Friday, February 24, 2006

Consider the Egg

As easter time approaches, it's a chance to consider the egg.

The glorious egg, with its deep links to Creation mythology, is one of the oldest symbols of life and rebirth known to us. Many gods, demons and heroes have sprung from eggs. It's a symbol of new life in cultures as far apart as Polynesian, Chinese, Phoenician, Egyptian and Greek and represents resurrection in Christian belief.

Hindu mythology brings us a vivid picture of how the world-egg became the world we now live in. There was one, a warm, glowing, single egg. It rocked gently, a crack appeared, and the world was born. Half the shell became the earth and the other half became the sky. Mountains were created from the inner membrane and clouds from the outer. The veins formed rivers, the fluid became the ocean and the yolk formed the sun. It makes a kind of sense when you consider the egg.

Portrayals of winged eggs commonly float above Egyptian mummies, carrying the soul to another birth. A great bird, Tien, dropped an egg in China and a man emerged from it. Another egg of note is that of the phoenix, the bird which dies in flames every 14,000 years after setting its own nest alight. From the resulting ashes, a new egg emerges from which hatches a new phoenix, which dies in flames ... and so it goes.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Venus and the Female Body

She was born out of the sea, a child of the sky god and the fertile sea womb, arising fully mature from the primordial waters. She surged from the foam, stepping delicately onto a floating seashell, and the wind of the west blew her softly to Cyprus.

She was originally known for her amorous nature, and associated with the arrival of Spring, as the bringer of joy for gods and mortals alike.

Venus and the Romans : The people of Rome had a special love for Venus. She is the mother of Aeneas, the Trojan hero who carried his father Anchises on his back from the ruins of Troy, and, after many adventures and tribulations, arrived in Italy to found the great city of Rome.

The dictator Sulla made her patron of Rome, and both Julius Caesar and the emperor Augustus named her the ancestor of their (Julian) family: the 'gens Julia'. Full of the Roman virtue of gravitas, Caesar introduced the cult of Venus Genetrix, the goddess of motherhood and marriage. She was portrayed no longer as amorous and sensual but matronly and chaste.

Venus as archetype : Society reflects its idealised women by archetypal images of femininity and sexuality. The rise of Christianity celebrated a sweet and vulnerable womanhood, seen particularly clearly in the image by Botticelli of the young gentle maiden. You can't fail to notice, however, that she has breasts.

Earlier cultures recognised the domain of emotion, passion and creativity as one with intense and volatile attributes of fecundity and fruitfulness. They gave us a sensual Venus with a proudly swollen belly, with prominent thighs and buttocks.

My renter, In the Outer, informs us an altercation has arisen " .. about the cover of the recent issue of Leadership which features a statue depicting in clear view some fine "marble bosom". Rather than discuss the import of what the issue was dedicated to, it appears that readers are more concerned with the supposed propriety of depicting a statue with bare breasts on the cover page of a magazine dedicated to ministers and ministry.".

You'll have to read the rest of his post, it will certainly make you wonder about people who have problems with a marble statue depicting the beauty of the female body.

I do indeed hope they are never subjected to a real live one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Judas : What was he on about?

The Passover Plot : Special 40th Anniversary Edition : Hugh J Schonfield Theologian Schonfield argued that the crucifixion of Christ was a conscious re-enactment of Biblical prophecy and Judas acted with Jesus' full knowledge and consent in "betraying" his master to the authorities.

The act of Judas has been much discussed in context of free will, I spent hours in my younger days thinking about the whole betrayal business. The mainstream position has been that although Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, Judas was still acting in free will and was culpable for his actions. There's certainly some contradiction here in the idea of "the betrayal of God". The possibilities seem to be these:

* Jesus did not foresee the betrayal by Judas.
* He was unable to prevent it.
* He allowed Judas to betray him.
* Judas was an informed accomplice in Jesus' planned destiny.

My Renter, In the Outer, looks at a new discussion on Was Judas Misunderstood?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Paccariscas of Peru

The Paccarisca was usually saluted with the cry, "Thou art my birthplace, thou art my life-spring. Guard me from evil, O Paccarisca!"

An Oracle Spirit was present near these holy stones so the paccariscas were treated with great reverence and people were loth to stray too far from them.

Worship of stones is common no matter where you are in the world. The rocks are the very bones of the earth and hold the mysteries of creation, of unimaginable time and the space between the stars. Many Native American creation myths place humans as coming forth from the womb of the great terrestrial mother. From earliest times people everywhere have sought refuge in caves, lived in them and raised their children, rejoiced around the fire and learnt the subtlety of the human psyche.

Paccariscas are found at Callca, in the valley of the Yucay, and at Titicaca there is a great mass of red sandstone on the top of a high ridge with almost inaccessible slopes and dark, gloomy recesses where the sun took refuge in the time of the great flood. The rock of Titicaca is the Paccarisca of the great Sun himself.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Love is in the air ... again

It's that time of year again, when chocolates and flowers start doing the rounds and Valentine cards with messages of undying love appear, like mushrooms, overnight.

Have you noticed the mythological allusions in the greeting cards? You can't miss Eros with his tiny arrows, or Cupid as he is more commonly termed to avoid any indelicate reference to biological urges. Tales of legendary lovers abound, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Isolde, or Hero and Leander. Even Romeo and Juliet get a re-run. But are these loving couples really good role models for a succesful relationship?

Take the young lover theme for example. The original pair were Pyramus and Thisbe, teenagers from opposing families in Ancient Babylon who fell in love, mixed up some messages to each other and ended up dead. Not a very inspiring story to start with, although Shakespeare improved on the material and West Side Story certainly sold a lot of tickets. But overall, it's a most unsatisfactory conclusion.

Then there's the couple kept apart by honour. The story of Tristan and Isolde, like that of Lancelot and Gionevere, is often held up as an example of true and perfect love. All the ingredients for a satisfactory narrative are present; the lightning bolt of desire, the inevitable tragedy, ritual sacrifice, the denial of satisfaction and the purity of renunciation. These days, the path of honourable chastity has lost popularity.

But what else can you expect from the barbed darts of the spiteful Eros? Even Apollo wasn't immune.

While swaggering round one morning the Sun God came across Eros sharpening his darts and, full of his own importance, disparaged the puny weapons. One of these arrows which Eros honed so carefully was to instantly cause infatuation, the other to repel it. The former was of gold and sharp-pointed, the latter blunt and tipped with lead. Full of malice, Eros took up the leaden shaft and struck the nymph Daphne, and with the golden one, he shot the cocky Apollo right through the heart.

Poor Daphne, who wished only to remain unmarried and alone in the deep woods, was immediately pursued by the lustful Apollo. Bent on rape, he chased her relentlessly through the woods. The desperate nympth, finally overcome with exhaustion, turned into a laurel tree. You must admit that while the story may be interesting for mythological reasons, it's not much of a yarn.

Eros even wounded his own mother Venus in the bosom with one of his arrows. Before the wound healed she beheld Adonis, and that was that! Utterly captivated, she left her pleasant garden, and followed the youth through the woods and over the hills and far away. Not the kind of behaviour to be encouraged in mothers at the best of times.

And then there's Zeus. Any love story involving Zeus is essentially a contradiction in itself, the Great Philanderer was at best an overbearing boasting Casanova or at worst, an arch-rapist, that is, until he met Ganymede.

In earlier days, all Greeks were familiar with the tales that told of the many affairs of Zeus, of the ill-fated love of Apollo and Hyacinth, of Achilles and Patroclus, and of many other such passionate friendships between gods or heroes and handsome youths. These stories are not so popular today and many in these modern times have forgotten Ganymede, the most beautiful boy in the world, but in any case, apart from the youth suffering an untimely death, his story isn't universally suitable for a Valentines Day greeting card message.

Perhaps the best Valentine's Day greeting is a simple kiss, a hug, and three little words. It's kept the world going around for a while now.

I've put together a list of Real Love Legends on the main website at All Info About Myths & Legends and don't forget, you can get the Legends and Lore eZine free every fortnight

Friday, February 03, 2006

Brighid, Queen of Heaven

In the Northern Hemisphere Imbolc is still celebrated. Take my renter for example, Fading the Surface Noise, she will be building a bonfire with '.. old Christmas trees, symbolizing the spark of new growth & creative inspiration.' And honouring Brighid

Brighid is the most powerful religious figure in all of Irish history. She has moved through the ages with scarcely a change and travelled effortlessly down the centuries. Over hundreds of generations Brighid moves with grace and power, fulfilling different roles in different times.

The Irish say that Brighid gave us whistling, that she invented this one night when she wanted to call her friends. And that she taught us how to keen the mournful song of the bereaved woman. This keening links Brighid to the great mother goddesses of the eastern Mediterranean, and like them, she was identified with fertility of the soil, and with the earth itself.

More on Brighid, Queen of Heaven

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Lupercalia was a Roman ritual of purification and fertility dating from such an ancient time that even the Romans of the first century Common Era had totally forgotten what it was all about.

On February 14, the Luperci, young men who were naked except for the skins of goats they had just sacrificed, ran from the Lupercal around the bounds of the Palatine, both to purify that ancient site in a ceremony of lustration (lustratio) and, striking the women they met with strips of goat skin, to promote fertility.

These days we prefer flowers and chocolate

The Irish called this month Feabhra or an Gearran, the gelding or horse. The horse was used to draw the plough, but Gearran also means 'to cut' and 'Gearran' can be used to describe the 'cutting' Spring winds. To the Anglo-Saxons, this was Solmonath, "sun month," in honor of the gradual return of the light after the darkness of winter. According to Asatru traditions, this month is Horning, from horn, the turn of the year.