Tag Archives: pagan

X Marks the Spot

Last year, for the Squatcher’s Lounge podcast that was on Ash Wednesday, I explained why Easter is a movable holiday, and how to figure out when it will occur. I quote myself:

The reason is obvious: it is always on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring.”

I also pointed out that, since the beginning of spring and the beginning of fall are called the equinoxes, the length of day and night being equal on those days, and that the path of the solar ecliptic and the celestial equator make an x where they cross on the day of an equinox.

I also explained that most of the pagan religions at the time had a spring fertility festival that was held around the spring equinox, and that the nearly all had a god, who was the son of a virgin goddess, whose father was the highest god in the local pantheon.

Pagan, or paganus in Latin, meant a rustic person, a person of little understanding, a hillbilly.

These various sons of god, a few of which I listed in my quasi for last Christmas, entitled “A Yuletide Rant”, all died for the sake of their followers, and subsequently resurrected. Three days later was the popular timing. A whole lot of them were crucified, but the time of the slaying of the god was always on, or near, the spring equinox.

So what is the point of crucifixion on that big cross in the sky? Why nail your god up there? The association of the son of the greatest god with the sun is a pretty obvious metaphor, but why would these ancient peoples, who were pretty damned advanced, considering building pyramids, aqueducts, roads, measuring the distance from the earth to the moon, the diameter and circumference of the earth, etc., etc., why would they nail a god to the sky?

Here’s the quasi part. Behind all those pantheons, beyond the highest god, there was limitless source of being, unformed, what Socrates called the Good, the Beautiful, the one without number. Not one without number in the sense of countless, but, since it is beyond any limit, cannot be described by numbers.

Now, when that source of all things, called the godhead by some Christian metaphysicians, and the Brahman by Hindus, decided, as the Hindu Vedas report, “One am I, let me be many”, it had to limit itself, make itself into a point, so to speak, so that there could be one, and then many. You could say that it nailed itself to a cross, so that its blood might become the life of the universe.

But that’s what the pagans said, and what do they know?

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

Valentine’s Day, Shmalentine’s Day

February 14th is St. Valentine’s day. Exactly who was this bugger and why do we care?

Officially, his full moniker is St. Valentine of Terni. Officially, he was the bishop of said town, although some sources say he was also the bishop of Narnia. No kidding. Really. Narnia. It’s now the Italian city of Narni, but back in old Rome it was Narnia. Also, officially, he was buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Ponte Milvio to the north of Rome on the day he was martyred. But he didn’t stay there long. He got dug up by some of his disciples a day or two later and hauled back to Terni to be buried again, for awhile.

I say for awhile, because, as Wikipedia says:

St. Valentine’s remains are also believed to be in Dublin. In 1836, some relics that were exhumed from the catacombs of Saint Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina… were identified with St Valentine; placed in a casket, and transported in a procession to the high altar for a special Mass dedicated to young people and all those in love.

Also in 1836, Fr. John Spratt, an Irish priest and famous preacher, was given many tokens of esteem following a sermon in Rome. One gift from Pope Gregory XVI were the remains of St. Valentine and “a small vessel tinged with his blood.” The Reliquary was placed in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin, Ireland, and has remained there until this day. This was accompanied by a letter claiming the relics were those of St. Valentine.”

How he got from Terni to the catacombs in Rome is anybody’s guess, along with how anybody could tell the body was his. Maybe he tunneled, burrowed his way. All roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes.

He was supposedly beaten and beheaded on the 14th of February in the year 269CE, or maybe 270, or 273, opinions vary. The day remains consistent, despite the conflict of years; therefrom we get Valentine’s day.

I say supposedly beaten and beheaded because he is not in the earliest list of Roman martyrs, the Chronography of 354, and only pops up in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum, which was compiled between 460 and 544. He must have gotten on the list before the final version, because he got his official feast day declared in 496 by Pope Gelasius I, who included Valentine among all those “… whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God.” I take this to mean that Pope Gelasius I hadn’t a clue as to who Valentine was or why he was put in that list of martyrs. The feast date is our modern St. Valentine’s day, of course.

St. Valentine is the patron saint of epilepsy, fainting, plague, bee keepers, betrothed couples and other lovers, chocolatiers, and greeting card companies. I threw the last two in for obvious reasons.

Nobody associated him with the last three until Chaucer showed up and wrote his Parliament of Fools, written sometime in the 14th century.

Now here’s where I go quasi on the whole St. Valentine thing, the man, the day, the whole shebang.

No one knew he existed until that list from the late 5th century, around two hundred years after he became a wandering corpse.

The Roman church was big on absconding with pagan stuff and re-branding it. Christmas, Easter, plopping cathedrals down on old pagan temple sites, swiping pagan gods and renaming them as Christian saints and martyrs, the list is near endless.

The old Roman pagans had a holiday they celebrated on the ides of February, the 15th of February. It was the Lupercalia and it honored the goddess Februata Juno, one of the many goddesses of sex and fertility.

There’s your start of it all: goddesses, sex, and fertility. Nuff said. I rest my case.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

For the reading impaired, an audio version of this quasi theory may be found here:

 

Santa is the King of the Gods

 

Santa Claus, a.k.a. Saint Nicholas, is a fraud foisted on us pagans during the Christianization of Germanic and Nordic Europe. There, I said it.

Saint Nicholas, who lived in the late 3rd and early 4th century, belonged to a wealthy family, and is most famous for saving three poor, young sisters from a probable life of probable prostitution, by giving them money for their dowries, and thereby getting them married off. Why a man getting paid off to marry a women doesn’t make the man a hooker beats the hell out of me. But that is neither here nor there. The main point is that Nicholas gave away presents. His birthday is celebrated on January 6th. He was a skinny bugger, apparently, may or may not have had a beard, and certainly didn’t have much hair. His daddy, another priest (This was before the whole priests couldn’t get married, couldn’t have sex, silliness came about), gave him a tonsure when he ordained his little Nicky into the priesthood. A tonsure is the weird, partly shaved head sort of haircut they were into back then.

Old Saint Nick didn’t have diddly to do with December 25th, which was when the old pagan world celebrated the winter solstice. Why they did so on the 25th is a bit of a mystery, since they jolly well knew the solstice oscillates between the 20th and the 23rd. It was probably because the latest sunrise of the year is a couple of days after the actual solstice and, in the winter, you really want that sun to start coming up earlier and earlier. Making it a fixed date made it easier to know when you had to get all your solstice shopping done by, too.

Now, what happened on the solstice, and who did what that most closely resembles what our Santa Claus, taking into consideration that Santa first started showing up in Germanic and Nordic Europe?

The solstice is when Odin, the king of the gods, rode the midwinter sky on his eight footed horse, Sleipnir, distributing gifts to all his people. Odin, Woden, Wotan, also known as Julnir, he who is lord of the yuletide. Odin, with long white hair and long white beard, stout of figure. Odin, the leader of the Wild Hunt, the hunt that most often occurred at midwinter, hunting the souls of the departed, accompanied by his Valkyries.

The good children of Odin got presents, the bad got the Wild Hunt.

Odin was also the lord of Alfheim, the home of the elves, and those elves were not little guys who want to be dentists. They were fierce warriors, they were.

The pieces fall into place. This is what Christianity has left us with. No more Roman Saturnalia at the winter solstice, with its orgies and feasts. No more Wild Hunts with Valkyries. No king of the gods. Just a jolly fat man in a silly red suit.

First shared on the Squatcher’s Lounge Podcast:

An audio version of this quasi theory may be found here: