by Spelcastor & FoxyOwl
Florida Pagan Gathering
Beltaine - May 6, 2007
Quote: "Of course, they jump the fire naked. It’s much too dangerous to do with clothes on." --Lord Summerisle
“Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth; for thy love is better than wine.
“Because of the savor of thy good ointments, thy name is as ointment poured fourth, therefore do the maids love thee.
“Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.”
We live in the post-Christian ear within a Judeo-Christian world.
It wasn't always like this. This Christian thing started only 2,000 years ago. They picked up a bunch of values from a desert tribe that has a book that goes back, say, 5,000 year. These earlier people grew to have their own kingdom 3,000 years ago, but then they got captured and carried off by another civilization that reached back 8,400 years.
The last Ice Age receded 12,000 years ago and the spark of human civilization began to grow. But we humans had been wandering around in the ice. And we had been wandering around before, 250,000 years ago, wandering out of Africa and around the world.
And so we see the world through the colored glasses of the present. We say that they are clear, but are they? We are highly educated liberals who have left behind our Victorian great-grand parents. There are no shadows that extend from that world far enough to touch us. Are there?
So here I am to talk about Pagan Love. The topic was suggested to me. Wow, what fun this is. I can talk about love, I can talk about sex, I can talk about cultures. I can talk about history. I can talk about religion. What fun!
Let us go back to the Stone Age. Let us go far back before the written word and look at carvings from the time. We find the Willendorf Goddess. This is a statue from 30,000 years ago. It's not that large, but it's rather buxom. What was it? A reverence to the Earth Mother from back before anyone learned how babies were made?
Life was fragile then. For the tribe to survive, there had to be new life to replace all that died. Babies just happened. And it was good that they would happen. Oh, sex would happen too, but there was no connection made.
So what were these little statues about? Were they elements of worship? Or were they the earliest form of Playboy or Penthouse? "Excuse me while I take this little doll and go for a walk in the woods."
Anthropologists tell us that the earliest deities were female. Long ago, God was a Woman. Shocking the things those old pagans would believe.
What's the difference between agriculture and horticulture? Does anybody know? Agriculture involves a plow. Horticulture is when you use a stick to plant a seed in the ground. A pregnant woman can do than while carrying a second child on her back. But a plow is a big heavy thing used to cut the soil. First they had a wooden point, then stone, then metal. A plow requires male strength.
A plow made possible the feeding of a larger population. The tribe could stop moving and acquire more goods than it could carry. A tribe that has more than it can carry becomes a target for others and so war began to make economic sense. And war is more of a male occupation than female.
Thus there began a decline in the status of women. Males could bring more to the tribe, by either growing it or stealing it. But these changes in belief took a long time.
The land of Mesopotamia was the land of the Goddess. You know it better by one of its later civilization, Babylon, or modern day Iraq. So in the Legends of Gilgamesh, the wild man was seduced into civilization by the women of the temple. Sex was used to drain the males of troublesome energy, so they could be of service to the community.
In Mesopotamia, the temple was the center of the community. The priestesses stored the harvests and doled them out in time of famine. The Temple of the Goddess dealt with all needs female, matters of the goddess, love, sex, health, charms, divination. Hey guys, do you think our lady's restroom is off limits to you. Imagine what parts of the Goddess temple were like.
Within the temple, there were ladies who pledged themselves only to the deities. There were others, pledged to the worship in the temple. There were others pledged to service to the community.
These latter types could be recognized by their flashy dress or hair style. There is similar coding in dress for modern ladies who serve the population. This is where the middle-eastern veils came from. Veils were worn by the married women so there would be no confusion as to who served whom. To this day in the Middle East, the veil is a big distinction.
What with all this openness about sex, when I read a Babylonian love poem, I still see the use of euphemisms. How can that be, when these people were not shy? The symbolism of plowing a furrow in a filed or in opening the petals of a flower brings with in imagery and adds to the excitement. Such phrases can be fun and arousing and not a way to hide what you are doing.
A central theme in worship was the union between the Goddess and the King, with the High Priestess standing in. The King was the ruler, but he could not rule without being accepted by the Goddess. And to accept the king, the High priestess gave herself to him.
Church services were not boring. The other ladies of the temple would indulge in similar acts of worship. And you wonder why those Jewish prophets were so upset by the Pagan temples down the street. What's a Hebrew soldier to do? "Hi big boy, what to come to my church?"
This concept has not gone away? Do you remember the story of the young King Arthur. He could not become king unless he could pull the sword from the stone. He could not become king unless be was accepted by the earth. Earth? Goddess? Got it?
This Pagan competition was really hated. That's where the Good Samaritan story comes from. The Samaritans were Babylonian Pagans who were imported into Israel because the Jews would not pay their taxes. Some were nice Jewish boys who were seduced back to the Old Ways by their Pagan wives.
Samaritans were not nice people who hung out on the interstate looking to aid distressed motorists. That's the power of the parable. Can you imagine a Fundie pastor haranguing his congregation that some Witch was more helpful to strangers than his own people?
In Babylon, it was the duty of every woman to serve her time in the temple. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote of this in 450 BC. It was sort of like the draft. Each lady, the wealthy and respectable and all, had to remain at the temple until she had served someone. Herodotus wrote that the homely maidens had to stay longer than others.
The Ancient Greeks that we studied in school were active during the major decline of womankind. Early in their legends, we hear that the Oracle at Delphi was a sibyl to the Earth Mother, and then later she became priestess to the God Apollo. Delphi dates back 3500 years ago to the time of the Goddess Temples on the Island of Crete in the eastern Mediterranean. Murals on the ruins of these walls survive today and portray styles of worship that are other than Presbyterian.
In Ancient Greece, marriage was the only alternative for respectable woman. There were some Courtesans, independent ladies of the court, who managed to control property and wield political influence. Who would be a modern courtesan today; Opra Winfty? Shirley MacLaine? Meanwhile, citizen men were allowed to have sexual relations with slaves, foreign concubines, female prostitutes, and willing pre-adult citizen males. Citizen women were not afforded the same freedom, and their adultery was severely punished.
In Rome, the male head of the house had life and death control of the others present. A woman's role was to preside over the home and she had no say in public life. A Pagan Roman would see our gay vs. straight issues as irrelevant. To a Roman, what mattered was which person was active and which was passive. Sex with women, younger men or slaves were all options to an established Roman. A young protégé might provide pleasures as tribute to his mentor. Later, as he gained status and wealth, he could demand the same services of his lessers.
I was watching public television and hearing someone's research on the Roman military. He reported that the relative commercial value of different sexual services, by hand, by lip, or by crevasse, were the same as they are today. One dollar, four dollar, ten dollar, some things never change.
Meanwhile to the North were the tribes of the Celts. These peoples had traditions of far more equally between women and men. Women could own property, divorce their husbands, be lawyers, clergy or doctors, fight wars or lead armies. The Romans and the Greeks called the Celts barbarians.
There were ten forms of marriage in the Brehon Law of the Celts:
1. A marriage of the first degree which took place between partners of equal rank and property.
2. A marriage of the second degree in which a woman had less property than the man and was supported by him.
3. A marriage of the third degree in which a man had less property than the woman and had to agree to management of the woman's cattle and fields.
4. A marriage of the fourth degree was the marriage of the loved one in which no property rights changed hands, though children's rights were safeguarded.
5. A marriage of the fifth degree was the mutual consent of the man and woman to share their bodies, but live under separate roofs.
6. A marriage of the sixth degree in which a defeated enemy's wife was abducted. This marriage was valid only as long as the man could keep the woman with him.
7. A marriage of the seventh degree was called a soldier's marriage and was a temporary and primary sexual union (a one night stand).
8. A marriage of the eighth degree occurred when a man seduced a woman through lying, deception or taking advantage of her intoxication (equivalent to date rape).
9. A marriage of the ninth degree was a union by rape (forcible rape).
10. A marriage of the tenth degree occurred between feeble minded or insane people.
The ancient Gaelic forms of marriage could be reduced to three categories: The first are marriages where property was taken into consideration and a prenuptial agreement was necessary.
The second group were less formal marriages where no property was involved and thus no formal agreement was necessary,
While the third category consisted of marriages that are not thought of as marriage but the by‑product of a crime.
Polygyny was permitted and widespread. Homosexual unions were not forbidden. All of the forms of marriage were considered legal if a child was born as a result of the union. The right and protection of the child was the primary consideration rather than the status of either parent.
The procreative design was very similar to Rome. A woman had the right legally to choose her own husband. She could not be forced to marry.
The Gauls considered both parents equally responsible for the rearing of children except in cases of wrongdoing by the father. Those cases included rape, seduction or impregnation of a free woman without her family's consent. In those cases the father alone was responsible for rearing the child.
Those of either sex given to abusive ridicule were considered unfit to raise children. The mother was singly responsible for raising any child whose father was an alien, slave, abusive, expelled by his kin or if she bore a child sired by her son, against her husbands wishes.
A prostitute was responsible for rearing her children. The offspring of two insane or feeble‑minded people became the responsibility of the person who performed the marriage.
Social class was an important factor in Gaelic marriage because the financial burdens of marriage fell most heavily on the lower class partner. Since 2/3rds of the cattle had to be provided by the lower class partner's family, such unions were rare.
There was no social stigma to Gaelic divorce because Gaelic marriage existed within the realm of business. Divorce simply meant that one party or the other had violated the terms of the marriage.
Divorce also had a positive connotation: Women who had been previously married and produced children by that marriage were highly coveted because their fertility was proven. Most of the Brehon Law pertains to property divisions in the event of a divorce.
Gaelic divorce has some amusing implications: A wife could divorce her husband and retain her bride price. She could divorce him if he wanted another woman, if he failed to support her, told lies, ridiculed her or seducing her into marriage by trickery or sorcery.
She could divorce him if he left a blemish after hitting her, if he was impotent, overweight to the point that sexual intercourse was impossible, if he refused to have sex with her, began practicing homosexuality or undertook religious duties that neglected the marriage.
A Gaelic man could divorce his wife for unfaithfulness, persistent thievery, inducing an abortion on herself, bringing shame to his honor, smothering her child or failing to produce breast milk after an illness.
No‑fault divorces included separation through death, entering the priesthood, pilgrimage outside the country, a long sea voyage, participation in a revenge slaying or excessive downtime due to illness. In cases where the married couple loved each other and one or the other was either impotent or infertile, the non‑afflicted partner could obtain an informal marriage to produce an offspring with someone else.
In all circumstances, save the aforementioned exceptions, children belonged to the father.
Celtic marriage laws accommodated most circumstances and partners under contract were expected to uphold the contract and take proper care of their children.
This all sounds like a modern day prenuptial to me.
There is one more option, A Telltown marriage is a binding agreement between pagans to live together. In ancient times, it was a one year and one day trial marriage, in modern times, it can also mean a uncommitted living together arrangement or where gay and lesbian weddings are not legal, it can be used.
So now we look at modern times. A Pagan, try as we may to think otherwise, is still part of a counter-culture. After breaking one set of rules, why now check you the others.
Is there more polyamory in Pagan circles than elsewhere? I don't do that. I don't see one as meaning the other. When I am preaching for acceptance of Pagan live styles, I don't include this. There are lots of other people who do some form of poly.
How about gay? I see a significant number of gays and lesbians in the pagan community. So what? If you want to upset the same people twice, come out as a gay Pagan.
How about D&B, Disciple & Bondage. I don't do that either. OK, so maybe I'm boring. Perhaps the bedrooms in the township of St. Petersburg have more handcuffs that the St Pete Police Department. But lot's of non-Pagans live in St. Pete.
So much for counter culture.
How come I keep saying Pagan and not Witch? A Pagan is anyone who is not Christian, Jewish, Islamic or an atheist. A Witch is someone who reveres a Goddess and the Earth and traces roots from Northern Europe. She is probably female.
What else is there to Pagan ways? Beer was invented over 8,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Beer was drunk through a straw because there were no filters for removing the seeds and debris from beer. Beer was sold in taverns where the usual entertainments were available.
My handout includes a sketch of the lady with a long set of beads. Perhaps such drawings were on display outside taverns to indicate that they were full service and who was available. This sketch was given to me by a Pagan lady, but I do not know her well enough to comment upon the likeness.
Pagans are playful. Even in modern times there are things to laugh about and spells to cast.
Let us show you now some spells and the Yum-Yum Ritual.
My Ladies and Gentlemen, we wish you, Pagan Love!