When we call ourselves “pagan”, we must ask ourselves what the purpose of it is, what we are meant to achieve by following paganism, what a “pagan perspective” or “pagan worldview” means. The same applies to any religion, ideology or philosophy.
It is logical to assume that, at some point in time at least, paganism served a practical purpose, that it was supposed to be useful and applicable in everyday life, as well as providing at least some answers to life’s biggest questions.
What purposes did it have? What were the biggest concerns in everyday life? What gave life meaning to pagans? What did pagans think life ultimately led to? These are questions we must answer in order to ascertain paganism’s purpose here and now, and to determine the credibility of those claiming to be “pagan”.
One of the greatest everyday concerns, if not the greatest, of our pagan forebears was pregnancy . There is a common fixation dating back to the origins of the wicca movement that fixate on “fertility” symbols. The age-old assertion must be challenged more often – What purpose would “fertility” cults have served in antiquity? Would our ancient pagan ancestors, especially in physically fitter and healthier nomadic communities, have struggled to conceive? Was simply becoming pregnant really of greater concern than actually surviving pregnancy?
Pregnancy was considerably more dangerous in ancient times. We must assume that all native cultures had customs and, before civilisation and literacy, oral traditions that taught and preserved the essential medical knowledge needed to minimise casualties of pregnancy as much as possible. This is one purpose, and this is why midwives were so crucial and respected in pagan cultures, and why, as a result, midwives and women in similar roles and of similar social status were so brutally persecuted during the conversions and again during the Witch Hunts. Midwifery was once a core aspect of traditional pagan folk practice and folk medicine.
Where do we look for this preserved knowledge in pagan custom? Where do we find this purpose? We must of course look to the symbols and riddles that any pagan pantheon and the related regional folklore is full of. Many so-called pagans today, and Christian scholars of the past that influence their interpretations, either fail to fully comprehend these symbols and riddles or simply make no effort to whatsoever, preferring instead to take everything at face value, depicting paganism as little more than Judeo-Christianity with more gods, and at best place importance on vaguely defined “nature worship” with no real meaning.
Symbols relating to pregnancy:
The womb – woods, the cave, the tomb, the “afterlife”
The placenta – The world tree, the labyrinth, the gorgon, the chimera, the lion, the horse
The umbilical cord – a unicorn’s horn
The cowl – Phrygian cap, Red Riding Hood
The amniotic sac – snow white
There are many others. Understanding paganism and the symbols in it is about understanding and recognising patterns throughout nature. Though myths are often rooted in these ancient essential meanings that served this purpose, they have other meanings too.
To truly understand paganism is to also understand riddles. Once we draw our attention to these often overlooked symbols and messages, we can use this as a key, with it we can make huge progress in being able to *recognise* riddles when they appear in the myths and fairy tales, even if we don’t understand them fully, by training ourselves to approach the myths in this way (i.e. from a non-Christian perspective).
Some examples of riddles in European and Asian myths relating to pregnancy and rebirth:
Óðinn and Fenris, Oedipus, Amaterasu, Little Red Riding Hood, Perseus and Medusa.
Of course the core aspect of any pagan religion, on a spiritual and metaphysical level as opposed to its aforementioned use in everyday life and medicine, is that of ancestor worship and reincarnation. Once again, many will distort this central aspect of paganism, or in the case of counter-culture, far-left progressives, will reject ancestor worship and its tribalist connotations entirely, choosing empty nature worship instead. The interest, the sentiment and attachment to nature is there, but it misses the point so much that this can barely be considered paganism.
Those who might claim to be conservatives and traditionalists who approach it from a Christian perspective, understand the concept of a god as Abrahamic faiths do, and believe in the afterlife as these faiths do, will likewise tend to overlook this central belief in reincarnation, and reject the fact that the “afterlife”, i.e. the next life, is here in the real world, not in a paradise in the clouds.
I stress this because this brings us back to what the purpose of paganism is, what we can make of the universal belief, and need to believe in reincarnation, and how these symbols and riddles relating to pregnancy are just as important in relation to reincarnation beliefs and practices.
This focus on the “symbolic pregnancies” and rites of passage in relation to reincarnation gives our life, and therefore paganism, meaning and purpose. It gives meaning to a finite and linear lifespan as part of an infinite and cyclical time, and “immortality” in a sense.
Again, we see the importance of recognising patterns – the placenta, the birthday cake, for example, in order to remember who we once were, to solve that riddle. As all pagan religions believe in this, and relate it to such symbols, we can confidently assume that as intelligent lifeforms we have a scientific and biological reason, an instinct, a need to remember and carry on from where we left off.
There are many figures who fail miserably to understand paganism’s real meaning, its real purposes or the significance of its symbols and riddles, and even worse ones who masquerade as pagans but only serve to provide an entirely forgettable, unoriginal entry-level (Christian-influenced) commentary that doesn’t even scratch the surface, and makes no attempt to understand its depth, its science , its philosophy and its purpose. Paganism is a science, arguing that it is doesn’t make anyone an “atheist”, it just means they believe religion exists in the first place to serve a practical purpose, as well as a more spiritual one. These con-artists claiming to be pagan will try hard to lure people away from these truths, and fanatically attack those who guide people toward these truths.
Some friendly advice for the pseud-Pagans and crypto-Christians:
– Take a look in the mirror, and spend some time asking yourself if you are a trustworthy, honest or in any way good-natured person, if you embody any pagan values whatsoever. If not, you can’t claim to be a pagan.
– Ask yourself if you address any of the central concepts, such as ancestor worship, reincarnation, pregnancy (real and symbolic) and tribal ancestors. If not, you can’t claim to be a pagan.
– Consider writing some proper books of your own, instead of begging for handouts on Pateon and exploiting our cultural heritage to sell mass-produced merchandise. Then you might be less jealous of and hateful towards real pagans who do publish their own books.
– Having a degree doesn’t automatically make you more intelligent. Many of the most intelligent and most credible pagan writers don’t have them. You can’t buy intelligence, you either have it or you don’t. Your class and privileged background are irrelevant.
– Ask yourself if you should really be surprised, outraged even, by sceptics who don’t find your claims to be “pagan” particularly convincing nor your commentary remotely insightful, when you routinely crusade against “heretics” and “evil”, and call people “atheists” for disagreeing with you and tell them that their “souls will suffer”. if you want people to believe you are pagan and are teaching them about paganism, at least try to talk like a pagan, and treat people as a respectful, pagan European would. It’s undignified, and just embarrassing.
Finally, a shout out to the real pagans – good-natured, honest, honourable and insightful people, who have been spreading the truth and educating us for some time now, and inspired me to finally start making some videos of my own:
And last, but by no means least: Marie Cachet, for her groundbreaking book. Fellow readers will no doubt recognise her theories and conclusions in my video, and I give credit where it’s due. Like you, Varg and other credible pagans, I have learned a lot from classic writers such as James Frazer, Julius Evola as well as the classical philosophers, but your book is brilliant as a “key” in recognising these symbols and riddles, countless “eureka” moments were triggered by this book when revisiting myths. Your work will no doubt be remembered and cherished for many years to come by those who seek to genuinely understand paganism.
I am currently carrying out my own study on the Celtic myths and folk tales, those of the British Isles especially, with in mind to publish a book of my own at some point with room for similar comparative religion analysis. I am writing it as I go, and will keep people updated.