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.
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 🙂