Odin’s Eye – Pagan Holidays – Easter, Walpurgis, and Beltane

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

From a Viking point of view, May Eve or April 30 represents the final day that Odin hung upside down on the World Tree and gained the knowledge of the runes.  It is a festival time that commemorates his sacrifice for humanity.  If you think this is suspiciously familiar with the Christian holiday of Easter, you would be right.

All mythology has within it some story of a god who sacrifices for humanity, this is hardly a unique concept and a very popular one with humans in every myth it is employed.  The End of April is a special time of year for pagans of Northern European heritage known as Walpurgis with its celebration of April 30 Beltane and May Day with its maypole celebrations. First, though, we should look at Easter and the elements of paganism in it.

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Easter.  The very name is stolen from Eostre the fertility goddess.  The pagan holiday revolves around fertility with rabbits being fertility symbols for obvious reasons and the egg as well-being the symbol of the beginning of life. It is funny to watch Christians with candy rabbits in their homes and coloring eggs and spring-like Easter traditions.  Probably harmless, but it shows how much the traditions of paganism can survive and adapt. The whole end of April though is pretty much about fertility to pagans and the actions that bring it about – namely sex and lots of it.

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Walpurgis. This a time of year at the end of April that stretches from April 22 to April 30 representing the nine nights that Odin hung from the World Tree. It is the official end of the Wild Hunt on April 30th. Six months previously it had started and now it ends.  On May 1st – May Day – young couples dance around the maypole and oaths of marriage are taken which lasts one year and a day.  Walpurgis is a time of other oaths as well.

Beltane.  There are other traditions around this festival time.  Most notably Beltane which is the night of April 30th itself. The end of winter is official and Summer begins.  The most notable tradition is spending the night in the woods ‘a-maying’.  Basically having sex and you could pretty much have sex with whoever you wanted.  Even married couples could for that single evening lay their wedding bands aside and have sex with whoever they wished. You could also stay at home if you didn’t want to participate.

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May Day.  May First becomes the maypole festival portion where young couples, who probably had sex the night before, dance around and give their oaths of marriage. These oaths lasted a year and a day.  The idea here that is unspoken is that married couples might split at this point, or retake their vows that would last another year and a day.  Must have made every year an interesting thing for married couples joined this way.  No one and done but a renewing of vows each year.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

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Faith:

If there is one thing we can all have faith in it is humans like to fuck have sex. This time of year actually celebrates that rather than calling down condemnation. Spring is about the death of winter and the birth of summer.  Fertility has a large part to do with that and is also celebrated along with children.  The one thing I can draw some faith from is looking at nudity, sex, and sexuality as a positive spiritual expression rather than taboo.  It is a welcome change.

Religion:

It takes religion to destroy the joy of life. One of those joys is making love and religion always tries to set standards, but in truth, there is no rational reason to forgo sex other than not wanting an STD or a child. Outside this, religion is basically a way to control sexual behavior and in my mind, this is the great distinction between religion and paganism.  Paganism isn’t interested in controlling the sexuality of others.  Far more practical, free, and less cult-like.

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Theology:

As a deist, I no longer have the appeal to authority that once was so necessary to dictate terms to people’s sexual relationships.  I don’t want it and it is a waste of energy in my mind to be judgmental of people’s sexual habits or living arrangements. With this absent, a theology of sex and sexuality is not difficult; it is simply non-judgmental. If you look at the nature of the world of sexual guidance, you will see it all.  From faithful monogamy to harems to interchange of partners whenever the mood strikes – animals literally do it all.

In the end, I leave it to each person’s own moral sovereignty to determine their living arrangement and sexual partners.  Control of sexual expression is just no longer part of my theology. My issue is wisdom in such arrangements and whether or not people are going to try to steal from me to pay for the consequences and results of such unions.  My only other moral concern is that each person is engaged with their full free will consent.

Spirituality:

Personally, I have always found sex to be as spiritual as it is physical.  Oneness is the best way I can describe it.  The fact that it is also physically enjoyable is pretty cool too, but its the intimacy often after sex that I enjoy the most.  That moment where you are naked in each other’s arms having spent all to make love. That moment is the best part to me spiritually speaking.

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Conclusion:

I continue to find pagan holidays and customs to be more practical and more realistic than religious ones.  There are more freedoms here and as such less unnecessary guilt and no shame.  If a relationship goes forward, it does so by constant yearly assessment rather than one and done. Sex is and it is not evil or dirty. Rather it is a natural thing to make love and the only concerns are children (which in paganism are celebrated), STDs and consent. Our modern world has actually made the STD and Children questions a matter much more manageable. Rape, of course, is universally condemned or at least it should be.

I find this holiday the most liberating from my past.  Even though I will be at home with my wife on Beltane because of my vows are ’til death do us part’, I find the notion of releasing religious judgment makes things less stressful and opens the door to a lot more friendships. Enjoy Beltane with your lover. Peace.

Continuing to Walk the Path,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

The Rabyd Skald – Weekend Musings and Writing Plans

Happy Saturn’s Day

By way of announcements:

  1. There will be no Crossing Bifrost today as I am very much near the end of the semester and I am trying to complete some extra work for school plus get my Routines back on track.  Possible finish off another class’ work today.  For the same reason and as a gesture of respect to the Christians out there doing their Easter celebrations, there will be no Pagan Pulpit this Sun’s Day either.  I have said my piece on Thor’s Day about the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth in my post on the subject.
  2. What will happen is this post on some writing plans today as well as some other wandering thoughts.  Tomorrow on Sun’s Day I will post the next installment of Rogue Wizard.  I also plan on canonizing a poem I wrote last week sometime this weekend as well.

Well, time for a few musings and wandering thoughts.

This is the first Easter season where I honestly can say I haven’t been stressed out.  I am no longer a minister so I am not preparing a message or getting a service ready.  I have to work at my job, probably because all the Christians asked for the day off, but I am good with that. I actually have more peace about it than anything else.  I just wonder if I will be working alone.

I am hopefully going to get my first walk in of the season today.  I have been waiting for a sunny day that is above 50 degrees and so today may be the first hike of the wandering skald. Hiking is a real spiritual thing for me and I am looking forward to the walk.  After that as long as it is above 45 degrees walking will take place.

The Grey has been thankfully very light right now. It is more of a dull boring sensation than depression.  More of an annoyance than anything else. I guess part of that is I have come to look at my memories of this time last year as more of a challenge o picking out the good and discarding the bad.  That will be far more difficult this summer, but right now it isn’t that hard.

Writing plans:

Part of getting back on track with all my routines is setting my writing goals.  Most notably my goals for my novel and my non-fiction book. I think I have narrowed things down a bit.

For my non-fiction book I am going to do something involving the Bible and Skepticism.  My former Christian friends might not like it but I am thinking of doing a harmony of the gospels from a skeptics point of view.  I guess announcing this at Easter is fitting in some ways as it marks a turn of thought for me.  The book will be more designed for the popular press written in something that anyone with a basic education can understand but I may do another version that is scholarly first then rewrite it for publication.

For my novel, I am going to go pure fantasy.  I had an idea a long time ago of five friends who after growing up together in a small medieval fantasy city decide to take up adventuring together in an old blog that is now deleted.  I am thinking though it might make a good novel.  It is the kind of story I would like to read so it should be fun to write.

Here on this blog I am moving slowly forward with Rogue Wizard.  I must say that The Grey Wayfarer series is not so much halted as it is me taking some time to continue my research into Norse mythology before I continue with it.  That series is more about quality than quantity. I am therefore taking a lot more time with it. Rogue Wizard on the other hand is placing myself into situations as the main character is basically me on a divergent timeline. This makes it easier to write.  I have noted since I decided to engage my memories instead of avoid them, I have found it easier to write in general.  Sill need a new muse, but I will find her somewhere I am sure.

Enjoy your weekend, there should be a Poem and A Story somewhere for you.  This week coming up I will be talking about the Pagan Holiday Walpurgis on Odin’s Eye.  This is the May Eve celebrations.  So for you pagan’s out there do not fear, we will get past this to our own stuff.

As a final announcement, on Thursday I passed 200 days straight blogging.  With this post today it will be 202.  So I have 163 days to go for a whole year.

I remain,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!

 

Odin’s Eye – Christianity Problems – The Resurrection and Eyewitness Reliability

Happy Thor’s Day

Discussion:

I suppose a disclaimer is in order.  I am writing this post as test pilot of the kind of things I could probably put in a book as an ex-believer, former pastor, bible scholar and theologian.  The kind of things that would cause many Christians to say: “That’s sad, I will pray for you.”  Spare me, I have a better plan for you. Read this post and tell me where I am wrong.  The point is I could write a book (and may do so) about the problems with the life of Jesus Nazareth, this would only represent what would probably be one section of a chapter. There is definitely many more things I could say.

Nobody likes death or the idea of ceasing to exist. Nobody.  In large part I think this is why every major religion has an afterlife story. In Christianity an eschatology of where people go after they die. We want to believe that we go on and so we create religions to say when, how and why we would go on. None of this has any real verification as no one has really come back from the dead to tell us the reality of what is after death. Well, unless you can prove Jesus of Nazareth actually did so.

For four decades I believed he had.  It is this central belief on which all of Christianity lives or dies.  Even the Bible understands this as in 1 Corinthians 15 it is very boldly stated that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the Christian faith is vain. Everything in Christianity hinges on the resurrection being true.

For years I was therefore a faithful apologist of the resurrection.  I understood the stakes. Without this event, my faith was nonsense.  Today; when it comes down to it, I have more doubts now than belief. For a long time I hinged my faith that the eyewitnesses were telling the truth. They may well have thought they were telling the truth, but were they actually reliable witnesses or subject to the same problems that plague all eyewitness accounts?

Here is the problem – everything that we know about the resurrection is based on eyewitness testimony, and it has been proven that eyewitness testimony is unreliable at best. Then you have the fact that such testimony was not solicited for being permanently written down for many years after the fact. Even by conservative christian scholarship there is a gap of twenty years between the events and the first gospel. That’s a long time for the eyewitnesses to get their story straight and they still don’t pull it off.

Eyewitness testimony has the following problems: https://www.simplypsychology.org/eyewitness-testimony.html

  1. Stress / Anxiety – Stress level can have a negative impact on memory.  Depending on the nature of the stress.  While people can remember aspects of events involving weapons very well, they forget others more readily if experiencing personal stress because their personal stress level is very highly distracting to their focus.
  2. Reconstructive Memory.  In memory recall we DO NOT remember things like a video tape.  In reality there is a lot of interpretive action in memory and we remember the gist of the event to the value judgment we placed on it more than the events. We store the information in the way that makes most sense to us. Because this is very cultural and societal it can be full of prejudice and bias. This is reflected in the fact that as people change their values, the memories change in how they are recalled. We reconstruct memories in a way that reflects our belief in the nature of the world.
  3. Weapon Focus – The funny thing about having a weapon pointed at you is that you remember the weapon and nothing else around it.  You might ask how this applies, well when you get focused on one thing you are seeing the other things tend to get blurry.  So the question comes – was the sight of an open tomb an object focus?
  4. Leading Questions – this is normally an issue with legal matters in testimony, but in the case of the gospels the claim is made that the writers of the gospels were interviewing eyewitnesses – did they during such interviews ask leading questions?

So, the question then becomes how accurate is any account, even four of them, when all those accounts are based entirely of eyewitness testimony many years after the fact?  There is a high probability that a large amount of the second problem entered into the accounts as the disciples interpreted the events according to their values and beliefs in the world.  The believed in miracles and they wanted Jesus to be alive.

I could argue that the whole thing might be made up.  But let’s for the sake of this argument say that on resurrection morning the disciples did indeed see something and the interpreted that as Jesus of Nazareth risen from the dead. Let’s assume that their gospels are the eyewitness testimony they claim to be and see what problems could be there.  Let’s assume thy are not being deliberately deceptive, but perhaps misjudged what they saw.

  1. Stress /Anxiety – the disciples would have been under a great deal of stress that would have affected their memory. They were mourning and were by their own accounts in fear of the religious leaders. In the case of the women who first went to the tomb grieving and distraught.  When they arrive at the tomb, it is empty, the guards are gone and there is no body.  Interpretation, because they wanted it to be true – so badly to be true – Jesus rose from the dead.
  2. Reconstructive Memory – this is the big problem. The gospels themselves when it comes to the resurrection accounts are varied and quite frankly at times contradictory.  I am not saying there was a conspiracy to defraud but an atmosphere of want the story to be true to the point that accounts of seeing Jesus alive were probably everywhere. The gospels themselves provide evidence for reconstructive memory.  Mark stops after saying the resurrection took place, the longer version being a clear addition.  No events are actually recorded so you are left with the oral stories floating around.  Matthew and Luke record the events but they don’t agree on some details.  Like who saw Jesus first as far as who was in the group of women. Both of them record Peter being the first to reach the tomb with no second witness.  John says ‘no the way it happened was I was there and I outran Peter to the tomb.’  This lack of continuity in the accounts is a direct refection of not only that memories of the resurrection are being reconstructed, but the stories are told differently to reflect each gospels writer’s own interpretations of those memories; whether their own or the testimony of others.  Worse yet, if we follow even conservative scholarship on the dates of the gospels – we get a gap of time of at least two to three decades where interpretation of bias have influenced those memories over time.  Cementing the values with the memories and altering those memories.
  3. Weapon/Object Focus: If the disciples find the tomb empty, that tomb would become the object focus of the discussion. They would focus on it and try to explain it.  They many to choose from, but their founder Jesus of Nazareth told them he was going to rise from the dead.  They wanted that to be true very badly so the empty tomb becomes – Jesus rose from the dead like he said.  Later when the accounts are being written, ‘angels’ make that statement, and memories reconstructed with additions and changes.
  4. Leading Questions: The problem here is that when the gospel writers are doing their research; they being believers talking to believers would have the high possibility of doing two things.  1) Asking questions that basically assume the story is true looking for confirmation, not honest inquiry and 2) asking softball questions that are leading to get the story they want.  No author of the gospels is a skeptic but rather they assume the story is true and there is no other account but theirs anywhere.

Time to Look Through the Eye:

Faith:

Was this eyewitness thing  the death nail to my faith.  No, but it has raised more doubt than faith that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead,  Why?  Because it is highly feasible that with the high expectations or need for comfort, that people made the story up because of wanting something to have faith in. My best example of this is Mary Magdalene seeing Christ after the other ladies leave. She is very distraught (Stress), she is focused on the empty tomb (object focus) and she sees what she perceives is the gardener and then ‘discovers’ it is Jesus (reconstructive memory?). When you add the problem of that no one but Mary experienced this with no other witnesses, it is highly like people who see aliens when they are alone.  With no collaboration, you really have to dismiss the story.  I have more doubts than faith anymore because most stories of seeing the resurrected Christ have these problems.

Religion:

In the end it was my religion and profession that kept me at it, but the doubts kept getting bigger.  This issue of eyewitness testimony actually came up in my Easter sermons because I was wrestling with it.  The more I wrestled with it and looked at the gospel accounts, the more I realize these problems were very possible and that either many of the stories either had no collaboration, no outside collaboration or the witnesses were not named and thus could not be followed up on.

Theology:

If there is any part of the theology I wrestle with it is life after death and its relationship to giving life meaning. Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is that the only meaning to life would be ‘eat and drink for tomorrow we die.  But I would argue that philosophers have taken on that point and have done so somewhat successfully.  Don’t get me wrong, their answers aren’t perfect, but they are there to be considered.

Spirituality:

I think most of us deists still cling a little to the possibility of life after death. The possibility that the universe has a grand purpose created by a designer.  That said we are very interested in spirituality that reflects reality.  We want something deeper that is real not the result of flaws in human reasoning and observation.  For me this basically means I place more emphasis on enjoying and living a good life now, because life after death is a true unknown and not something I want to focus my spiritual life on, especially if it turns out that it doesn’t exist.

Conclusion:

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little test pilot of what kinds of things I could write if I was so inclined.  The real issue I wrestle with is truth, how much more important is truth to the value I place on fidelity and respect of others.  I have to think on it more, Because the Life of Christ would be a great topic for me given my education and experience, the problem would be most of my family and friends might disown me or at the very least find it awkward to invite me to family gatherings at Christmas and Easter.  I will have to meditate on it more.

Continuing to Walk the Path,

The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.

Skaal!!!