We've got the winners from a Norse mythology art contest. Elizabeth Creely talks about the mystique and appeal of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And a blogger discusses what it means to "put the gods first." It's Watery Wednesday, our news segment on the Pagan community around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
It's something of a problem in contemporary pagan iconography.
Do gods have halos?
Halo: a disk of light surrounding the head, in art the conventional indicator of holiness. (In Greek, halo means “threshing floor”; threshing floors were clean, shining disks of ground.)
To Western eyes, halos may have something of a Christian look to them. For some, that's a problem.
But look East and you'll see that buddhas wear halos too, and so do Hindu gods.
In fact, there was a time when use of the halo was forbidden to Christian artists. Sorry, Crispus, halos are for pagans.
It's one of the few known instances of actual King Sacrifice in the literature.
Dómaldi took the inheritance after his father Visbur, and ruled the land. In his day, a great famine and hunger engirded the Swedish thede (people). Then the Swedes offered great sacrifice at Uppsala. The first autumn they sacrificed oxen, but the following season was no better. The next autumn they held a man-sacrifice, but the next season was even worse. The third autumn a great many Swedes came to Uppsala when the sacrifices were to be offered. Then the chieftains took rede with one another, and agreed both that the famine was due to Dómaldi their king, and that they should sacrifice him that very year: take him out, kill him, and redden the altars with his blood.
And that is what they did.
So wrote Icelander Snorri Sturluson in his Ynglingasaga (1225).
Snorri's account implies a perpetrated violence, but in Swedish painter Carl Larsson's monumental 1915 canvas, Midvinterblot (“Midwinter Sacrifice”), the death of King Dómaldi becomes a moving act of willing self-sacrifice.
In this controversial painting, a festive crowd has gathered before the great stave-temple of Uppsala. Lurs blare, women dance, warriors march. Through the open doorway, we see the great golden statue of the Thunderer standing in a chariot drawn by golden goats. Before the temple the high góði stands with hammer raised to hallow the sacrifice. In the foreground, facing away from the viewer, stands the red-cloaked sacrificer, who holds the bright blade, ready but hidden, behind his back.
But the center of the painting is Dómaldi himself, his head thrown back, standing (like Þórr) on the sledge on which he has been drawn in procession to the temple.
Young, vigorous, bearded and redly beautiful, he is depicted in the act of shedding the red fox-skin cloak which is his only covering. Beneath it, in the Midwinter cold, he offers himself stripped for sacrifice, naked and ready. It is the ultimate act of royal kenosis: the voluntary self-emptying of one who willingly gives his life for the people.
The occult makes its way into the art world. Wiccans participate in a multifaith prayer circle. And A look at how to teach Heathenry to children. It's Watery Wednesday, our weekly segment on news about the Pagan community from around the world! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
AP: Washington, DC
The Postmaster General announced today the upcoming release of a series of stamps commemorating the eight holidays celebrated by the vast majority of contemporary pagans.
"Pagans have been an integral part of this nation since its founding and before," said Postmaster Tamar Penrose, acting head of the US Postal Service. "It's time and high time for such a public acknowledgement."
The stamps will be released later this year on November 1, the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, celebrated by many contemporary pagans as their New Year.
The release coincides with the opening of the Smithsonian's new exhibit, "Pagan America: The First 400 Years." The exhibit will include the unveiling of the original prototypes for the stamps.
The prototypes were created by the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MCPA) which, since its founding in 2013, has spearheaded the mainstreaming of pagan art and culture into American consciousness. It was the MCPA that first vetted the idea to the Postal Service.
I am because you are.
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.
A great meeting of the gods was called for a certain day. As the various statues of the gods arrived from all over the world, the gatekeeper directed them.
Gold statues in rows 1 to 3, silver statues rows 4 and 5. Bronze statues in rows 6 through 10; marble statues, rows 11-20. Wooden statues in rows 21 to 40.
Now it so happened that Socrates was in attendance that day. He approached the gatekeeper.
Come, come, my friend, he chided him. A work of art cannot be judged merely on the basis of what it is made from. Some of these bronze and marble statues—even some of the wooden ones—are great masterpieces, made by the finest artists of their day. By any reasonable standard, we must hold them to be of greater value than statues of lesser craftsmanship that merely happen to be made from gold and silver.