The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #20699   Message #218117
Posted By: Lonesome EJ
26-Apr-00 - 02:54 AM
Thread Name: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
Subject: RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music?
"Ronald Hutton discusses the presumed pagan origins of sheela-na-gigs and green men, and find no evidence. These are Christian sculptural motifs in the sense that thay were paid for by Christian patrons and executed by Christian craftsmen, often as decorations for Christian houses of worship"-OkieMockbird

In Mysterious Britain, Homer Sykes sites several images of the Green Man, including motifs on church benches and chanceries located at Crowcombe, Somerset and Sampford Courtenay,Devon. He states " a common feature of the Green Men is that they are synonymous with the Jack in the Green of May celebrations- a man peering through greenery, still to be found on local pub signs. But before the church renamed this pagan deity Jack, or Robin Goodfellow, he had been a Celtic horned god of fertility, venerated since pre-Christian times with processions of young girls and dancing." Regarding the Sheela-na-gigs ( a symbolic female figure who sits with legs wide apart and tongue protruding )examples are sited from All Saints Church, Buckland, and Saint Mary and All Saints, Willingham. According to Sykes, they "represent the Celtic goddess of fertility and destruction." OkieMockbird does not dispute the presence of the pre-Christian Cult of the Head (exemplified by the christening fonts at St Germoe Church and St Andrew's Well in Cornwall) in Christian church relics and motifs, or has not disputed it thus far. But many of these objects and items are obviously not, as okie says, "executed by Christian craftsmen", since they pre-date the Christian Churches in which they can be found. Also, I am sure Okie would not claim the many stone monoliths, standing stones, and henges in spots where Christian churches were later erected, to be the work "of Christian craftsmen." Rather, these phenomena seem to reinforce what I stated in my previous post:

"Early Christian belief and ritual was quite comfortably intertwined with existing pagan ritual." - Lonesome EJ

And I made no claim that holidays such as Easter, All Saints and Christmas were essentially "pagan in content." But it certainly seems that, according to Biblical accounts, Christ's birthday was in the spring of the year, and not in December. With the "Romanization" of Christianity, the celebration of Christ's birth came to be associated with the month of December because of an already significant pagan celebration of Saturnalia that was celebrated at that time. Also, I don't see the establishment of All Saint's Day at the time of Samhain as coincidental. The Easter-Beltaine-Passover connection would also seem to be rooted in pre-Judaic spring festivals of renewal.Although I don't think an attempt was made by Christians to hijack a pagan holiday, I believe that the coincidence worked to their advantage, and that certain aspects of the pre-christian pagan rituals absorbed into the celebration.