Archives For Mother Mary

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.

If the power of divinity was to be measured in the number of adherents, in the number of times they are invoked, in the number of images, statues, and icons depicting them, then Mary would be the most powerful of goddesses. The Christian Theotokos (“the one who gives birth to God”) has become ubiquitous, ecumenical, and multi-religious; an object of veneration for staunchly conservative Catholics,  jaded post-modernists, indigenous peoples in Mexico, and Vodouisants alike. In her new book “Full of Grace: Encountering Mary in Faith, Art, and Life” author Judith Dupre takes us on a journey through the art, history, and traditions that surround Mary, dedicating an early chapter to the connections between Mary and pre-Christian pagan goddesses.

“While Mary’s role in salvation can be detected in writings before the Council of Ephesus, the title Theotokos is from Isis, who had been called both the “Mother of the God” and the “Great Virgin.” Isis’s popularity, in fact, peaked in the eastern Mediterranean just as Christianity began to spread. When Mary replaced Isis in popular devotion, she also assimilated her symbols, an appropriation that can be observed frequently in the formation of Christian iconography. The familiar description of Mary from the first-century Book of Revelation as a woman who is “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars,” correlates closely to a second-century description of Isis, who emerges from the sea, her ringlets crowned with a diadem, on her forehead a moonlike disc, and wearing a mantle scattered with stars and a full moon that radiated flames of fire. (This is also how Our Lady of Guadalupe would appear, centuries later and half a world away, on Juan Diego’s cloak.)”

Far from being a dry academic tome, the book is filled with quotations, poetry, art, and a travelogue of visits to Mary shrines and places of sightings. Dupre counts herself as a devotee to Mary, and credits Our Lady of Guadalupe (and image of Mary long thought to be a Christianized version of the Aztec moon goddess Tonantzin) with saving the life of her son.

“I’d like to think of it as a book of hours, providing different glimpses of Mary that can be contemplated, savored, in light of a number of life circumstances that we often have little choice but to accept. Most of all, I wanted to make Mary real because that’s how I’ve experienced her in my own life, not as a distant figure from the past but as a loving mother and a living example of empowered womanhood. In these times, which are difficult for so many, Mary models an ideal way to live—faithfully, with grace and radical acceptance of what is and what cannot be changed. She has responded with such wit to my many prayers that I can’t help but think she also has a good sense of humor. So I think she’d appreciate Full of Grace—after all, what other book on Mary quotes Woody Allen, provides a recipe for Italian pepper biscuits, and tells you where to get your hair done in Palestine? Mary is real in every way!”

With the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe fast approaching, not to mention Christmas, this is a perfect time for Pagans to consider the place of Mary in our world today, and how the veneration of her many aspects and images represents the divine feminine for billions.

Post-Solstice Catch-Up

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 22, 2008 — 3 Comments

Here’s a quick look at some stories of note that you may have missed over the Solstice weekend. First, I would like to quote author Deepak Chopra on the controversy over Barack Obama picking Rick “friendlier version of James Dobson” Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.

“In the midst of controversy over picking Rick Warren to offer an invocation, it’s been overlooked that reality is shifting in America. We are a largely secular society where the vast majority of people do not attend church. When religion enters the picture, we are a pluralistic society, not a Christian one. The right wing may posture as if Christianity deserves special privilege and pride of place. Their posturing has convinced a lot of people for the past twenty years, but it’s high time we threw the whole charade out the window. Barack Obama got in trouble with Jeremiah Wright and now he’s in more trouble with Rick Warren. He should take this as a lager lesson. Anyone he chooses to invoke God at his inauguration will be divisive, either overtly or covertly.”

I think that Obama the pragmatic centrist may have outsmarted himself this time around. For some specifically Pagan responses to the Warren pick, check out Medusa Coils, Thudfactor, Radical Goddess Thealogy, On Holladay, and The Pagan Sphinx.

What happens when your religion doesn’t have a goddess? Does it try to create one? The Boston Globe interviews Miri Rubin, author of “Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary”, who reveals some interesting tidbits about the development of Mary in the Christian Church.

“There developed a representation of Mary, a little statue, that when the statue was opened up, almost like a Russian doll, you found inside a representation of the Trinity, and this is to say that within Mary was everything, and it’s all englobed and so on. And theologians say this is absolutely abhorrent, this is not historical, this is totally ridiculous.”

Sounds awfully like a Mother Goddess to me. But then, to me, some corners of present-day global Mariolotry seem little more than a sanctified Christian manifestation of a goddess religion.

A paper in northwest Florida looks back at a year of suspicious goat decapitations, and interviews Dee Thompson, director of animal services for PAWS (Okaloosa County’s Panhandle Animal Welfare Society), about the killings. Thompson, who previously conjectured the killings might be connected to Palo Mayombe (which they described as a “dark” branch of Santeria) doesn’t seem so sure of the religious angle now.

“It was a long, strange year of cases for PAWS, Fort Walton Beach police and Okaloosa sheriff’s deputies. Between Aug. 26, 2007, and Aug. 6, 2008, nine goats turned up headless. None of them were traceable. After the ninth incident, Thompson had begun to wonder if it was personal. In 2007, Thompson was tasked with collecting a rape kit from a mutilated dead goat in Mossy Head in Walton County. Bacteria destroyed her DNA sample, but not before investigators determined it was human. As gruesome as the incident was, that goat became a running joke in town. And because Thompson was the one who tested it, she suspected someone might be toying with her.”

So it might have been a sick twisted joke at her expense and not some sort of dark religious spectacle? Too bad the press was so reluctant to give more time and space to theories that didn’t involve “the occult” or Santeria.

The Wisconsin State Journal sits down for a drink with Circle Sanctuary’s Selena Fox and talks about the Winter Solstice, legal issues affecting Pagans, and how Circle is faring during the economic downturn.

“I think there’s general stress, so it’s really important as we go into the solstice time to not only cherish what we have, but to really strengthen our connection with family and friends — our support network. Just as I encourage people to kindle light to brighten their solstice, I think it’s also a good idea to remember that life as a journey has rough spots and smooth spots. It’s important to look at challenges as opportunities to move in new and better directions.”

Fox says that 2009 will see them focus on developing a green cemetery for Pagans, and a possible trip to Australia for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

In a final note, Dispatches From the Culture Wars notes the passing of the notoriously anti-Pagan bigot (and co-founder of the Heritage Foundation) Paul Weyrich.

“One wonders what principle he was refusing to bend upon and what “moral courage” Weyrich was showing when, in 1999, he launched a campaign to get Christians to boycott joining the military until Wiccans were banned from joining the armed services. The only “principles” at work there were bigotry and discrimination … this is a man … who hated the very notion that anyone he doesn’t approve of had religious freedom.”

The blog post reprints one of Weyrich’s anti-Pagan rants, in which he calls Wicca “evil” and claims that allowing Pagans into the military will cause God to withdraw his protection from American troops (this is a guy who thought Pat Robertson was too liberal). For more on Weyrich’s nuttery, click here. He is no doubt in heaven with Jerry Falwell, where they can commiserate about the wickedness of Pagans until the end of time.

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