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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Mythology
The Only Worthwhile Mythology is a Literal Mythology

Back east last weekend for the non-pagan holidays with family, I was met with a dilemma. As the family writer, I'd been asked to speak at the Easter table. Me, the pagan.

Religiously, we're all over the board (= table—e.g. "bed and board"—from the time when they set up trestles and boards for meals; the boardroom, of course, is the room with the table). The Passover seder at my cousin's had been the night before. In this, we're no more than a microcosm of the American demographic. In a generation or two, there will probably be Muslim family members at the table too. Good old America. The separation of covenstead and state is one of the best ideas anyone's had in the last 500 years. Secular governance has probably done more than any other factor to break down old ethnic and religious tensions, and I say: Gods bless it.

I decided that in this instance discretion constituted the better part of valor, so I read aloud John Updike's Seven Stanzas at Easter  (you can read it here). Although it ends weakly, the poem addresses, from within its own Christian context, the same larger issues of science, religion, and language with which every living tradition must wrestle in our day. Updike's conclusion: The only mythology worth having is a literal mythology.

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I'm currently replaying the God of War series. Each time I play this series, what fascinates me about it is how Greek mythology is portrayed in the game series, and how that very process of representation consequently creates new interest in the original mythology. And this isn't just limited to God of War. I've noticed this same phenomenon with the Percy Jackson series, Marvel's version of Thor, and other modern variants of older mythology, which simultaneously create new mythology and also revitalize older mythology by getting people interested in the source material.

While there may be some knee jerk reactions to this concept from purists, I think that its worthwhile to examine and understand how pop culture can revitalize interest in older mythologies, and how this may even be intentional on the part of the deities associated with those older mythologies. The reason it may be intentional is that said deities recognize that one way to get attention, belief, and eventually worship involves utilizing the medium of modern culture in order to get in front of the various people who might be receptive to those deities. And in this age of multi-media, the opportunity to get in front of such an audience is unparalleled for there are more people living now than have ever lived in previous eras of history.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mariah
    Mariah says #
    A lot of us have our pop culture gateways to paganism! For some it remains part of their path, others move beyond it. For myself,
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Good point about the UPG of authors.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    New versions of mythology for the modern world are perfectly fine, as long as they don't insult the beings being portrayed. My gen
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I'd agree that not everything produced is accurate to the original mythology and that in some cases it can be quite a different st
  • leonard wilson
    leonard wilson says #
    Great observation , i to enjoy the God of war series , later find myself brushing up on mythology , i just never made the connecti

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: The Eye of Odin

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

At the end of 2012, I looked over what I had read the previous year and came up with a list of Literary Discoveries. Considering how much I have read this year -- novels, novellas, anthologies, short stories, essays, longer works of philosophy and history and spirituality -- continuing the tradition seemed like a good idea. And, just like the previous list, not all of these titles were published in 2013 (though most were); I just discovered them this past year.

So, in no particular order, here is my 2013 edition of Literary Discoveries.

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So … the "God Graveyard." Yeah, it's been all over the Pagan blogosphere. I admit to being ambivalent in my reaction. Anger, annoyance, frustration, and exasperation all mingle alongside "the stupid! it burns!" 

Only after I took a really close look at some of the very fuzzy, rather crummy photos of the "graveyard" did I hit upon a response appropriate to BookMusings.* "Furrina?" I squinted at the photograph. "Who the heck is that?" I wondered -- and pulled out my battered copy of Goddesses in World Mythology by Martha Ann and Dorothy Myers Imel. I picked up Ann and Imel's book many many years ago, and it has never let me down; though the entry on Furrina** was brief, it was enough to pique my interest -- and the extensive bibliography offered plenty more venues of research.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Amazons have long fascinated me. As a little girl, the idea of living in an all-female society (free of bullying boys) was highly appealing. I spent many summer afternoons running around my backyard or curled up on the couch, fighting minotaurs and going on grand adventures with my sister Amazons. And you can be darn sure I preferred Wonder Woman* to that silly Superman -- I mean, she was from a super secret island and worshipped the Old Goddesses! How cool was that?

That fascination remained with me as I grew up. I gravitated towards the powerful women of history (like Hatshepsut and Elizabeth I) and those women who challenged the restrictive mores of their society (Harriet Tubman and Matilda Joscelyn Gage, to name two). When I wanted to escape into a fictional world, I chose those which featured women warriors and generals and starship captains.

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Jamie: thanks for the note about Sikelgaita. I'll have to look her up. As for real versus fictional Amazons: I think more atten
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    It does surprise me that so much attention is devoted to fictional amazons in popular culture (Xena, Wonder Woman and various fema
  • Melia Brokaw
    Melia Brokaw says #
    Nice! I was a Wonder Woman fan too!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So I recently read a blog that said if you want to pray for help for Syria, then pray to the old gods of Syria.  I think that is an interesting idea.  Who would know the people, their needs, their problems and the sources of dissension more accurately?  Who would want healing and unity more?  Send them the energy to help them heal their people.  For non-polytheistic Pagans, who the gods of the region are may seem unimportant to you but think of it in terms of context.  For hard polytheists, it would be important to know who the gods of Syria are.  For soft polytheists, it may be important to know to who they are similar.  Alternatively, ask your own divinities to relay your prayers/gifts/well-wishes to their Canaanite brethren.

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  • Melia Brokaw
    Melia Brokaw says #
    Our government can be very short sighted. Add to that the complications of the thousands of years of conflict in that area and it
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Thank you for this post! I don't know which saddens me more...the situation within Syria itself, or our choice of "allies". Gotta

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