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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan revival

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Is Alexander the Great Actually Buried in Wisconsin?


In the dream, I'm attending a pagan festival, the main claim to fame of which is that the body of Alexander the Great—yes, that Alexander the Great—is buried on grounds.

Now, the ultimate fate of the sôma, body, of Alexander the Great, Talisman of Alexandria, remains one of history's enduring mysteries.

Said festival being held in Wisconsin, then, this strikes me—even in dream-logic—as unlikely in the extreme, to say the very least.

How he got there, the stories don't tell. A likely enough scenario readily presents itself, though: late Antiquity, the rising power of the Church, hostile to a rival Savior, an epic journey westward of the faithful across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, and thence (presumably) up the Mississippi: fodder for a C-grade popular novel, one might think, with scenes switching back-and-forth between the ancient world, and an incredulous archaeological present.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Robin's nest with a brown-headed cowbird egg - Bing Gallery

A Religion of Converts?


One might, on the face of it, think that most New Pagans are—in effect—converts.

Some seventy-five years into the Pagan Revival, I suspect that, still, the vast majority of us didn't grow up this way. I myself was, as they say in New Crete, “hatched in the wrong nest.”

And yet, if they asked you, “When did you become pagan?”, would the most honest answer really not be, “This is who I've always been”?

In my travels, I've met a spare handful who became pagan as the result of (if you'll pardon the comparison) a “road to Damascus” experience: the overwhelming, life-changing epiphany of a god or, more often, goddess.

But the fact remains that, for most of us, becoming pagan is not so much a matter of becoming something that we weren't before as it is of discovering a name for who and what we've always already been.

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Dyspeptic right-wing alarmists like Rod Dreher notwithstanding, Christianity isn't really dying in the West.

Changing, yes. Losing market share, yes.

Dying, no.

But, to a not-unsympathetic outside observer such as myself, the slow ebb of its unquestioned spiritual monopoly here in the West offers an opportunity to understand an outstanding problem of human religious history: how did the old paganisms of Europe manage to die off so quickly?

Again and again, in region after region, the pattern emerges: within a few generations of conversion, cultic paganism has all but disappeared, leaving behind it little but a tide-wrack of half-remembered lore and behaviors. Where once religion was, only folklore remains.

Nor was this pattern unique to the West. The last bastion of Indo-European-speaking paganism was in the Hindu Kush mountains, the northeastern region of Afghanistan then called Kafiristan, “land of unbelievers.” Here the ancient ways persisted into the 1890s.

The emir of Kabul's jihad against the infidels changed all that. A decade of fire and sword, genocide and forced conversion, later, the land of unbelievers came to be known (as it is today) as Nuristan, “land of light.” 100 years on, sociologists have found that contemporary Nuristanis remember virtually nothing about the old ways of their great-grandparents: a few old god-names, perhaps, but little more.

All too often, historians have viewed this pattern, in effect, through spiritual Darwinist spectacles: as the product of some inherent qualitative superiority of the new ways over the old. That this is simply not so is proven by the emergence of the same pattern, but reversed, in our own day.

(Fueled by the inherent spiritual defficiencies of Abrahamic worldviews, the same reemergence of the Old Ways that here in the West we call “paganism” is simultaneously taking place among peoples all over the world.)

From our own experience, we can easily see how, and how quickly, such culture-loss can happen. Despite the cultural omnipresence of the various Christianities in contemporary America, the children of pagans, or of the non-religious, grow up knowing very little about Jesus, the Bible, or the Church. Once the chain is broken, the Forgetting sets in quickly. One generation is all it takes.

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Special Places: Confluences where great rivers merge | Friends of the  Mississippi River


Why did Gerald Gardner choose the Horned God and Moon Goddess as the divine patrons of his Revival Witchcraft and, by extension, of the entire Pagan Revival?

Well, in a sense, he didn't choose them: one could say—again, in a sense—that they chose him.

These, in fact, were two of the three available strands—the third being Ceremonial Magic—from which Gardner plaited the cord of the Modern Craft: the Murray/Horned God/solar calendar strand, and the Leland/Moon Goddess/lunar calendar strand.

But let us go deeper.

The Horned God, of course, is preeminently God of Animals and, as such, of the Body. Insofar as Revival Paganism personifies the Western world's necessary return to the body, its truths and cycles—the reembodiment of Western spiritual life—one could hardly choose a more fitting divine patron.

As for the Lady of the Moon: she herself is the goddess who grows, who wanes, who is no more—and who returns. Lady of Cycles, of birth, death, and rebirth, she in her very being shows forth the truth of the New Paganism. What once was, but was no more, is now again.

It was the flowing-together of these two currents—this confluence, this Great Rite of traditions—that brought forth the Modern Craft, and—by extension—Modern Paganism as a whole.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Labrys & Horns: New Second Edition

I'm pleased and proud to announce the release of the new second edition of Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism. Since the publication of the first edition in 2016, we've expanded our pantheon and sacred calendar, created a new standard ritual format for both groups and solitaries, and developed a set of spiritual practices that we all share.

When I say the second edition is expanded, I mean it. The first edition, in print format, is 140 pages long. The new second edition clocks in at 243 pages.

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Reviving Ancient Religion: How does shared gnosis work?

It takes a number of different approaches to build a revivalist spiritual tradition like Modern Minoan Paganism. We started with some of the usual reconstruction methods: ancient artifacts and art; archaeological information about cities, buildings, and homesites; astronomical building and tomb alignments; myth fragments recorded by later writers; dance ethnography; and comparative mythology. But even with all those methods stacked together, we still ended up with holes to fill in order to create a functional modern spiritual practice. In the case of Minoan religion, those holes are pretty big.

What do we use to fill those gaps? Shared gnosis.

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A Homeland More of Time Than Place: In Search of an Anthem for the Pagan Revival

Is there an anthem of the Pagan Revival?

Short answer: No, although it sure would be nice to have one.

Probably the closest we get to a New Pagan anthem is “Gwydion Pendderwen”'s 1981 We Won't Wait Any Longer:

We Won't Wait Any Longer


We won't wait any longer,

We are stronger than before;

We won't wait any longer,

We are stronger!


We have trusted no man's promise,

We have kept to just ourselves,

We have suffered from the lies

In all the books on all your shelves,

But our patience and endurance

Through the Burning Times til now

Have given us the strength to keep our vow.




You have grazed away the heather,

You have razed the sacred grove,

You have driven native peoples

From the places that they love;

Though your greed has been unbounded,

You have felt the pangs of shame

Each time you trod upon the Mother's name.




Though you thought you had destroyed

Each memory of the ancient ways,

Still the people light the balefire

Every year on Solstice day;

And on Beltane and at Samhain

You will find us on the hill,

Invoking once again the Triple Will!




Through the ages many peoples

Have risen and have gone,

But dispersed among the nations

Of the world we linger on.

Now the time has come to take

The sacred Cauldron of Rebirth,

And fulfill our ancient pledges to the Earth!




Kudos to Gwydion, who considered himself a Muse poet in the Gravesian tradition, for being the first to dream of a fine, rousing anthem for the New Old Religion(s). Alas that his aims generally outpaced his abilities.

As an anthem, We Won't Wait Any Longer hasn't aged well. The Pagan World has marched on in the last few decades, and the song's specifically Wiccan imagery reads more exclusively now than it did then.

Likewise, while fully endorsing the song's sentiments, I've always felt that it was weakened by the fact that it specifically addresses itself to...whom? Christianity? The Church? The non-pagan world in general? In any event, to them: the bad guys of our story.

To this, my attitude is: Why make our enemies the center of our discourse? F**k 'em! Let's direct our anthem to ourselves, or to our gods.

Well, there's no reason why, as New Pagans, we need an anthem, or—in what is, after all, the Wonderful World of the Many—anthems. Perhaps some day someone will write one that we can all get behind.

Until such a time (if any), my own nomination for New Pagan Anthem goes to Daniel Pemberton's We Shall Go Home/Song of Exile*, from the 2004 film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

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