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The Rite of the Golden Calf

Paganicon 2014 will open this year with the (in)famous Rite of the Golden Calf.

The Rite was first created for a private festival in 1996 by Twin Cities liturgist Steven Posch. He recalls: “I'll never forget the faces as the procession with the Calf came through. At first, incredulity: Is this for real? Then dawning: This is it: the big one, the sin of sins. And then, abandon: Ohmigods, lemme at it! And they all came rushing in. It was wild, ecstatic: there were actually couples off in the woods afterward, just the way there should be.”

During the Rite, the Calf will be borne in festive Procession and Installed in a shrine in the Art Gallery. He will be accessible for acts of private devotion during Gallery Hours. A brief rite of public worship will take place daily at 12 noon.

“The decision to include the Shrine of the Calf in this year's Gallery is nuanced brilliance,” says Posch. “As installations go, it doesn't get more interactive than a shrine. Move over, Museum of Modern Art.”

Satire (and camp) aside, the Rite of the Golden Calf raises and addresses a number of deeply important issues. “The theology of sacred images has received surprisingly little attention in contemporary pagan thought,” observes Posch. “And, unlike the ancestors, pagans today have virtually no hands-on experience of temple worship. Here's our opportunity to do and to learn by doing.”

And the Calf Himself?

“He's beautiful, beautiful,” says Posch. “It's hard not to love him. He's young, a yearling really: he hasn't even got his horns yet, but his ears are big, big enough to hear the prayers of all the world. Back when we first did this, there was one little girl who brought him flowers every day. She'd stand there in front of him just looking, looking, completely rapt. One day I said to her, 'You really love him, don't you?' and she told me 'Of course I do: he's like a puppy.'”

Idolatry: the final frontier. Only at Paganicon 2014.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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