Reclaiming the Old Religion - Closing the Circle
A Sunday Service on January 3, 1996
at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale


In the pre-Christian traditions of Western Europe, Samhain (SAH-
wen) was the end and the beginning of the year--the time when the
boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was
thinnest.  Later, Christians observed All Hallows' on the
following day.  The modern name for All Hallows' is All Saints'
Day and it falls on November 1st.  The day before, All Hallows'
Eve is continued in the tradition of Halloween, a time when the
nearness of ghosts is symbolized among our children.

This service is about the ghosts of the old religions.  They live
on in the symbols we keep among us. 


Casting the Circle:  To the North
                     To the East
                     To the South
                     To the West

The Circle is Sealed, and all herein
Are totally and completely apart
From the outside world
That we may gaze upon the ancient traditions
Through the mists of time
Blessed Be!

We are a thoroughly modern group of people.  We are well-
educated.  We live in a wealthy nation.  We have seen rockets
take off for the moon and we enjoyed microwave pizza.

We are intellectuals.  We raise our eyebrows about the
patriarchal structures of the past.  We watch Public Television
on Channel 2. Programs about the environment are IN now.  We
lobby to save mother nature.  Our planet is becoming more special
to us.  But, who is this Mother Nature but the vestige of Gaia,
the female goddess of live who shows herself in all the living
things around us.

Did you know that our news of antiquity is managed?  It comes to
us through a filter.  Not the filter of Dan Rather or NBC News,
but the filter of the Roman Empire.  The legends that have
evolved to bind us together as the tribe of human beings and make
us as unique as our opposing thumbs.

The Roman Empire was a civilization of worriers and engineers. 
The engineers built the roads and bridges that linked the armies
and the provinces together.  And the legends of antiquity were
molded into a male art form that bound the culture together and
shaped individual behavior.  Look at our legal buildings.  See
that Rome lingers on in the stone columns and porticos.

The Romans gave us our solar calendar with its months named for
emperors.  There is but one wandering planet in their zodiac of
holidays: the celebration of Estarte, another name for the Earth
Mother.  Her holiday is fixed by the old lunar calendar: the
first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. 
Estarte has been shortened to Easter and the holiday is a
celebration of the coming of Spring and of life.

Who remembers Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth on Public
Television?  The Mythos is defined in Webster's Dictionary as "a
pattern of beliefs expressing, often symbolically, the
characteristic or prevalent attitudes in a group or culture." 
This is the furniture of our minds.

Other Celebrations:

                       The May Pole

The story is a vessel

Polytheism contains Monotheism.  It is not an evolution.

 There is a reverence for the Creation
 There is acknowledgement of the Life Forces about us: Bushes & Stumps
 There is someone for everyone to identify with
 There is room for atheists too

Under Monotheism, all the Deities are still there.  They just all
have the same name.  Monotheism is Imperialism in Religion.

The old religion co-existed with Christianity for centuries, from
the so-called dark ages up until the Inquisition and the burning
times of the late middle ages.  The rise of the medical

Woman were responsible for the development of agriculture as an
extension of their food-gathering activities.  From this came the
Goddess of the hearth.  The male God was of the hunt.

Coexistence continued until men figured out where babies came
from and men began begetting.

Fertility cults in which the priestesses were "ritual prostitutes"

Cultural bias of anthropologists:  Pharaoh or Pharaoh's Mother

The origin of the Ankh

The goddesses of the old religion become the male devils of the new.

Women seen as decorative and convenient assistants to men.

Let go of the image of Eve

The UU Women's Study: Cakes for the Queen of Heaven

Sweat Lodge: Native America place to put the excitable to make
them better, for a while

The Father God left home and can't be reached for child support.

The steep triangle of the male power structure vs. the circle of
female structure.  Bring order to the chaos.

Dog is man's best friend and worst insult.

Duet 12:2,3 gives direction to destroy the old religion.

"You shall utterly destroy all places where the nations whom you
shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on
the hills and every green tree.  And you shall tear down their
altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with
fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods,
and you shall obliterate their name from that place."

Asherim - Sacred wood; sometimes a tree or stump of a tree, found
beside Canaanite alters.

It was Eve who was deceived by the goddess agent, the snake, and
partook from the tree of the sacred grove.

A Gathering of Pagans:

  Invoke the four directions
  Create a sacred space: casting of a circle
  Myth Making

Turn to Native Americans


The joyful intellectual: Pagans put some juice into religion.

Reaching to the Deity: launching the pyramids, medieval
cathedrals, the 60's space program, now particle accelerators.

Tribal vs. Creedal Religions.

Monotheism exists within Polytheism.

We have our own UU stigmata.

If the question comes up.  Satanism is a Christian heresy.
It is meaningless for others than Christians.

The Trinity is a Pagan Paste Up of older faces of Deity.

The Circle is ended:  Blessed Be.  Merry Meet and Merry Part

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