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Author Topic: The Morrigan neopaganism v the academy?  (Read 7368 times)
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« Topic Start: June 05, 2011, 11:57:31 am »

Neopaganism tends to view tutelary goddesses differently to neopaganism and an article in the Irish times about a bog body brought the topic to mind today.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0604/1224298358231.html

Quote
Both men appear to have been “killed” three times: by strangulation, by stabbing and by drowning. However ritualised, Old Croghan Man’s death was garishly violent: he was bound with hazel rods threaded through holes in his upper arms, stabbed in the chest, struck in the neck, decapitated and cut in half. (All that has been found are his torso and arms.) But the violence was not mere sadism. “This,” says Eamonn Kelly of the National Museum of Ireland, “isn’t done for torture or to inflict pain. It’s a triple killing because the goddess to whom the sacrifice is made has three natures. She’s goddess of sovereignty, of fertility and of war and death. So they’re making sacrifice to her in all her forms, and the king has to die three deaths.”

The Morrigan among others would be considered that type of deity the academy conceives of her as having 3 functions and might not consider her primarily a war deity as neopaganism may do.

The trend in Celtic Neopaganism today is to have atleast a pretence to academic scholarship... does anyone have any thoughts on the difference neopagan v the academy?
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« Reply #1: June 05, 2011, 01:42:06 pm »

does anyone have any thoughts on the difference neopagan v the academy?


You have mentioned 'the academy' before.  Are you talking about a specific institution or are you talking about academia itself as some kind of formal and united authority?

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« Reply #2: June 05, 2011, 02:17:38 pm »

You have mentioned 'the academy' before.  Are you talking about a specific institution or are you talking about academia itself as some kind of formal and united authority?

Absent

I got this through googling the term 'the academy' Im using the term in a similar way.

A Feminist Perspective in the Academy: The Difference It Makes by elizabeth Langley
http://www.jstor.org/pss/1981516

I didnt mean to say there was a hyper global mega university or anything. Do you have an opinion on the difference Absent?

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« Reply #3: June 05, 2011, 03:54:12 pm »

Do you have an opinion on the difference Absent?

No, just that I've never heard of a group of scholars to have true consensus on anything, and that if you search hard enough you can generally come up with some scholar somewhere who presents your preferred opinion on things.

I'm afraid I've never read much Irish literature and know very little about even the more famous gods, so I have nothing to contribute to the actual substance of the thread.  My own gods get named and treated differently in academia depending on which anthropologist was working where and how annoying (and thus getting lied to Cheesy) they were.

Just curious.  I have heard the term academia before, but never the academy.

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« Reply #4: June 05, 2011, 04:43:50 pm »

Neopaganism tends to view tutelary goddesses differently to neopaganism and an article in the Irish times about a bog body brought the topic to mind today.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2011/0604/1224298358231.html

The Morrigan among others would be considered that type of deity the academy conceives of her as having 3 functions and might not consider her primarily a war deity as neopaganism may do.

The trend in Celtic Neopaganism today is to have atleast a pretence to academic scholarship... does anyone have any thoughts on the difference neopagan v the academy?

Well, I'm more of a neoPagan (but neither Celtic nor recon) than I am an academic, but while Mr Kelly's statement that that's the reason for the "triple death" thing of (some) bog bodies sounds rather speculative (heck, assuming it's tM they were sacrificed to sounds a bit speculative; are the bog(s) in question in areas for which it's known she was the sovereignty goddess? - though both could be the result of soundbite editing of quotes for mainstream journalistic purposes; and I'll note that I don't consider them wild speculations, they seem like credible but unprovable hypotheses), I'm firmly onside with conception of her having those three functions (in part, by personal gnosis, which is about as non-academic as you can get - can't call it UPG, though, since current academic thinking seems to be providing some verification).

Mostly, though, the "tM = war goddess" is something I've seen more in "mainstream" neoPaganism, the often-Wiccish-influenced sort - at any rate, that's certainly where the "scary mean booga-booga warmonger goddess!" thing comes in.  Celtic polytheists, IME, are usually at least aware of the sovereignty and fertility functions.  So I'm not really sure you've accurately described where and how the lines of difference of opinion are drawn.  As far as neoPaganism is concerned, that may be a matter of the difference between the Irish and North American scenes - as to your use of "the academy", examination of the link you provide (and my familiarity with that usage of the term) suggests that it may not be as similar as you perceive.

As Marilyn notes, archaeology/anthropo-archaeology isn't a field in which there's a unitary authoritative viewpoint, at least not one that stands opposed to a neoPagan POV - though there is possibly a closer parallel if one is speaking of colonialism across a range of academic disciplines and ways in which that colonialist POV is or has been privileged over internal Irish cultural viewpoints.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to see you bringing that up, but that doesn't appear to be the direction you're taking in this thread.

(Actually, I take that back:  in one respect, I would be surprised to see you bring it up; I'm not sure how aware you are of the phenomenon - this is closely related to our discussion in the Celtic Folklore thread, and gives me enough more of a place to hang my hat that I'm more confident of being able to answer.  I'll try to remember to get back there and post; if I seem to have forgotten, give me a nudge.)

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« Reply #5: June 05, 2011, 04:50:09 pm »

Well, I'm more of a neoPagan (but neither Celtic nor recon) than I am an academic, but while Mr Kelly's statement that that's the reason for the "triple death" thing of (some) bog bodies sounds rather speculative (heck, assuming it's tM they were sacrificed to sounds a bit speculative; are the bog(s) in question in areas for which it's known she was the sovereignty goddess? - though both could be the result of soundbite editing of quotes for mainstream journalistic purposes; and I'll note that I don't consider them wild speculations, they seem like credible but unprovable hypotheses), I'm firmly onside with conception of her having those three functions (in part, by personal gnosis, which is about as non-academic as you can get - can't call it UPG, though, since current academic thinking seems to be providing some verification).

Mostly, though, the "tM = war goddess" is something I've seen more in "mainstream" neoPaganism, the often-Wiccish-influenced sort - at any rate, that's certainly where the "scary mean booga-booga warmonger goddess!" thing comes in.  Celtic polytheists, IME, are usually at least aware of the sovereignty and fertility functions.  So I'm not really sure you've accurately described where and how the lines of difference of opinion are drawn.  As far as neoPaganism is concerned, that may be a matter of the difference between the Irish and North American scenes - as to your use of "the academy", examination of the link you provide (and my familiarity with that usage of the term) suggests that it may not be as similar as you perceive.

As Marilyn notes, archaeology/anthropo-archaeology isn't a field in which there's a unitary authoritative viewpoint, at least not one that stands opposed to a neoPagan POV - though there is possibly a closer parallel if one is speaking of colonialism across a range of academic disciplines and ways in which that colonialist POV is or has been privileged over internal Irish cultural viewpoints.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to see you bringing that up, but that doesn't appear to be the direction you're taking in this thread.

(Actually, I take that back:  in one respect, I would be surprised to see you bring it up; I'm not sure how aware you are of the phenomenon - this is closely related to our discussion in the Celtic Folklore thread, and gives me enough more of a place to hang my hat that I'm more confident of being able to answer.  I'll try to remember to get back there and post; if I seem to have forgotten, give me a nudge.)

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In my experience one of the things we tend to forget about archeology is that it can usually tell us what, how, sometimes who, how, and sometimes when but very very very rarely can it ever tell us WHY. When dealing with the material remains of a long dead culture/people why is almost always speculative. Educated speculation but still speculation. In this case there may be more information they can draw on from still living aspects of the culture (presuming connections) but, yeah, why is tricky.
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« Reply #6: June 06, 2011, 05:45:10 pm »

When times were bad, this very claim became fatal.
If only we could still do it with modern politicians!  Grin

It's hard to say exactly, but there are differences out there. You can't even say "mother-goddess" without evoking images of a love&light goddess among a significant number of people in the broad pagan community, and even though some people solely associate that with neo-paganism, we technically can't hold that to it since it's not always true. The same can be said with paths that don't identify with the term as well, and would automatically associate "mother/tutelary, sovereign" with those claiming some universal Goddess monotheism, along with Golden Bough folklore associated with mainstream neo-paganism, and not acknowledging that yes there actually are Irish land/mother goddesses, and there were sacrificial kings representing the sun married to the land through ban-feis that were ritually sacrificed.

Since any of which can work with academia, it's put paths against it without specifics.   
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« Reply #7: June 07, 2011, 02:43:46 am »

Neopaganism tends to view tutelary goddesses differently to neopaganism and an article in the Irish times about a bog body brought the topic to mind today.
 [...]
The Morrigan among others would be considered that type of deity the academy conceives of her as having 3 functions and might not consider her primarily a war deity as neopaganism may do.


I have to say I'm a little unclear as to what your asking. Do I think tM or one of the other goddesses associated with tM could have been the deities these men were sacrificed for? Possibly. Certainly isn't outside the realms of possibilty.

Do I think the sacrifices and their triple death are in keeping with her triple aspect? Sure I can see how if you wanted to make that delineation you could.

Or are you asking whether or not I see her as a Soverignty, Fertility, War goddess as the academy, or just a War goddess?

I find it interesting that the prevailing thought here is the Neopaganism views her as the big badass war goddess. That has not been my experience with the Neopagans of my area. More often I find they want to water her down into a Maiden, Mother, Crone ideal, with a heavy hand of Sidhe mythos involved. For me personally, the latter fits more than the former, but even that isn't quite right. The Celts just did not think about deity in that classical sense of Goddess of such and such, verses Goddess of this and that. Marie-Louise Sjoestedt's Celtic Gods and Heroes, is still a good starting point into looking at the Celtic culture and it's deities from a non-classical point of view. The Celts as with many cultures of the time were a war culture, so it is not surprising to see that aspect of their culture in most if not all their deities and ways of worship.

That's my two cents. I don't know that it furthered the conversation or answered your question lol but none-the-less, I enjoyed the article.

 


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« Reply #8: June 10, 2011, 09:37:21 am »

No, just that I've never heard of a group of scholars to have true consensus on anything, and that if you search hard enough you can generally come up with some scholar somewhere who presents your preferred opinion on things.

Thats true Marilyn but Id see two issues with that thinking. 1 the popularity of theories and 2 bad scholarship. The reality is the academy is a deliberately structured environment created to promote certain modes of behavior that enable a college head to meet certain pre set goals... its a different environment then the one an amatuer enthusiast occupies.

1. the popularity of theories:
There are always prevailing winds in the academy some theories are always more popular or considered more plausable then others and the nature of the academy where one theory must follow on from another respected theory means that popularity doesnt always follow the evidence.

Take a very Irish example - Roman Ireland. When the business of creating a national identity suited for a nation state began people within the academy (In America, Britain, Germany and Ireland) presented theories that Ireland was distinct from Britain because Romans never came here. The proposed Ireland was an ethnically distinct and homogenous Celtic nation. They were popular theories and careers were built on them and as a concequence lots of theories followed on from them.... Today enough archaeological evidence has mounted up that it is very likely Romans were here but those theories are not unpopular but not popular either because careers and personal reputations are on the line. Careers are not built on undermining people.

2. Constructing a theory on what you want to be true as opposed to what may be true is bad scholarship, I would apply that same rule to someone who has an idea in their head and looks for something to support that idea rather then looking to see whether it is plausable or not. In the arts there can be as many theories as there are individual opinions and all can be valid but even an innovative theory has to follow on from something more solid and reputable. Wishfull thinking is not an acceptable way to validate a theory in the long run no matter how easy it might seem in the short run.

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« Reply #9: June 10, 2011, 09:56:38 am »

Well, I'm more of a neoPagan (but neither Celtic nor recon) than I am an academic, but while Mr Kelly's statement that that's the reason for the "triple death" thing of (some) bog bodies sounds rather speculative (heck, assuming it's tM they were sacrificed to sounds a bit speculative; are the bog(s) in question in areas for which it's known she was the sovereignty goddess?

To be honest Sunflower Im not sure where he gets precident from but in the national museum the display relates the body to triple deaths in medieval literature. Kings married to goddesses in lit usually die 3 ways the one I can remember off the top of my head is through burning bludgeoning and drowning. Eochaid Mugmedon the ancestor of the O'Neill dynasty is married to a goddess Mugain. He falls out with her and at a feast his hall is set on fire, to escape the fire he climbs into a barrell of wine and the roof post crashes down onto him.

Theres probably more to it then that but its all us plebs get to see of the theory behind king sacrifice.

Quote
Mostly, though, the "tM = war goddess" is something I've seen more in "mainstream" neoPaganism, the often-Wiccish-influenced sort - at any rate, that's certainly where the "scary mean booga-booga warmonger goddess!" thing comes in.  Celtic polytheists, IME, are usually at least aware of the sovereignty and fertility functions.

Id agree with you there, the Morrigan is one of those uber popular deities but while people are aware of the sovereignty thing its still not popular even here the Morrigan is considered a dangerous type of deity.

Quote
So I'm not really sure you've accurately described where and how the lines of difference of opinion are drawn.  As far as neoPaganism is concerned, that may be a matter of the difference between the Irish and North American scenes

Ive been lucky enough to live in both places because I married a north american girl and I found it as common among recons and ADF Druids as it is among folk focused pagans and romantacist druids. When neopagans dont have an hour to research a reply opinions turn out to be fairly homogenous. Really every group on the planet uses their neighbouring group as a foil for self definition but are we all really that different? In my experience we all have a lot more in common to unite us then we have differences that seperate us.

Quote
(Actually, I take that back:  in one respect, I would be surprised to see you bring it up; I'm not sure how aware you are of the phenomenon - this is closely related to our discussion in the Celtic Folklore thread, and gives me enough more of a place to hang my hat that I'm more confident of being able to answer.  I'll try to remember to get back there and post; if I seem to have forgotten, give me a nudge.)

Sunflower

Im looking forward to that Sunflower Smiley
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« Reply #10: June 10, 2011, 11:00:48 am »

Im looking forward to that Sunflower Smiley
Looks like you missed it somehow - it's already posted.

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« Reply #11: June 10, 2011, 12:48:06 pm »

Looks like you missed it somehow - it's already posted.

Sunflower

Yup I did indeed. I replied now thanks Sunflower.


It's hard to say exactly, but there are differences out there.

UlsterYank youd have a bit of practical experience with her Id be interested in knowing if your personal experiences emphasise one of the functions over the other for you? If im prying too much let me know.
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« Reply #12: June 10, 2011, 04:17:17 pm »

UlsterYank youd have a bit of practical experience with her Id be interested in knowing if your personal experiences emphasise one of the functions over the other for you? If im prying too much let me know.
No worries a chara, as you know yourself how subjective these things are. Pick up almost any book related to Irish myth, or Celtic neo-paganism and you're guaranteed to see Morrigan in some form in the index. It's also difficult judging traditional roles with myth being so allegorical that it's hard for some to realise that the myths aren't reflections of the Gods(well they are, but not in the literal gospel sense), but inspired by them, and in our case we have little to base our beliefs about the Gods on other than the myths.

In trying to base beliefs around historic tradition, and personal gnosis, it's really hard to state as to what extent the ancients believed the Gods intervene with their lives compared to just folk ancestral roles, or representing some force in the universe, but if one were to believe in reciprocal relationships with our Gods then going by the legends An Mhór-Ríoghain is most associated with that of a war goddess, so I'd imagine understanding war would be a good start to that gnosis. As someone that's been to war I personally associate not only with the horrors and destruction but with the tutelary aspects of one's patron. From personal experience evoking these from a fear and want of protection rather than a 'hard charging' he-man Cú Chulainn aspect sort. Kind of like our," There's no such thing as an Atheist in a fighting(fox) hole" saying.

Going from that it's not hard for me to imagine her as a land/mother goddess, as I'm also one of those guys that believes her name translates to 'Great Queen', but my envision of a mother-goddess is also different from that in mainstream contemporary paganism. As we saw in this source, the land can be very unforgiving (Indeed the day after I read this, we had to do a job in Gracestown Business park. Cut through Slane&the Boyne Valley to avoid the M1 tolls, and it went to sunny, to lashing, windy, freezing, and hailing. Hard to imagine after that roasting week last week. Unforgiving indeed as I'm still putting on lip balm from it! If the Romans had vineyards in England at one time, then no wonder this stuff happened! Grin)
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