Neil Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods is a popular read in Pagan circles, and the new Starz television series was greeted with excitement by many of the book’s Pagan fans. Debuting on April 30, the series has aired three episodes as of this writing. The story revolves around the riveting premise that the old gods, being immortal, still exist. However, due to a lack of worship in the modern world, they are old and haggard and blend into American society, having arrived there when their followers immigrated, sometimes involuntarily. At the same time, America’s new gods, or the gods that represent the targets of modern worship such as media, computers, and globalization, are strong, vibrant, and at war with their predecessors.
The first time I heard about Odin – really heard, or perhaps really listened – I was listening to Alaric Albertsson speak. That was never what I called him, then or now; he is, and always will be, my uncle Alaric, the person my god-brother was named after, one of the many people who had known me since the day I was born. I was eighteen years old at that time, attending a Pagan festival on my own for the first time. It had been some years since I had last seen Alaric, and his path had evolved in that time. He had embraced something he called “Fyrn Sedu,” or “the Old Ways,” an Anglo-Saxon form of Heathenry.
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. T. Thorn Coyle and Solar Cross reiterate their support for Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum in the wake of his official statement regarding the recent Ninth Circuit Court ruling. The seemingly annual article about Salem trying to branch out from its Witchy image has been posted. Unsurprisingly, tourism is the city’s largest money-maker, bringing in an estimated $99 million per year.
Just a few quick news notes for you on this Friday. Swords, Sandals, and Sex: I know I’ve been talking about Starz new series “Camelot” quite a bit lately, so today I’d like to highlight an excellent essay concerning its stylistic predecessor at the cable network: “Spartacus.” Academic and Patheos.com columnist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus has recently watched both seasons of “Spartacus,” and files this examination of how the show treats sex, history, and religion at his personal blog. “However, my main critique of the newer Spartacus isn’t its history, nor its sexuality (although more will be said on the latter in a moment), it is precisely the matter that Rome got right (even though some bits weren’t quite right in terms of timing, e.g. the taurobolium in the first episode)–the religious aspects of Spartacus: Blood and Sand and its successors is very off. In the 1960 Spartacus, the character of Crassus (a member of the First Triumvirate) says to the very young Julius Caesar at one point that he’d like to obtain a pigeon for a sacrifice, to which Caesar replies that he thought Crassus did not believe in the gods; Crassus replies, “Privately, I believe in none of them; publicly, I believe in them all!” And this is precisely the matter that the newer incarnation of Spartacus goes wrong on–it makes the matter of the gods too much about “belief,” when that is not what pre-creedal religion’s spirituality was based upon.”