Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Defense Of Paganism and Heathenism - The Old Ways

The majestic Notre Dame Cathedral graces the Parisian landscape and boasts a construction history that's hard to beat.  Across the avenue from the Cathedral is a wonderful park where the birds eat bread out of your hand.  Does the tranquility of this park emanate from the park, or something else?  The original Notre Dame was built on on sacred ground of the Celts, a place where they came to worship and meditate on life and the rest of nature's wonders.  And later, the Romans built a temple to Jupiter, one of their main gods, on that spot.

The peace of the Vatican and Vatican Square cannot be denied.  Many people from all corners of the earth make a pilgrimage to Rome just for the satisfaction of enjoying that peace and the surrounding architecture.  The Vatican and Square were built on the primary pagan temple dedicated to Sol Invictus, the Invincible Sun, a symbol of life and divinity.  The major feast day of Sol Invictus was December 25th, the birthday given to old Sol.  Is it possible that this symbol of divinity was tied to the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, as were many other gods from various pantheons?  Of course.  It is not a stretch to see how the Judeo-Christian Tradition stole a pagan holiday ( do not forget Yule ) to make as their own, by removing the old gods and replacing with their own.

The city of Uppsala  Sweden is beautiful.  Gamia Uppsala, or, old Uppsala, was the home of a major heathen temple where Wodan ( Odin ) Thor, and Freyr ( Frey ) were worshiped.  It also was a place where much of the old lore, the ancient knowledge of the northern peoples was told by word of mouth from one generation to the next.  When Christianity finally won the battle of hearts, minds, and bodies, that old temple was destroyed and a huge church was erected there.

Once there was a special forest in France that was sacred to the Druids.  That forest was destroyed by a foreign invader, a foreign religion, and in its' place is the Cathedral of Chartres.

This foreign religion did not have any tolerance for 'competition.'  What it could not burn down or cut down it tore down, and on those now desecrated sites, they built their own temples.  The previous are just a few examples of this victor's handiwork.  And, because of their emerging doctrine and dogma, anything normal and natural, like human love and sexuality, was considered foul and disgusting.

Human love is a complex subject but can be reduced to two kinds:  conditional and unconditional love.  Conditional love is nasty and one-sided.  It offers love only if predetermined conditions are met.  Unconditional love demands nothing in return - it is 100% total acceptance... of you.  With these two simple explanations in hand, it is easy to see what is the higher form of love.  Human reason leads us to think that unconditional love would be the basis for an organized religion's doctrine and dogma.  However, thinking minds know that is not the case.

Believe it or not, all religion is man-made.  Our ancestors had a hunger to understand the world around them.  As humanity evolved, natural occurrences took on divine explanations ( this is a topic discussed in other blog posts ).  As civilizations rose and power became centralized, organized religion became the chosen hand-maiden of that power.  The hand-maiden helped the governing power to control the population; it was the natural choice.  The control of hearts and minds is nothing new.  No greater hand-maiden, and later a usurper of power through default, was the Judeo-Christian Tradition ( JCT ).

It can be successfully argued that without the help of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 313 CE., Christianity might have receded back into the desert from whence it came, and today be nothing more than an obscure Jewish sect.  But Constantine was in the market for a new hand-maiden to help him reunite the Roman Empire.  He bet the ranch on his choice and won.

Before the advent of Emperor Constantine, Christianities many factions did battle with themselves and Paganism.  Those sparring sessions usually were verbal debates or a flurry of letters.  When Constantine's choice became his official hand-maiden, the had the Roman Army and police at their disposal.  They used that new power to persecute rival Christian factions, Pagans, and Heathens.

Heresies and heretics came and went ( like Arius and Arianism....that made more sense to our ancestors ) as the Church's dogma and doctrine changed to suit its needs.  The exclusiveness of the Old Testament was expanded and resulted in more silly rules and regulations, especially concerning the human body, women, sex, and the natural world.  What Paganism and Heathenry considered wholesome and good, Christianity, the evolving JCT, condemned as dirty and vile.

The Old Testament boasts of a god who admits to his jealous and violent nature; whose spoiled child is this?  The New Testament is not any better.  A god sacrifices his son ( a replay of Abraham and his son? ) for humanity's sins, but if you choose not to believe you are damned for eternity.  This is conditional love; accept and believe or you are finished.  Unconditional love is absent from the JCT, whose god, they claim, is all-loving, perfect, and absolute.  If deity is perfect and absolute, why the human behavior of conditional love?  We humans are not perfect and conditional love is something WE do, not a perfect and absolute divinity.  When the JCT consolidated its power, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the JCT began its own war of terror against the "unbelievers," all in the name of their "one true god."

The infamy of the Inquisition should not be forgotten.  Tens of thousands of women, men, and children were burned at the stake, hanged by the neck, or in other sadistic ways murdered and labeled as heretics and witches by the controlling, paranoid driven JCT.  Remember, they do not like competing ideas.  The Church, the JCT, argues that they did not condone those atrocities.  However, their Inquisitors, priests, were present and those men determined who was guilty and who was innocent.  Probably the most infamous were the Dominican priests, Jacob Springer and Heinrich Kramer  ( There are others, but these two stand out.  In 1500 CE., Kramer was sent as an Inquisitor to persecute the Waldensian and Picards, Christian sects.  Reportedly, he was responsible for many of those people being burned at the stake as heretics and witches. )

These two combined their talents(?) and wrote an instruction book, The Malleus Maleficaram.  Also known as "The Witches Hammer," the Malleus is a book filled with hate and misogyny.  According to the Malleus, one of the three things that determined if a woman was a witch was her supposed consorting with the devil.  Is it possible that in their minds Springer and Kramer considered Eve's supposed consorting with the devil in the Garden of Eden, ( the fall of man ) to be the act of the world's first witch ( Eve)? Only those two can answer that question.  The Malleus was condemned by the Church in 1487 CE., but still went through over ten editions, all handwritten.  When Gutenberg invented the printing press, bibles were printed, in mass, in the German vernacular, much to the joy of Martin Luther.  The Gutenberg press also printed several more editions of the Malleus, making it readily available, just like the bible, for the common man.  The increased availability also increased the persecutions; the new Protestant Christians were just as bad as the Catholics.  But before the Inquisition and the Malleus, the spreading of the "good news" had taken on a political face.

Some folks consider Charlemagne to be one of the bloodiest rulers in recorded history.  One of his targets of opportunity were the German Saxons.  The so-called Saxon Wars lasted 30 years but Charlemagne and the JCT were finally victorious.  In 782 CE., Charlemagne ordered the deaths of close to five thousand Saxon prisoners.  He also enjoyed imposing unreasonable laws on his conquered subjects.  One of these was a conversion law.  The conquered had to convert to Christianity; noncompliance meant death.  Reportedly, this law went into effect about the time he had those thousands butchered.  As Christianity/the JCT moved further north, they found ready allies in two of Norway's kings.

Kings Olaf I and II are praised by the Church for spreading  the " good news. "  Their methods, besides wholesale warfare, included general torture, maiming, and execution.  A favorite torture method was placing a red hot brazer ( a large iron device used for cooking or warmth ) on the exposed abdomens of their victims.  And of course, the victim died.  It did not matter if the person converted or not before death.  It was all attributed to "god's will."

The previous descriptions of forced conversions are just a fraction of what had happened.  These forced conversions occurred not just in Europe, but in the New World - North and South America.  This stuff and more has been whitewashed over, shellacked by the victorious JCT, but the historical truth is out there.  Keep in mind that results matter, failure does not.

History is written and rewritten by the victors.  Metals, peerage, and sainthood were awarded to the conquerors.  In this case, the victors were right and the vanquished were not just wrong but eternally damned; Pagans and Heathens have been damned since day one by the JCT/Christianity.

The Pagandom and  Heathenry of the past were not innocent of any wrong doing; both conducted their fair share of raping, pillaging, and burning.  But good luck at finding evidence that they forced any kind of religious conversion on their vanquished.  Conquest was about territory and payback.  The sacking of Christian churches and other property was more than just grabbing the riches that they held.

The Celtic tribes fought among each other, as did the Germanic-Norse.  Again, those conflicts usually were about territory or broken treaties.  Those same reasons were responsible for conflicts among the indigenous peoples of the New World.  Religion, my god is better than your god, had nothing to do with those conflicts.  Sadly, our pagan and heathen ancestors had one major fault.

The Pagans and Heathens of the past were extremely tolerant of strangers that came into their midst and their religious beliefs.  The ancient rules of hospitality and generosity demanded that strangers, traveling in a strange and hostile land, be treated well.  This is contrary to many of the Pagans and Heathens of today, who want to " check you out " before offering you anything, including the time of day.  Maybe, that is what our ancestors should have done.

The JCT/Christian missionaries slithered over the Alps in twos and threes and were greeted by our pagan and heathen ancestors with generosity and respect.  All the talk of their god of peace and love duped our ancestors into assuming that they were good people and came from respectable families ( you remember the old adage about assuming? ).  This was the basic assumption our ancestors made concerning most foreigners.  Judgement, for the lack of a better word, was reserved until a person's words and actions became detrimental to the existing social order.  Our ancestors did not consider, at least at first, the strange missionaries religious beliefs as a threat.  That worked to the advantage of the stealthy invaders.  But do not forget that the one god, one ruler idea appealed to those in charge; it's always about the money.  Once the JCT had a solid foothold, there was no stopping them; politics and the JCT are perfect bedfellows.  But, times are changing.

Although many politicians in the United States had gravitated deeper into Christianity to garner votes, Church attendance overall, within the United States and the rest of the Christian world is declining.  And so are the number of professed Christian adherents.  Education, an increased world view, and the information age has brought many of those people to their non-belief in Christianity.  Some of those people found their way into the belief systems of India and the Far East while even more have discovered the pre-Christian beliefs of their ancestors.  What started as a trickle decades ago has turned into a major leak.

Beliefs that all life is inter-connected and that we are responsible for our words and deeds ( known to some as Karma, Wyrd, and Orlog) are easier to accept than a belief system that does not offer unconditional love.  The concept that all life is inter-connected offers a respect for all things, including ourselves.  Being held responsible for our words and deeds eliminates the need for man made religious doctrine and dogma.  Reconnecting to the past is not a bad thing, especially when the past can make more sense then the present.  And for many the Paganism and Heathenry of the past, interpreted for the present, makes more sense than Christianity.  It can only be hoped that was started as a trickle and now a major leak, will burst into a wholesale flood.  Hope does spring eternal.

                                                    Copyright @2011 Terry Unger

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