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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Now The Green Blade Riseth

Down the years, it's become the leitmotif of our spring evenday (equinox) celebration.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain:

wheat that in the deep Earth many days hath lain.

Love lives again, that with the dead hath been:

love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

 

The tune is a 17th century French noel, with lyrics written by an early 20th century Anglican clergyman. Now the pagans sing it when, having descended into the underworld, we find Spring and bring her back. As a round we sing it, vining, intertwining, calling forth the green.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Finding Spring

When we enter the temple, she is gone.

We light from the altar fire and go out to look for her. Up and down we look. Everywhere we see signs of her, and these we gather into baskets; but she herself is nowhere.

We regather. There is only one place she can be. With our fire, we descend.

We walk the winding ways of below. Even here we do not find her.

We enter darkness. In darkness, even fire dies.

While we wait, we sing. In darkness, it ends and begins.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Happy, um, Pasch

Hey you. Yeah, you: Christian.

Hey, check this out. Did you know that  Easter is really the name of a pagan goddess? Seriously. Easter is a pagan goddess: goddess of dawn. And spring, of course. Really.

Says so right here in Bede. Yeah, that's the one, the “Venerable Bede.” Always a venerable, never a saint, ha ha. Well, actually, I think he is a saint now, isn't he? Didn't they canonize him a while back? A saint wouldn't lie about that kind of thing now, would he?

Hey, check this out: Pasch. Rhymes with “flask.” Nice, hunh? Beautiful. (Makes sign of aversion behind back.) Gotta love that funky spelling.

Fine old Christian word, Pasch. Actually the original name for the holiday, back before the pagans got their mitts on it. Goes all the way back to Aramaic. Really. The language of Jesus, right. Used the word himself, no doubt about it. Whatsoever. Jesus. Yeah.

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Easter is Risen: Philip A. Shaw's "Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World"

Eosturmonath [April] [is] called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honor feasts [festa] were celebrated in that month.

This lone sentence from chapter 15 of Bede of Jarrow's De Temporum Ratione ("On the Reckoning of Time"), along with the fact that, from very early times, a Christian festival came to be called by her name, is literally all that we know about the Anglo-Saxon goddess Easter. Literally all.

Under the circumstances, scholars have tended in two directions. The Maximalists have viewed Easter as a pan-Germanic goddess, herself a reflex of a pan-Indo-European Dawn goddess whose sister-selves include Vedic Ushas, Greek Eos, and Latin Aurora.

The Minimalists—many of them clearly driven by pique that so Christian a festival should bear so blatantly pagan a name—deny that such a goddess ever existed at all, and seek alternate (and non-pagan) derivations for the name of the church's great spring festival.

In Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda, and the Cult of Matrons, Philip A. Shaw, lecturer in English and Old English at Leicester University, in a work surprisingly readable for all its dense erudition, attempts to stake out a centrist ground midway between maximalist and minimalist positions. Of greatest interest to the contemporary pagan reader (to this contemporary pagan reader, at any rate) is his marshaling of new information to shed new light on the subject.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dawn of the Year

We're getting our dawns back.

At the latitude at which I live—44.9798º N—we lose our dawns during the winter. The Sun goes down; it's dark. The Sun comes up; it's light. But the rich, varied colors of Dawn—the roses, the ambers, the saffrons, the teals—go down into the Dark of the Year and are gone.

But now they're returning. Into the colorless world of winter, color comes flooding back.

The Dawn of the Seasons, the Dawn of the Year, approaches. For 6000 years and more, spring has been the special season of Dawn, ever-young goddess, and the many and varied dawn goddesses of the Indo-European-speaking world are known wherever those languages are spoken. In English we call her Easter.

Some have postulated a myth in which, through the dark winter, Dawn is held captive in the Underworld. And now she's coming back to us again, free at last.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The next divinity in my tribute to the deities in the “god graveyard” is the Northern European Eostre (Eastre, Ostara) goddess of the dawn and of spring.

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