(Pagan) News of Note

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My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.

Spring is (sorta) here, and UU World reprints an article by Patricia Montley explaining why myths are often better received than coldly rational explanations for natural events (like the changing seasons).

“Why this cold, dreary season when birds abandon us and gardens stop producing their fruits and flowers … What have we done to deserve this? Surely someone has offended the gods. “Poppycock!” say the scientists, who propose some lame theory about the Earth going around the sun. But that can’t really be it. What’s the point of misery if there’s no one to blame? Besides, their story lacks imagination. Perhaps an explanation that we might find more appealing is one offered by the Greek poet Homer some 27 centuries ago.”

Montley then briefly retells the myth of Persephone, and explains that without the “gray” of Winter, “there is no joy in color”. While I might quibble with the idea of Winter being “gray” and “fallow”, after enduring a snow storm the other day, I truly hunger for the “joy” of a true Spring.

Meanwhile, in Ohio, a local reporter profiles a Druid group performing their Spring rites.

“The only thing the ritual shared with Easter was timing – and a few brightly colored eggs constituting an offering to the “shining ones.” They purified their ceremony by making a banishment offering to the “out-dwellers and tricksters.” They chanted, their voices ever rising and ever faster, to “open the gates,” a sign they had formed a spiritual center around their three altars. They drank apple juice from a communal horn in accepting the blessings of the “waters of life” from kindred gods and goddesses of the Celts, Romans, Gauls and Norse.”

The Three Cranes Grove is an ADF group, which explains the pan-Indo-European focus of the ritual.

The Beijing Olympic Flame was lit today in the Temple of Hera in Olympia. A ceremony marred by two protesters who managed to break through a cordon of about 1,000 police officers.


Actress Maria Nafpliotou lighting the torch.

“Two protestors breached a cordon of about 1,000 police officers at Ancient Olympia to display a flag demanding a boycott of the Olympics amid mounting controversy over China’s crackdown in Tibet … The incidents occurred despite drastic security measures taken by Greek police to avoid incidents that would internationally discredit the event, which was televised across the world.”

I don’t know about you, but when two protesters are able to break through 1,000 men to disrupt a tightly-controlled ceremony in the temple of Hera, I would take that as a bad omen. Perhaps the goddess is displeased? Too bad the “high priestess” is simply an actress, and unable to interpret the will of Hera.

The Manchester Evening News interviews popular novelist Sara Paretsky about her new novel “Bleeding Kansas”, and the real-live Wiccans who served as the inspiration for the Wiccan characters in the book.

“For eight years, I’d fiddled with this concept, on and off, of writing about the part of Kansas where I grew up,” explains Paretsky, ahead of a visit to book stores in Manchester and Cheshire. “When my parents got frail they sold the house to two women who were both Wiccan – followers of pagan religions – and lesbians. They thought that they could lead an anonymous life in the countryside, where their nearest neighbour was over a quarter of a mile away. “But they were wrong. There was talk of pagan rituals. Some people said they were naked and one neighbour started pursuing them in a really angry way, and my brother, who was a lawyer, decided to represent them on a pro bono basis.”

It’s rare that a novelist as popular as Paretsky makes a lesbian Wiccan a major character in a novel. “Bleeding Kansas” may open more minds than a dozen titles in the metaphysical section.

In a final note, Scottish hares (as opposed to “silly old rabbits”), which have been steadily dying out, seem to be on the rebound due to a variety of efforts.

“The problem was that – while Scottish rabbits were happily breeding with the enthusiasm for which they are renowned – the “bunny” we have historically associated with Easter is actually the hare, a creature whose prospects were for a while far more precarious. Long before the rather mixed-up imagery we now see on Easter cards of cute bunnies bearing baskets of eggs, the hare had a far more potent symbolism. In pagan mythology the creature represented love, growth and fertility … for the true meaning of the original celebrations surrounding the vernal equinox, only the hare will do. Wild, abandoned and universally appealing, these beautiful creatures are at long last reclaiming their rightful place.”

So welcome back to one of Britain’s (and Europe’s) sacred animals,

That is all I have for now, have a great day!