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GUEST,Okiemockbird The Pagan Alternative. What's the music? (118* d) RE: The Pagan Alternative. What's the music? 24 Apr 00


Ronald Hutton discusses the presumed pagan origins of sheela-na-gigs and green men, and find no evidence. These are Christian sculptural motifs in the sense that thay were paid for by Christian patrons and executed by Christian craftsmen, often as decorations for Christian houses of worship. We need not resort to pagan origins for every carving or picture which doesn't obviously illustrate the Bible, the lives of the saints, or daily life. Christian artists should be credited with being as able as non-Christians to imagine, and create from scratch, fantastic and grotesque creatures.

Christian choreographers must also be credited with an independent creativity. Morris dancing shows no evidence of deriving from ancient pagan ritual dances, such as the dance of the Roman Salii. Why shouldn't it have been a new invention of the 15th century ? That the morris was often practised on the occasion of church festivals was simply a matter of economics and convenience: these were the dates when the dancers had time off work, and when they had an audience at leisure (and disposed to be generous).

Easter's date derives from that for the Jewish festival of Unleavened Bread, not directly from any pagan equinoctial observance. Its English-language name was thought by Bede (died c. 721 A.D.) to derive from the name of a pagan festival and goddess, but the content of the festival is clearly Christian content of mainly Jewish origin.

That some pagans made merry at the solstices, and that Christians adopted these same dates for some of their festivals partly in order to protect their worshippers from being tempted to honor pagan gods, does not make the Christian holidays so established "pagan" in content.

T.


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