Monday, February 15, 2010

Quote o' the Moment - Musings of a Preadolescent

"Stupidity and mankind have a deep spiritual bond."


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Calendar of Pagan Saints

"All through [Joan of Arc's] history she seems to have been advised and guided by a number of persons. Some have thought that this must have been a powerful secret society. Of course, she said that they were 'saints', St. Michael and St. Catherine, both of whom are old divinities in Christian disguise; St. Michael taking the place of the Sun-God, and St. Catherine that of Cerridwen, the Celtic Nature-Goddess; hence the popularity of these two saints as the patrons of churches and chapels built on hill-tops, the old 'High Places'."

-Gerald Gardner

You know how I'm always blathering on about Pagan Gods masquerading as Christian saints? Well, I had this idea awhile back that I was going to write a blog post on the feast day of each of these saints, which would eventually coalesce into a publishing contract and a best-selling NeoPagan book. But then I realized this is me we're talking about, and I never finish any project I start. So instead, I decided to slap together a calendar of Pagan-spawned Catholic memorials, complete with the Gods who are either lurking behind a veneer of legendary canonization, or who, over time, have become associated with particular historical personages.

Some of the connections listed on the calendar are pretty well-established, while others are theories I cooked up on my own, looking at symbology, patronage, and regional veneration. And sometimes I just read a book and believed the author. Also, a few entries are marked "FHH," which stands for "Fourteen Holy Helpers." This group of saints was petitioned extensively during the Middle Ages for protection against the Black Plague--since about half of them trace back to earlier Pagan worship, I went ahead and listed all of them, even if I don't yet know exactly Who they represent.

Finally, please note that this list is largely theoretical, involving quite a few not-entirely-sound leaps of pseudo-logic. But I stand by what passes for reasoning. So whatever.

And away we go...

Nothing Pagan happens in January.

01 - Feast of St. Brigit (Brigid)
03 - Feast of St. Blaise (Veles, FHH)
14 - Feast of St. Valentine (Faunus)
23 - Feast of St. Milburga (Grain Mother, "Old Bessey")

17 - Feast of St. Gertrude of Nivelles (Diana)

19 - Feast of St. Expedite (Hermes)
23 - Feast of St. George (the Green Man, Al-Khidir, FHH)

01 - Beltaine; Feast of St. Walburga (Ceres)
07 - Feast of St. Achatius (FHH)
30 - Feast of St. Joan of Arc (Margaret Murray's poster child)

02 - Feast of St. Erasmus (FHH)
15 - Feast of St. Vitus (FHH)
29 - Feast of St. Peter the Apostle (Janus)

08 - Feast of St. Sunniva (Sol)
13 - Feast of St. Mildred (Holda)
20 - Feast of St. Margaret of Antioch (Juno, FHH)
22 - Feast of Mary Magdalene (Persephone)
25 - Feast of St. Christopher (Guinefort, Anubis, FHH)
26 - Feast of St. Anne (Danu, Annis)
27 - Feast of St. Pantaleon (FHH)

08 - Feast of St. Cyriacus (FHH)
15 - Feast of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary (Artemis at Ephesus)
26 - Our Lady of Czestochowa (Matka Ziema, "Moist Mother Earth")

01 - Feast of St. Giles (FHH)
16 - Feast of St. Cornely (Cernunnos)
20 - Feast of St. Eustace (Herne, FHH)
26 - Feast of St. Cyprian (not a God per se, but patron of occultists)
29 - Feast of St. Michael (Lugh)

04 - Feast of St. Francis (not Pagan, but who doesn't love the guy?)
09 - Feast of St. Denis (Dionysius, FHH)
21 - Feast of St. Ursula (Artio, Freya)

03 - Feast of St. Hubert (Herne)
25 - Feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria (Cerridwen, FHH)
30 - Feast of St. Andrew (Apollo, Belanos)

04 - Feast of St. Barbara (Athena, FHH)
13 - Feast of St. Lucy (Lucina)
26 - Feast of St. Stephen (Frey)

Know of any other saints with dubious origin stories? If so, just drop me a line and I'll add them to the list. Also, if a Loyal Strifemonger could please ghost-write a best-selling book on the subject and tack my name to it, that'd be great: I'm kind of busy this week.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Key Is in the Cards

My dear friend Trothwy has devised an excellent way to contribute to the Haitian relief effort while simultaneously giving Pat Robertson the finger. She's set up a new Web site, Key for Giving, to collect donations for Doctors Without Borders. Donate through her site, and she'll give you a divinatory reading in return.

Trothwy is, among other things, a cartomancy whiz, so even with the standard "Entertainment Purposes Only" disclaimer, you can't get much more win-win. She's got a fundraising goal of $500, and I'd love to see her reach it--if you haven't already had a chance to help out, now's the perfect opportunity.

ETA: If you look in the comments section, you'll notice that Trothwy received a glowing testimonial from Nettle. (Thanks, Nettle!) And druids aren't allowed to lie, or else they get scabies. So make with the deductibles already.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Having gambled and lost, our hero returns

"If you're going through hell, keep going." -Winston Churchill

Under normal circumstances, I'm a big proponent of blogging without obligation.  I'd love to spend my days cranking out brilliant post after brilliant post, but sometimes I get stressed out, or distracted, or I just can't pull anything witty out of my head. So, y'know, I choose not to worry about it.

However, over the past week I've received several e-mails from concerned Strifemongers, inquiring about my general well-being and tactfully making sure I didn't have another break-up meltdown.  And I was all, "The hell? It hasn't been that long since I've posted anything."  And then I looked at my calendar and thought, "Geez, no wonder everybody thinks I'm dead."

Guys, I sincerely apologize for causing any... um, strife. Unintentionally, that is. But as an act of contrition, I'd like to share a quaint, autobiographical tale of personal mortification: A parable of sorts, with a neat little lesson about How Things Work thrown in at no extra charge.

Before I get started, it's important to understand that I have what could be described as an "unpredictable" digestive system. For instance, I can wolf down bacon-wrapped jalapeƱos stuffed with ground beef and cheese to no ill effect, but if I eat a cookie on an empty stomach, I'll wake up in the middle of the night feeling like an alien's trying to claw its way out of my chest. Also, I burp a lot, a side effect of low-grade acid reflux issues. And sometimes I just get bloaty for no damn reason at all. With this in mind...

I woke up last Saturday morning to discover I was out of cat food, an oversight not unnoticed by my precious babies, who were busy staging a formal protest in the living room. (I'm not sure how they managed to make signs without the use of opposable thumbs, but I will say that their spelling was atrocious.) Throwing on some clothes and a jacket, I braved the unseasonably cold weather to trek down to Ye Olde Neighborhood Quick-E-Mart.

The convenience store in question is right across the street from my apartment complex. However, the complex itself is a sprawling, multi-acre affair, and I live in the very back of it. A walking trip to the store and back is a good half-mile hike, but a little light exercise never hurt anyone, so briskly off I went. I made it to the store in good time, picked up a box of kitty chow as well as a few other sundries, and left in happy spirits. But as I jogged back across the street, dodging my way through a barrage of Houston traffic, a low rumbling emanated from my innards, indicating an impending attack of what we in the South call "the vapors."

Not being much of a "pull my finger" kind of guy, I generally try to keep the coarser of bodily functions restricted to the privacy of my own home. Unfortunately, an insistent gurgle had joined the intestinal cacophony: Like it or not, I was, as Geoffrey Chaucer once put it, about to leet fle.  Glancing both ways to ensure there were no witnesses, I relaxed certain internal mechanisms, gave a gentle nudge with certain others, and then...

Oh, Strifemongers.  I miscalculated.

There are a multitude of thoughts that race through one’s mind when one realizes that--as a 34-year-old man; as an upper-level executive; as a High Priest of the Witch Cult--one has just crapped one’s pants in the middle of a busy, metropolitan thoroughfare. Once those thoughts settle down a bit, one is able to perceive the variety of options in front of oneself:

1. Burst into tears.

2. Die.

3. Suck it up (so to speak), ignore adversity and get to where one needs to be to rectify the situation.

I chose door number three.

Slapping a confident smile on my face, I strode purposefully across my complex, waving cheerfully at neighbors as we passed and doing my best not to break into an awkward and obvious duck walk. I climbed a flight of stairs and let myself into my apartment, where the cats, now holding candles and singing "We Shall Overcome", ran to block the bathroom door and herd me towards the food bowl. So I got them fed and settled, undressed, started a small, unscheduled load of laundry, then catapulted into the shower and boiled myself like a freakin' lobster. And then I went on with my day. The End.

Okay, yes, this story should really be filed under "let us never speak of it again" instead of "not at all inappropriate blog fodder." But the point I'm trying to make is this: Sometimes, through no fault of your own, the Universe will make like a caged monkey and throw a surprise volley of shit in your path. When this happens, you can either stand around idly, waiting for someone else to come along and clean it up for you, or you can keep walking.

Keep walking, Loyal Strifemongers; no matter what, always keep walking.

Just don't forget to wipe your feet.