Agora

I watched this film. Agora.

According to Wikipedia an agora was:

The Agora (/ˈæɡərə/; Ancient Greek: Ἀγορά Agorá) was a central spot in ancient Greek city-states. The literal meaning of the word is “gathering place” or “assembly”. The agora was the center of athletic, artistic, spiritual and political life of the city.[1]

An interesting detail is that this is a Greek world while the film is located in Egypt. The film brings amazing views of the ancient city of Alexandria and also of its famous library which was one of the Wonders of the World.

alexandria library
Capture of the Library from the film.

IMDB says about this film:

In the 4th century A.D., astronomer and philosopher Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) teaches her scientific beliefs to a class of male students. Among them is lovestruck slave Davus (Max Minghella), the equally smitten Orestes (Oscar Isaac) and young Christian man Synesius (Rupert Evans). Hypatia dismisses all of their advances, but this romantic drama pales in comparison to a rising battle between Christians and pagans on the streets of soon-to-be war-torn Alexandria.

This synopsis says enough about the film.

The film showed me how amazing people can be when religion takes possession of them. No form of violence is crazy enough to ‘convert’ and ‘convince’ once that madness takes someone in its claws. If you want to learn more about this, I advise you to watch this film.

And no, this is not just Christianity. This is also Islamic and all the other large, monotheistic religions. All of them have their share of bloodshed in their history.

Religion might be something good but the way it’s performed (and seeing the amount of stoning in Agora I can also say ‘executed’) is insane. It made me abhor religion even more than it already did.

A Christmas question for Muslims

Yes, you read that right.

I wonder how Muslims perceive Christmas. Most of the ‘white world’ is now submerged in the holy days that will last a week or perhaps longer for some. It’s nice to know that some people in that white world still remember what this Christmas is about (many know it is about a tree, presents, and love and peace on the dinner table).

Pagans have their own version of Christmas. It’s called Yule.  According to some well-informed Christians, Pagans stole Yule from Christmas. I am not going to comment on that as that discussion is as old as Yule. (Which is older than Christmas.)

So how do Muslims perceive this period? Do you shrug at it and go on? Do you engage in the celebrations because it’s as good a time to celebrate as other times?

And as I ponder this – is there an Islamic version of Christmas? Some kind of Allah-mis?

I really wonder and would appreciate some feedback. Please, no feedback of the scathing kind as that will be removed without mercy. (Christmas is about love and peace, remember? Just reminding you.)

Ecclesiastes 1:18

Ecclesiastes 1:18
For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.

Yes, it’s in the bible, folks. Better believe it. Don’t get too smart, that will only give you grief and sorrow, and who are you going to turn to then?

It’s better to stick with the original sin idea. Then at least you’re guilty of something you didn’t do yourself.

(Keep them dumb and controllable.)

Skyclad

If you’re a pagan you probably know what ‘skyclad’ means. There are plenty of groups out there in the real world who perform their rituals that way. ‘Skyclad’, for those who don’t know, means ‘naked’. You wear nothing but the sky.

Skyclad
A skyclad circle

Not all pagans go naked when doing rituals. Not all pagans do rituals. But there are also non-pagans who go naked when they can, simply because they like it. They’re called nudists or naturists. There’s always something wrong with each word, so many of them don’t even bother calling themselves something. They just enjoy the freedom of being natural, either at home or in a natural environment.

Nudism

Nudity in our ‘modern’ society is often frowned upon, because many of the monotheistic religions condemn nudity as being bad. The people who agree with that are all born fully dressed, I am certain. And then there’s of course the porn industry that does its best to sexualise everything. Sadly they’re doing a good job on that.

Being naked is not bad (it’s actually healthy because it allows all of your skin to breathe). Taking someone who’s naked as an easy prey for sex, rape or other kinds of abuse is bad.

A pagan book, by a pagan. The darkened path.

One of my acquaintances/friends on the everpresent Facebook is a pagan writer by the name of Serita Tillson. She’s published her first book about her experiences on the pagan path. It’s called The darkened path (book 1).

I’ve decided to let you all know about this. After all, this is a pagan blog, and if there’s one thing pagans should do, it’s sticking together. So here’s a snip from Serita’s blog about her first book:

quote I have been rather busy with a different series titled   ” The Darkened Path, Book 1: The Burden” this first book of the series is a partial biographical work of myself, and the first 30 years of my life from the time I was 7 & on up until present day, and is intended to be part of a series where I delve into my own personal demons, and realize I have a few magickally inclined gifts, that just maybe I am not as crazy and unbalanced as my family and peers would like to believe. and finally, finally, come into my own as a Solitary Witch and Divination practicioner, after having gone through several lifetime’s worth of personal tragedies and setbacks. At the bottom of this page, is the cover of my new, about to be published work, I have thus far written about 120 pages and there is at least 50 more or so to complete before I get it published to Amazon Kindle.

To give everyone a sneak peek, here is a copy of the first two pages of the book, it has never been revealed to anyone, and I hope that you all will find this snippet to be a worthy read. There is much more to come, this is my Darkened Path. To all my readers, Blessed Be!

“Book 1: The Burden

Yes you read that right. “burden” was what I basically was to my family from the time I understood what the word meant and how it was applied to me and the situations surrounding me and my life. These chapters and some parts of the next few books are not going to be nice or sweet. They are gritty, depressing, occasionally heartbreaking and cruel. We will begin the magical part of this story at the time I was about seven years old. This time frame is my first vivid recollection of the idea that things were not normal or right in my life and in that of my fractured, socially unstable family. Some of you that read this book will probably be moved into some very angry and upset moods. For that , I apologize for your emotional upset, however.. the truth is the truth, and there is no avoiding or glossing over the facts.I was younger than seven when my mother, my dad and myself moved into this very old, debilitated, house on clear Creek Road in Newport , Tennessee. I think I was around four or five but when you are that young memories and impressions don’t stick in your mind unless it is a strong event. Before we moved to the house on Clear Creek, we had lived in a huge house in Dandridge, Tennessee. I do not remember much about living in that house and probably just as well I don’t because  Im pretty sure those memories are something I really don’t want to go back and examine in minute detail.  To this day I still struggle with some of those memories, as I’m sure you all will understand why as you keep reading.

I was born, Serita Milena Sprouse, on January 18, 1983, to Jacky D. Sprouse and Rita Faye Suggs. I was a extreme premature birth at 24 weeks gestation, my mother’s placenta ruptured and she was basically having a spontaneous abortion. Back at this time doctors gave very slim chances of survival to babies born like this and I was a extremely lucky case, I was born via C-section weighing a frail 1 pound and 10 ounces and immediately taken to the University of Tennessee where specialists were very shocked and surprised I was even alive, let alone breathing entirely on my own and staring at them all and flailing my pencil thin limbs in a tenacious stubborn fit, my mouth moving in a near soundless cry of what was probably outrage at having my world turned upside down. It was discovered I had no kind of severe birth defects or abnormalities usually found in extreme preemie births and that was even more a shock. My name and story was published in The Newport Plain Talk newspaper on the front page and again updated in April 1983 when I was allowed to go home from the hospital. Even from birth, I struggled and fought my way for survival and acceptance into this world where it was obvious I was so different from everyone and everything else around me and it has been this way for 30 years now.

Let’s jump ahead, fast forward 5 years. I’m 5 years old and we are moving from Dandridge to Newport, To the house on Clear Creek. At this time there is strife and upheaval in my home, my mother is now a single parent, my dad having left us, where he actually went I honestly do not know.. but I do remember the violent arguments and physical abusive fighting he and my mother done in their drunken rages. Once she beat the headlights out of his Jeep truck and he dumped a pan of motor oil on her head, I remember her sitting in the tub trying to wash it off, there was her handprint of oil on the wall for a long time, another time they got into a fist fight and she had a leg off a table trying to beat him off of her and screaming at him. He beat her face repeatedly onto a woodstove and her face was a mess and she hid from everyone for weeks, after that incident he moved out permanently. They were both alcoholics, and my dad’s departure from our lives only worsened my mother’s downward spiral into binge drinking delirium. Weeks would go by where she did nothing but try to drown her sorrow, depression, bitterness and anger in a bottle, not caring what happened around her, not seeing or understanding what she was doing to herself and what little was left of both our lives. She wasn’t like this all the time, but when she picked up her alcohol, she was just in a haze where nothing and no one mattered and the sun wouldn’t rise tomorrow and to her it would have been fine.

Cover of The Darkened Path book 1
First cover of The Darkened Path book 1

If you want to know more about this book and the other ones in the series, hop over to Serita’s blog.

Mammoths according to the bible

I’ve had this think again.  I wondered how old the earth is, according to the christian bible. On “god and science” I found this:

Archbishop Ussher took the genealogies of Genesis, assuming they were complete, and calculated all the years to arrive at a date for the creation of the earth on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C.

Okay, so bible-addicts should agree that the world is a bit over 6000 years old, as a result of 4004+2014. That makes 4017 years. No, not 4018 as it’s not past October 23rd yet this year. Please pay attention!  😉

This means that they’ll never believe something that I found in the New York Times:

scientists digging in the republic of Georgia have found 1.7-million-year-old fossil human skulls

The skull is at best 6000 years old as by then the Christian god wrapped up his 6-day working week and declared the world done. Either that or Georgia was an exception to the rule and was created earlier. Perhaps a pilot project? Well, probably not, an infallible god doesn’t need that.

So when we can safely assume that, mammoths can’t be as old as scientists declare either. Last year the British Daily Mail reported about a 39,000 year old woolly mammoth going on display. Rubbish of course, since the world was created only 6000 years ago! Therefore we can only agree with the creationists who fully believe that carbon dating is bullshit. These carbon-daters find stuff that’s much older than the world, so they’re all liars and frauds, so go grab your creationist science book and feel like you’ve learnt something good today.

The modern way, or: how not to do it.

Every year again, and perhaps even stronger every year, I see how humanity is doing the wrong thing when the darkness of nature comes along. Autumn, Winter, the seasons where nature slows down, settles inside itself to rest for a new period of bloom when Spring and Summer come. And what does modern man do? The same thing as usual. Running around as fast as possible, working harder and harder, lighting up the darkness with even more lights. Everything to pretend that there is no wheel of life, that there are no seasons and – most importantly – that they are absolutely not a part of this nature thing.

Many people I know will say that this is natural, that it’s always been like that. Well, that’s wrong. Before the flooding out of darkness with big lights, people lived in sync with nature, going fast in the light and slowing down in the winter. A natural pace.

It’s in a way understandable that modern man doesn’t want (or worse: isn’t allowed) to follow that rhythm. Modern man has to obey the laws of work, the company, and most certainly the money-machine that demands labour regardless of moment. All that because the most important things in life have been eradicated for the greater good of – … consumerism? Work? The boss? Your country? Does all that mad running around make you happier, or a better person? No. Say yes all you want, I don’t believe the word of it.

Money has taken over the world.
I say: let’s take the world back. Let’s take life back.

 

Christians and their martyrdom

[Candida] Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, challenges some of the most hallowed legends of the religion when she questions what she calls “the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs, of Christians huddled in catacombs out of fear, meeting in secret to avoid arrest and mercilessly thrown to lions merely for their religious beliefs.” None of that, she maintains, is true.

Surprised? You can read the entire article on salon.com. How did I come upon this? A while ago I was looking something up and found an article on how the entire (or at least 99%) of the Christian martyrdom/being thrown for the lions for being Christian etc. was not true. Unfortunately I lost that link, it had loads of interesting links and examples in it. What I remember from it is this:

The early Christians were not prosecuted for being Christian. The Roman empire was insanely huge, there were thousands of religions everywhere, so the Romans couldn’t care less who did what to or with whom, or why, as long as they stayed within the law and paid their taxes. (Most modern governments can learn a thing or two of that, but that’s my personal view.)

What then caused the Christians to be picked off the street and occasionally be thrown for the animals? (Not always lions, often these were wild dogs or bears.) The Christians didn’t want to obey many laws of the Romans. They felt they stood higher than the laws of those savages with their many gods. The early Christians were known to insult others, did not want to pay their taxes and other things that Roman law ordered, and that apparently was, at first, most of the issue there.

The PBS site has a long and interesting article on this too. Part of the article (C.E. =  Common Era, or “A.D.”):

Before the year 250 [C.E.], the persecution of Christians is sporadic. It’s local. It’s improvised. It is at the discretion of a Governor to whom complaints are made and so on. It’s not a dragnet and it’s not an imperial policy. After 250, when the empire is being battered on every frontier by invading armies, when there’s absolute rampant inflation, [there is] incredible governmental instability. There are an average of two or three Emperors in a year. They keep getting assassinated. It’s just an incredibly fraught time. That’s also the point at which you begin to get the imperial expression of persecution of Christians. Now then again, also, it’s interesting. It’s not a criminal offense to be a Christian. What you have to do is get a ticket, a lebevos, a chit saying that you have sacrificed for the well-being of the empire…

The article I couldn’t find any more told that the first written proof of Christians being thrown for the lions because of their religion date from somewhere in the 13th or 14th century. Only a good millennium later. Not much for eye witness reporting…

Sorry. I don’t believe that Christians were prosecuted for their faith. They were prosecuted here and there for being stuck-up, for wanting to convert others. As far as I know they were among the very few religions that actively sought to convert people to their ideas. Not much has changed there…

A new tattoo project is started

Yes, it’s that time again. I was thinking of something, looked around and found a very beautiful celtic cat image, drawn by someone. I contacted her and asked if I could use her image for a tattoo. She allowed it, provided I send her an image when it’s all done. Of course, that’s no problem!

This is the original image:

Palu - Celtic Cat
Palu – Celtic Cat

 

The tattoo artist is going to make a few changes to it so it’s better to make it into a tattoo. They’ll call me when they have the adjustments done and then we can go over it. After all, it has to be perfect.

I aim for red/brown or red/green as the colours.

 

On this apple and tree thing from the Garden of Eden.

Been thinking about this for a while so I started investigating. What did I investigate?

genesis

 

According to the bible, it was Eve that took an apple from a forbidden tree. I wasn’t certain on the kind of tree – what was its specific function? On http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2010/06/29/satan-the-fall-good-evil-fruit-edible I found that a) the apple wasn’t necessarily an apple, and b) that this was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The first part isn’t particularly interesting, the second one is.

Does this mean that the christian god doesn’t want people to know the difference between good and evil?

Interesting, since the christian faith (and many others) now use that as their hammer to pound in their wisdom. I perused a bit more and on
http://www.creationtips.com/tree_of_knowledge.html I found:

God told Adam he could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden except one — “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If Adam ate from this tree, God told him, he would die (Genesis 2:16,17).

We all have heard that Adam and Eve got kicked out, they didn’t die by eating from it.

Does this mean that their god told lies in trying to scare them?

Apparently Adam and Eve eating from that tree is the “original sin”, the one every baby up to now carries along from the moment it’s born, according to old-fashioned christian convictions. But lying is a sin too, according to christianity, so wasn’t their god the first one to sin? Looking at http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-lying-sin.html:

The Bible is clear that lying is a sin and is displeasing to God.

It becomes a bit confusing here, but most religions share that trait. So god lied to Adam and Eve and according to what one might assume ‘his own words’ he became displeasing to himself.

This “original sin” is something that irks me as well. I’m not too clear on how long ago this Adam and Eve/Garden of Eden affair happened. Let’s say 6000 years ago, to please the people who adhere to the Bible instead of proper evolution (in which case it would be several million years ago). Still, 6000 years is a long time, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be time to forgive that mishap? Apparently not, since we still hear this original sin thing. Which brings me to this same bible again:

How do we forgive when we don’t feel like it? How do we translate the decision to forgive into a change of heart?

We forgive by faith, out of obedience. Since forgiveness goes against our nature, we must forgive by faith, whether we feel like it or not. We must trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that the forgiveness will be complete.

(read all about it at http://christianity.about.com/od/whatdoesthebiblesay/a/bibleforgivenes.htm)

So god will do the work on forgiveness because ‘forgiveness goes against our nature’. I’m not going to touch that one, this gets worse with each page. Still, god does the forgiving. Except for that one apple which wasn’t supposed to teach people the difference between good and bad. Wow. Imagine the mess we’d be in if there was indifference between good and bad. Saved someone from drowning? Who cares. Shot someone? Who cares. Uhm… somehow this reflects large parts of the world… there is a lot of indifference about good and bad. I’m probably too weird to understand all this. I’m not even going to try…