Tag Archives: athena

Quick visit to the British Museum

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Egyptian king flanked by deities imbuing him with powers.

Yesterday my husband and I were in London, showing around a couple of my husband’s friends from Australia. As part of the day we dropped into the British Museum for about an hour, most of which is free to attend. I’ve been to the British Museum a couple of times ago, but I thought this time I’d share a few pictures of the Classical section, which is where we spent most of the time.

I love dolphins, so I was delighted to spot this little dolphin featured on an Assyrian relief!

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Venus. I love her pose here.

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Dionysus, looking particularly feminine (aside from his naughty bits!)

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A procession of Dionysus’ followers, the Maenads.

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These Eros statuettes look like they’d be right at home on a modern Christmas tree!

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Eros riding a dolphin.

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A really interesting relief of Athena blessing her followers. Look how tall she is compared to the men!

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Pan.

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Bronze mirror depicting Nike. You can easily see how images of Nike later inspired images of Judeo-Christian angels.

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A depiction of two of my favourite Greco-Roman deities, Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Gentle Death).

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I really liked this tiny little figure of dancers – I’ve seen so many modern New Age candle holders and sculptures that look similar!

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I really want to go to the Celtic exhibition that the British Museum are holding at the moment (we didn’t go this time because it’s quite expensive, and for first-timers to the BM it’s best to stick to the free exhibits). It would be something of a pilgrimage for me to see the Gundestrup Cauldron currently on display there, which depicts a horned figure now identified with Pagans as one of our most beloved deities – Cernnunos. Next time!

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Paganism and Motherhood

Isis and the infant Horus. Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Isis and the infant Horus. Walters Art Museum [Public domain, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

When you’re a woman of a certain age, you suddenly find all your friends are having children and you can no longer put off thinking about that old biological clock ticking. Even in modern society, I think there is still a great social pressure (even if it’s simply a form of passive peer pressure) to have children if you are a married woman. So what does Paganism have to say about becoming a mother? Read more at Patheos here!

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Science and Paganism

Prometheus watches as Athena endows man with reason

In today’s world, we tend to think in terms of “science verses religion,” as if they are antagonistic and opposite from each other. But back in the day, this wasn’t really the case; there are plenty of historical examples where science and religion met eye-to-eye, from Christian monks who made and recorded important scientific discoveries, to scientific principles described in the Quran, to the numerous scientists and mathematicians who were also members of the Freemasons, a society in which belief in a Supreme Being is more or less mandatory. Whereas nowadays, many people seem to think that one cannot hold religion to be true if one also holds science to be true. How can one know that the Moon is a vast, lifeless lump of rock orbiting the Earth, and also believe it is the embodiment of a goddess?

So how can we resolve this problem in a rational and scientific world?

Myself, I LOVE science. I love learning how the universe works and how it came to be. If I had been better at maths, I probably would have done a science at university (I also think maths is beautiful and wonderful, but I just can’t do it!). For me, science does not de-mystify nature; on the contrary, science reminds us over and over again that the truth is usually far more interesting and stranger than anything human beings can imagine.

But despite my respect for science, I also leave offerings to nature spirits and bow down to fox statues.

I no longer feel conflicted in doing this. I used to, definitely, which is one of the reasons I didn’t practice Paganism for years despite having a keen interest, but now I feel quite resolved in my feelings towards science and Paganism. And this is why:

1. Science is the way in which we get to know our gods. As a Pagan, I worship things quite literally – the trees, the earth and the animals themselves are sacred and part of the spirit world. One of the best definitions I’ve found of Paganism was a random comment on the internet, which is, “Pagans worship what they can actually see.” By learning about how the natural world works, we deepen our knowledge, and therefore our connection, with the spirits of Earth, the ocean, the air and the stars.

2. I enjoy being a Pagan, which is the number 1 reason why I am a Pagan. And if I feel content and fulfilled by doing something that has no particular drawbacks, there’s no reason not to do it. Which seems pretty rational.

3. As mentioned in a previous post, I place a huge amount on emphasis on the act of ritual itself, moreso than its potential outcomes or the beliefs behind it. Ritual affects how we feel about things – for me, it inspires a profound awe for nature and reminds me to treat our earth with respect and dignity. Because I place less emphasis on profound faith than I do in ritual, I don’t feel I need to worry about how compatible my religion is with my knowledge of science.

4. There’s a little bit of doublethink involved in this one, but I believe that as far as an individual is concerned, there are two realities. There is the shared reality, a.k.a the real reality, as in the world that exists around us and upon which all science is based. Then there is the reality that we actually perceive ourselves, a reality that is private to us in our minds, coloured with emotion, memory, dreams and imagination. To us humans, limited by how we interpret our senses, both realities are just as real (in fact, the “inner” reality is somehow more real to us). So inner world of the psyche, in which reality can be anything we want, can be considered just as valid. In which case, it is quite easy to both see existence as a product of scientific reason, and as a realm in which gods, goddesses, spirits and faeries all exist. It’s all a matter of which “reality” we choose to see.

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