Two recent stories from the UK highlight outraged Pagans in regards to two different media promotions (one for a movie, and one for a television show) that have altered or added to famous chalk figures in England. The first for a British television show entitled “Trinny And Susannah Undress The Nation” in which a group of white-garbed folks perform a temporary sex-change on the Long Man of Wilmington.
“TV fashion gurus Trinny and Susannah clashed with the county’s Pagan chiefs after they gave the Long Man of Wilmington a sex change. About 22 Pagans gathered beside the historical and religious site to protest against filming by ITV … Pagans are angry people have trampled across the religious site to decorate it with breasts, pigtails and rounded hips … Druid battle chieftain Arthur Pendragon, 53, who is nomadic, said: ‘We are very angry because this is so disrespectful. We, the Pagans, would not in our wildest dreams consider putting female breasts and clothing on effigies of any of the Holy Prophets, be it Jesus Christ, Buddha or any other revered figure of another faith. Why, then, does ITV commission Trinny and Susannah to do so at the Long Man of Wilmington?'”
Altered chalk: the long “woman” of Wilmington and the Cerne Abbas Homer.
The second instance was a promotion for The Simpsons Movie in which a faux-chalk Homer holding a donut was placed next to the fabled Cerne Abbas giant.
“Indeed, so potent is the Giant’s chalky mojo, that couples struggling to conceive are still said to visit his hillside home for a grassy liaison. But yesterday there was a new alpha male in North Dorset. He wields a doughnut instead of a club. He has four fingers on each hand and four toes on each foot. Only three hairs sprout from his bulbous head. And his unmentionables are, mercifully, covered by the world’s largest pair of Y-Fronts. His name is Homer Simpson … Pagans, who believe the Giant is a spiritual icon, are dismayed by this bold new artwork, and, in particular, the accompanying encouragement for young couples to “do it in the doughnut”. ‘It’s very disrespectful and not at all aesthetically pleasing,’ said Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation. ‘I’m amazed they got permission to do something so ridiculous. We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind. We’ll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away.'”
So is this a sacrilege that modern Pagans should get worked up over, or are these simply harmless (albeit capitalistic) pranks that local Pagans are taking too seriously? Are protests and threats of rain magic really necessary? Since I’m an American I don’t have the emotional connection to these artifacts that I’m sure a British Pagan might have, so perhaps I’m missing the point of these perceived insults?