Friday, 7 December 2012

Pagan Communion

I attended a Wiccan handfast where we sipped mead from a horn and shared freshly baked bread.

In Poul Anderson's "The Peat Bog," Philon, the narrator, kneels to receive bread and mixed milk and blood from a Jutish king. Kneeling, Philon knew that the king

"...was Fro (and Apollo of the Sun) and through him She entered me and I Her. Can the Orphic mysteries give more?" (Anderson, Homeward And Beyond, New York, 1976, p. 223)

Philon, a philosophical Greek skeptical of Roman identifications of their gods with others, does not hesitate to identify Fro with Apollo.

Yes, Philon is shocked that the king kills women as the king is shocked by Philon's homosexuality. Philon becomes reconciled to the facts, as he sees it, by reflecting on the Goddess' many aspects:

Aphrodite is the foam-born Virgin, the Mother of Eros, Our Lady of the Weddings, a slut mocked by Homer;
Artemis is the maiden huntress, the fecund Ephesian, Cybele who inspires madness, Hecate the terrible, Hera, Ceres, Athene, Persephone, Nerthus;
the Jutes still worship the Goddess whereas Greeks and Romans turn to Oriental gods or to no god...

Their successors became Christians or atheists.

Despite Philon's professed reconciliation, what looks as if it will be a promising alliance, in this case between Romans and Jutes, does not come to fruition because the differences are too great, as had happened between the People and the child-sacrificing Folk in "The Forest."

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