Columbia and The Wicker Man: Embracing The Barbaric?

I think modern Paganism is far too diverse, autonomous and too adamant about the separation of religion and government for there to be any worry that Columbia hearkens an era of blind faith in government or theocracy.

Next, is Columbia a Goddess or an egregore? This could become a very long post on the nature of the Gods so I’m going to skim over this quickly. For all practical purposes I don’t think it matters one bit. Columbia represents the ideals of American government and society, not the reality. If she is a Goddess then she will do what she must to protect those ideals whether we worship her or not. If she is an egregore, then our active interaction with her is productive in keeping those ideals alive in America. Should we treat an egregore as a Goddess? Well, if she is an egregore then identifying that egregore with Libertas, a Roman Goddess, only serves to strengthen and guide it. Columbia may very well simply be our name for Libertas, and the practice of gifting Gods with new names and titles is one the ancients knew well.

Lastly, should we worship a Goddess associated with white colonialism, genocide and slavery? Well, those things aren’t merely associated with Columbia, they are associated with our country, our ancestors, and the very land we walk on. Columbus Day is a national holiday and our government meets in the District of Columbia.

We can’t very well replace her with Selu, the Cherokee Corn Mother. I have Cherokee ancestry and live on the land where the Trail of Tears began, yet even I am cautious and respectful of how I approach and worship Selu.

How do we reconcile the barbaric with spiritual ideals? All religions have barbarism in their past, sometimes in their present. A good example of how Pagans deal with the barbaric elements of their past and reconcile them in their modern spirituality is our reaction to The Wicker Man.

I recently watched this film for the very first time and absolutely loved it. Why? It’s hardly good publicity for Paganism. A community lures a man to his death for religious purposes, an act which is reprehensible and not at all in keeping with modern Pagan traditions.

Continued —>

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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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