Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Nobody here but us Pagans. I mean, chickens.

One of the big chewy beefs a lot of NeoPagans have with Christianity involves assimilation: the idea that over the centuries, Christians undermined local folk and nature religions by incorporating their practices and turning their Gods into saints. "St. Bridget was originally Brigid, the Goddess of Fire and Poetry," the NeoPagans will aver, possibly pounding on a table to accentuate their point. "Until the Church Christianized her."

The thing is, assimilation isn't really the Church's MO--historically, it's always leaned more towards smash-and-grab. So let's take a quick gander at the Real and For True (insofar as I think it's true) process by which Pagan deities wind up as Christian saints:

Christian: "Hey! Are you people worshipping false idols?"

Pagan: "Oh no, of course not. We're... uh, we're venerating... Catherine. Saint Catherine."

Christian: "Are you sure? That statue looks a lot like Cerridwen, the Welsh Mother Goddess I've been reading about."

Pagan: "No, it's definitely St. Catherine. She's, um, new. We checked."

Christian: "Well, as long as she's a saint.... carry on, then."

Pagan: "Right. Blessed be.

Christian: "Excuse me?"

Pagan: "I said, Amen."

Ain't that sneaky? Those Medieval Pagans sure were a plucky bunch of unbaptized savages. Now, as to how Brigid became St. Bridget...

Priestess 1: "Uh oh. The Christians are back."

Priestess 2: "You know, I'll bet if we tell them we're all nuns now, they won't start stabbing us again."

Priestess 1: "That's just crazy enough to work."


Deborah said...

That is what happened in some cases. In most cases, though, it appears to be third party.

BISHOP FROM THE BIGASS CHURCH: Are those people in your parish still worshiping the Goddess Brigid?

LOCAL PRIEST: No, sir! No way! They're worshiping SAINT Brigid, a martyr. Go ahead, check the sign carved on the statue.

Evn said...

LOCAL PRIEST: (picking leaves and twigs out of cassock) And I certainly wasn't dancing with them.

treecat said...

The lamb sacrifice and rain dances aren't pagan any more, it's all for St. George. The Orthodox priest blesses the lambs and the procession leaves from the church of St Barbara. The icons come along too. Perfectly kosher.

Evn said...

So a lamb is sacrificed to the Bringer of Spring, and the procession leaves from the church of Athene. Sounds kosher to me!

Red Delicious said...

Can we turn this idea into a sketch?

Evn said...

You and I will collaborate, but I retain tyrannical director rights.

Yvonne Rathbone said...

Your Catholic priest sounds like Tim Gunn from Project Runway.

"Designers? Excuse me, Pagans? Your challenge today is to modernize the pagan worship of a god or goddess so that the Christians think it's a saint. I don't have to tell you have important this challenge is. The winning Pagan will receive their very own parish in which their saint will be venerated. The losing pagan will unfortunately have to be burned at the stake. Remember to use the Catholic Supply wall to accessorize your saint. Make it work!"

Evn said...

This is officially the Funniest Comment Posted To My Blog Ever (sorry, Joey). I will never be able to look at Tim Gunn the same way again.

You know, you should start your own blog, where your wit and insight could be openly shared with the world.

Oh, wait...