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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 My Goddess Gave Birth To Your God -The Ancient Sage

 

Umm Allah!”

As a general rule, I think it's sound policy to be respectful of other people's gods, but, after all, a story's a story, and history's history. As an Anishinabe elder once told Minnesota storyteller Kevin Kling, with a story and a sense of self, you can survive anything.

In the Arabic-speaking world, it's customary to refer to people in day-to-day conversation not by their personal names, but by the name of their oldest child: hence Umm (“mother of”) or Abu (“father of”) Whomever. So prevalent a custom is this that (I'm told) those without children will often be assigned a fictitious child as namesake.

(A pagan mom once explained to me the logic of this. In a given community, you may or may not know the parent, but—the kid-pack being a free-wheeling entity of its own that goes pretty much everywhere—everybody knows all the kids.)

Even so, there's something about the phrase Umm Allah (roughly: OOM aw-LAW) that strikes the Muslim ear as deeply disturbing, if not downright blasphemous. (I would really recommend against using it while walking down the street in Kabul these days.)

Arabic-speaking Christians do use the phrase, of course. By the internal logic of Christian thought, it makes perfect sense: if Jesus is God, then the mother of Jesus must be the mother of God. Christians being Christians, of course, people have, down the centuries, killed one another by the thousands over this phrase.

Naturally, the pagan story is different. (With a story and a sense of self, you can survive anything.) Though no proponent of bumpersticker theology, I will admit that seeing My Goddess Gave Birth to Your God on the back of someone's car brings a smile to my lips every time.

Well, the Great Mother is Mother of All the Gods, even ones (I won't mention any names) that don't exist, or—to be, perhaps, slightly more nuanced about it—exist only in other people's heads.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

A novel about the last of the Neanderthals, told from the Neanderthal perspective.

Now that's what I call a truly heroic leap of imagination.

Pagans will most likely know novelist William (Lord of the Flies) Golding (1911-1993) as name-giver to the Gaia Hypothesis—he and scientist James Lovelock were long-time friends, next-door neighbors, and drinking buddies—but let me tell you about a novel of his that's a little pagan gem.

In The Inheritors (1955), Golding tells the story of the last, doomed group of Neanderthals in Europe, and their disastrous and deadly encounter with a group of incoming Cro-Magnons.

(Back in the Paganolithic Era, we used to joke about how—our style being strictly mask, drum, and red ocher—if we were Wiccans, our trad must be Cro-Magnon.

(My friend Stephanie Fox once gibed about a scenario in which a big, burly guy approaches at Pagan Spirit Gathering one summer. “Hi, are you guys the Cro-Magnon Wicca people?” “That's us.” “Oh yeah? Well, we're the Neanderthal Wicca.” Wham!)

More: Golding tells their tale, as I said, from the perspective of the Neanderthals themselves.

It is, admittedly, no quick read. Golding's Neanderthal-think takes some deciphering,

Oh, but the pay-off is worth the work.

The story I'll leave to your own reading pleasure, but let me pass along to you one of the novel's shining treasures.

The great power in the Neanderthals' world—their goddess, although they don't call her that, of course—is Oa: Earth. (Their most sacred object of power—although, naturally, that's not how they would speak of it—is the little Oa, a pebble naturally-shaped like a fleshy, naked woman.)

Oa: a musical, primal name. Speak to Earth as Oa, think of her as Oa, and see what she tells you.

To Golding's Neanderthals, Oa is a being with whom they're on personal terms. Sometimes the theological language of gods and goddesses can get in the way, make distance, can unnecessarily complicate something that's really, at heart, very simple. Sometimes it's good to set the language aside and just get on with the relationship. Oa.

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Thanks for the recommendation. Another novel with the same premise is Bjorn Kurten's Dance of the Tiger, published in 1980 but wri
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, That's beautiful!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Let me tell you something wonderful and strange.

When I'm in a place of many pagans—in the midst of a ritual, or at a summer festival, say—I not infrequently smell the smell of sweetgrass, even when none is burning.

This is what sacred smells like.

And not just when I'm among pagans, of course. I can be walking down the street, or by the River, or in the woods, and suddenly, there it will be: that unmistakable, woodruff-y fragrance, even where no sweetgrass burns, where no sweetgrass grows.

What atomized nano-particles are these, wafting on the air, that my mind somehow reads as sweetgrass where no sweetgrass is? Whoever may know, ye wise, O let you tell me.

But well I remember the old saying concerning Mabh, our beloved Earth: Her hair smells of sweetgrass.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Here at Temple of the Moon, we offer twice daily the old tribal prayers for the welfare of the People: that we may have well-being, that we may prosper, that our numbers may increase.

The first and last prayers of each offering are addressed, of course, to Earth: for us, the beginning and end of all things.

In this time of brokenness, when so much that we know and love is overturned, as we walk a long, Dark Way, I find myself adding to the customary prayers, two more:

 

Mabh, bring us together;

Mabh, bring us through.

 

Naturally, they address Earth, our beloved Earth. Who better to call on than the Mother, out of our deepest need?

They call to her by her sacred love name, her name of power, voiced as MAHV: a name of Birth, close-open-close, and the Breath of Life within. This name I had from my teacher, Tony Kelly, many years ago. Call her by this name, and give her your kiss of love—Love to you, my Mabh—and she will take you into her secrets.

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Red and White: The clues in the colors of Minoan art

For a long time, I wondered what on Earth possessed the Minoans to paint women as white (not Caucasian-toned, but the color of a sheet of paper) and men as dark-dark red. After all, DNA evidence shows that, like their ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia, the Minoans all had skin in various shades of brown. So why the weirdness in the art, like the Bull Leaper fresco above?

Then I began to learn about Mediterranean folk dance. Dance ethnography isn't a subject I ever really thought about before, to be honest. Then a talented dance ethnographer who happens to be a member of the MMP Board began to share her insights with us, and a lot of things began to make sense. (Check out her book The Ancient and Martial Dances for some fascinating info.)

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My copy of "The Ancient & Martial Dances" arrived in the mail today. It looks intriguing. Thank you for mentioning it.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Does Planet Earth = Goddess Earth?

One day, while Mother Earth was visiting Athens...

So begins a story from Robert Graves' Greek Myths. Theologically speaking, I find these words profoundly disturbing. I thought so when I first read them years ago; decades on, they still trouble me.

The same problem arises in Isaac Bonewits' Litany to the Earth Mother:

R: You who are called Gaea among the Greeks....

V: Come to us!

R: You who are called Tellus by the Romans....

V: Come to us! etc.

So let me get this right: we're calling Earth to come to us. Call me opaque, but if there's a logic here, I fail to see it.

In both cases, we proceed from the presumption that, in some sense, Earth-as-Goddess is different to, and distinguishable from, Earth-as-Planet.

Such a view, I suspect, is premised on a binary body/spirit worldview: Planet Earth as the Body of Goddess Earth.

But are the gods spirits? If so, what does that mean?

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I follow the Divine Iamblichus' beliefs on the nature of Godhood. Mother Earth governs the physical matter of the surf
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I tend to view Spirit as quintessence the fifth element. Along with Earth, Air, Fire, and Water I see it as part of the matrix of
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    This dichotomy/tension continues in ADF today: there's a spot in the Core Order for "The Earth Mother" and I regularly have issue
Sea Change—A Releasing Ritual for Renewal

Eurybia is a benevolent Greek goddess of the oceans, and part of a great pantheon of the seas including fresh water lake and river goddesses. She is invoked by individuals seeking to usher in change and self-transformation. A bath blessing that will both relax and purify you is a rare and wonderful thing. To prepare yourself, place 1 quart of rough sea salt or Epson salts in a large bowl. Add the juice from 6 freshly squeezed lemons, 1/2 cup of sesame oil, and a few drops of rose and jasmine oils. Stir until the mixture is completely moistened. You can add more sesame oil if necessary, but do not add more lemon because it will make the mixture overly astringent and potentially irritating to your skin.

 When your tub is one-third full, add one-quarter of the salt mixture under the faucet. Breathe in deeply ten times, inhaling and exhaling fully before you do this recitation. You may start to feel a tingling at the crown of your head. The water should still be

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