New Excavation at Marden Henge

The outline of Marden Henge (Sunday Express)

A major archaeological effort beginning this summer will explore Marden Henge, a Neolithic monument that rivaled Avebury and Stonehenge but is less well known.

Excavation within the Henge will focus on the surface of what is thought to be one of the oldest houses in Britain, a Neolithic building revealed during earlier excavations. The people who used this building will have seen Stonehenge in full swing, perhaps even helped to haul the huge stones upright.

Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading’s Department of Archaeology and Director of the Archaeology Field School, said: “This excavation is the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Stonehenge and its surrounds. The Vale of Pewsey is a relatively untouched archaeological treasure-chest under the shadow of one of the wonders of the world.

But, perhaps unike those two, it had a sauna. Maybe.

Archaeologist Jim Leary told his audience at Devizes town hall on Saturday that the chalk foundations contained a sunken hearth that would have given out intense heat. “It brings to mind the sweat lodges found in North America,” he said. “It could have been used as part of a purification ceremony.”

Dude. You are in Europe and you have to reach for a North American image? Hello, what does “indigenous” mean to you? Sauna? Banya?

Here is a rather breathless article from the Sunday Express (UK), which makes it sound as though the Henge is a new discovery (it is not), but does have a photo.

Exorcising México

México has been exorcised. Yes, the whole country. The Roman Catholic church pulled out one of the big guns: Exorcismo Magno — it takes a team of exorcists.

Can a country with deep Christian roots like Mexico find itself at the mercy of demons? Some in the Church fear so.

And as a result, they called for a nation-wide exorcism of Mexico, carried out quietly last month in the cathedral of San Luis Potosí.

High levels of violence, as well as drug cartels and abortion in the country, were the motivation behind the special rite of exorcism, known as “Exorcismo Magno.”

According to this article (in Spanish), same-sex marriage  (“matrimonio gay”) was also targeted by the team of magic-workers.

We will watch for changes.

Odds and Ends: Runic Duct Tape, Ebola, Etsy

• Real Heathens fix stuff with runic duct tape. Or “sticky tape,” direct from Orkney to you.

To save you checking your Futhark, it says “Orkney Orkney Orkney.” I have the matching mug.

• Was the famous plague of 432 BCE in Athens an early outbreak of Ebola?

The Athenian disease began south of Egypt in a region Thucydides called “Aethiopia,” a term that ancient Greeks used to refer to regions in sub-Saharan Africa, where modern Ebola outbreaks have occurred.

Read the rest at Live Science.

• Etsy follows eBay in forbidding the sale of spell kits and the like. (What about rosaries?) I heard a brief slow-pitch interview with founder Etsy Rob Kalin this morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. (NPR loves Etsy — just do a site search.) Kalin walzed around the issue of Etsy allowing factory-made items — apparently OK if it is small factory — and the interviewer did not mention magic.

Coming Soon to a Pagan Catalog Near You

perun's ax

Photo from Slavorum.org.

Along with medieval weapon bits, archaeologists digging in in the old center of Königsburg, now the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, on the Baltic Sea, discovered these pendants symbolizing the god Perun, dating from the late Middle Ages.

The article ends, “What can we say, time to buy Perun’s Axe pedants!”

Next to the news article, a link to a story titled “Which Slavic God Are You?” (Veles, thanks for asking.)

Things are changing.

 

Review: “The Sisterhood of Night”


Pagan film critic Peg Aloi has interesting things to say about a new movie, The Sisterhood of Night.

Not only does it have the traditional element of teenage girls, secrets, and occultism (see, not coincidentally, Salem, Mass., 1692) but there is a social-media element too:

The film cleverly allows us to speculate for a bit about the rumor mill’s potential accuracy, and to wonder at social media’s shocking failure as a networking tool when one simply decides to stop using it.

The movie has a Facebook page too.

Teenage boys, of course, are never ever interested in this stuff.

How They Celebrate the Summer Solstice

From 2012, a BBC piece on how Latvians celebrate the summer solstice:

It is not a complicated festival. All you have to do is head out to the countryside, get a fire going, stay up all night waiting for the sun to come up and drink lots and lots of beer – which, I can only assume, is why it is called Ligo, the Latvian word for “sway.”

I have been feeling the energy boost from more sunlight, but I live at just past 38° north, whereas Riga, Latvia’s capital, is at almost 57° north. So even the “shortest night” is longer here.

What do you do?

TV Pagans Looking Good – or at Least Better

From the abstract to Robert A. Saunder’s paper “Primetime Paganism: Popular-Culture Representations of Europhilic Polytheism in Game of Thrones and Vikings,” reprinted at Medievalists.net, in which he argues two points:

First, that traditional filmic treatments of pagans [sic] qua villains is shifting, with contemporary popular culture allowing for more nuanced framing of Western forms of polytheism. Secondly, that such popular-culture representations of paganism have direct impact on certain contemporary Pagans’ personal spiritual paths by promoting and influencing the “invention of tradition” among a population which manifests non-traditional religious identities.

Read the rest.

“Songs for the Old Religion” — the Rest of the Story

Pagan bard Gwydion Pendderwen’s album Songs for the Old Religion (1973) was the first openly Pagan LP ever, that I know of. (There was Guitar Grimoire too, but it was all instrumental.)

On the Agora Patheos blog, Dana Corby tells the story of how it was made (part 1), including why they left in Gwydion’s mumbled remark, “Play louder, I can’t see.”

I learned just how little Gwydion understood about recording: they expected to complete an entire album, without prior rehearsal, over a 4-day weekend. He’d never even sung into a microphone before and had to be taught how to modulate his voice instead of bellow and to strum his guitar rather than whack it for all it’s worth like you do to be heard across a campfire.

With recordings of some of the songs.

Some Polish Healers and Witches

Part of a photo portrait exhibit on “women of power” in Poland by photographer Katarzyna Majak.

(Via Slate)

A Wicca Center in Thailand

The Ace of Cups coffee bar and occult-supply shop (Daily Mail).

There is a long tradition of metaphysical bookstores and occult-supply shops serving as the public face of Pagan groups. “Owner Wine Kongsorn said he opened the café in a bid to unite the community of Wiccans in Bangkok.”

And exactly how is “Wiccan” defined in Bangkok? The source is the (UK) Daily Mail, which is not known for careful reporting on new religious movements. Sounds like a great research opportunity for someone in Pagan studies.

But the Ace of Cups also serves cappucino, so I’m in.

Just more evidence that Ronald Hutton was right in labeling Wicca the first world religion to spring from England.