Columbia and The Wicker Man: Embracing The Barbaric?

Over the July 4th weekend several Pagan blogs raised a cry of “Hail Columbia!”. This was met with some mixed reactions, one of the most thought provoking being from Meadowsweet & Myrrh (a blog worth checking out).

The critique for worshiping Columbia is this: she is a symbol of the oppression of white colonialism and her very name comes from an explorer who committed genocide. Also there is a feeling that she is a construct rather than a natural Goddess, and should we work with egregores as though they are Gods? These are excellent points.

First, should we worry that Columbia is a dangerous mixture of religion and state? That she is merely a symbol inspiring jingoism and blind faith in the government? I think the answer lies in taking a look at those who acclaim her.

Selena Fox has battled for religious freedom through her work with the Lady Liberty League. Working with politicians and other religious organizations, I don’t think anyone is more cautious about the relationship between religion and state than Selena. Cara Schulz, who blogs here and at Pagan+Politics, is a conservative, while I identify as a liberal. Jason Pitzl-Waters at The Wild Hunt doesn’t express a political bias but is passionate about religious freedom and equal rights for minority religions, and has expressed support for Pagan pacifism.

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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

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  • http://graidan.livejournal.com Aidan

    Awesome! Well thought out, and got to the actual points worth considering rather than wail on about the same ol’ red herrings as always. Goddess or egregore doesn’t matter – what does matter is how we work with Her and express her now. What matters isn’t that there were “bad people” in the Wicker Man, but how it highlights and contrasts our behavior.

    Thoroughly enjoyed this – thank you.

  • Matt Gerlach

    I agree, a thoroughly well written piece. Well done!

    Another instance of ancient Pagan gruesomeness, I believe offerings were hung from the trees for Odin, people, horses, etc. If I remember correctly though, that report comes from Adam of Bremen, a Christian, so it may be biased.

    I wonder if any modern Heathen groups have ever given Odin an animal suspended in a tree…? I doubt that’s something you’d advertise doing.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    Thanks Aidan!

    Matt, a minority of Pagan groups practice animal sacrifice but it is done in a humane way, similar to kosher or halal butchers. Part of this is for ritual reasons and part is because they make make an ethical decision to only eat meat that comes from animals treated humanely.

    I cannot imagine any modern Pagan hanging animals from trees. It’s cruel and unnecessary when other forms of sacrifice are available. I was taught if the Gods crave blood then as a woman I sacrifice it monthly without wound or harm.

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