Tags: greek religion

Pentagram

Wiccan Sophiology

There are more and more books out there about Wiccan practice, but a lamentable lack of discussion of how Wicca informs it's practitioners lives.

I recently came across a copy of The Essential Marcus Aurelius (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions) translated by Jacob Needleman and John Piazza. This is wonderful little volume with great insight into how a classical Roman pagan brought his spirituality to bear on his life. Although he called it philosophy rather than spirituality. This is the sort of insight modern Wiccans should be exploring.

A few other books about classical paganism that look work reading for the modern Wiccan are:
Coping With the Gods : Wayward Readings in Greek Theology (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World) by Henk Versnel Free PDF download
Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths?: An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination by Paul Veyne, translated by Paula Wissing
One God: Pagan Monotheism in the Roman Empire edited by Stephen Mitchell and Peter Van Nuffelen
Monotheism between Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion) edited by Stephen Mitchell and Peter Van Nuffelen

Too much of what is written about European paganism suffers from Christian biases about what religion should be rather than what it is, or was.
goddess and god

SU Chaplain, Ostara approacheth, Tomb of High Priestess of Zeus

Pagan Chaplain Appointed at Syracuse University
by Matt Markham, ABC News Campus Chatter (blog), March 11, 2010
"Mays said that education is Hudson’s strong suit. “She’s good at that, and mentoring -- that’s a big thing, especially working with a group of college students. That’s a leap of faith.”

Promoting diversity is another goal pagans and their chaplain hope to accomplish. “Hendricks Chapel is dedicated to continually recognizing the diverse world that we live in. In this case it happens to be diversity within religious belief. I also hope that it gives people (non-pagans) the ability to ask questions about a set of beliefs which they may have a very little information about,” Hudson said. She said her door is always open to anyone who wants to stop by and just talk. “Conversation is the only way to create understanding,” she said.

Mays praises the university for making the appointment, saying that “any step that’s away from the mainstream is a step in diversity, and Mary’s another resource for students, another person to be able to talk to on campus.”"
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I actually don't mind this kind of article. He is mocking us, but not in any way we don't mock ourselves. I prefer the articles that call us "goofy" to the one's that call us evil.

Barking up the wrong sacred tree
By Rick Koster, The Day, New London, CT, 03/09/2010
"I think we have some pagans living in our part of town. Several, actually - and not all in one big, leafy communal house, either. They're sprinkled about the neighborhood like elf-dust.

Which is fine.

Pagans on the whole are a fairly interesting if occasionally goofy set of folks - whereas I'm just sour-tempered and my car is ugly and smashed into the backyard fence at a comical angle on a bed of empty beer cans. By comparison, "occasionally goofy" isn't a bad thing at all.
[...]
OK. Back to what the neighborhood pagans might do as Ostara approacheth.

There will be bark-crusted wooden poles erected in the front yards of their quaint pagan dwellings, covered with vines and wildflowers. Altars will be assembled and draped with mats of woven field grasses and there will be candles and bowls of fresh soil and flutes. Magic Power Circles will be formed of sprinkled wheat chaff. A man in a hat like the Jolly Green Giant wears - Moonking (aka Cody) - will ring a bell calling to order the Spirits of the Garden."
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'Archaeology': Priestess tomb unearthed on Crete
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY,
"In an Archaeology magazine report, writer Eti Bonn-Muller details the results from last summer's excavation of a tomb at Orthi Petra at Eleutherna on Crete, where a team found the burials of a high priestess of Zeus and three acolytes this summer.

"People then may have considered them sorceresses, or intermediaries with the gods," Bonn-Muller says. Led by archaeologist Nicholas Stampolidis, the team dates the four burials to 2,700 years ago. Earlier digs had discovered the remains of other women, buried together in large "pithos" jars from 2,800 to 2,600 years ago. All of the women appear related, based on distinctive features of their teeth, the team reports. "What's really remarkable is the find shows these women were a dynasty that lasted at least 200 years in this location," Bonn-Muller says.

The burial site is near Mount Ida, where in Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods, was sheltered from his father in infancy. Artifacts from the tombs show trade with Egypt, Greece and the Near East took place on Crete at the time. "The finds have the potential to change how we think about the roles of women during this period of time," Bonn-Muller adds. "Archaeologists had thought of the era as an empty period but we are seeing a lot took place then.""
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goddess and god

"Zeus Be Nice Now" by James Davidson

"... [Rincewind] thought that the most accurate definition of any priest ... was someone who spent quite a lot of time gory to the armpits.
Twoflowers looked horrified.
'Oh no,' he said. 'Where I come from priests are holy men who have dedicated themselves to lives of poverty, good works and the study of the nature of God.'
[...] Rincewind gave up. 'Well,' he said, 'they don't sound very holy to me.'"

-Terry Pratchett, "The Light Fantastic" p 62


Zeus Be Nice Now by James Davidson
London Review of Books | Vol. 29 No. 14 dated 19 July 2007 | James Davidson

Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum · Getty, 3014 pp, $1215.00

Polytheism and Society at Athens by Robert Parker · Oxford, 544 pp, £27.50

In Sparta they sacrificed puppies for Ares. In Colophon the goddess Hecate got a little black dog, while it was inferred that Helios, the sun god, would rather the animals killed in his honour were white. Once a year on Mykonos, a sheep and ten lambs were offered to the river Achelous: the sheep and two of the lambs were sacrificed at the altar, the other eight lambs in the river. In Paestum, Hera, goddess of marriage, was offered uxorious geese. Visitors to the shrine of Persuasion (Peitho) on the island of Thasos in the northern Aegean were advised that it was forbidden to offer the goddess a goat or a pig. But pigs were the preferred offerings to Demeter and her daughter Persephone; all around the classical Mediterranean, archaeologists have come to realise that a layer of pork chops means they have stumbled on a sanctuary of the goddesses of agriculture. Unusually careful sifting of the earth in Demeter’s sanctuary in Corinth, however, revealed that her worshippers were also fond of fish, although it is not probable that they sacrificed them to the goddess before eating them – hard to tell with fishbones. A tuna was certainly sacrificed to Poseidon in the Attic parish of Halai. And someone or other was so proud of the big fish he offered to Zeus Pankrates – discovered in 1952 and now buried under the statue of Harry Truman in Athens – that he commissioned a stone frieze to mark the occasion. Well, it could be a fish or it could be a large Cornish pasty – the sculptor was not a master of his art.
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