, Paganism: I feel somewhat silly writing about a show I’ve only seen brief clips of, but until the witch-heavy season of True Blood starts in June, Starz new series “Camelot” is the most pagan-y television show going at the moment. Anyway, the A.V. Club has a wrap-up of the latest episode (beware, spoilers!) and touches on themes of paganism, magic, and proto-feminism.

“I can’t help but wonder how this series would be had it gone the same route (perspective-wise, if not in execution) as Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Avalon made Morgan a distinctively more heroic figure than Camelot does, but there’s an argument to be made that this iteration of Morgan could have, and perhaps should have, been the entry point for the series. [...] The show’s conflation of paganism and proto-feminism could be potentially problematic, but it recognizes that the mix of the two is a sociological product, not something to be admired or emulated. Morgan’s time in a nunnery, away from Uther, fostered a desire to both connect with and overcome her father’s place on the throne.”

I’m fully supportive of making Morgan the focal character. So much has been made of the Arthur-Lancelot-Guinevere theme in modern Arthuriana that more outside perspectives would be a breath of fresh air. In fact, a creative writer or director has dozens of viewpoints to choose from, and some of the more successful recent takes (like Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles) took advantage of that possibility. In any case, I know this series has plenty of cheese, but I can’t help but anticipate when it’ll finally hit Netflix and I can watch it for myself.

That’s all I have for the moment, have a great day!

A few quick news notes for you on this Wednesday.

Cracking the Plato Code: Science historian Dr Jay Kennedy of the University of Manchester claims to have cracked “The Plato Code”, the long-disputed messages that the great Greek philosopher Plato was supposed to have encoded in his writings.

“Dr Kennedy, whose findings are published in the leading US journal Apeiron, reveals that Plato used a regular pattern of symbols, inherited from the ancient followers of Pythagoras, to give his books a musical structure. A century earlier, Pythagoras had declared that the planets and stars made an inaudible music, a ‘harmony of the spheres’. Plato imitated this hidden music in his books.

The hidden codes show that Plato anticipated the Scientific Revolution 2,000 years before Isaac Newton, discovering its most important idea – the book of nature is written in the language of mathematics. The decoded messages also open up a surprising way to unite science and religion. The awe and beauty we feel in nature, Plato says, shows that it is divine; discovering the scientific order of nature is getting closer to God. This could transform today’s culture wars between science and religion.”

Kennedy calls his discoveries “amazing”, and that it was “like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself”. You can read a quick introduction to his work and findings, here. You can find downloads of his drafts, here. I’m almost certain a book is being written as we speak. I’m also sure that Dan Brown is furiously scribbling notes somewhere and finding a way to work the Catholic Church into the story.

The Endurance of Arthur: Oxford University Press features a short essay by Helen Cooper, Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, on the literary history, and enduring popularity of the Arthurian mythos. Cooper discusses how the  “most successful commercial brand in the history of English literature” has changed with the times to include feminist and “New Age” themes.

“The first wave of Arthurian novels tended to follow Malory’s version of the story but filled in the omissions, supplying in particular details of the love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. Others recounted sections of Arthur’s life that Malory had passed over, not least his childhood. Current fashions tend to be for feminist and New Age versions, with Morgan le Fay as the most powerful character, or the Grail as the key to all pagan mythologies. (The Grail, for the record, was never regarded in the Middle Ages as anything but a fiction: its elevation towards Dan Brown status began only a century or so ago.) Malory’s genius is to have produced a work that sets the gold standard for Arthurian writing – for all its spareness of style, its phrases stay in your mind, and it can still make you cry – but it does so by inviting the infinite play of the imagination.”

The shifting role of Morgan le Fay is in my mind perhaps the most significant change in the modern adaptations, and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon” (originally published in 1980)  may be just as ground-breaking and influential within modern Paganism as Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance” and Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon”. Morgan’s shift from villain to antiheroine or protagonist continues in modern adaptations like the “Merlin” television series. There are currently two Arthurian films in development (one a remake of Boorman’s “Excalibur”), so the legend continues.

Can You Join My Club? SCOTUS Says Yes: A recent SCOTUS decision in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, where the US Supreme Court ruled that colleges could make rules concerning open membership in religious clubs that accept college resources, is making waves.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s cautious opinion, roundly condemned by the dissenters as an exercise in “political correctness,” did not make much new law.  The bottom line: state college leaders may reserve official status on campus to groups that admit all comers, provided that the policy genuinely seeks and promotes that aim and does not single out any group because of what it believes.”

While that decision pleased Americans United, others, notably Ed Brayton of Dispatches From the Culture Wars and Mark D. Roberts at Beliefnet, saw some troubling ramifications (more reactions here). An interview with Dean Leo Martinez makes it clear that the policy, as it stands, would force groups to (in theory) admit their sworn enemies as members.

O’BRIEN: A black group would have to admit white supremacists?

MARTINEZ: It would.

O’BRIEN: Even if it means a black student organization is going to have to admit members of the Ku Klux Klan?

MARTINEZ: Yes.

O’BRIEN: You can see where that might cause some consternation?

MARTINEZ: Well, there’s a Spanish saying to the effect that “the thinnest of tortillas still has two sides,” and the other side of that is that with any other regime we would be forced, using public money, to subsidize the discriminatory practices of a particular group.

This issue is far from over, and this decision was actually quite narrow, which means that new court cases will happen to determine if the policy is truly being applied fairly to all college groups. One wonders if there is an official Pagan group at Hastings, and how they would feel about admitting certain Christians for membership. Will this have a chilling effect on faith-based groups? How will it affect religious minorities who don’t have the resources of the larger faiths? What do you think? A good decision, or one that may have a lot of unintended consequences?