PaganSquare


PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Robert Graves
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Confesses to Committing a Theft

Let me tell you the story of how, as a young man, I committed a theft. From a church, no less.

A friend had invited me to a service at his Lutheran church. Afterwards, during coffee hour, I wandered into the church library. There on the shelf, I saw it.

Of all unlikely things to find in a church library: a copy of Robert Graves' iconoclastic 1946 novel, King Jesus.

Don't be put off by the title, or the subject matter. This novel is Graves' revisionist Goddess history of that erstwhile Jewish prophet, and—Graves being Graves—it's matriarchy versus patriarchy in the Battle of the Millennium.

Spoiler alert: the Goddess wins.

(No big surprise there. Anybody that knows Her knows that, in the end, the Goddess always wins.)

Although it lacked a dust cover, the book was otherwise in pristine condition. I pulled it off the shelf and opened the cover. It was a first edition.

I checked the “Date Due” card in back. The book had belonged to the church for more than 20 years. (No doubt someone had donated it: unread, to all appearances.) In all that time, it had never once been checked out. So I stole it.

Ah, the things you do for love.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    I found a hardcover copy at B&N for $3.95. The NOOK version is $10.99.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Happy reading!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I ordered a copy of King Jesus from Barnes & Noble. I also ordered copies of Jesus through Pagan Eyes, and Magic in the New Testa
The Pomegranate Tree: A Carol by Robert Graves

If you haven't read (or reread) Robert Graves' King Jesus lately, let me recommend it.

Don't be put off by the title, or the subject matter. This novel is Graves' revisionist Goddess history of that erstwhile Jewish prophet, and—Graves being Graves—it's matriarchy versus patriarchy in the Battle of the Millennium.

Spoiler alert: the Goddess wins.

(No big surprise there. Anybody that knows Her knows that, in the end, the Goddess always wins.)

Written at roughly the same time as Graves' “grammar of poetic myth” The White Goddess, King Jesus is equally filled with savory tidbits of lore, but—with its iconoclastic narrative to buoy it up—it's eminently the more readable of the two.

Among the riches that you'll find there is this delightful little carol. We generally sing it to the tune of the traditional Appalachian song The Cherry Tree Carol.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Anthony, I'm astounded. A well-read guy like you? Tell you what. If you can't find a copy at your local library, buy yourself a ch
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading about the book King Jesus in Drawing Down the Moon but I've never stumbled across a copy of the book myself. I
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Bites His Thumb at Robert Graves

You may recall the scene in Romeo and Juliet in which a servant of the Montagues publicly twits servants of the Capulets with a rude gesture.

SAMPSON [to Gregory]: ...I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it. [Bites thumb.]

ABRAHAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON: I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAHAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON [aside to Gregory]: Is the law of [on] our side if I say 'Ay'?

GREGORY: No.

SAMPSON: No sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.43-52)

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Too funny and interesting too. Thanks! Tasha

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The White Goddess: Her Seal

It's an icon of the new paganism, really, known to millions all around the world: the Triple Goddess sigil on the cover of Robert Graves' White Goddess.

It's also a prediction.

It could almost be a Minoan seal, although it's not. In fact, it was designed by Graves' gifted friend and secretary Kenneth Gay ( Karl Goldschmidt, 1912-1995) to Graves' precise specifications; Graves stood at his elbow throughout the making of the image.

In it, we see the Triple Goddess herself: three bare-breasted women in flounced Minoan skirts, their arms intertwined around each others' shoulders. But this is the Three that is Nine, Graves' Ninefold Muse: above her, three cranes, below her, three linked spirals. In each of the Three Realms, She is sovereign: Heaven, Earth, the Sea.

Standing before her in adoration and supplication, we see a long-haired youth, naked (except his for belt) and ithyphallic. He is her worshiper, her consort, her poet. Above him, we see the signs of his twin natures: the fivefold star of life, and the spotted serpent of prophecy and death, the light and the dark together. For he is his own twin and contrary.

But this is no simple scene of adoration that we see before us: it is the making of an agreement between the Goddess and her Poet. The seal seals the deal. For she bestows upon him a gift, the reception of which marks his fealty to her: an eye.

For love, she gives insight: the age-old covenant.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I do indeed. Since this past Spring when I was helping Jo write and design the Green Pulse Oracle based on Fred Adams' work, I've
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Remember when, if you wanted more about the Goddess, The White Goddess was the only place to turn? Yikes. Talk about Memory Lane!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Bravo!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Look Away

They've got a useful social custom in the Goddess-worshiping New Cretan civilization of the future.

Public Disappearance.

If for some reason you need to be in public, but are not available for social interaction—say you're deep in thought or in a big hurry—you put the “Look Away” symbol on your forehead and promptly Disappear. No one sees you.

“Excellent,” says Edward Venn-Thomas, the 20th-century protagonist of Robert Graves' 1949 novel Watch the North Wind Rise, who (for reasons I won't go into here) has been magically transported into the utopian Goddess future. “I must try to introduce that custom into my own age when I get back” (119).

In New Crete the Look Away symbol is a mouth with out-thrust tongue. There this is considered a symbol of the Hag (think Kali or Medusa). Those who wear Her sign are under Her protection. Non-being, after all, is Her purview.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Heather Coffey
    Heather Coffey says #
    Somehow I am now picturing the null symbol as part of a head tikka ornament now. LOL Thank you!
The Five-Petaled Primrose: A Magic Charm by Robert Graves

Poet and novelist Robert Graves (1895-1985), author of The White Goddess, generally eschewed magical practice.

I am no mystic, he wrote in 1960, I avoid participation in witchcraft, spiritualism, yoga, fortune-telling, automatic writing, and the like (Graves 1966, 488).

But we know that at least once, when asked for a magic charm, he complied, with interesting results.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Golden Apples of the Sun

Robert Graves' novel Hercules, My Shipmate, his iconoclastic retelling of the tale of Jason and the Golden Fleece, opens with an encounter with the Orange Nymph, priestess of the sacred Orange Grove, on Majorca, the Balearic island off the Mediterranean coast of Spain, which Graves portrays as a last bastion of matriarchal civilization and Goddess worship in a rapidly patriarchalizing world.

Rather archly he explains:

The orange is a round, scented fruit, unknown elsewhere in the civilized world, which grows green at first, then golden, with a hot rind and cold, sweet, sharp flesh. It is found on a smooth tree with glossy leaves and prickly branches, and ripens in mid-winter, unlike any other fruit. It is not eaten indiscriminately in Majorca, but once a year only, at the winter solstice, after ritual chewing of buckthorn and other herbs; thus eaten, it confers long life. At other times, the slightest taste of an orange will result in immediate death, so sacred a fruit is it; unless the Orange Nymph herself dispenses it (Graves 4).

This tongue-in-cheek passage is doubly a send-up. In it, the mythological Island of the Hesperides with its legendary Golden Apples of Life become a real-world place—in fact, the island on which Graves made his home for most of his adult life—and a real-world fruit. Likewise, Graves is satirizing a longstanding British custom: generations of English kids grew up with that exotic and expensive Southron fruit, the orange, tucked into the toe of their Christmas stocking.

Last modified on

Additional information