Pagan Revival?

Just a quick post here responding to a couple of recent things. Firstly, the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games which featured extracts from a British Druid Order (BDO) invocation. How bloody wonderful is that? The ritual that originally featured the invocation was part of a multi-faith conference, so it was ideally fitting for the Paralympics. The words do not refer to any particular Pagan deities, but are clearly from this tradition. For example,

The circle is unbroken,

The ancestors awoken.

May the songs of the Earth

and of her people ring true.

Hail to the Festival of the flame

of root and branch, tooth and claw,

fur and feather, of earth and sea and sky.

NOT the BDO

Now ‘the Druids’ have always been a lovely British icon (remember Churchill and his Druid chums with false beards?) so in one sense there is nothing radical about the choice of the BDO invocation. But still, it says a lot about the place of Paganism in Britain today. And really, the Paralympics folk could not have chosen a more ‘Pagan’ Druid order, far removed from the twee ceremonialism Churchill would have known, if they tried. “Root and branch, tooth and claw” sums up the BDO well 🙂

Of course it is also very arguable that Paganism or at least Pagan themes formed part of the Olympic Games opening ceremony also with Peter Pan and co. This does not include the Harry Potter series, which was always and remains, much to dissonance of Pagan fans, a Christian allegory with Christian symbolism thick enough to grow tomatoes in. It does however include everyone’s favourite nanny, Mary Poppins of whom that magical connector of dots par excellence, Gareth Knight writes:

Another Golden Dawn related teller of children’s tales is P.L.Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins’ stories, whose original Mary Poppins was more in the nature of a pagan tutelary goddess than as depicted in the later film, as was quickly recognised by magical aficionados of her acquaintance such as the mystical Irish poets W.B.Yeats and George Russell (“A.E”). Magical Images and the Magical Imagination.

This awareness of the (re)emergence of Paganism in Britain was underscored by a few comments to a previous post by Andrew B. Watt (see his  excellent blog, Wanderings in the Labyrinth): “When I was last in Scotland, the CoS [Church of Scotland] was having their triennial or quadrennial conference, and the “re-paganization of Scotland” was cited as front page news in Edinburgh as a leading challenge to Christianity in the next ten years.”

Well, this was news to me. For an established Church, stemming from the Reformation, like the CoS to be worried about encroaching Paganism is significant. This is a not a reactionary, over-reactive ‘you’ll burn in hell’ fundamentalist church seeing witches and Satanists at every turn. ‘Cautious’ would be a good word to describe the CoS and so for them to even register Paganism as an issue may show its growing hold on the British populace. Ronald Hutton, drawing on 2001 data and his own knowledge reckoned around 250 000 folk were Pagan back then. I expect the number’s increased a bit by now, making a fair chunk of folk in an a-religious culture such as modern Britain.

What do other folks think? Have, after less than a century of active worship, the Old Ones finally returned? Thanks 🙂

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11 comments

  1. Olen Rush · September 11, 2012

    Your acceptance and sincere interest in a variety of paradigms is truly wonderful!!! This is consistently
    one of the most interesting blogs on the internet. Thank you!

  2. Peregrin · September 11, 2012

    Thank you for your kindness, brother Olen 🙂 Your work itself is a shining example of these sentiments and reflection of Truth.

    La ilaha ill Allah – there is none but the One!

  3. Olen Rush · September 11, 2012

    Wa-Alaikum-Salaam!

  4. Satima Flavell · September 11, 2012

    Did they ever go away? 🙂

  5. Suecae · September 12, 2012

    I agree with Olen Rush. The invocation is very beautiful as well. I am playing ambient with the spoken word on top, meshes perfectly.

  6. Andrew B. Watt · September 13, 2012

    Thank you for the shout-out. I should probably mention that I went to Scotland, to walk the Border Trail, in 2000 (I think), and I recall several articles in the newspaper about paganism being under discussion in the CoS meeting…

  7. Andrew · September 15, 2012

    Just read your comment on Nick Farrell’s blog about initiations and left one of my own on the same topic. Thank you for the reminder of that incident and thank you for the reminder of my responsibilities when I perform in that role. Even though I’m not really exactly GD, I think it’s a complex enough role that I shouldn’t go mucking about in it without understanding it better.

  8. Peregrin · September 17, 2012

    Hi Andrew,

    thanks for this, and for the wonderful and honest comment on Nick’s post. It is so interesting that so many people do not take the role that seriously. Maybe it’s not that serious in other traditions? I do think, as I think you describe, sometimes if we have altruistic motives and a deep connection, the inner powers can assist an awful lot. I have seen that happen and the initiator NOT listen to the inner voice and think they did it, and really f* up next time. Oh well. Thanks for you comment, your blog and expression of disciplined service 🙂

  9. About Holistic · September 17, 2012

    Very interesting indeed. A new fresh outlook
    Thank you

  10. Andrew B. Watt · September 18, 2012

    You’re welcome? It’s weird to be thanked for NOT doing something. 🙂

    I do think we need many more people operating at some level of initiation into something than we actually have in the world. I look around at so many people I know, who need some level of permission or authority to move forward. And yet there are no groups — no lodges, no covens, no temples, no societies, no organizations, no circles, no whatever — that they trust being the operative rule here, to bring them forward or move them into the next stage of their spiritual development. And this is what I hoped to do for my apprentice (and think I — with admittedly much help — did for him). That I got much from the experience, perhaps much more than I bargained for, was unexpected. That what I got, came burdened with rules and barriers, was also unexpected.

    It’s a strange experience to know that I have the power to do something… but not the authority.

  11. darakat · September 22, 2012

    Reblogged this on Brain of Sap.

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