The Agora (/ˈæɡərə/; Ancient Greek: ἈγοράAgorá) 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
If you want to know more about this book and the other ones in the series, hop over to Serita’s blog.
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.
Swearing on the Horns, Highgate, 1906. Described by Bryon in Childe Herald, there were once about 20 public houses in Highgate, where strangers were required to take a pair of antlers horns in their hands, and swear a jocular oath:
. . . Both men and maids are sworn,
And consecrate the oath,
With dance and draught till morn…
The custom of Swearing on the Horns in Highgate died out at the end of the 19th century, but has been revived as an occasional ceremony in certain pubs. (The London Encyclopedia, pp379-80, Papermac, London,1983).
The Pagan fertility god Herne the Hunter/the Green Man was one of the main gods of the ancient Britons from Paleolithic times. Chesca Potter, writing in her pamphlet Mysterious Kings Cross (Mandrake, Oxford, 1990), says that the Stag-headed God represents:
“The male fertilic power of nature, physically and spiritually. In prehistoric times, the Shaman would have dressed in deerskins and a mask with stag-horns becoming as the God . . .”
There is enough evidence to say that the Green Man/Herne the Hunter is well connected with certain areas of London: We have the Horn Fair – still held in Charlton village every year; the connection in the early history of Greenwich with fertility rites, stag worship and the Green Man; the possibility that Herne Hill is named after him, indeed, did the hill have a greater significance to the Stag-worshipping Celts of early London?
There is also the Pagan temple dedicated to the Goddess Diana which once stood on the site of St. Paul’s Cathedral, reputedly built by the legendary King Brutus who Diana appeared to in a vision in Malta and urged him to settle in “the great white island” – Albion some 3,000 years ago. He landed at Totnes in Devon and marched on London where he erected the temple of Diana – on which he recorded details of his vision of the Goddess of the Stag and Archery. This Pagan temple survived until the arrival of the Saxon’s in the 7th century when St. Pauls Catherdral was first built.
Thus, it could be argued that the worship of the Horned God and the Stag Goddess arrived with King Brutus and stayed an integral part of the religious life of Celtic Londoners right up the first suppression of Paganism in London in the 7th century A.D. However, the Pagan rites of Celt’s of London have survived well into recent times with the May Day festivals, the May Pole celebrations, and other festivities connected with the Green Man/Herne the Hunter. In medieval times, for example there was at least four major May Day festivals – often lasting well over a week: in May Fair (Mayfair), the Southwark Fair, the Greenwich Fair, and the Horn Fair from Bermondsey to Charlton.
Finally, there is also a belief that the Isle of Dogs is named after Herne’s 50 dogs, identified by their red tipped ears, and known as the Hounds of Hell. It is highly possible that the worship of the Green Man in Celtic times and beyond, was centered around Greenwich and the Isle of Dogs, although today there is scant evidence of this, except in the place names.
The ancient legends connect the Robin Hood/Green Man stories with Wimbledon Common and Windsor Castle, and possibly other areas of London through pub names: l notice there’s a Herne’s Tavern on Peckham Rye Common, one called The Horns in St. Pancras, the Horn Tavern in EC4, the Green Man in Bellingham etc.
The Horned God also has Germanic origins which were brought over by Pagan tribes such as the Angles and the Saxons to Britain from the 4th century onwards. Perhaps one of the reasons why stag workship has survived so long in most parts of Britains is that the Saxon tribes were themselves Pagans and no doubt contributed substantially to the survival of both the folkore and stag worship up until present times. One of our readers, Penda, from Germany, e-mailed me (March 2001) with the following information on the origins of stag worship in Britain.
If you want to know more, read all about it at the source.
The USA is a great country. No doubt about it. I’ve travelled it a lot of times, met wonderful, interesting, odd, funny people, and I saw beautiful places. It’s definitely a great country.
Note: from here on forward this post may be considered rude and offensive against the great nation of the United States of America. Proceed at own risk.
The people that run it, though, can’t make up their minds. It’s this scary religion thing that’s always up their arse. Now now, Pagan boy, that’s a bold statement! Yup. Look here. First amendment, copied directly from usconstition.net:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So there will be no law that forces a person to jump on a specific religion-wagon. Great. I am all in favour of that, as I don’t do gods and goddesses. But now there’s something odd. Have a look at the Pledge of Allegiance:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Whoops? Under God? Which one? The Christian one? The Muslim one? Any of the Pagan gods? (In which case there is a host of Pagan goddesses ready to picket against that one.) Whoa there, Pagan boy, the first Amendment is something of Congress, remember? Yup again. Just have a wee peek at the source of this Pledge quote: Wikipedia. Don’t laugh, I trust Wikipedia, especially in things like this. I am certain there are plenty of Americans who with reason guard the validity this sort of stuff that deals with the emotional heart of their nation and patriotism. And what do we find:
Does this look odd in a way? The law says you don’t have to do religion, or do what you can. If you pledge allegiance to the flag however, there’s suddenly some god involved. When we look at the previous version (the current one is the fourth revision of 1954), we see:
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Hey, no god here! I wonder where that suddenly popped in from when the law of Congress still says there’s no god stuff happening. On the wikipage you can find: “The phrase “under God” was incorporated into the Pledge of Allegiance June 14, 1954, by a Joint Resolution of Congress amending §7 of the Flag Code enacted in 1942.”
Ah… right. In one place they tell the world that America is free of religious impact, and in another place they sneak it in anyway. Way to go. Of course you can always refuse to pledge allegiance to the flag. I’m not sure how bad that would be though.
In half an hour or so I’ll head out. For Samhain. To meet the ancestors.
Laugh if you want, nod if you understand, shrug if you don’t care.
Last year’s memory of leaving the house still makes me laugh. As I went out (dressed for the occasion) a few trick or treaters (it’s taking some foothold over here as well), also dressed for the occasion, were walking up to the door and then I heard one of them say: “Damn, watch out, that’s a real one!”
No. It is not Halloween. It’s Samhain. See wikipedia if you don’t believe me. 😉
Samhain is a Gaelic festival celebrating the end of harvest season and the beginning of winter. For Wiccans and Pagans it’s considered a Sabbat to honour the ancestors who came before us and moved on to the Summerland (somewhat compared to heaven for Christians although different). It’s usually held right between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and a good time to contact the spirit world, e.g. with a seance, because during this time the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest. It is usually celebrated on the night of October 31 and November 1. In the old days the souls were welcomed to feasts where places at the tables were set for them. In many traditions and rituals this is still done.
Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.
This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you cleared away all that unfinished stuff, move it out of your life, you can begin looking forward to the next year.
For some of us, Samhain is when we remember our ancestors. If you’ve ever done genealogy research, or if you’ve had a loved one die in the past year, tomorrow is the perfect night to celebrate their memory. If we’re fortunate, they will return to communicate with us from beyond the veil, and offer advice, protection and guidance for the upcoming year.