Pagan Soup: Sacred Paths Center, Camelot, Occult Experts and Egocentric Ritual

Sacred Paths Center in Financial Straits

Nels Linde at PNC-Minnesota reports the popular community center in Paganistan is in danger of closing it’s doors. SPC put this statement on their website:

Sacred Paths Center, the Spiritual/Pagan Center, open to all, first of its kind in the United States, is broke.

“What, AGAIN?”

Yes.

“Now why?”

Simple: lack of YOUR support. This message will reach thousands and thousands, but how many of you will care enough to do anything?

Camelot Mini-Rant

Morgan is the daughter of Igraine and Gorlois and changing that adds nothing to the story. Joseph Fiennes, of Shakespeare In Love hotness, is decidedly unattractive. Arthur is unsympathetic and stands with his mouth open too much. Just from the first episode there is more gratuitous sex than plot. No wonder this wreck was canceled….

Another “Occult Expert” Weighs In

Here we go again…

As a child, my mother once pelted a rooster with a couple dozen eggs because it kept spurring her. If she could have killed that mean ornery creature she would have, but the spanking from wasting the eggs was bad enough. Of course, if she had killed the mean thing, likely by snapping it’s head off the way her grandmother did, she’d likely have hid the body and claimed it ran off. I tell this story because sometimes stories are far less lurid than we think, and sometimes animals lead rough lives.

Now I know, and you probably know, that in Santeria and Voodoo animal sacrifice is quite similar to Kosher and Halal butchering. It’s a humane and respectful practice. Had this been the body of a lamb would the Sheriff’s office be looking askance at the local Jewish population? Of course not.

So as someone who actually practices occult arts and knows people from African-Diasporic religions, what do I think? It sounds like organized crime intimidation to me and nothing at all to do with occultism. It sounds like someone is being warned not to talk or their family will be hurt. But then, I’m no crime expert. All I kind tell you is this isn’t any kind of occultism I’ve ever heard of…

Ritual Isn’t About Me (Or You Either…)

I was a solitary for 9 years. Ritual was a very simple private affair. Upon becoming involved in group ritual I was struck right away as a participant on the need for planning, preparation, timeliness and respect for participants. Without considering the body of the ritual, I began to really notice and emphasize the basics of ritual: being clear in expectations, setting the scene, starting on time, being consistent, etc… I never thought of myself as being egotistical regarding ritual.

Until now. I’m preparing to lead my 3rd group ritual ever and I’m learning the hard way that the body of the ritual isn’t about me. It’s not about my whims or even my needs. While I was used to simply doing what felt right, I find that’s not appropriate for group ritual. When you are celebrating the Wheel of the Year, all things have their place, and all seasons must be celebrated in their time.

While rehearsing the order of my training ritual last month my priestess asked me how I would honor the God. “Oh Horned One…” *cough cough* “But Star, it’s summer….” I can’t honor how I wish him to be, but how he currently appears. Looking out my window I can see him, the lush verdancy of Southern Appalachia smiling in the sun.

I love the fall and winter. My heart thrills from Samhain to Yule. If it was up to me all year would be just like that. But it’s not. My job is not to celebrate life as I like it, but as it is. I may be mournful at Samhain, but I must be joyous at Beltane. Lammas is for lamentable sacrifice and Imbolc for fierce hope. Ostara and Mabon are for celebrating the abundance of the earth. Solstice to celebrate the zeniths of our lives while remembering we live between those polar opposites. I was told Lady Circe, founder of a tradition in Toledo and great-great spiritual grandmother of my coven, once said “We do not worship either the God nor the Goddess but the love-space that lies between.” I think that is as good an explanation of polarity as any.

So of all the unexpected lessons that have come from training in traditional Craft, getting over myself is a really unexpected one. The Craft is about values first and foremost, about intent, spiritual transformation and community. Yet that doesn’t mean the lore is nothing and can bend to your whim. There is not only a reason behind everything we do, but also a season. The earth does not exist for us. We are subject to her seasons. Just so , we are subject to the Gods and they have their own order. They do not deviate their character and duties to conform to us.

When leading ritual, particularly in Wicca, our first duty is to honor the season and Gods as they actually are, and our second is to convey that to the participants in a meaningful way. I never thought of ritual that way before. Yet my priestess, priest and covenmates are slowly making me look at ritual that way. For which I’m grateful. I’m a bad student, a slow learner and apparently I have an inner child who always wants it to be the Hallows Tide.

About Star Foster

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

  • Illiezeulette

    *sigh*  I will simply say that there is *absolutely nothing* “humane” or “respectful” about animal sacrifice, butcherings, or any other murder of defenseless animals done for any sake other than bodily survival. 

    These people say it more eloquently than I can: http://www.humanemyth.org/faq/1290.htm

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

      You do realize in Santeria the animals are humanely slaughtered and then used as part of the feast? It’s not killing something and throwing it away. It’s like placing a small amount of ground beef on an altar and then grilling up some burgers.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

        Except that does happen sometimes, rarely, but sometimes. I’ve seen it myself. It seems to be something that Pagans just don’t want to acknowledge.

        EDIT: Actually, it’s not that rare.

      • http://profiles.google.com/paganveg David Salisbury

        Though of course I must politely agree that (in my option) there is no such thing as humane slaughter (any slaughter that isn’t totally necessary for something to survive is inhumane), I must say that those who complain about animal sacrifice need to be sure they’re enacting animal ethics on all levels to be valid.

        Also good to know with Kosher slaughter: some of the most inhumane practice ever recorded on film recently were at Kosher slaughter houses. Though it was indeed invented to be less-harmful, most workers are no longer trained properly on how to do it, so animals are left bleeding slowly in agonizing pain from workers who are rushed and underpaid. 

    • Kerry W.

      *sigh* That’s such a manipulative way of not arguing but acting superior.  I am not a fan of the *sigh.*  A few decades ago, it would be followed by “Oh Star.  Don’t you understand that . . . “

    • http://www.thedemoniacal.blogspot.com TheDemoniacal

      The overwhelming majority of animal sacrifices are eaten. The only ones that would not be eaten are those that are done to remove evil or sickness. Then there are the black magicians who may kill animals for spells and that is just evil of course.

  • Illiezeulette

    *sigh*  I will simply say that there is *absolutely nothing* “humane” or “respectful” about animal sacrifice, butcherings, or any other murder of defenseless animals done for any sake other than bodily survival. 

    These people say it more eloquently than I can: http://www.humanemyth.org/faq/1290.htm

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

      You do realize in Santeria the animals are humanely slaughtered and then used as part of the feast? It’s not killing something and throwing it away. It’s like placing a small amount of ground beef on an altar and then grilling up some burgers.

      • http://profiles.google.com/cosettefromjupiter Cosette Paneque

        Except that does happen sometimes, rarely, but sometimes. I’ve seen it myself. It seems to be something that Pagans just don’t want to acknowledge.

        EDIT: Actually, it’s not that rare.

      • http://profiles.google.com/paganveg David Salisbury

        Though of course I must politely agree that (in my option) there is no such thing as humane slaughter (any slaughter that isn’t totally necessary for something to survive is inhumane), I must say that those who complain about animal sacrifice need to be sure they’re enacting animal ethics on all levels to be valid.

        Also good to know with Kosher slaughter: some of the most inhumane practice ever recorded on film recently were at Kosher slaughter houses. Though it was indeed invented to be less-harmful, most workers are no longer trained properly on how to do it, so animals are left bleeding slowly in agonizing pain from workers who are rushed and underpaid. 

    • Kerry W.

      *sigh* That’s such a manipulative way of not arguing but acting superior.  I am not a fan of the *sigh.*  A few decades ago, it would be followed by “Oh Star.  Don’t you understand that . . . “

    • http://www.thedemoniacal.blogspot.com TheDemoniacal

      The overwhelming majority of animal sacrifices are eaten. The only ones that would not be eaten are those that are done to remove evil or sickness. Then there are the black magicians who may kill animals for spells and that is just evil of course.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    Camelot was a definite disappointment. I kept waiting for something to happen, for it to get good, but it just never did. I can’t say that I was surprised that it was canceled. At last Game of Thrones turned out to be great.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    Camelot was a definite disappointment. I kept waiting for something to happen, for it to get good, but it just never did. I can’t say that I was surprised that it was canceled. At last Game of Thrones turned out to be great.

  • Delia

    I’m not sure that I understand just what the issue is with honoring the Horned God in summer. The Horned God is always the male supreme deity in Wicca; full-time, not just part of the year. Our God always has horns or antlers. That reflects his role as the Lord of Animals. The Sun God can also be seen as one of his aspects; that was the traditional meaning of the flame between his horns or antlers – it’s the fire of the sun. Likewise the Green Man is one of his aspects, which is why He is often shown with vines or leaves entwined in his hair or cloak. He is also, of course, the Lord of death and the shadowland beyond death.

    These aspects are not mutually exclusive; the Horned God is all these things, and more, all the time. The fire of the sun is consumed by the plants to become the living green energy of Earth life. The energy of the plants is consumed by animals to become their life blood. Animals are consumed by predators, so the energy keeps flowing in natural cycles. Finally even the predators die and decay, decomposing into the rich black loam that shrouds the shadowland and thus fertilizing the earth for new growth.

    The Horned God is the fire and energy and life-force that moves through all these cycles. The sun is not only the sun in summer; it’s the sun all year round. The Green Man is not only in springtime; plants go through seasonal cycles all year round. All year round animals are being born and dying, hunting and hunted. So the Horned God is also the Hunter, all year round. We may notice some of these aspects more than others, depending on the season. But the sacred process of transformation whereby the Sun God becomes the Green God becomes the Lord of Animals and the Lord of Death — that living magic is happening in every season, every day, and in every moment. Blessings. 

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

      As a Wiccan I honor the season and the God embodies the season. Which is why I don’t call him the Green Man in January or the Sun King in September. His carrying those energies has nothing to do with the physical reality of the actual season. By that logic, the earth carries the energies of every Sabbat within her, so we could celebrate any Sabbat at any time. Mabon in February is absurd though. For all things there is a time and a season.

      • Delia

        Hi, Star – I’m not
        sure that I succeeded in getting my point across, so let me try again. First,
        I’m not saying how you or anyone else ‘should’ honor the Horned God at any sabbat; only that
        there is no reason, from traditional Wiccan theology, why one should refrain from honoring Him as the
        Horned God, if they so choose, at any and every sabbat. Secondly, my point was that it’s not an
        Either/Or thing: like, either He is the sun god at this sabbat OR He is the
        green man. He always has all of those aspects at any time: the sun is there in
        winter, the plants are there in autumn, the predators hunt in springtime, and
        death happens any season of the year. So let me, for example, take those four  aspects of the Horned God as a starting point:
        Sun God, Green Man, Hunter, Lord of Death. (That’s not the only way that His
        roles could be divided up, but it’s a useful one.)

        The basic duality of the Horned God is Bright vs. Dark, as in the Oak King and
        the Holly King; but then each of those halves can be divided in half again, and
        so on. So the Sun God and the Green Man can be seen as two aspects of the
        ‘bright’ side of the Horned God, while the Hunter (or warrior) and the Lord of
        Death can be seen as two aspects of his ‘dark’ side. My point is only that He
        is always ALL of those aspects, all the time. That does not say that we don’t
        emphasize one aspect over another, depending on the season. Obviously, the
        sabbats are seasonal celebrations, so we look for some ways of honoring that
        season. Personally, I also tend to honor the Green Man more in springtime, the
        Sun God in summer, the Grain God at Lammas, the Lord of Death at Samhain, etc.
        But Nature is nothing if not complex and interwoven; so these aspects weave
        together in intricate patterns. I see the Grain God as an aspect of the Green
        Man, for instance. The Oak King and the Holly King also. The Sun God has both a
        bright and a dark aspect, etc. I tend to honor the Sun God mainly at Yule, when
        He is reborn, and also at Litha, as the Sun King. But in invocations I will
        generally honor the solar aspect of the Horned God at every sabbat. (And on
        full moon nights, when the Sun is in the underworld, I honor the dark aspect of
        the Sun God.)

        In traditional Wicca the God has horns or antlers full-time, not part time. But
        I am more inclined to see Him as Pan in springtime, as a ram god in summer, as
        a bull god in autumn, and as a stag god in winter. But those could be switched
        around too, if someone related to Him better as a bull god in the spring; or if
        they relate to Him as a goat god all year round. Wicca does have a basic core
        theology: our Goddess is associated with the Moon and stars and sea,  and silver, and the element of water; and we
        honor Her mainly at the lunar esbats; while our God has horns or antlers and is
        associated with the wildwoods, and with fire and gold and the sun; and we honor
        Him mainly at the seasonal sabbats. (Traditionally, we honor both of our
        supreme deities at every kind of ritual; but the emphasis shifts depending on
        if it’s lunar or solar/seasonal.) But there is also, as we all know, a great
        degree of flexibility within Wicca. So a Wiccan can honor the Horned God at any
        sabbat, with any kind of horns or antlers they wish.

        We could also honor his Green Man aspect at every sabbat, although it would be
        different aspects of the Green Man, of course. As a nice meditation on how that
        could go, you might want to check out William Anderson’s poem on the Green Man,
        where he traces His changes through an entire year, using the thirteen trees of
        traditional Celtic lore associated with the months of the calendar.  It’s here, if you scroll down to the middle
        of the page: http://tinyurl.com/GM-WmAnderson

        The Green Man is not “the energy of the season at springime” — He is
        the energy of living plants, no matter what season it is. The Sun God is not
        “the energy of summer” — He is the energy of our nearest star, in
        every season. It’s just we humans who happen to notice the Sun more in winter,
        and plant growth more in springtime. But honoring the Sun God at winter is part
        of most Yule sabbats; and honoring the Green Man in the harvest is part of most
        Mabon rites too. So that’s what I was trying to say: the Horned God is also the
        Green Man always, in any season; just as He is also the Sun God, in every
        season. That does not restrict or mandate anything about how one ‘should’ honor
        Him at any given sabbat; rather it opens the door to more possibilities for
        seeing and sensing his sacred presence in all of Nature at all times.  :-)   Blessings. 

         

        • Delia

          Hmm. I’m not sure where those carriage returns came from when I copied and pasted my post (above) to the composition window here. Sorry, that probably makes it harder to read; but I did not put the line breaks in myself, the software must have done that. I might edit and repost it later, for ease of reading. 

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          In the interest of accuracy:  “[T]he thirteen trees of traditional Celtic lore associated with the months of the calendar” were invented by Robert Graves in the 1940s.

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

          My point is that the season and the Gods do not bend to our whim. It is our lesson to honor things as they are, not how we think they should be.  I usually find that when I don’t want to do something (like refer to the Green Man) then it means i have something to learn. By not respecting the season and aspects as defined by my tradition, I’m cheating myself of a opportunity for growth.

          • Delia

            Yes, I got your point when I first read the article. I feel much the same way on that point, coming from a traditional Wicca viewpoint. But it seems to me that you are not getting my point, which is that the sun is there all year around, the plants are there all year around, predators hunt all year round, etc. We happen to *notice* the sun more in the summer and the plant growth more in the spring; and that’s why we have those traditions at those specific seasons.

            But that does not imply that the Gods Themselves are limited by our traditions. We don’t really believe that the Horned God dies in the autumn, do we??  When we’re celebrating Mabon in the northern hemisphere, Wiccans in the southern hemisphere are celebrating Ostara. Maybe his autumn ‘death’ is just a little vacation south of the equator?  (Cheeky, I know.) 

            I can understand someone saying that they wish to do a certain ritual at a certain sabbat because that is a tradition in Wicca. But personally, I would probably stop short of implying that the Gods Themselves have decreed that Litha rituals shall be done this way and Imbolc rituals shall be done that way. I take the Gods very seriously, and my devotion to Them is the heart of the religion for me. But I also recognize that the Gods are, ultimately, a divine mystery.

            And over the last few decades, as I have continued to worship and relate to the God and Goddess, They have continually revealed to me different aspects of their divinity. (As I imagine They are willing to do with any Wiccan whose devotion is deep and sincere.) Wiccan religion has always been highly flexible and personal. If you look at what Gardner and Valiente were doing, they were following their own intuitions of the Gods, as the mysteries were revealed to them. (Wicca being a mystery religion, where direct contact with the Gods is encouraged.) And when enough people begin experiencing the Gods in new ways, then that can also become part of the religion.  

            If you look at early Wicca, it’s clear that there has been an evolution in our conceptions of the Gods and how the sabbats are celebrated. The God was always viewed as dual from early on, but the threefold Goddess idea did not come until somewhat later. Early on, only the cross-quarters were celebrated; then the quarters were added on. (I seem to recall that Doreen Valiente wrote the very first Yule ritual for Gerald Gardner’s coven. Maybe it was Fred Lamond who related that.)

            Early on, the Horned God was viewed mainly in his darker aspects as a god of hunting and death and the underworld. The solar and seasonal aspects – the Horned God as the Sun God and the Green Man – did not come along until later. He has always been the Horned God, but the aspects and attributes that we perceive in Him have changed. Every religion evolves, and as long as that evolution fits with the essential core or root of the religion, then the growth is organic and natural.

            There is such a thing as people getting way too ‘creative’ in their interpretation of the religion, so eclectic that the roots are lost; often that happens with people who don’t have a traditional grounding and coven training. There is nothing that disturbs me more than this widespread misconception that Wicca is a religion with no structure or tradition or beliefs, where you can do whatever the heck you happen to feel like. But there can also be the opposite problem, with people feeling so bound by tradition that they impede the natural and organic growth of the religion.

            Wicca needs its roots, without which it cannot maintain any coherent identity; but likewise it needs new growth sprouting in new directions. In short, I think that eclectic Wiccans need to learn more about the roots and traditional lore of Wicca, and traditional Wiccans need to be open to seeing the religion evolve in *some* ways – ways that are aligned with the roots.

            When people are trying to graft banana branches onto the apple tree, then by all means let’s point out that they don’t really fit there. (Which does not mean that their religious ideas are wrong. It just means that they’re not Wiccan. They’re free to go and invent their own form of neopagan witchcraft if they wish; just don’t call it Wicca when it’s not.) But when it’s a more natural outgrowth from the same essential stock, then I feel it’s a healthy and welcome growth. 

            Blessings ~ 

            PS: I had also typed up replies to a few other comments here. But given that the cut-and-paste was not working right, I have not posted them here. I’m reluctant to compose long comments in this window, because my computer has been crashing at odd moments, and I don’t want the exercise in futility. I hope this one survives posting. :-) 
             

    • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

      Horns are not antlers.  Horns are on animals with them all year long. 

      Not all Wiccans work the Green Man vs Horned Hunter thing.  Some of us  work the 3-fold God thing, Youth, Father, Sage, and they are not in battle with each other.  And even the Youth can have horns growing.  They certainly have horn buds pretty much from birth – just like they have testes from birth.

      If you work with, say, a Stag – antlers are seasonal.  If you work with goats or sheep or cattle – horns are always present.

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

        I find it funny that we speak of the Horned God, and yet 9 times out of 10 we depict him with antlers…

        • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

          I, of course, am that one-in-10 person.  But only because I was an agriculture major, so had to learn that stuff … and because, even tho’ I’m in a Wiccan coven (dedicated to the Ancient White Stag, no less), I’m really Celtic Reconstructionist at heart rather than Wiccan.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

          And, Fern says, ruminating (every pun intended), what’s this ‘Horned (or antlered) Hunter’ stuff doing in a nature religion, anyway?  The Horned/Antlered animals don’t hunt.  They have testosterone based breeding fighting among themselves, they defend against predators, but they are not predators, they do NOT ‘hunt’.

          Which basically ‘tames’ the true wild for human comfort.  Somehow “Oh Horned One!  …. horn and hoof of the goat-food God” goes down smoother than “Oh Fanged One!  ….. Tooth and Talon of the Eviscerating Hunter of the Night.”

          No Ram or Deer would lead the Wild Hunt.  Eagles would, Lions would, Jackals would.  But not even the wild aurochs of old would.

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

            I think it’s humans identifying with their prey. They are hunting deer, therefore they give their Hunter God deer antlers. As far as the goat thing, I think that’s always been about sex and bucking society’s conventions.

            Besides, lions, tigers and bears kill humans. We don’t tend to reverence things which kill us. Simply not civilized! LOL

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Neopagans might not reverence things which kill us, but back in the day humans sure did.  Now, we tend to see ourselves as sheeple and worship sheep as well.

            Baah!

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

            How far back in the day? The Romans sneered at the Egyptians for “worshiping beasts”….

            I think the Horned One thing comes from the fact the England hasn’t been wild for a very long time. Foxes and deer have been the most dangerous beasts there other than humans for probably 1,000 years…

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Yeah, and Jupiter just ‘happened’ to be a shapeshifter who tended to turn into an Eagle a lot.  And for the Greeks, Hera just happened to be ‘cow eyed’. 

            And, uh, England for the last 1000 years isn’t exactly my cauldron of inspiration.  Tho’, even there, coats of arms tended to feature lions and dragons and axes and lances more often than swans and …. did any feature sheep?

            How about using the Birth (well, conception) of Taliesin as a model of human/Divine status.  Human is prey in every form, Goddess takes the form of one predator after another. 

          • Hbuchy

            probably because the antlered god was lord of animals and so was asked to deliver prey becoming a hunting deity in the process.
            The antlered god in Britain became the hunter through association with the Elizabethan legend of Herne of Windsor wood.
            There are probably more Goddess’s of the hunt than gods, and goddesses are associated with predator animals moreso than gods.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Gasp! Are you suggesting that the legend of Herne is not pre-Christian?  You, you, you HERETIC!

            Burn him!

        • http://www.thedemoniacal.blogspot.com TheDemoniacal

          What I find sort of astonishing is the number of people who have de-horned the horned god. Antlers don’t bother me because there’s no indication the ancients distinguished between antlers and horns. What bothers me is the growing trend of people replacing the horned god with horn-less god versions.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Horn-less Gods, like, oh, all the Greek Gods, all the Roman Gods, the Norse Gods, all or most of the tribal African Gods, most of the Egyptian Gods …. The whole horned God thing is, in my never humble view, about as old an Uncle Aleister, thus one of the most recent of Wicca’s roots.

  • Delia

    I’m not sure that I understand just what the issue is with honoring the Horned God in summer. The Horned God is always the male supreme deity in Wicca; full-time, not just part of the year. Our God always has horns or antlers. That reflects his role as the Lord of Animals. The Sun God can also be seen as one of his aspects; that was the traditional meaning of the flame between his horns or antlers – it’s the fire of the sun. Likewise the Green Man is one of his aspects, which is why He is often shown with vines or leaves entwined in his hair or cloak. He is also, of course, the Lord of death and the shadowland beyond death.

    These aspects are not mutually exclusive; the Horned God is all these things, and more, all the time. The fire of the sun is consumed by the plants to become the living green energy of Earth life. The energy of the plants is consumed by animals to become their life blood. Animals are consumed by predators, so the energy keeps flowing in natural cycles. Finally even the predators die and decay, decomposing into the rich black loam that shrouds the shadowland and thus fertilizing the earth for new growth.

    The Horned God is the fire and energy and life-force that moves through all these cycles. The sun is not only the sun in summer; it’s the sun all year round. The Green Man is not only in springtime; plants go through seasonal cycles all year round. All year round animals are being born and dying, hunting and hunted. So the Horned God is also the Hunter, all year round. We may notice some of these aspects more than others, depending on the season. But the sacred process of transformation whereby the Sun God becomes the Green God becomes the Lord of Animals and the Lord of Death — that living magic is happening in every season, every day, and in every moment. Blessings. 

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

      As a Wiccan I honor the season and the God embodies the season. Which is why I don’t call him the Green Man in January or the Sun King in September. His carrying those energies has nothing to do with the physical reality of the actual season. By that logic, the earth carries the energies of every Sabbat within her, so we could celebrate any Sabbat at any time. Mabon in February is absurd though. For all things there is a time and a season.

      • Delia

        Hi, Star – I’m not
        sure that I succeeded in getting my point across, so let me try again. First,
        I’m not saying how you or anyone else ‘should’ honor the Horned God at any sabbat; only that
        there is no reason, from traditional Wiccan theology, why one should refrain from honoring Him as the
        Horned God, if they so choose, at any and every sabbat. Secondly, my point was that it’s not an
        Either/Or thing: like, either He is the sun god at this sabbat OR He is the
        green man. He always has all of those aspects at any time: the sun is there in
        winter, the plants are there in autumn, the predators hunt in springtime, and
        death happens any season of the year. So let me, for example, take those four  aspects of the Horned God as a starting point:
        Sun God, Green Man, Hunter, Lord of Death. (That’s not the only way that His
        roles could be divided up, but it’s a useful one.)

        The basic duality of the Horned God is Bright vs. Dark, as in the Oak King and
        the Holly King; but then each of those halves can be divided in half again, and
        so on. So the Sun God and the Green Man can be seen as two aspects of the
        ‘bright’ side of the Horned God, while the Hunter (or warrior) and the Lord of
        Death can be seen as two aspects of his ‘dark’ side. My point is only that He
        is always ALL of those aspects, all the time. That does not say that we don’t
        emphasize one aspect over another, depending on the season. Obviously, the
        sabbats are seasonal celebrations, so we look for some ways of honoring that
        season. Personally, I also tend to honor the Green Man more in springtime, the
        Sun God in summer, the Grain God at Lammas, the Lord of Death at Samhain, etc.
        But Nature is nothing if not complex and interwoven; so these aspects weave
        together in intricate patterns. I see the Grain God as an aspect of the Green
        Man, for instance. The Oak King and the Holly King also. The Sun God has both a
        bright and a dark aspect, etc. I tend to honor the Sun God mainly at Yule, when
        He is reborn, and also at Litha, as the Sun King. But in invocations I will
        generally honor the solar aspect of the Horned God at every sabbat. (And on
        full moon nights, when the Sun is in the underworld, I honor the dark aspect of
        the Sun God.)

        In traditional Wicca the God has horns or antlers full-time, not part time. But
        I am more inclined to see Him as Pan in springtime, as a ram god in summer, as
        a bull god in autumn, and as a stag god in winter. But those could be switched
        around too, if someone related to Him better as a bull god in the spring; or if
        they relate to Him as a goat god all year round. Wicca does have a basic core
        theology: our Goddess is associated with the Moon and stars and sea,  and silver, and the element of water; and we
        honor Her mainly at the lunar esbats; while our God has horns or antlers and is
        associated with the wildwoods, and with fire and gold and the sun; and we honor
        Him mainly at the seasonal sabbats. (Traditionally, we honor both of our
        supreme deities at every kind of ritual; but the emphasis shifts depending on
        if it’s lunar or solar/seasonal.) But there is also, as we all know, a great
        degree of flexibility within Wicca. So a Wiccan can honor the Horned God at any
        sabbat, with any kind of horns or antlers they wish.

        We could also honor his Green Man aspect at every sabbat, although it would be
        different aspects of the Green Man, of course. As a nice meditation on how that
        could go, you might want to check out William Anderson’s poem on the Green Man,
        where he traces His changes through an entire year, using the thirteen trees of
        traditional Celtic lore associated with the months of the calendar.  It’s here, if you scroll down to the middle
        of the page: http://tinyurl.com/GM-WmAnderson

        The Green Man is not “the energy of the season at springime” — He is
        the energy of living plants, no matter what season it is. The Sun God is not
        “the energy of summer” — He is the energy of our nearest star, in
        every season. It’s just we humans who happen to notice the Sun more in winter,
        and plant growth more in springtime. But honoring the Sun God at winter is part
        of most Yule sabbats; and honoring the Green Man in the harvest is part of most
        Mabon rites too. So that’s what I was trying to say: the Horned God is also the
        Green Man always, in any season; just as He is also the Sun God, in every
        season. That does not restrict or mandate anything about how one ‘should’ honor
        Him at any given sabbat; rather it opens the door to more possibilities for
        seeing and sensing his sacred presence in all of Nature at all times.  :-)   Blessings. 

         

        • Delia

          Hmm. I’m not sure where those carriage returns came from when I copied and pasted my post (above) to the composition window here. Sorry, that probably makes it harder to read; but I did not put the line breaks in myself, the software must have done that. I might edit and repost it later, for ease of reading. 

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          In the interest of accuracy:  “[T]he thirteen trees of traditional Celtic lore associated with the months of the calendar” were invented by Robert Graves in the 1940s.

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

          My point is that the season and the Gods do not bend to our whim. It is our lesson to honor things as they are, not how we think they should be.  I usually find that when I don’t want to do something (like refer to the Green Man) then it means i have something to learn. By not respecting the season and aspects as defined by my tradition, I’m cheating myself of a opportunity for growth.

          • Delia

            Yes, I got your point when I first read the article. I feel much the same way on that point, coming from a traditional Wicca viewpoint. But it seems to me that you are not getting my point, which is that the sun is there all year around, the plants are there all year around, predators hunt all year round, etc. We happen to *notice* the sun more in the summer and the plant growth more in the spring; and that’s why we have those traditions at those specific seasons.

            But that does not imply that the Gods Themselves are limited by our traditions. We don’t really believe that the Horned God dies in the autumn, do we??  When we’re celebrating Mabon in the northern hemisphere, Wiccans in the southern hemisphere are celebrating Ostara. Maybe his autumn ‘death’ is just a little vacation south of the equator?  (Cheeky, I know.) 

            I can understand someone saying that they wish to do a certain ritual at a certain sabbat because that is a tradition in Wicca. But personally, I would probably stop short of implying that the Gods Themselves have decreed that Litha rituals shall be done this way and Imbolc rituals shall be done that way. I take the Gods very seriously, and my devotion to Them is the heart of the religion for me. But I also recognize that the Gods are, ultimately, a divine mystery.

            And over the last few decades, as I have continued to worship and relate to the God and Goddess, They have continually revealed to me different aspects of their divinity. (As I imagine They are willing to do with any Wiccan whose devotion is deep and sincere.) Wiccan religion has always been highly flexible and personal. If you look at what Gardner and Valiente were doing, they were following their own intuitions of the Gods, as the mysteries were revealed to them. (Wicca being a mystery religion, where direct contact with the Gods is encouraged.) And when enough people begin experiencing the Gods in new ways, then that can also become part of the religion.  

            If you look at early Wicca, it’s clear that there has been an evolution in our conceptions of the Gods and how the sabbats are celebrated. The God was always viewed as dual from early on, but the threefold Goddess idea did not come until somewhat later. Early on, only the cross-quarters were celebrated; then the quarters were added on. (I seem to recall that Doreen Valiente wrote the very first Yule ritual for Gerald Gardner’s coven. Maybe it was Fred Lamond who related that.)

            Early on, the Horned God was viewed mainly in his darker aspects as a god of hunting and death and the underworld. The solar and seasonal aspects – the Horned God as the Sun God and the Green Man – did not come along until later. He has always been the Horned God, but the aspects and attributes that we perceive in Him have changed. Every religion evolves, and as long as that evolution fits with the essential core or root of the religion, then the growth is organic and natural.

            There is such a thing as people getting way too ‘creative’ in their interpretation of the religion, so eclectic that the roots are lost; often that happens with people who don’t have a traditional grounding and coven training. There is nothing that disturbs me more than this widespread misconception that Wicca is a religion with no structure or tradition or beliefs, where you can do whatever the heck you happen to feel like. But there can also be the opposite problem, with people feeling so bound by tradition that they impede the natural and organic growth of the religion.

            Wicca needs its roots, without which it cannot maintain any coherent identity; but likewise it needs new growth sprouting in new directions. In short, I think that eclectic Wiccans need to learn more about the roots and traditional lore of Wicca, and traditional Wiccans need to be open to seeing the religion evolve in *some* ways – ways that are aligned with the roots.

            When people are trying to graft banana branches onto the apple tree, then by all means let’s point out that they don’t really fit there. (Which does not mean that their religious ideas are wrong. It just means that they’re not Wiccan. They’re free to go and invent their own form of neopagan witchcraft if they wish; just don’t call it Wicca when it’s not.) But when it’s a more natural outgrowth from the same essential stock, then I feel it’s a healthy and welcome growth. 

            Blessings ~ 

            PS: I had also typed up replies to a few other comments here. But given that the cut-and-paste was not working right, I have not posted them here. I’m reluctant to compose long comments in this window, because my computer has been crashing at odd moments, and I don’t want the exercise in futility. I hope this one survives posting. :-) 
             

    • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

      Horns are not antlers.  Horns are on animals with them all year long. 

      Not all Wiccans work the Green Man vs Horned Hunter thing.  Some of us  work the 3-fold God thing, Youth, Father, Sage, and they are not in battle with each other.  And even the Youth can have horns growing.  They certainly have horn buds pretty much from birth – just like they have testes from birth.

      If you work with, say, a Stag – antlers are seasonal.  If you work with goats or sheep or cattle – horns are always present.

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

        I find it funny that we speak of the Horned God, and yet 9 times out of 10 we depict him with antlers…

        • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

          I, of course, am that one-in-10 person.  But only because I was an agriculture major, so had to learn that stuff … and because, even tho’ I’m in a Wiccan coven (dedicated to the Ancient White Stag, no less), I’m really Celtic Reconstructionist at heart rather than Wiccan.

        • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

          And, Fern says, ruminating (every pun intended), what’s this ‘Horned (or antlered) Hunter’ stuff doing in a nature religion, anyway?  The Horned/Antlered animals don’t hunt.  They have testosterone based breeding fighting among themselves, they defend against predators, but they are not predators, they do NOT ‘hunt’.

          Which basically ‘tames’ the true wild for human comfort.  Somehow “Oh Horned One!  …. horn and hoof of the goat-food God” goes down smoother than “Oh Fanged One!  ….. Tooth and Talon of the Eviscerating Hunter of the Night.”

          No Ram or Deer would lead the Wild Hunt.  Eagles would, Lions would, Jackals would.  But not even the wild aurochs of old would.

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

            I think it’s humans identifying with their prey. They are hunting deer, therefore they give their Hunter God deer antlers. As far as the goat thing, I think that’s always been about sex and bucking society’s conventions.

            Besides, lions, tigers and bears kill humans. We don’t tend to reverence things which kill us. Simply not civilized! LOL

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Neopagans might not reverence things which kill us, but back in the day humans sure did.  Now, we tend to see ourselves as sheeple and worship sheep as well.

            Baah!

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

            How far back in the day? The Romans sneered at the Egyptians for “worshiping beasts”….

            I think the Horned One thing comes from the fact the England hasn’t been wild for a very long time. Foxes and deer have been the most dangerous beasts there other than humans for probably 1,000 years…

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Yeah, and Jupiter just ‘happened’ to be a shapeshifter who tended to turn into an Eagle a lot.  And for the Greeks, Hera just happened to be ‘cow eyed’. 

            And, uh, England for the last 1000 years isn’t exactly my cauldron of inspiration.  Tho’, even there, coats of arms tended to feature lions and dragons and axes and lances more often than swans and …. did any feature sheep?

            How about using the Birth (well, conception) of Taliesin as a model of human/Divine status.  Human is prey in every form, Goddess takes the form of one predator after another. 

          • Hbuchy

            probably because the antlered god was lord of animals and so was asked to deliver prey becoming a hunting deity in the process.
            The antlered god in Britain became the hunter through association with the Elizabethan legend of Herne of Windsor wood.
            There are probably more Goddess’s of the hunt than gods, and goddesses are associated with predator animals moreso than gods.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Gasp! Are you suggesting that the legend of Herne is not pre-Christian?  You, you, you HERETIC!

            Burn him!

        • http://www.thedemoniacal.blogspot.com TheDemoniacal

          What I find sort of astonishing is the number of people who have de-horned the horned god. Antlers don’t bother me because there’s no indication the ancients distinguished between antlers and horns. What bothers me is the growing trend of people replacing the horned god with horn-less god versions.

          • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

            Horn-less Gods, like, oh, all the Greek Gods, all the Roman Gods, the Norse Gods, all or most of the tribal African Gods, most of the Egyptian Gods …. The whole horned God thing is, in my never humble view, about as old an Uncle Aleister, thus one of the most recent of Wicca’s roots.


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