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GUEST,Phil Shapiro The Pagan Alternative. What's the music? (118* d) RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music? 27 Apr 00

Whew. Geez, all I wanted was the lyrics to a sort-of pagan song, and here I am an hour later, responding to a thread that will probably be a whole lot longer by the time I finish typing this. This Saturday, about 75 of my closest friends will be coming over to celebrate Green Day, more or less Beltane, which I guess makes me a neo-pagan. Green Day is the day you look out your window and say IT'S GREEN!!! (Hasn't happened yet on my mountainside). We'll have a 25 foot tall maypole, and plenty to sing and to say. And a great dinner and a folksing afterward. Much of what we sing we have written ourselves, but we've stolen parts of it from other sources. A couple of fairly recent neo-pagan songs that I particularly like are "Blessing", by Donna Hebert, which I found on Lui Collins' "Stone by Stone" album, and "Water, Fire, and Smoke", by Betsy Rose, on Magpie's "Give Light" CD.

Now, where to start?

Emperor Constantine, in 323 a.d., declared the Roman Empire, including England, to be Christian. Nobody asked the Romans. Many of the old hearth gods became saints. Many of the holidays got taken over at that time. Jesus' birthday got moved to the Roman Saturnalia, the birthday of at least 6 other ancient Gods, including Mithras, who had a big cult following :-) Easter is originally Aestre, a goddess of rebirth (from where I don't know), who had a spring festival, and who is associated with the hare, so the Easter Bunny is older than Jesus. Samhain not only became Halloween. It never went away. Samhain is, more or less, New Year's to the Celts. It is also the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at it's thinnest. So to this very day, small children walk the streets of our towns carrying skulls of the dead (pumpkins in the US, apparently big turnips in northern Europe, I am told), lit with the tiny flames of flickering candles, showing the persistance of the spirits of those who have passed on. And having a lot of fun.

When you read of a first historical mention of a song or a dance, be suspicious. That's the first time that it rose into the consciousness of a literate, usual Noble, person, who wrote it down. That only means that nobody wrote it down before, or that we have lost the reference. And be suspicious of anyone who says that Christianity stamped out the old religions completely. I recently met a fellow who claims unbroken family lineage as a Druid. Well, I'm suspicious of that claim, too. But, as any neo-pagan knows, in these relatively enlightened times it's still dangerous to say you're a pagan. I, for example, know, by saying, more or less in public, that I am a neo-pagan, that I can never run for public office, not even school board. The Republicans will immediately brand me as a devil-worshipper. Use your common sense. Pagans got really quiet when the church took over. They didn't get organized to prove that they were heretics, but, instead, kept various of the old ways going in their homes. To this day, it is said, in the hills of Ireland people jump over bonfires on Lughnasa (Lammas Day, Aug 1, festival of first harvest, one of the "cross Quarter" days). Is that true? I don't know. I've never been there. But if they do it, I doubt that they advertise it. The consequences are still pretty hostile. I don't claim any direct connection to earlier pagans. But I can learn from them. I don't feel like sacrificing animals, not to mention people (I wonder how often that really happened). But I do think that reverence for the earth is very important and growing more so. I don't have any fixed liturgy or religious rules, though I know some who do. But, looking at Christianity from the outside, it's not too hard to see it as part of the problem, not part of the solution. By the way, HI, RICK. Come visit some Sunday night.

Phil Shapiro

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