Tackling words; An interesting discussion has been going on a board elsewhere, basically it is do with paganism, in the 'new' sense (note I do not use neopagans) to qualify its term as part of a religious belief of today.
Paganism was a term used to describe (latin paganus) a country dweller or rustic, taken from the Romans as they converted to Christianity from their old ways, and was probably used up to 410 AD in its truest form (according to Wikipedia??,) which if you know your history was the time that the Romans left Britain. After that of course stamping out paganism in the cause of Christianity made it usage somewhat different, it became a term of abuse and set out a new rule of religious war.
Arguments have always revolved round Druids and Pagans, their place in history. Very difficult to define old druidism because they did not believe in writing things down, so the only evidence we have is through Roman writing, who of course following today's trash news paper would take the story and expand in a dramatic way. So we are left with the visions of blue-painted harridans and men on the Anglesey coastline line baying down the brave Roman centurions whilst behind are the blood soaked groves of the sacrificed, not forgetting the mistletoe and sickles! Druids do appear in later writings, mostly Irish if I remember correctly, and of course through the writings of the British Celtic Church which came to an untimely death in the 6th century. So that they existed there is no doubt, but that their belief system has only been partly recorded by the Romans.
The argument I originally referred to came about because of the use of the word 'ritual' in archaeological terms to describe various finds and the ceremonial aspect of many of the megalithic structures. Well ritual of course covers all aspects of our lives, whether it be tea drinking or going to church and observing the ritual there, but as we know we can draw the line between the practical use and the religious use. So had archaeologists been taking the easy way out by describing many things in the sacred whilst ignoring the practicalities? This fine line can be seen by the different approaches archaeologists take when writing up articles or books, do you appeal to the general public with vivid illustrations from the past or do you take the more scholarly dull road of accurate writing.
So to return to the new Paganism which is part of the new wave of religious belief in this country, small but strong, and with different belief systems for many of the factions, (think of the Christian church with all its factionalism in the 19th century) how should we welcome this new religion. For me with open arms, celebrating the natural world can only be good, and new thought never does much harm. Allowing their ceremonies, mostly to do with the 'old stones' to go on at least livens the festival season up, take Arthur Pendragon - neo-Druid in his regalia at Stonehenge.
|Arthur Pendragon at Stonehenge 2010|
Or on Silbury Mound, where I have seen him, calling to his gods, an interesting spectacle, these are his own beliefs, and English Heritage is quite happy to have the Solstices ceremonies at Stonehenge with Arthur sitting at the table in discussions as to how the ceremony will be undertaken, so already legitimised by the bureaucrats.
So what ever you put on your Xmas cards from the list below, religion or belief systems are best remembered as a personal belief system to be respected.....
1) May your God go with you.
2) May your Deities go with you
3) May your Deities and/or Belief Systems go with you
4) Yer on yer own, pal
Example; Funnily enough a piece of news slightly over the top yesterday in The Independent about a Bronze Age Beaker burial of a woman is retrieved by a more measured assessment from Wessex Archaeology
note to myself buy Blood and Mistletoe - Ronald Hutton
the argument about Celts