Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rubber - meekon5 - review.

Despite a name that caused some raised eyebrows in discussion at work the next day as I tried to describe the film, this film is a little gem.
Whilst at university I had the opportunity to extend a couple of interests of mine, namely philosophy and film studies as part of one of the modules of my degree.
I also have the pleasure of a group of friends who share my love and interest in films, but more on the "Shit Film Club" (of which I'm sure any number of variations exist) at some later time.
I mention this because we tend to play silly games where each of us are looking for more unusual (read bizarre) little obscure films.Especially knowing each others likes and dislikes. This films discovery (for my group of friends) is Pete's work.
At once post modernist, and surreal in turns. Without giving too much away there is a scene early on where a character seems to break the fourth wall and addresses the audience directly,only for the the camera to turn round afterwards to reviel an audience in the film that he has been addressing.
For a film that follows a tyre that develops psychotic tendencies and goes on a killing spree.
Not a film for everybody, but a good film if you can take the surrealism, and the flip flop of dipping in and out of Post Modernism.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Social Network - meekon5 - review.

For years I followed Barry Norman on the BBC's Film (insert your favourite year here 1972 to 1998 with a small break 1982-83). Now I cant say I always agreed with his reviews, in fact I probably disagreed with more than the ones I agreed with, but what I liked about Mr Norman was that he was consistent, and in the end I could judge whether I would enjoy a film from the tone of his review even if he slated the film.
I don't think anyone (Mr Ross, or the other two) have come anywhere near Mr Normans style or consistency.
I mention this because I aim at this myself. I don't expect to be as good a film reviewer as Mr Norman I just attempt to attain his consistency. I hope those of you who read this will come to be able to read these reviews, and if not agree with them at least get some idea as to what the film is and if you would enjoy it even if I didn't.
All I have to say about "the social network" is that if this was meant to be an attempt to make me the viewer feel any sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg by telling the story from his point of view, it didn't. I started the film thinking he was a bit of an arrogant knob (imho), and this film did nothing to dispel this point of view. As far as I can see he was an arogant knob who stole a bunch of ideas off his friends then paid them off. No sympathy.
I'm led to believe the sound track is very good if you don't spoil it by having to watch the film at the same time.
I don't want to start giving films points out of ten but I think there are better films to spend your time watching.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Source Code - meekon5 - review.

OK to start with I suppose I owe you some sort of explanation. I have started to work through my backlog of DVD's. As I am now watching quite a few films in the week, I have decided to try to review them here. Each time I finish a film I will try to take a picture of the cover then blog here, rather than try to describe the plot and my impressions to everyone, I can just point them here.
I have to say I was somewhat surprised by this film. That is nicely surprised. I am always wary of films (or books) that refer other films (or books) in terms of "The New". As in "The New Lord of the Rings", or in this case "The New Inception". I always feel you can bet that any film that has to say this is of course going to be nothing like the hype they are pushing.
Having heard from a number of sources that Inception was a brain twister then being really disappointed with it, I was expecting this (Source Code) to be a poor attempt at what was a poor attempt at over intellectualised psychological sci-fi. I was really surprised, though the story is a little contrite, it does stand up on it's own and is nothing as bad as Inception.
A soldier wakes up in someone else's body. There then ensues an almost groundhog days round of the soldier returning to the same eight minutes on a doomed train. Avoiding a lot of the usual time travel paradoxes by being set in a virtual environment.
It's defiantly worth seeing.

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Chapter 07 - Café Take Two.

I look in the mirror. Standard issue militia urban combats, black with a neat waist length jacket , topped off with a captains cap. I've chosen the orange piping and insignia of a captain in the local militia for the last couple of days. A sparse selection of weapons, mostly knives and hand guns will do. I don't want to draw too much attention to myself, it's meant to be a covert op until uncle has had chance to hire him.
After two years of wearing hi-tech combat make-up it's a joy to only have to apply a little cosmetic. Blusher and lipstick. I had to have a weeks reconstruction on my face and hands after the last tour of duty, just to get their youthful glow back again.
I've been following him for days now, “Good practice for you!” Uncle said.
The Café Venue for dinner every day. Just to sit and sulk there over a couple of beers as he dribbles over the refurb. He's probably been like this for weeks now, old spacers get a bit station sick if they're lock bound for too long.
The tells in his corridor squeak and the vid feed kicks in. I check the clock on my mesh. “Right on time Ramadan, my friend.” predictable as usual.
He's cautious but not as clever as he thinks he is. I see him scan the corridor, like he knows I'm watching, but can't work out where the tells are. It makes me grin. I can get to the lobby a minute or two before he hits the ground floor. I wait surreptitiously reading a mesh page or two on pad whilst waiting for him in the lobby by the concession stands. The lift chimes and out he walks. Off down the corridor towards the recreation deck and his favourite table in Café Venue. I could almost set my mesh chronometer by him.
Tipping the wink to the concierge, a man in the families pay for many years now, I follow at a discreet distance trying not to get noticed, slipping in and out of doorways until the street becomes more populated, and I can walk in the middle of the crowd, hidden in plain view.
He stops at the usual vendors. The news stand for any new off station publications he may have missed. The postal box he maintains on the station just in case any documents have arrived or other ancient flotsam his intelligent agents may have dug up, and purchased , for him has arrived whilst he's been away. Then into the dark seedy interior of the café.
I wait a minute or so, so as not to be obvious, then sneak in and take my position at the bar. Easy observation of the one set of stairs to the upper level of the bar. He'll settle for an hour or two and I can wait him out. I've taken a couple of suppressors so I can easily sit and drink without any danger of it impairing my effectiveness.
Time passes slowly. I keep myself to myself, just reading and drinking, waiting for him to move on. Playing the off duty militia the best I can.
“Hello darling.” One of a couple of Ruffs I notice crawling in earlier has decided to try his luck.
“Not interested brother.” I reply, as politely as I can.
Trying not to shudder at the thought of him getting any nearer than he is now.
“Ah come on lady don't be like that. We've been running long shift for three months now and just thought you would want to party. We've just been paid so no expense spared. How about it?”
“I said I wasn't interested brother, take a hint and back off before I have to hurt you.”
I'd forgotten, unfortunately the mods I'm carrying are special ops grade so don't really show to the untrained eye, or general issue mesh.
Their laughter rings hard and harsh throughout the bar. I see a couple of individuals skip out before things get nasty.
The nearest Ruff moves in and tries to grab me by the arm.
Just as I step back to get a decent distance to hit him hard, I look up to see Ramadan stepping out of the door. “Bollocks!”
I flick my eye up to the mesh icon to activate combat stims. Endomorphines and adrenalin pumps into my system with an audible roar. The Ruff is looking somewhat confused as his helpless hand hangs in the air where I had been standing. I push it away step into his personal space and grab him warmly by the balls. He misinterprets this gesture for a millisecond and begins to smile. I twist and push down and the smile becomes still born on his lips. The scream could be heard three blocks down, He crashes to the floor in an unconscious lump. The Barman reaches for his coms and punches the panic icon. The Ruff, his friend has raised from the chair. I leap over the prone body and land a foot squarely into the others face. His features slide sideways painfully as I bring the other foot round in a closed twisting motion. His neck vertebrae pop and he collapses to the floor.
The local militia surge through the door mob handed with weapons drawn. Unfortunately too many of them for me to take on at once. They come to a halt just inside as the site of the two ruffs and the broken furniture processes.
“Hands behind your head!” The Sargent yells with a slight quiver in his voice.
I comply, gently and slowly raising my hands, palm towards them so they can see I have no weapons. “Cuff her!” He squeaks at one of the subordinates.
Fifteen officers all standing there guns drawn pointed at little me.
“Well is one of you brave enough to step up?” I taunt
“Shut up! Shut up. When I want your opinion I will ask for it” He looks left and then quickly back to me. The barman is whispering in his ear obviously describing the events that have just passed.
“Davis, front and centre. Get those cuffs on her, and careful, she's not what she seems, from all accounts.” He nods in the direction of the barman, then towards the two lumps of unconscious Ruffs.
Davis slowly edges forward. Still pointing his gun at me. He waves down with it, so I drop to my knees. Gingerly he takes one hand and twists it down behind my back. The cuff seals itself around my wrist as he twists the other arm round and down the other cuff moulds itself to my wrist, then binds with its companion.
Another officer sneaks forward and holds my head back as Davis holds the retinal scanner to my eye.
Davis squeaks again and passes the hand-held unit to the Sargent, who in turn turns very pale and bows slightly.
His com pings, and he begins to stutter. “Mr Smith, our apologies, a thousand fold, no-one had told us she was here!”
“No, no sir, covert ops I see, no problem we will release her instantly.” He gestures with his free hand to the others in my direction.
Davis pulls a small canister from his belt and sprays the cuffs. They dissolve. Another officer hands me a rag. I wipe the residue from my hands and reapply the mono-layer nano polymer cover to them. “thank you ladies and gentlemen!” I rise with some assistance and step to the to door. The Sargent salutes and I walk out.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Think Like A Child

After viewing this video “McGonigal  - play videogames, save the world” on rockpapershotgun.com from one of my favourite sites TED, I was so impressed I signed up to her latest innovation, Evoke.

My first task is to choose one of thirty three “secrets of social innovation”. 

This was particularly easy once I spotted this one:

And Paul Polak via Nextbillion;

“think like a child – children have no limit to their thinking”

My favourite because it is a theme I have always tried to live my life by.

I must make a distinction here between “childish” and “child like”.

“childish” is the immature self centred disregard for anyone else’s point of view on anything, the grabbing greedy child that just thinks “Mine, mine, mine!”

“child like” on the other hand is that state of grace and wonder that pervades the spirit of seeing without the detritus of thousands of years of experience. Like seeing  snow for the first time and only thinking of playing in it. The joy and bewilderment of the total suspension of disbelief that fills the world with fairies and elves and magic.

I was always one of those children that would take the toy car and turn it into something else. I still remember the hours of joy my brother and I derived from a large cardboard box, it was a submarine, a spaceship, a car, and all sorts of other things. I believe it is that sense of infinite possibility that is referred to here in:

“think like a child – children have no limit to their thinking”.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Pagan. Paganism and Neo-Paganism from a Neo-Pagan's point of view.

“The essence of any religion lies solely in the answer to the question: why do I exist, and what is my relationship to the infinite universe that surrounds me? ...” (Leo Tolstoy, 1879)

0 – Forewarned

It is a particularly difficult question to ask of anyone, “What is your religion, and why?”

The following is and can only be my opinion on the subject. Should you consult with any other practitioners of Paganism you may get an entirely different, maybe even contradictory story.

In preparing for this presentation I set up the usual “What, When, Where, How, and Why” list for begin my notes.

In order to present my personal view on Paganism, first I am going to try to explain a number of building blocks that I see important to the development of my point of view, and to modern Paganism. Then use them to extrapolate my position on Paganism, and Neo-Paganism.

That is I'm going to attempt to explain the term Paganism with all it's inherent problems, outline some of the history of neo-paganism  as I understand it, give a brief outline of how I see the practice, and the purpose of paganism. 

1 - The Legal Aspect.

In 2000 The Human Rights Act of 1998 came into full force, making it finally part of UK law. Amongst other things it enabled English courts and tribunals to act on human rights cases. Before this anyone who felt that their rights under the Convention had been breached had to go  to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Why is this important?

Particularly and specifically, article nine of the European Convention on Human Rights

“Article 9 – Freedom of thought, conscience and religion 

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, and to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” 

Though the European Convention on Human Rights has existed since the 1950's and Britain has been a signatory since then (Churchill being the British signatory to the document, here seen being initiated into Albion Lodge of the Ancient Order Of Druids at Blenheim Palace in 1908) The Human Rights Act of 1998 is particularly important to certain minority religious groups especially Pagans as it confirmed British acceptance of our right to practice religion the way we saw fit. Until this point (even though article nine of the convention existed) a lot of Pagans continued to practice in secret, many still do. 

So be warned that any inappropriate giggling during this presentation will be considered a direct offence against my inalienable human rights. 

2 - “Pagan” The Word.

There is much debate and disagreement as to the origins and interpretation of the word Pagan, even in it's modern usage. Unfortunately there is really no consensus for the proper usage and definition of the word.

Though at first it seems a fairly obvious to most people what the word Pagan means the definitions vary widely. I was quite amused to find that Religious Tolerance dot org (a Canadian website) managed fourteen different definitions. From the highly specific conservative (right wing American) christian use of the word meaning all none christians, including atheist, or even categorising Pagans as incorrectly Satanist. To the slightly less specific all none Abrahamic religions, i.e. any religion not claiming descent from Abraham, this would include the Buddhists, the Taoists, Jainist, Hindu, in fact anything not in three, Muslim, Christian, Jewish groups (four if you include the Rastafarians). If you consider pre-christian religions Pagan, you exclude a number of contemporary aboriginal practices, and a whole raft of contemporary folk practices.

To try and shed some light here are a couple of attempts at defining the word by dictionaries.

Oxford English Dictionary website:

“pagan

  • noun a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.

  • adjective relating to pagans or their beliefs.

  — DERIVATIVES paganism noun.

    ORIGIN Latin paganus ‘rustic’, later ‘civilian’ (i.e. a person who was not a ‘soldier’ in Christ’s army).” 

It would be interesting to ask them what they consider the “ main world religions” are, and how they measure that. Considering recent figures suggest the Abrahamic religions (all three/four together) account for about two thirds of the world population (Christianity 33%). 

 From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website:

“Main Entry: pa·gan

Pronunciation: \ˈpā-gən\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin paganus, from Latin, civilian, country dweller, from pagus country district; akin to Latin pangere to fix — more at pact

Date: 14th century

1 : heathen 1; especially : a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)

2 : one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods : an irreligious or hedonistic person

3 : neo-pagan

— pagan adjective

— pa·gan·ish  \-gə-nish\ adjective”

Generally the consensus amongst Practising Pagans, in my experience, is to take the line best laid out by the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia:

“Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic")[1] is a blanket term used to refer to various polytheistic, non Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Its exact definition may vary:[2] It is primarily used in a historical context, referring to Greco-Roman polytheism as well as the polytheistic traditions of Europe before Christianization. In a wider sense, extended to contemporary religions, it includes most of the Eastern religions, and the indigenous traditions of the Americas, Central Asia and Africa, as well as non-Abrahamic folk religion in general. More narrow definitions will not include any of the world religions and restrict the term to local or rural currents not organized as civil religions. Characteristic of pagan traditions is the absence of proselytism and the presence of a living mythology which explains religious practice.”

So generally Paganism is derived from a Latin term used by the Romans to mean local (in a derogatory sense), non christian, or pre-christian religious practice. Corrupted (or adjusted) through usage to refer to civilian, non-christian practice.

Paganism in the context I am now going to use it tends to mean pre-christian, non Abrahamic, animistic, polytheistic, or monotheistic, and aboriginal religious practices, of the “This is a local religion, for local people” type definition.

3 - History, Continuity and Neo-Paganism.

Problems with historical context and validity.

Pre-christian.

Though there are groups that claim continuous connection to previous pre-christian pagan practices these statements prove hard to substantiate historically.

Firstly we have to deal with the “C” word. 

Celts.

For a long period of time there was a general consensus that, for a few hundred years, between the beaker people and the expansion of Rome, the peoples of the area generally between the Swiss Alps and the  Atlantic ocean to the west could all be coloured in as homogeneous Celt.

 



An opinion usually based on contemporary reports from such individuals as Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and such like imperialist expansionist individuals. Modern archaeology and advances in genetic research in the last thirty to forty years have caused doubt about the validity of these observations. Modern post imperialist reinterpretation of Caesar's writings has suggested that he may have been conveniently grouping large areas of unconnected cultures together for political means to suggest that some of his victories were slightly more significant than they really were.

 



Backed also by genetic research that has found no real connection between the disparate peoples previously labelled Celt, the great Celtic civilisation is looking less and less likely to have existed anywhere outside of Julius's ego. 

Secondly many of the pre-christian civilisations looked to as Pagan were cultures of spoken tradition not written. Records passed down of many of their traditions were only documented well after the fact of their demise.

 




 The Final destruction of the Druids on Anglesey. 

Anglesey was one of the last strongholds of the druids in Britain. An army led by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus during the first century CE (common Era) defeated and slaughtered most of the Druids and destroyed the groves of oak trees which were considered sacred to the them.






It was Paulinus that then led his army to victory over Boudicca, who used his absence to successfully sack Londinium. The Roman army occupied the island until the beginning of the fourth century CE, when their forces were withdrawn from Anglesey. This effectively severed the link with any local British religion and placed Roman Polytheism as the dominant religion across Europe, until the conversion of the Roman state to christianity.

Post Roman.

Some groups claim that at this point certain branches of Paganism went underground for a few thousand years only to resurface early last century. But for all documentary purposes the breaking of the Druids enclave and the christian conversion of Constantine I in Byzantine marks the break in the chain of Pagan practice.

Medieval.

A small note about what many Pagans call “the burning times” being the subjugation, and persecution of, the Pagans by christians in the years after the Roman conversion. There is little proof of the systematic and organised opposition to Paganism in early christianity. Possible local action may have taken place, but no early church organisation was focused on anything other than conversion rather than oppression. Interestingly early christianity pre Constantines conversion had more female practitioners than male due to it's insistence on equality of the congregation. An early report of a raid on a christian meeting said something like out of a hundred cloaks left behind twenty were mens and eighty where womens. It was Constantines Mother that converted to christianity before he did.

It's not until the publishing of the Theodosian Code issued in 438 CE that certain Pagan practice actually became illegal.

“Theodosian Code XVI.1.2

It is our desire that all the various nation which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue to the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the Pontiff Damasus and by Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one diety of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in out judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that the shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation an the second the punishment of out authority, in accordance with the will of heaven shall decide to inflict.” 

Even medieval “witch hunts” of the sort exemplified in Monty Pythons “Holy Grail” seem to be exaggerated, very few witch trails having been undertaken in England particularly, and of the resultant half dozen or so, the few convictions tended to be hanged. The Spanish Inquisition tended to burn their heretics which may have led to the historical (hysterical) exaggeration. 

Even the dissolution of the Knights Templar (at Philip the IV’s behest) and the accusation of their “head worship” and adoration of Baphomet seem to be more fabrication to back up the attempted seizing of their wealth than any true organised none christian Pagan religion. 







 

The Templar Grand Master (Jacques de Molay) was tortured so badly that the bones of his feet fell through his skin before he confessed to the heresy he was accused of.









Renaissance.

With the falling of Byzantium a lot of Greek, Roman, and Egyptian texts returned to Western Europe. Though many of these were important scientific documents it must be remembered that science and religion were very closely entwined in these societies.

During the Renaissance we begin to have evidence of what may be considered explicitly religious paganism again. Alchemists, and other scientists, Astrologers, often overtly Christian but employing pagan symbolism and texts, were most common during the period. Many modern movements in the Kabbalah and Tarot originate in the Renaissance, the modern Rosicrucian’s Society trace their origin to this period, the three groups forming the backbone of modern pagan symbolism. The Renaissance also saw the obscure origins of a rebirth, in improved form, of Greek humanism, technically pagan because of its suppression by Christian Rome and its use of theistic symbols. Most practitioners tended to the Occult, for instance

Doctor John Dee's Enochian Magic, and Nostrudamus Prophecies, though christian in orientation contain many references to pre-christian symbolism. John Dee was also involved in psychic spying using magic ritual and scrying tools for the Elizabethan court.

 







The Ancient Order of Druids (also known as the Druid Order) claims to have been founded in 1781 by Henry Hurle. You'll notice that a lot of Druid orders are founded throughout this presentation.

 







 

The Victorians.

It has to be admitted that the Victorians are responsible for the re-awaking of interest in Paganism, with their re-working of the greco-roman pantheon throughout art and literature (see particularly good examples of this in the work of the pre-Raphelites, in both their paintings and poetry), and even landscape gardening (how many Victorian great houses are not enhanced with a faux roman temple ruin?).


Pre-war Period.

It is in 1910 that George Watson MacGregor Reid claimed The Druid Order, The British Circle of the Universal Bond, had a mythic origin through John Toland, an Irish philosopher leading back to 1717. Unfortunately this illustrious history has proved purely the fictitious imaginings on  MacGregor Reid's part.

Blatvasky's theories of the theosophy, and the Aryan myth, and the Theosophy Societies interest in eastern philosophy's, bringing many previously unavailable texts into English translation and 

 








Alastair Crowley's (and Magregor Mathers) breaking an accepted tradition in occult and masonic societies by widely publishing their work and many of their esoteric practices with the hermetic order of the Golden Dawn, and Crowley's own work in the field of practical magic afterwards.

 






The Thule Society and the Nazis.

I am now going to have to step into the realms of Indian Jones.

By the early to middle of the twentieth century The Theosophists  and a number of other groups had made eastern philosophy, religious  ideas, and texts, widely available in Europe. Though this created a new interest in spirituality, the pervading nationalist ethos moved   groups dedicated to investigating these religious areas in the direction of attempting to re-create national, more ethnic orientated religious practice, usually based on Renaissance, and Victorian romanticised recreations. This was a pan-European phenomenon  giving rise to all sorts of attempts to return to ideas of more native traditions, and an attempt to return to a more nature orientated, healthier, point of view. One of the major groups in these Volkisch movements that sprung up In Germany was the Thule Society.

The Thule Society was a German occultist and völkisch group in Munich, named after a mythical northern country from Greek legend.

The Thule Society was originally a "Germanic study group" headed by Walter Nauhaus, to be a cover-name for the Munich branch of the Germanenorden (or "Order of Teutons"), a secret society founded in 1911. But events developed differently as a result of a schism in the Order. In 1918, Nauhaus was contacted in Munich by Rudolf von Sebottendorf (or von Sebottendorff), an occultist and newly-elected head of the Bavarian province of the schismatic offshoot, known as the Germanenorden Walvater of the Holy Grail. The two men became associates in a recruitment campaign, and Sebottendorff adopted Nauhaus's Thule Society as a cover-name for his Munich lodge of the Germanenorden Walvater at its formal dedication on 18 August 1918.

Anton Drexler, and the Thule Society's Karl Harrer, established the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP), or German Workers' Party. By the end of February 1920, the DAP had been reconstituted as the National Socialist German Workers' Party, generally known as the "Nazi Party". Adolf Hitler joined this party later in 1919. Early in 1920 Karl Harrer was forced out of the DAP as Hitler moved to sever the party's link with the Thule Society, which subsequently fell into decline and was dissolved about five years later, well before Hitler came to power.

I mention the Thule society because it did have a number of major Nazis as members including Hess, and other members of Hitlers early entourage. Though Hitler severed ties with the group in 1920 there have been a number of suggestions (unproven) that it influenced the  Ahnenerbe.

The Ahnenerbe was a Nazi German think tank that promoted itself as a "study society for Intellectual Ancient History." Founded by Heinrich Himmler, Herman Wirth, and Richard Walther Darré, the Ahnenerbe's goal was to research the anthropological and cultural history of the Aryan race, and later to experiment and launch voyages with the intent of proving that prehistoric and mythological Nordic populations had once ruled the world.

It's this group that is usually accused of undertaking occult and pagan rituals, and attempting to create a new Aryan religion, though their main function was one of historical investigation in an attempt to prove Aryan superiority, and mastership of certain regions of Europe. Though ostensibly set up as a linguistic and historical study foundation a branch called the Institute for Functional Research in Military Science did eventually become entwined in activities involving the death camps and creating statistics of the perfect Aryan physique.






It's a mixture of misrepresentation of both these groups that leads to their inclusion in the Indiana Jones films, and the likes of Dennis Wheatley's “They Used Dark Forces”. Otto Rahn who Indiana Jones is allegedly based upon actually joined the SS (encouraged by Himmler himself) to get funding for his search for the Holy Grail.

There are unproven stories of British witches, and or Alastair Crowley himself being involved in Magical rituals during the Battle of Britain in order to help the RAF win against such overwhelming odds.

 







There are other rumours that  occult and secret society associations were used to put pressure on Hitler's (alleged) Astrologer Karl Ernst Krafft to feed Hitler adverse horoscopes to try to influence his decisions during the later parts of world war two..

 







Gardner and Wicca, the modern witch cult.

There is debate as to the origins of the modern Wiccan group. Gardner himself claiming he was initiated in 1939 by a subgroup of the Rosicrucian Fellowship of Crotona, in the New Forest. Other points of view have claimed that he entirly created the modern Wiccan Creed identifying the work of Margaret Murray, an anthropologist, and                                       Charles Godfrey Leland, a self-styled folklorist and adventurer in the work. The Wiccan movement still to this day heavily denies any influence that Crowley may have had on the modern Wiccan rituals.

 



 

4 - Modern Neo-Paganism.

The sixties provided a blossoming of literature and new thinking on religion looking for alternatives to the accepted mainstream,

Modern Druidism, as it is practised by most Druids today, emerged out the 1960s. Virtually simultaneously, on both sides of the Atlantic, in 1963 on the Carleton College campus in the USA a group called The Reformed Druids of North America was created as a humorous protest against mandatory Sunday morning chapel attendance, while the following year in England a historian, Ross Nichols, rebelled against the election of a new Druid Chief, and established his own group, The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids.

 

Modern Paganism can be divided into the following paths (here I side with the Pagan Federations definition)

Druidry: Many Pagan Druid orders draw their inspiration from Celtic traditions, working with the Gods and Goddesses of the Celtic Pagan past. Some work with whatever spirits are within and around the people they are working with.

 





Female Spirituality: Women's spirituality is one of the richest and most dynamic forces in modern Paganism. Women are respected in all Pagan traditions and have enriched Paganism with a powerful vision of the Goddess - the long-ignored feminine aspect of the Divine. In Paganism, women are Priestesses in their own right, strong and proud, with their own vision.

 





 

Heathenry: Norse, Northern, Odinism, Asatru, Vanatru. There are many Heathen groups. Heathenry is a term used to describe the religious practices of two main groups of people, one historical and one modern. The original Heathens were the pre-Christian North European peoples. Modern Heathen groups around the world are reviving these old practices and call their religion by various names including Asatru, The Northern Tradition, Odinism, Forn Sed, Germanic Pagan Reconstructionism or, simply, Heathenry.

 





Male Spirituality: The male mysteries have always had their place in the many expressions of the Pagan religion. For a Pagan, male spirituality is honoured as an expression of the God in his many forms. Pagan men seek inspiration from the Horned God and other aspects of the male Deity

 





 

Wiccan: Wicca is one of the most influential traditions of modern Paganism. Also known by the name Witchcraft, it began to emerge publicly in its modern form in the late 1940's. It is an initiatory path, a mystery tradition.

A - There are three distinct branches to Wicca, an inherited branch that claims descendance from the original Druids and that has been handed down from generation to generation.

B – There is a traditional that calims to be an ofshute of the inherited where the “craft” has been handed to an none family member.

C – The Gardenarian as mention above and before from Alxexander gardners reformation.

 


Shamanism: Modern Shamanism is perhaps the most diverse of all the forms of Pagan practice and is less clearly defined as a tradition than other Pagan paths. Shamanic practices are an underlying aspect of all expressions of Pagan religion and there are those who would describe themselves as Wiccan, Druidic or Women's Mystery Shamans.

 








5 – My Own Path.

Hopefully by now I have provided enough building blocks with which to create a foundation to attempt to explain my religious point of view.

As an inquisitive thirteen year old I not only decoded the runes around the map in Tolkien's “The Hobbit” I actually went down to my local library and investigated them further.    Producing an extensive document on their origin and use. This was probably my first steps in any form of Paganism.

My religious development into Paganism is on the whole a very common one amongst practitioners.  It may surprise some of you that I was a bit of an odd child. Very early on  I perceived a need for some form of spirituality in my life. As a teenager I studied Yoga, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and even a little Sufism. At one point I even professed to be a born again christian for a while, I got better though. I was part of a small Zen meditation group at one point.

The further I studied the likes of Christmas Humphreys, and Alan Watts, the more I found myself having to assimilate the history and culture of Japan, China, and to some extent India. Not that this was a problem, it was just that I was moving further and further away from my native culture, and history.

I must explain I first rejected the abrahamic religions because of a perceived imbalance towards the male, both in the spiritual aspect, God the Father, the son, and the holy ghost seemed to deny, or repress, any aspect of female spirituality, also the masonic hierachial misogynistic structure of the christian churches clergy again seemed to unbalance and deny the female involvement in religion. Buddhism and particularly Zen moved me away from a deity based religion, but this felt somewhat lacking in substance. I moved my focus to the roots of Zen, Chien Buddhism, and on into Taoism. Though I found a better balance in Taoism, being more comfortable with its acceptance of numerous deities, and it's more animistic inclinations. I still find it underpins a lot of my spirituality to this day. It's at this point I began to realise that I was looking back into history in Japan and China, trying to understand their culture and religions, looking back to an age when my ancestors were following similar animistic pre christian beliefs. I decided that it would probably be more relevant to use images and concepts from my own ancestry to build a spiritual system than to continue to try to understand what was essentially an alien culture and their symbols.

Let me be specific here. When I talk about male and female spirituality I am refering to the concept in a Taoist fashion. I don't consider that men are just male in their spirituality, or female just female. Both have aspects and balances of both male and female spirituality. This is why I believe the abrahamiic faiths are unbalanced, by venerating a male deity they are not addressing the female spirit within them. I know there are aspects of christianity that venerate the Virgin Mary, but the point is made quite clearly that she is not god, therefore inferior.

I would also like to point out that one of the major aspects of my Zen practice that I still retain, involves the concept that all of life is illusory. All of life is actually projected from within. In practical terms this means that your life is a product of what you think it should be. If you are of a scientific nature then you see life as the product of measurable cause and effect. If you are of a more artistic nature, like myself, you are likely to see life in different aspects driven by different forces. After all Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge.

The Blank Canvas.

I think what I am trying to do is explain the almost blank slate that I as a neo-pagan present myself.

To reiterate:

1          There is little or no connection to original practicers of Paganism because:

            a          They were effectively removed by the Romans who then converted to                                       christianity.

            B         As cultures of spoken tradition there are very few records, apart from the few                         concurrent observers, most of who where conquering the subjects that they                             were writing about at the time.

2          If all of life is illusory then whatever the individual believes must therefore be true for   them.

3          I have a perceived (or  real) need for a religious understanding in order to       comprehend my position in the society/world/universe/multiverse that I believe I exist        in.

4          As part of that  understanding I regard it as important that this point of view have a     balance across both the male and female principles. The Belief System.

In discussion with other Pagans I am amused to find that the general consensus of opinion is that your gods find you, you don't pick them.

In my personal pantheon I try to balance Gods and Goddesses but have a slight bias to the god side.

I will now present them in the fashion of a cheap beauty pageant.

As an individual who regularly writes and performs poetry live both here in London and down in Portsmouth (where I live), my first deity has to be Odin, Woden, or  Wotan, from the Norse and Anglo-Saxon. Odin is the god of the runes, fortune telling and has providence over artists and poets.

 






All my life I have had an incredible gift with plants, and a great deal of my childhood was spent walking the New Forest and the south downs so my second deity will be no surprise as the Green Man. Other aspects of this deity appear in tales such as Gwain and the Green Knight, and many tales of wild men across the country, at times even linked with Merlin of the Arthur cycle.



Many examples of the Green man can be found in churches in England, believed by some to be the stone masons and carpenters hinting at hidden branches of paganism still being practices during the medieval period. The green an is seen as a herder of the woodland spirits as well as a guardian of the underworld.




 













Bacchus the Roman god of Wine, associated with the Greek god Dionysus He is the patron deity of agriculture and the theater. He was also known as the Liberator (Eleutherios), freeing one from one's normal self, by madness, ecstasy or wine.

 






I have never really been a dog person, even though I grew up with many. I have always been a cat person. As such it is only logical that I venerate Bast the Egyptian goddess of cats. Bast later took on other duties to do with associations with lions and war, and later with protection for women, but was originally the cat headed woman, responsible for cats.

 







As an anarchist my final deity is, though originally a Greek goddess, and part of the Roman pantheon, Eris Discordia, has in recent times undergone a radical change and a resurgence of devotees. Many of you will be aware of the story of Paris and the golden apple.

 





Zeus was preparing a wedding banquet for Peleus and Thetis and did not want to invite Eris because of her reputation as a trouble maker. This made Eris angry, and so she fashioned an apple of pure gold and inscribed upon it KALLISTI ("To The Prettiest One") and on the day of the fete She rolled it into the banquet hall. There ensued an argument between Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite as to who owned the apple. Only solved by stealing Paris a Sheppard off a mountain to judge the competition. Of course the goddesses tried to bribe him. Aphrodite offering him a women as beautiful as she. Paris chose Aphrodite, she having failed to mention the woman in question was one Helen of Troy, already married, thus the Trojan wars began. Eris Discordia has been adopted by the modern faith of Discordianism.

From Wikipedia : Discordianism is (and is not) a religion centered on the idea that chaos is all that there is, and that disorder and order are both illusions that are imposed on chaos. These are referred to, respectively, as the "Eristic" and "Aneristic" illusions. It was founded circa 1958–1959 by Malaclypse the Younger with the publication of its principal text, the Principia Discordia. With the advent of the internet Discordianism has spread widely.

I also studied a number Irish traditions involving the Tuatha Dé Danann "peoples of the goddess Danu". When the stories were actually written down it is thought that what had originally been pre Christian deities were represented as mortal kings, queens, and warriors.

 

The Arthur cycle in it’s earliest forms including Merlins childhood is said to hold many allusions to pre-christian practice.

 



 

Practice and Devotion.

The eight fold wheel of the year.

It has to be admitted that a lot of Pagans accept this eightfold calendar for their festivals, but the inclusion of the solstices and the equinoxes are a modern wiccan practice.

A lot of Pagans will meet as groups on these dates, though there are many more “solitary” practitioners of every flavor.

 


I have also been involved in setting up Neo Pagan groups, for instance when I was at durham university.

 

Paganism Still Practiced.

The warrior god Tyrs Day, Woden the all fathers Day, Thor the god of thunders Day, and Freyjas Day the god of love, beauty, fertility, gold amongst other things, from the Anglo Saxon, days of the week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Apart from the roman Saturn, Sun, Moon, being Saturday, Sunday, Monday.Saturnalia originally celebrated for a day, on December 17, eventually growing to became a week long extravaganza, ending on the 23rd: Part of the Saturnalia involved the reversal of roles, the slaves becoming the masters, and the masters becoming the slaves, for one day, it is said the practice of wearing the paper crowns at dinner on Christmas day dates back to the saturnalia

May poles, an obvious one, simple phallic representation.

Christmas trees, in Northern Europe the trees were decorated with frosted fruit and gifts, to represent them bearing fruit, to celebrate the passing of the winter solstice.

Because English law is in perpetuity Mistletoe (druid symbol  of fertility) is still not legal in churches.

Easter Eggs, The egg was a druid symbol of rebirth, and the ark, as the druids were an arkite religion (made reference to a great flood).

“Touch Wood” possible a throw back to the Druid Sacred Groves.

Conclusion.

Most pagans term themselves neo pagans in recognition that there is little direct connection with their religious predecessors, and the religion is a modern developing religion. Paganism in it's modern form is the perfect postmodernist religion for a post modernist age.

Now of course I may be completely off with the fairies, but the way I have always seen things is this:








An individual of a scientific nature will look at a rainbow

and will see the diffraction of light through water.


Now I did physics to "A" level standard so I can appreciate that point of view.

But I also see:

Jehovah's promise to Noah "not to do that again."








Bifrost arching between Midgard and Asgard






I am almost off to see if I can't find the leprechaun and try to pinch his gold.










I regularly talk with Gods and Demons, Angels and Devils, my life is full of spirit and wonder, I walk with my gods every step.







I ask you which would you rather have the grey boring life of the scientist, or the wonder and lunacy of mine?

Ps two notes:

1: I pinched most of the images from the web, if they belong to you please either contact me so I can reference them properly or remove them if you so wish.

2: The Time line on the Thule Nazi bit may need looking at. Though Himmler, and Hess, where members, the society was probably too involved in anti-sematic activity to count as anything occult.

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