I am because you are.

(Louis Alemayehu)


In the spring of 1974, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa—arguably the most famous painting in the world—visited Japan.

There she was welcomed in a manner quite quintessentially Japanese.

People sent flowers.

At the time, I can remember thinking, Of course: that's absolutely right. That's exactly what you do to honor such a powerful...well, kami.

It's an action quintessentially Shinto.

And quintessentially pagan.


The Minnesota Collective of Pagan Artists' new show, “Modern Pagans/Ancient Realms,” opened in Minneapolis on Friday, July 8. The exhibition is their strongest performance to date, both visually and conceptually.

Standing out for me among the many powerful pieces on offer was Paul B. Rucker's multimedia sculpture Re-Membering the God.

A human skeleton lies, fetally crouched, in what looks like the giant cracked-open shell of a chrysalis or seed casing.

Rising from and hovering above it soars the living Antlered. Bold, luminescent enameled colors have long characterized Rucker's work, and here he gives us a Horned bright with faience blue and vegetal green, his surging phallus golden and rampant.

Haloed, he raises his arms in classic Cernunnos pose, clutching a writhing serpent—or is it a spray of vegetation?—in each hand.

Below, his risen, vertical body joins umbilically to the horizontal skeleton in a swirl of coarse red fabric. It was this which eventually cued me in to just why the image had looked so familiar from the start. Re-Membering is Rucker's take—and commentary—on a theme old in post-Classical Western art.

The Resurrection.

Rucker's use of the motif is deep and polyvalent. Here we see simultaneously the rebirth of a god, the cyclic renewal of the individual, of a people, and the rebirth of paganism itself. Re-Membering daringly articulates a future newly pagan, fully embodied and fully—thank Goddess—potent. Leave it to Rucker to put the erection back in resurrection.

Can't say that I'm in love with the title. Oh, I see the point, and it's a good one: to remember is to re-member, to re-embody. As modern pagans, our work is necessarily the work of Isis: the regathering, rejoining, and re-envigorating of the limbs of lost Osiris. To bring about a pagan future, we must engage actively with our pagan past. Still, there's something coy about the name: it strikes me as too narrowly Wiccan, too 80s, too Mary Daly. Too arch, even.



Even: Re-membering?

Still, this is quibbling. Let me say that it's been a long time since I've stood before a work of art that made me feel so prayerful.

Or—simultaneously—so horny.

Of course, I'm sending flowers.


Modern Pagans/Ancient Realms”

July 8 - July 29

Vine Arts Center

2637 27th Ave. South

Minneapolis, MN 55406

Gallery Hours:

Mondays and Thursdays 5:00-6:45 p.m.

Saturdays 11:00-5:00