Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Inner Life of Gods

At the heart of the paganisms lies the grand drama of the seasons.*

In the unfolding of the year, before our eyes, the gods live out their eternal stories.

In ritual, we encounter these gods.

In ritual, we participate in these stories.

In ritual, we enter into the inner life of the gods.

This is what ritual can do for us.

This is what ritual should be doing for us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
My First Skyclad Wedding

I'd been to my share of skyclad rituals before, but this was to be my first among non-pagans.

Both the bride and the groom had grown up in the naturist movement, and wanted to get married at their naturist club.

“What about your parents?” I asked, curious.

Their parents were members, too.

“Grandparents?”

Turns out Grandma also belonged.

Together the three of us planned a nice, tight little ceremony. Finally I popped the obvious question.

“Uh—did you want me to be naked too?”

“That's up to you,” they say.

The day of the wedding came: beautiful, sunny. What the heck? I thought. When at home, do as the homos do. I stripped off with the rest, and the ceremony went swimmingly.

(Feeling that, naked or not, I needed something to mark me off as the officiant, I settled for my biggest, showiest torque. It did the job very nicely.)

Afterward, I stood around with the rest having a cocktail. The groom sidled up to me and slipped an envelope into my hand.

“Hey, we're going to start taking photos,” he says. “Would you like to be in them?”

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Series: A Wiccan Wheel Mystery

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thrice-Bent God

Do you know what torques me off most* in contemporary depictions of the Horned God?

When the artist gets the legs wrong.

He's called the Thrice-Bent for a reason. In the arms, one bend. In the legs, two.

Check out the picture of the goat leg shown above. Note that the hind legs feature two bends: one pointing forward, one pointing back.

The forward bend is called the knee. The backward bend is called the hock.

When the Horned is shown with the rear legs of an animal (he isn't always), he should have both.

If you love the Horned well enough to depict him, you should love him well enough to look.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
To the Antlered: A Prayer

O thou

Betorqued Betined,

sitting cross-legged

on the altar:

in thy broad lap, O lord,

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A Pagan Revival in 13th Century France

What happens when you turn loose a bunch of over-educated, under-employed intellectuals on a prosperous society in the throes of social ferment?

Apparently, you get a Pagan Renaissance.

It happened in 20th century America. It also happened in 13th century France, during what—ironically enough—is known as the Age of Cathedrals.

The parallels between the two periods are striking. In both, new agricultural techniques produced a burgeoning population, a thriving mercantile class, and unprecedented prosperity. This, in medieval France and elsewhere, was what financed the building of the great cathedrals such as Notre Dame de Paris. Students from all over Europe flooded to the University of Paris.

There they learned Latin and read the Classics. There they learned about the old paganisms.

Alas, there were no suitable jobs for most of these sons of lesser houses. The system produced far more educated people than it could employ.

So a rising tide of clerici vagrantes, “wandering clerics,” washed across Europe: getting drunk (when they could afford it), getting laid (when they could manage it), and writing rhyming hymns in Latin to the old gods of the pagan world, especially (as one would expect) to Venus and Bacchus.

(Several collections of poetry and hymns from this medieval pagan renaissance have survived to inspire and delight us today, notably the famous Carmina Burana (that's CAR-min-ah, not car-MEE-nah), which in turn inspired German composer Carl Orff's pagan oratorio of the same name, one of the landmarks of 20th century pagan art.)

According to British historian Elliot Rose, these literary New Pagans—whatever the seriousness of their paganism—hooked up with the Old Pagan witch-wives of Europe to create a newly reinvigorated Witch Cult which, a hundred years later, would give rise to, and fall prey to, the horrors of the Great Persecution. Well, maybe.

Eight hundred years later, here we are again.

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A Medieval Latin Hymn to the Goddess of Love

A few posts back, I posted the text of a medieval Latin hymn to the Goddess of Love from the 13th century “Little Renaissance.” At the time, I included a literal translation, but declined to translate it into poetry on the grounds that I couldn't do it justice.

What I had unwittingly done, of course, was to set myself a challenge.

(In the unlikely event that you've ever wondered what poets do while lying awake at night, you now know.)

So here's the best that I can do with it. You can even sing it to the same tune.

Well, kind of.

Ave Formosissima

 

Ave formosissima,

gemma pretiosa;

ave decus virginum,

virgo gloriosa.

 

Ave lumen luminum,

ave mundi rosa:

Blanziflor et Helena,

Venus generosa!

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