Skip to main content

View Diary: Origins of English: Pagan and Heathen (53 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  As an agnostic (8+ / 0-)

    my favorite Christian holiday--Easter--particularly appeals to me because of how deeply rooted it is in Western culture, through Jewish and pagan tradition.

    Christianity, as it originated and spread, was forced to stretch considerably to "engulf" local traditions.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:12:49 AM PDT

    •  Ireland (11+ / 0-)

      I teach a number of courses on ancient Ireland, often focusing on pre-Christian Ireland. In talking about the early monastic period, I usually point out that monasteries, sacred sites, and churches were often built on places which the druid had used for ceremonies. In fact, some of the Druid deities came Catholic Saints.

      •  Do you teach about human sacrifice? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notreadytobenice, karmsy, zinger99

        That was one of the main reasons Christianity triumphed in Ireland. You're life wasn't in danger, only your afterlife.

        •  Oh for Goddess sake! (5+ / 0-)

          The only GOOD sacrifice is a willing sacrifice -- just killing someone and saying you did it for some divine being does not give you brownie points in the hereafter, no matter how much ritual you dress it up with...

          At some point in history every known culture has killed people, sometimes for their gods, sometimes for other reasons.

          Christianity's hands are not clean -- only it has a tendency of killing its' fellow Christians just because they worshipped their god in a different manner.

          Look up the Cathars, the Albigensians, the Coptic Christians (during the Crusades), and the whole spate of wars and persecutions set off by the Reformation.  

        •  it wouldn't be a thead about Paganism (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alexandra Lynch, Ojibwa, karmsy

          without someone bringing up human / blood sacrifice. (a common accusation from religions against other religions - see the Jews.) As a modern Pagan, we get that on occasion, along with the you worship Satan accusations. I can't say for sure what the ancients did in practice, as we only have the word of conquerors, but everything I know about modern Paganism tells me life is sacred and interconnected and a core tenet is the principle of 'harm none." Therefore it seems like the idea of human sacrifice (as implied in the term human sacrifice, in other words an unwilling victim) would be anathema to those beliefs.

          "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

          by solesse413 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:29:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Meso-American Religions Set the Tone (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, justintime, karmsy

            Unfortunately, the great Meso-American religions are the last organized pagan faiths which the Western world has encountered and they did rely quite a bit on human sacrifice.  Clearly, since they were the most recent, they're the best remembered and extended to all pagan religions.  Few people today know that the last pagan religion in Europe was among the Lithuanians, against whom the Teutonic Knights actually crusaded over centuries until the Lithuanians converted in only about the 14th century.  That didn't stop the Teutonic Knights from continuing their crusades against the Lithuanians though.

            "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

            by PrahaPartizan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 03:08:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Modern Paganism only dates from the 1890s (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and and is rather benign. I never said anything about organized Wicca groups ritually killing people. I was talking about prechristian Ireland, when they certainly did do it.

            When I first went to China, I was horrified to learn that the Han dynasty practiced human sacrifice, and that it continued well into the second millennium CE (exactly when, I was never able to find out).

            There is evidence that Odin and Thor received human sacrifice, and not that many centuries before Cortez conquered Mexico either.

            When we are talking about "neo-paganism" or Wicca, we are NOT talking about ancient polytheism and vice versa.

        •  Where's the evidence (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, NonnyO, karmsy

          for human sacrifice in Ireland?

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:55:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry to kill your illusions, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves
            •  What illusions? (0+ / 0-)

              I just asked for the evidence, which I will now examine.

              Project much?

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:28:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Okay thanks for the link (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO, Ojibwa

              I suspected that you were referencing the bog men/women. I'm familiar with such finds as well as with the academic debate as to whether or not are they are condemned criminals, sacrificial victims or both. I wasn't aware that an expert consensus on the questions had been reached. Here's a key passage from the article:

              Eamonn Kelly said the find ‘mirrors that of Oldcroghan Man in 2003, which was on the boundary of the territory centred on Croghan Hill, where the ancient kings of Uí Fáilge were inaugurated. Like Oldcroghan Man, it is believed that Cashel Man was killed as part of a sovereignty ritual.’

              He added: ‘Wounds noted on the body suggest we are dealing with a victim of human sacrifice.’

              What's missing here is an explanation of why "it is believed" that Oldcroghan Man was a ritual sacrifice or why the wounds on Cashel Man "suggest" that he was a victim of human sacrifice. Moreover, it isn't clear exactly who's belief is being referenced or whether that belief is a general academic consensus or subject to continued debate.

              Guess I'll have to inquire further.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:47:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  This at least answers the question of whose belief (0+ / 0-)

              is being referenced.

              I have to point out that none of the evidence presented in the article necessarily dictates the conclusion that the individuals were sacrificial victims.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:15:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  They were ordered from Rome... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, karmsy

      ... to adopt and adapt local religious (i.e. "pagan") sites and goddesses and gods because then it would be easier for the local people to accept the new religion.

      That's how so many Xian churches were built on sites of old pagan worship, and how so many Xian saints were adopted from pagan worship..., particularly Goddess worship by making Mary a high deity.

      The oldest forms of matriarchal worship had the Maiden, Mother, Crone female trinity.  It was the ones who were used to worshiping a female deity who had to be won over more than any others.

      Paleolithic sites all over Europe have unearthed multiple female statues - perhaps the most famous is the Venus of Willendorf.  There are many other small feminine statues, too.  
      Venus of Dolní Věstonice
      Venus of Petřkovice
      Venus of Hohle Fels
      Venus of Brassempouy
      More info on Venus figurines.

      The year I decided on my minor studies (Art History), I was able to arrange my studies so everything was coordinated.  Literature was the earliest known, art was the earliest known, and music was the earliest known.  Across all disciplines, I was studying the earliest known for one whole year.  It was quite thrilling.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:52:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ēostre is an old Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Dawn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, karmsy

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site