Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Resurgence of the Old Gods – who never died

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As much as monotheistic religions want to believe it, report it, demand it, the Old Gods never actually died. They’ve always been around, it was just the people of the world, for a while there, were made to believe something else – until it was legal to believe in what felt right for you. The resurgence of polytheistic religions is still very popular, as is the resurgence into atheism. It does not worry me what people choose to believe, but to be left alone to choose is what every human appears to want.

A great online article on the belief in the Olds Gods is Hannah M. G. Shapero’s Ancient Gods: Where are they now? – A fantastic piece covering all aspects of belief, existence, and popularity. I’ll be using this piece in this post, or referring to it – how can I not when it covers everything! Digressing over…

A wise person I have known for over a decade whom I trust with my life once said to me ‘The Old Gods lie dormant until you call them again.’ I think that is completely true. I’m also completely glad that other people out there are thinking just like me! I’m not alone! Even Terry Pratchett has a good point about Gods existing through the power of belief.

‘Gods on the Discworld exist as long as people believe in them and their power grows as their followers increase.’

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It’s good to see when you search the internet, evidence across the planet of a resurgence in pagan rituals, and a true belief in the Old Gods. Seek out Doretta Peppa and see how this persistent and interesting woman brings back the rituals of the Olympic Gods. They may not be exactly like the ones from the olde days, but the fact that they are there doing it, means a lot. It makes people see what is going on – not just in Athens, but other parts of the world – AND that it’s really quite harmless. I have seen, and I really believe, that the general public, when they see a pagan ritual, begin to realise they appear pretty inoffensive. I’ve felt BAD vibes in a born-again church, but never in a pagan ritual and I think witnesses think and feel the same thing. Some don’t want to believe in it, damning it as demonic, even if they see it is harmless – a line in an article says about Peppa’s rites:

‘The Greek Orthodox Church has said they are miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion.’

Doretta_Peppa

It seems to be easy to worry the Church. The religion may have died, but the Gods didn’t. You’ve got several countries looking at doing religious rites involving the Old Gods, using festival, masquerade, fire, and procession – like Latvia, Norse/Asatru ritual, Fire Festivals, and low-key Halloween ceremonies…like this one…

The amazing Rappahannock Halloween Festival

The variety is astounding. People are always finding out a way to connect with the Old Gods, letting them know they are aware they are out there. And the Gods know it! It’s a great shame the monotheistic religions are down on the poor deities, convincing people it’s not alright to worship such Gods. As Shapero says…

‘…some of the more fanatical absolute monotheists, among whom can be counted radical Evangelicals and other fundamentalists, the old gods did exist, but they were demons. They were actually evil beings, sent by Satan to deceive people. They were idols – false things worshipped by ignorant people. Once the true monotheism has arrived, there is no excuse to worship these idols. Therefore they must be smashed, and Christianity and Islam have done a lot of smashing over the years. Do they still exist? Yes, the way Satan and the demons still exist…’

athens-torchrelay_2215194bPriestesses at the Athens Olympics, 2004

At least they admit they exist! I’m fine with that – I’ll have my rant later about my own opinion. Now, coming to experiences with the Gods. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with the divine, and perceived it in my own way. I’ve had moments, where I have emanated pure emotion and had a response from something that comforted me – in a moment of sadness, I had a voice in my head that was certainly not me, and it helped me in my lonely, desperate moment. AND it was not just a voice, I was given some hindsight into something that would one day come to me – I actually got a glimpse into the future! I had called to Her in desperation, and She came! Others have told me of their experiences with the divine, and would have their own description for it – God, the Virgin Mary, the Goddess, whatever. Whatever we believe comes to us in those times – and often there is something in that moment where you somehow just KNOW that it is NOT your own head talking to yourself. You’re too emotional to think straight let alone give yourself a positive answer. That’s how you know you were not alone that moment. I’ve had that. It’s profound. But what about specific encounters with the Gods? I know of two accounts I want to write about – one from a trusted friend, a no-nonsense person who doesn’t take things lightly, and is not easily fooled, and another woman, whom I met once, whom I don’t really trust as much – anyway, both of them had an ‘encounter’ with the Horned God. And yes, I mean a sexual encounter. I know my friend’s story better – from what I gathered, this encounter occurred, not during sleep or physical broad daylight, but must have been during a trance or meditation. Nor am I aware of drugs being involved. But I asked my friend all the details – she distinctly recalls holding onto the antlers during the sexual encounter. That makes me think it was during a trance, or even some other world visitation. As a reader and researcher of strange phenomenon and the supernatural, I LOVE these kinds of stories. I file them away in my head, neither believing nor disbelieving them. But I know I have every right to believe it if I want. Would a skeptic laugh at me? Probably, but he can argue till he’s blue in the face, I will believe what I want.

cerumnos_the_horned_god_by_aryundomiel-d3jkgvu
Well, hello!

Another encounter I know of was during ritual – an extremely dark Goddess turned up during ritual, sought out and pointed to a particular disturbed person in the circle. This person was a cheeky one, and She knew it, and made herself known. He probably wet himself after that.

There will be people all over the world with stories to tell of experiencing the Old Gods – physically or spiritually – that would be quite a fun read! As an academic, I’ve read enough to learn something about the world, something about religion and something about belief. I cannot, in all honesty, even remotely believe that the Bible is a useful, reliable book that a human being should refer to. To me, it simply goes against human behaviour. However, belief in the Gods is certainly more plausible in my world. I once read Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon. To be honest, it was a painful read, but what I LOVED, what warmed my heart and made me feel at home, was the characters in the book who stayed devoted to the Goddess and to Avalon. They did not bow down to the Christian religion, no matter how popular and powerful the religion was becoming. During the book, all I remember wanting to happen was that Morgaine went back to Avalon with her pagan lover Accolon, stay there, and let the foolish outside world war with each other till they all died out.

My opinions…

I’ve never told a Christian that his God doesn’t exist, but deep down I’ve thought that he, as a God, is rather boring. It’s just my preference, I enjoy a saucy God/dess just as much as the next person. When I anthropomorphise the Gods with characteristics, I think of the sexy, frivolous, yet vindictive Aphrodite, The sexual and cheeky, yet childishly playful Pan, and the wise and serene Athena, who has a scary streak. But when I think of the Christian God, he is the lonely shut-in that contradicts himself – according to the description of his followers. The level of importance the Christian God sits to his followers and priests, makes me think that I cannot speak with him. Jeanne D’Arc was envied and killed because she was spoken to by God via the saints – she was not a man let alone a priest, and we can’t be having with that. Nor have I ever thought the Christian God was evil, however a lot of his followers like to think he’s judgemental, vicious and damning. What a way to make your God sound unpleasant! In the end, it’s not the God that puts me off the religion – it’s the patriarchal, and often misogynistic domination of the world, where the sacred act of sex is a sin, where the selfish belief that their religion is the true one. It just ISN’T, in fact, it’s probably the furthest from it.

Today, people keep going on about the Virgin Mary being like the Goddess – but to me, that is not good enough. I don’t want someone clad in blue, with no features but the face showing, and no womanly figure to rever. I just don’t care enough. Mary was seen and not heard, carried a baby, raised it, but did nothing else – She was put in her place. They say the Gods are still alive in Christian religions – the Virgin Mary is like the Goddess, the saints are like separate Gods, etc etc – But I don’t want ANYTHING to do with any Christian religion at all. Before you say anything, I know our world is very Christocentric, and neo-paganism probably does have elements of Christianity that we don’t notice, but there is not much we can do about that in this world. I don’t think the Christian God in all his omnipresence and knowledge, gives a rat’s arse that I don’t worship him, only his followers would care about such things. I’m inclined to think he is not as bad as his followers say he is.

I’m not selfish enough to say my religion is the true religion – there is no true religion, because there are so many, and if the individual is kind, happy and lives a good life not harming others, then all the better. I’m also not selfish enough to say ‘my gods were around first, your god was invented at the council of Nicaea, and therefore is not real.’ There is something within the power of belief, again Shapero says:

Can something that was once worshipped disappear into oblivion? Popular legends and stories tell of ethereal beings, such as the fairy “Tinkerbell,” whose very existence depends on the belief of human beings. When people cease to believe in these sweet spirits, they disappear into non-existence, like bubbles. Are the gods the same way? If no one believes in them, as I said earlier in this essay, do gods die? If not, then what lives on?

Of course, you could say there is no point in having one God, and then demons, angels and saints. Just make them all gods – that’s what they are, they’re spirits, earth-bound, celestial, and they are revered. I once insulted someone when I said that Satan was a Christian god. I did not care either way, but he tried to argue his point – which he is completely allowed to do – but sorry love, there is no convincing me, when I sometimes see Christians talk about the Devil almost MORE than their God, it makes me wonder. We all know talking of something gives it power. Perhaps they should worry about who they prefer to admire. The best Christians I’ve ever met, LOVE that pagans have their own Gods and are happy for them, as they are happy with their God. They are the best examples of humans out there.

I’m kind of tired of hearing about the bible, the Christian God, but I know I cannot avoid it. I’d rather read more about the Mithraic religions, Gilgamesh, and bring back the Elusinian Mysteries. Hell, even build Roman baths like they used to! Do some parade that involves a thyrsus and a laurel wreath. What certainly is important in the world today is that we let other people believe what they want, and not laugh at them. I’ve been rude in the past but only to the fundamental, pushy people who joined cults in the end, but in reality, I am happy for all to be who they are, as long as they leave me alone to live how I want.

In service of the Gods,

~ Daracha

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Dealing with Undesirables at a Pagan Event

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It’s all pretty straight forward, dealing with idiots – we all know what to do with them. Most of the time, it isn’t hard to obey rules and have manners, yet some people at pagan gatherings are notoriously perfect at acting like spoilt idiots.

This is, of course, is not that common. Most attendees of pagan gatherings are civil, good people, and are rarely disruptive, and do enjoy themselves. Some others (a rare amount) live for trouble and destruction, and most of the time that single person, or small group of people, can cause a lot of trouble. He or she could be one or two of one hundred at an event, yet still be spoken about years later.

There are many types of ego in the world. Some ego can strong and positive, but ego where the individual has delusions of grandeur has no place in any voluntary group or event. In reality, it does not matter what community – Pagan events, LARPing, churches, or clubs, etc, etc, etc.

All pagan events have rules and regulations. Whoever is running them has set them aside for a reason, and if you are to attend; private or public venue, you should obey the rules.

There is a story of a particular character here in Victoria whom I have heard about. This man has attended an annual pagan gathering for several years, and managed to disrupt the event for so many years, people stopped going. This person, on me hearing of his behaviour, attitudes, gripes and rumour-mongering, is understood to have a mental illness, yet does not attempt to remedy it with medication. It is common knowledge that people with mental illnesses and past issues not dealt with should stay AWAY from the Craft, but unfortunately they are coming in in DRONES. This man has also never apparently approached and had a civilised conversation with the organisers of the event, yet manages to spread lies, racial comments, and threats, it appears he simply decided what he decided about them and refuses to sort out any personal issues he has with the people. This same man also heckled and yelled insults from afar DURING a ritual! He was not removed, but ignored and eventually he quietened down. He thinks unnecessarily highly of himself. This is not an isolated incident.

  • Heckling at events and during ceremonies and rituals does happen, as strange as it may seem. I have heard from someone who took a large role in a ritual get heckled during said ritual – I am not sure why the people were not removed, but the individual did not take a role in ritual again for a long time afterwards. If it ever happens in an event you attend, you have every right to remove disruptive people, call the local police – stipulate this in your rules and code of conduct when organising the event – it’s up to them to read the documents and if they did not, it’s their bad luck. I have myself witnessed too many times a person ruining an event for everyone else and they DID NOT get removed, just ignored.
  • Drunks and drug-induced people should not be welcome in ritual. Even some events refrain from encouraging intoxication and drug-taking, so make sure that is listed in the rules. I have encountered drunk people at an event that made absolute fools of themselves and insulted people unwittingly. You must make sure all people are aware of this beforehand. I also have a personal opinion of raves and doof events where drug taking is prevalent. I’ve also seen ravers attempt to take over quiet festivals and events with non-stop bad ‘music’ and drug selling. As a pagan, and a non-drug taker, I have no need for these events in my life, so would rather not see them at events I attend. There is a time and place for such occupations.
  • Snobs and upstarts can often be an issue, but not as much as aggressive people. Often these upstarts have a few comments to make about certain bits and pieces at the events they attend, (probably thinking they can do better!) Some to the point where they may be removed, but usually they are just annoying know-it-all’s who may actually have no experience in running events. Well-read people in the craft don’t always mean you can run events. Take note of what they say, however rudely they may have said it, and file away the information to discuss later when de-briefing the event.
  • Event disrupters – people have been seen to disrupt an event by trying to do unwanted things at the gathering – someone set off an illegal firecracker at an event, then complained when they were told off! Others complain when they change the look of a venue or ritual space without permission and then whinge about it later when their gift was not acknowledged or required. At all costs, attempt to approach the person to discuss the problems they caused, especially your reason why you had to reject it.
  • Seers and moneymakers – some people will use your event for making money off people – if businesses are allowed at your event, fair enough, but if you would prefer not to have them, make sure they are aware of it. Make them advertise on their own time.

For those who run events , this is all pretty common knowledge – they have all kinds of characters attending. Good people who run good events usually run them for years unless something pretty bad occurs to stop that. You should never let a disrupter stop you from running an event – if there are issues with your event and the upstart, bully or whoever has the extreme pleasure in pointing out your faults, discuss what could be improved about the event with your group/committee. If it’s a pointless complaint, run the event anyway!

Make a no BS or politics policy for your event – ‘keep your issues at home’ – some events I have been to have been the opposite – people turned up purely to cause trouble, because they knew that was one place they would see their online ‘enemy’ that said something mean about them (which in all likelihood was true!)

I have seen events where people seemed to forget completely that it was a happy pagan/spiritual event with friends of the same ilk, yet they abuse, bully, demand respect they never earned, and make the whole thing about them – they must have thought they were royalty with the way they were insulted about how they are treated.

What would please me more, would be the disrupters themselves to read this post. Many of them would not know this is about them, their egos making them blind to what is obvious to all of us. If you attend a pagan gathering, you must obey the set rules, it is your responsibility to prove yourself. Approach the organisers – you might be pleasantly surprised and find they are pleasant! BE NICE at a pagan gathering – it’s a religious ceremony, you are there to worship the old Gods with like-minded folk – don’t go for a popularity contest, or bully other people. You are NOT ROYALTY, so don’t expect people to treat you nice when you are RUDE to them!! You never know when a mob may turn on you….

If you don’t like how things are done – Don’t bother going again. If you’ve caused trouble in the past, it’s likely the organiser won’t want you back anyway. Find solace in being King or Queen of your own organised events….

~ Daracha

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Galloway and Daracha now has a links page! You should go and admire it now. We will be updating this fairly frequently.

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