Love is one thing, knowledge is another.
For every joy, there is a price to be paid.
The only thing that is humiliating is helplessness.
If his heart rules him, his conscience will soon take the place of the rod.
Exuberance is a good stimulus towards action,
but the inner light grows in silence and concentration.
To know means to record in one’s memory;
but to understand means to blend with the thing and to assimilate it oneself.
The man who knows how to lead one of his brothers towards what he has known
may one day be saved by that very brother.
True teaching is not an accumulation of knowledge;
it is an awakening of consciousness which goes through successive stages.
~ M Khoury
An important life lesson. Thanks Nile!
As many modern folk embrace ancient, Earth Based religions, they imagine a past much like James Cameron’s Avatar, full of peace, love, orgies and a flower power commune with nature. How horrified these folk would be if they were teleported to the real ancient world – if they were to ascend Aztec steps and witness a priest ripping out the still beating heart of a sacrificial victim, if they were to see a druid reading human entrails for portents of the future, or if they were to see a Norse slave killed and set ablaze in a ship alongside her master.
Are these tales of human sacrifice fact or fiction? It is true that Christian critics probably exaggerated the horrors of human sacrifice in order to justify the conquest of the Pagan World. There is much we don’t know about the ancient past, so it is hard to paint an absolute picture of the practice.
However, there is plenty of evidence for the practice in some shape or form in many cultures around the world. The most gruesome tales come from the Aztecs, but there is some archaeological evidence that this practice may have also taken place among the Vikings and the Celts. This has been a matter of much debate after two recent episodes of The History Channel’s “Vikings” series depicted human sacrifice as a normal part of Norse culture.
Why did Ancient Cultures Practice Human Sacrifice?
Creation and destruction were not separate realities for our ancestors, they were one in the same. There is no creation without destruction, and no destruction without creation. Our ancestors lived by the brutal realities of nature everyday. They did not see Nature like we do, as a Disney Magic Fairy Tale. They saw Nature as a harbinger of life and death.
Sacrifice was a way to appease the Gods and to effect this cycle of life and death. The more valuable the gift, the more appeased the Gods would be. The most precious gift a community could give was one of their own, a gift of human blood. This gift of blood would replenish the land, bring fertility, luck in battle and banish disease.
Even today, being “self sacrificing” is a form of noble behavior. It is the idea of putting the welfare of the land or community above one’s self. While selfishness, in almost all world Religions and Cultures, is a negative trait.
Christianity even is built around this idea. After all, the crucifixion of Jesus is often celebrated by Christians as the ultimate sacrifice – A god sacrificing himself for the benefit of mankind. This was preceded by the reverence of the Egyptian Osiris, the merciful judge of the dead who also died and came back to life. Catholics today continue to drink the blood and eat the body of their God. The celebration of “The Passion of the Christ,” is the glorification of pain and suffering exchanged for a greater purpose.
Does This Mean That Modern Day Pagans Must Practice Human Sacrifice?
No. There are many Pagans today who seek to mimic the lives and practices of their ancestors. Some simply say the same prayers, but others go as far to embrace every detail down to the hair styles and garb of the ancient ones. Yet in learning from the past, we don’t always need to repeat it exactly. For example, it is possible to respect your parents without being exactly like them. We too, can respect and understand the practices of our ancestors, but do things a little differently.
As modern day people, we will never live exactly like our ancient ancestors did. Also, the lives of our ancestors were not static. They had their own traditions that changed and evolved over time.
So, instead of slicing the neck of a human sacrifice and creating a fountain of blood, maybe you can simply offer up your life and service to the Gods. Offer yourself as a sacrifice through your actions, improve the lives of others around you, put the Gods, your family and the natural world before your self. That is a noble sacrifice on its own – and no, you won’t need to hold up a still beating heart to the sun to ensure happiness and health in the year to come.
Picture Source Fuck Yeah Paganism (Great site title too!)
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Don’t bust out the mead yet! Pagans are still a very small minority in comparison to both U.S Religions and World Religions at large. If you read the 2008 “United States Census Bureau Abstract on Self Identified Religious Populations”, the number of Pagans and Wiccans combined still only results to 0.3% of the population (which means that 3 out of every 1,000 people you meet will be Pagan). However, that number doesn’t account for people who classify as spiritualists, Unitarian Universalists or non-classified.
I do often bump into people at Pagan meets or New Age shops who do not like to call themselves “Pagans,” but rather “Animists,” “Druids,” “Asatruar,” “Heathens,” “Shamans,” etc. The war over what gets lumped into the pagan category and what doesn’t wages on, but I bet many of these folk filled in the “non-classified” space rather than “pagan” on their Census Bureau survey. Personally I prefer to think of Paganism as a system that seeks to revive an ancient system of Earth Based Values – but not everyone shares my definition.
The statistical number of Pagans is probably much smaller than the real number. There are definitely more Pagans than what is represented on a survey. Pagans are still a persecuted minority in many ways, so a lot of us tend to be private about our beliefs to the point where we wouldn’t even write it down. Also, the 0.3% number is from 2008. There has obviously been growth in 5 years time, so the current number could be anything from .5 – 2%.
But don’t despair, there is good news! Even though the numbers are small, Paganism and Wicca are still growing at an incredibly fast rate.
Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Wiccans in the United States increased from 8,000 to 134,000 according to the United States Census Bureau. That’s an increase of 1600%! Between 2001 and 2008, the number of Pagans over all (Wiccans included) doubled, so that’s a growth rate of 200%. That’s an increase greater than almost anything seen among the other religions! The number of Christians overall, in comparison, only experienced an 8% growth rate between 2001 and 2008, which is actually a decrease when you account for population growth.
However, one must note that the number of Evangelicals doubled between 2001 and 2008. The number of conservative Christians such as Mormons and Baptists have also increased while the number of Liberal Christians such as Presbyterians and Lutherans have decreased. Therefore Christianity is shrinking, but it’s also radicalizing in the process.
BREAKING DOWN THE NUMBERS
Population of Non-Abrahamic Religious People in U.S. in 2008 (U.S. Census Bureau)
Native American Spirituality: 186,000
Non-Wiccan Pagans: 340,000
Non-Pagan Spiritualists: 426,000
WHY THE RAPID INCREASE?
There are a number of possible factors
- Increased Tolerance in society for diverse religious beliefs. As a result, more Pagans are coming out of the broom closet.
- The Internet: Possibly one of the greatest catalysts of social change to happen in the 90’s and 2000’s. Before the internet, many people chose their faith by the community they lived in. If you were a Pagan in a pre-internet world, it was probably very difficult to find others with similar beliefs unless you met them at a New Age shop or had an acquaintance who happened to be in the occult. In the same way that drugs and rock and roll music sparked a social revolution in the 1960’s, the internet is opening up new gateways for social thought and experimentation.
- A Growing Discontent with Christianity: Generation Y is much more comfortable with homosexuality and women’s rights than their parents were. As a result, a religious book that promotes the stoning of homosexuals – or the silence of women in a place of worship – is becoming increasingly antithetical to the morals of today’s more progressive youth. Many of these young people still thirst for a spiritual connection, but are no longer willing to attain it from the Church.
- The Desire to Reconnect With a Feminine Force of Power: For the last 2,000 years, Christian Patriarchy has robbed the world of Feminine Power. Is it any wonder that more slavery, wars, holocausts and environmental destruction have happened in this time period than any other? I’m not saying that the Pagan Past was a bed of flower power and hippies, it was definitely brutal and bloody, but that society has increasingly become unbalanced as the Goddess has been circumcised out of the religious equation. Even patriarchal empires like Ancient Rome and Greece understood the need for a Female Deity.
- A Desire to Reconnect With the Earth: In a world that is becoming more material and corporate, there is a yearning for something authentic and organic. This explains the growing popularity of Farmers Markets, green movements and the growth of vegetables on roof tops in Urban Centers. If we are to save the Earth, we must fall in love with the Earth. We must have a spiritual relationship with the Earth. The Earth cannot simply be an abstract ideal – it must be as an actual family member that we keep in our thoughts and wishes.
GROWING A COMMUNITY
The number of Pagans is indeed growing very fast, but we are still a very small and misunderstood minority. If you would like there to be more Pagans in the world or less misunderstandings, you should come out of the broom closet and be more open about who you are – and what you belief – unless you live in a town where you could get beat up or killed for your beliefs…then that might not be such a good idea. But I also encourage you to blog, make music, make art, write stories and spread your ideas so that the Pagan community may continue to grow and evolve.
Congratulations Heathens and Asatruars!
The Hammer of Thor (also known as Mjölnir) has been added to the list of approved Air Force Symbols for memorials, headstones and graves.
The last Pagan Symbol to gain approval was the Wiccan Pentagram (which got approved six years ago).
In the same way that the hammer brings Heathens and Asatruars closer to their Gods, let this latest development bring Pagan Folk closer to the freedom they need to live by their principles without constraint.
“NBC News’ Ann Curry journeyed deep into the Amazon Rainforest to a village called Bomeno in Ecuador. Bomeno is home to the rarely seen people of the Waorani Tribe. The tribe and the rainforest they call home is increasingly being threatened by environmental damage caused by oil drilling. Ann Curry’s full report Friday, May 3 at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams. (NBC Synopsis)”
Lisa Gerrard is the hypnotic voice leading the World Fusion group “Dead Can Dance.”
Dead Can Dance is a unique group that doesn’t fit into any pre-existing musical genre. They incorporate a variety of different worldly elements into their music such as African Poly-rhythms, Gaelic Folk and Middle Eastern Mantras.
Another beautiful symposium of their music with natural imagery is their Yolunga video.
So today – Beltane or May Day or whatever you are celebrating – is a day when many European (primarily German) Folk danced around a giant phallus in the ground (the maypole). Sounds pretty sexual to me! Part of the significance is that this was the beginning of the summer for many Pagan peoples in Europe.
I’m not writing this post to give you a history lesson or to discuss the traditions of Beltane. Rather, I’m interested in having a frank discussion about sex, given that fertility is something people have on the brain today. (Or something that some people have on the brain everyday…hehehe)
A Healthy View of Sexuality and the Human Body
Our Pre-Christian ancestors had a much more open and healthy view about sexuality. Sex and fertility were not viewed as “evil.” They were seen as a natural part of life. Goddesses were depicted with breasts and ample curves. Statues of Gods did not censor genitals with leaves. Some God statues were even depicted with a fully erect phallus to show their fertility and power.
What I would like to focus on in this article though, is sexual problems in the modern world, and what those with a natural view of life can do about it.
Social Problems Stemming From a Sick View of Sex
- Rape, Abuse and Violence
- Body Image and Eating Disorders
- Teen Pregnancy
- Sex Slavery/Trafficking of Human Beings
- Homophobia and Abuse Towards Homosexuals
- Warped Views of Female and Male Sexuality
For those of you who live in America, we live in a sexual schizophrenic nightmare. On one hand, sexually suggestive imagery is all around us: on billboards, internet pornography, magazines, commercials, in music lyrics, etc. On the other hand though, because we are emerging from Puritanical Christian mindset of sexual guilt- having an open and honest conversation about sex is very hard to do. Part of the reason we call meat “white” or “dark” is because the Puritans didn’t like referring to the “breasts” or “legs” of chickens. Today, basic sexual terminology, “penis,” “vagina,” etc. is still censored in public. If we can’t even express the basics of sexual terminology – how can we have a real conversation about the matter?
(There is much more openness about sexuality in Europe, which explains their lower rates of rape, teen pregnancy and STI’s).
The Need For Legalized Prostitution
“Freya in Valhalla” by bellebustier
Access to sexual gratification can also be difficult in America. Prostitution is illegal, and the prostitutes are often punished much harsher than their customers. (Not to say that everyone is entitled to sex, but that prostitution is a natural profession that has been around since the dawn of humanity and should be treated with dignity and respect). Prostitutes will exist no matter what, no matter how many jails we create, no matter how many people we lock up. Therefore, we might as well make this profession legal to reduce the rates of illegal human trafficking/abuse/and rape. It’s much easier to crack down on rape and abuse against prostitutes when the prostitutes aren’t afraid of the police.
The Need For a Real Sexual Education
One fourth of all teenagers receive an abstinence only education (guttmacher). Because of a lack of helpful material about sexuality, many teenagers are educating themselves via the porn industry. While I personally don’t have anything against pornography, the porn industry often shows a highly unrealistic view of sex that leaves the viewer horribly unprepared (and perhaps even disappointed) with the realities of sex. Learning about sex and love-making from a porno is like learning how to drive a car from “The Fast and the Furious.”
A real sexual education emphasizes the importance of using condoms to protect against sexually transmitted disease. Too many people think that the birth control pill or “pulling out” will protect them from HIV. One of my first serious boyfriends (a Catholic fellow) told me that he could just “pull out” and everything would be fine. The only thing this kind of ignorance makes me want to “pull out” is my fist…or maybe “pull out” of the relationship all-together.
The Limitations of Porn
Most pornos do not show their performers using any kind of sexual protection (condoms) or lube during anal sex scenes. Also, the porn star body (95 pound female with double D breasts and high amounts of plastic surgery) is not an accurate representation of a majority of females. I am not saying that we should do away with pornography. But if we lived in a society where there were a variety of resources about sexuality, people would have a cornucopia of outlets through which to inform themselves so that they could build a more comprehensive and healthy view of sexuality.
The Need For a Healthy View on Homosexuality and Gender
While women have made many strides forward via the Feminist Movement, aspects of Gender flexibility and homosexual rights lag severely behind. Think about it. Can you name many homosexuals who kiss or hold hands with their partner in public? Can you name any major famous homosexuals who actually appear with their partner in public?
There is slightly more tolerance for Lesbians than there is for Gay Men in America. Part of this is because aspects of Lesbianism caters towards the Male Fantasy. It is also because of sick ideas about gender. In many ways, the Heteronormative Male Identity is still the dominant identity. For example, when a woman takes on stereotypically masculine traits, some critics may call her “butch,” but most people these days will praise her for being “tough” or “badass.”
Yet when a male takes on traditionally feminine character traits, he is derided as being “weak” or “emasculated.” Why is a man weak for acting like a woman? Is there something so bad about being female that manly women are above their sex, but effeminate men are below theirs?
While women have gained more rights in society, we still often have narrow views about Gender. Many of these views are harmful to men in addition to women. Males make up a majority of suicides, homeless and imprisonment statistics. In turn, a majority of the victims of sexual violence, stalking and abuse are female.
Let’s just think about this for a second… There is a severe amount of cultural pressure on males to like and seek sex. Yet there is an equal amount of social pressure on females to avoid and abstain from sex. Hrm…do you think this counter balance of conflicting desire MIGHT just have bad results?
Taking on The Myth That Women Don’t Like Sex
Breaking News. Apparently women like sex!
Of all the warped, modern notions about sex, this is probably one of the most ridiculous notions that a majority of people have been brainwashed into having. It is the myth that all men are depraved animals who will fall all over themselves for an ounce of boobage, while women are pristine moral puritans who hate sex, but must do it as some chore to please men in exchange for stuff.
If there are a lot of women unsatisfied with their sex lives, it’s probably because they live in a culture that prioritizes male sexual desire over female sexuality. A majority of sex magazines these days are replete with “how to please your man” type articles, but finding Sasquatch is easier than finding a good article that tells women how to please themselves – or that tell men how to please the ladies for that matter.
In ancient times, some people believed that women liked sex more than men.
More Openness On the Subjects of Kink and Domination
While more people are becoming open about sex, Kink and Domination are still taboo topics. There still isn’t much publicity for leather rebels in bed so to speak. In a culture that places a high value on social equality, one can feel weird about wanting to be the dominant or submissive partner sexually. I suppose “50 Shades of Boring” was the big book to bust out kink to the mainstream. But even this book promoted the message of an “innocent and virginal” heroine with a deeply psychologically disturbed kinky boyfriend. Surprise – surprise – there are many sane folk out there (male and female) who enjoy the interplay of a pain and power. This is a desire that people shouldn’t feel guilty or weird about – as long as they can have an open discussion with their partner. And who knows, maybe once you open up, you may find that your vanilla buddy has a penchant for whips and chains.
So Stop Feeling Guilty!
We are all a product of sex. Most of us desire sex at some point…to some degree. Some may want it once a month; Others might want it 3 times a day; And a few rare individuals may want it never. In the same way that everyone desires food and water, most people also have a built in desire for love and sexual gratification. It’s part of our programming! This is only a human need. I’m not saying that everyone is entitled to have sex whenever they want. But I’m saying that you shouldn’t feel guilty about having sexual urges.
However, that doesn’t mean that sexual decorum goes out the window. The 1960’s on one hand was a revolutionary time. Yet without any rules or restrictions in the world of “free love,” we also got “free STD’s and free pregnancies!” Therefore, we should still be careful to use protection and who we decide to fuck (having sex with a psycho could ruin the rest of your life). I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules. But I’m saying that the topic of sex shouldn’t be one of guilt and shame. So Happy Beltane! Let’s celebrate fertility! It’s also a Wednesday, so it’s hump day too!
I hope you find your Turbo Lover today. Let’s celebrate with one of the most bad ass Gay Men to shake the world of Metal. Everybody’s favorite Leather Rebel – Rob Halford of Judas Priest!
Cheesy but classic!