What's the Best Way to Protect Our Pagan Past?

Whether revived, re-imagined, reconstructed, or revealed, modern Pagan religions all look to our collective pre-Christian past for inspiration, connection, understanding, and a sense of continuity. Because of this phenomenon, many Pagans follow the world of archaeology very closely, both for new information, and to monitor the preservation of objects and artifacts that reach back to a time when pagan religions were the dominant expression of faith. When the Egyptian revolution started, many Pagans, particularly Kemetics and Greco-Egyptian polytheists, expressed great concern at reports of looting and vandalism of the nations many antiquities. However, there are ongoing debates within modern Pagan communities over what the best way to honor our ancient past is. Some, like, British Druid leader King Arthur Pendragon (aka John Timothy Rothwell) want a hands-off approach to monuments and sites they see as part of a collective spiritual heritage, while other groups, like Pagans For Archaeology, argue that extensive scientific exploration enriches the body of knowledge available to modern Pagans.

Of Henges and Heritage

From July 25th through August 3rd the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is meeting in Brazil to consider additions to the list of World Heritage sites. In countries with limited resources or political will, having a site put on the World Heritage list can mean the difference between preservation and destruction (it can also mean welcome tourist dollars). Many of the sites that modern Pagans make pilgrimage to, or think of as their spiritual and religious heritage, the Acropolis, Delphi, Stonehenge, Avebury, and Bath, are all Heritage sites. This year Ireland’s government is nominating the Hill of Tara, along with several other sites, for consideration. In anticipation of this, they’ve debuted a new website featuring the already-listed and “tentative” Heritage sites.

(Pagan) News of Note

My semi-regular round-up of articles, essays, and opinions of note for discerning Pagans and Heathens.The weekly Indian paper Mainstream takes a look at the recent protests and conflicts in Tibet, and discusses them as a conflict of rival faiths. Placing Communism in the same idealogical family as the Abrahamic faiths.”Abrahamic religions, whenever they conquer a territory, convert the inhabitants and try to suppress their ancestral culture. Ancestral history becomes a prohibited subject. In Afghanistan and Pakistan pre-Islamic Hindu-Buddhist history is not permitted in schools. China is doing the same in Tibet…”The author closes the piece by calling on the Indian government to abandon their “chicken-hearted” stance towards China and support autonomy for Tibet.If you were looking forward to Robin Hardy’s “Cowboys For Christ”, a re-imagining of the cult classic film “The Wicker Man”, you may have a long wait.

Seven Wonders

Yesterday, the New7Wonders Foundation named the new seven wonders of the world after a worldwide Internet/phone poll. The list, which updates the seven wonders of the ancient world, includes the Great Wall of China, the Roman Colloseum in Italy, and the Christ Redeemer statue in Brazil (full list). But this Internet-age poll has angered and disappointed many, with criticisms coming from all corners. UNESCO, which runs the World Heritage program, has taken pains to point out that it has no part in this contest, that the contest in biased, and that it in no way helps preserve ancient sites.”UNESCO’s objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough …