Is paganism a living tradition with roots deep in prehistory or just a collection of superstitions, magic tricks and witches’ spells? Pagans explores the origins, history and beliefs of Europe’s ancient religions.
Sexy Beasts – Looks back to a time before sex was taboo, when humans saw themselves as an integral part of the natural world. Through history and prehistory, the representations of the ancient gods and traditions followed by pagans have been marred by propaganda from other religious groups eager to rein in those they defined as wild barbarians. In truth, the word pagan is a Roman term meaning ‘country folk’, and the general concept of paganism is of oneness with nature and a quest to fully understand the world around us.
Magic Moments – Today magic is used as a form of entertainment. It still thrills us to see an apparently impossible phenomenon happen before our eyes. Reaching back through to prehistoric times, the pagan magicians, who could conjure material from nothing or predict the future, would almost certainly have been held in the highest regard.
Band of Brothers – According to Roman records, the Iron Age Celtic peoples of Britain consisted of war-like tribes – but this could well be propaganda of the age. In 43 AD, as now, invaders found ways of justifying their subjugation of the native people whose country they colonized and whose land they took. Whatever the reality, the image of rough, heavy-drinking hooligans and evil barbarians is what we have been left with.
Sacred Landscape – A strong pagan belief is that the natural world is embedded in all of us. One method of defining the landscape is by building monuments. The construction of tombs at the boundaries of territory illustrates to outsiders that the area is rightfully yours, since it belonged to your ancestors. A succession of ritual monuments known throughout prehistoric Europe, from wooden trackways to henges (stone or wooden circles), suggest the strong influence of altering the landscape as a way of defining territory within the pagan belief system.
Thursday, October 27, 2011