The Obvious Question

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Postby Capellini on Fri Nov 04, 2005 2:11 pm

_Tex_ wrote:well, being an international forum i would have said the odds were fairly high miss capellini.

I'm not looking for a debate here (possibly later, I'm just too tired right now) but I must say that I have to disagree with some of what you were saying earlier about christians using pagan holidays, I would say that it was obvious, and that the majority of christianity is plageurised from other religions. Funny how every single one of their holidays and feasts falls on the same day (or so damn close it aint funny) as a Pagan festival. It is a control mechanism. Same as their building churches on sites where pagan gathering had happened. If you were to tour the UK you quite frequently come across a church in the middle of nowhere. No houses nor towns nearby. By building on a Pagan site they forced the Pagans to go inside their churches. Until the catholic church had extended its sphere of influence to the UK very little if any importance was put on Mary. Once in the UK they realised that they had no hope of converting anyone if there was no female 'godhead' in their Pantheon (yes I am using these words very loosely, but the whole Father, Son, Holy Spirit plus Mary and various Saints does look very much like a Pantheon from the outside doesnt it?) For a religion that espouses "no graven idols" they certainly do worship a lot of statues of people other than Jesus.
I did have an actual train of thought here, a list of things to say but in the rambling it sort of got misplaced. I dont think I have actually managed to refute what you said. Oh well. maybe next time I log in I will be more awake....


This is a big can of worms, sure you wanna open it? Ok, here goes.

First of all, when Christianity was developing, there were no Pagan holidays. The word pagan (little p) was used by the recently Christianized Roman soldiers to identify the folks in the rural pagus areas, who were incidentally not yet converted, and was eventually used to refer to non-Christians. Not until recently (certainly no earlier than the Victorian age) were people actively calling themselves Pagan (big P). The pagan (little p) holidays you speak of are more accurately labeled local indigineous holidays. And yes, Christianity often took advantage of those holidays to convert people, by structuring its own celebrations around them. Until the religion became more structurally organized in Rome, however, this was a regional thing, done primarily by the 'missionary' types in the area. However, it is inaccurate to say that Christianity stole this holidays, for a number of reasons. Religion being like most any social construct, it evolves from those things that came before it. Most of the things that mark Christianity can be found in those religions in the area previous to it, including the polytheistic Egyptian religion, Mithraism, and Judaism. But this is really just a reflection of how the culture itself was evolving. Just because certain aspects of certain holidays are similar does not make them the same thing, and claiming theft is a bit inflammatory. Particularly when we keep in mind that in many areas this was a kind of syncretic faith that was actively participated in by willing locals as well as the Christians. Celtic Christianity is a classic example of this. Unfortunately, most of the examples used by people who claim Christianity stole holidays from pagans (little p) are based on false information. Easter is the prime example of that, as there is no record of a goddess Ostara, nor is there a record of a festival involving bunnies or eggs in the European/Norse/Anglo peoples that were supposedly stolen from. Christmas is another example. While it does take place within the time frame of the Roman festival Saturnalia, and certain interpretations can show that the types of things worshipped in these two festivals are similar, Christmas was not originally celebrated on that day, but was moved later. It was an obvious attempt to use a congruence of events to convert people, but since it was moved with much of its ritual structure intact, it was not an active attempt to steal a holiday. A more modern, and more easily understood example is Halloween. Very little of what we celebrate today on Halloween has any ties to the pagan (little p) celebrations of GB, generalized as Samhain, but accurately falling under a number of different titles, and rather they are remnants of folk culture that the people actively developed themselves during conversion from local faiths to Christianity, over a period of hundreds of years.

Suggesting stealing conveys an inaccurate image of what took place in much of Europe during conversion to Christianity. While violence was not a rare occurence, local peoples were not wholesale removed and replaced with Christians who then used there religious beliefs under a new name. Christianity grew and changed as it was absorbed by the people it was coming in contact with, and a mutual exchange of practices occured, until we got the melange we have today. The local people adapted Christianity to there own needs just as much as Christianity adapted itself to fit those needs. No one ever accuses converts of stealing from Christianity.

Religions evolve just like organism. Christianity didn't steal anything from pagan (little p) peoples any more than I stole any of my traits from a chimp.
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Postby Shoeman on Fri Nov 04, 2005 9:28 pm

I believe the term is cultural diffusion. Do correct me if I'm wrong.
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Postby _Tex_ on Sat Nov 05, 2005 12:32 am

Indeed Shoeman, cultural diffusion would seem to fit...
Miss Capellini-whilst i do agree that when two cultures meet there is a nautural form of assimilation, i dont agree that there was not wholesale 'borrowing' (if you prefer that to stealing). And your opening arguments are merely semantics, the end result is still the same regardless of the choice of words. Clearly some words are used rather loosely, such as Pagan and holiday or festival, used because these are the names we are used to giving things now, not because they are historically accurate.
I'm not entirely sure about the sentance "and claiming theft is a bit inflammatory". I assume this means you think that is a bad thing?? The Catholic Church has apologised for its having not spoken out against the Holocaust, having not tried to be more helpful to the Jews. And yet there are records that estimate (cos the people involved were less anal than Hitler and co) more people were killed during the Inquisition, the Witch Hunts than were in the Holocaust. This is not something the Church merely did not speak out against, this is something they purposefully started, something they condoned and led. Yet it is barely even acknowledged by them, let alone any kind of formal apology made, no admitting of wrong doing. So if some Catholic gets a little "inflamed" by my saying that their religion is actively made up from stolen parts of all the religions in the areas the church expanded into..... fuck em. Point to the bit cares.
Remember, although I used Celtic examples in my last post I am saying they (the 'Holy Roman See') did this with all religions they came across as they expanded. And I hate to say it but there was record of festivals involving eggs used as a symbol of new life. In Germany, Greece, pre christian Rome, and Nordic lands. According to some of the books I have there was a Teuton goddess named Eostre (various spellings used)
Unfortunately I have wind this up, there are some priests with torches and pitchforks on my front lawn... :twisted: j/k I have to go as I got a little too caught up in this and am now running late. I look forward to continuing this with you later.
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Postby Capellini on Sat Nov 05, 2005 11:51 am

Theft is the wrong word because it says someone came in and took something that was not their's against the will of those that had it, and that was the EXCEPTION, and not the rule.

Semantics is very important in this situation, and should not be dismissed lightly. I don't know from where you're coming on this matter, but from where I'm coming, what you call things and why is of tantamount importance.

This all still rests on the fact that similarity is not the same as stealing, and other than some holidays occuring on the same dates, there is no historical evidence to back the claims that certain specific holidays were stolen by Christianity.

If you actually want to argue that Christianity stole pagan holidays, you're going to have to provide specific examples.

This is an all-too-common argument from what many Pagans call the 'fluffy-bunny' section of Paganism, and like most of their arguments, it has no historical backing, but becomes very popular outside the community because they do a lot of shouting. They are the Christian fundies of Paganism.
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Postby fusiontortellini on Sat Nov 05, 2005 7:49 pm

What say we just pretend to be hunter-gatherers and celebrate The End of the Snow, The Blooming of the Flowers, The Ripening of the Food, and the Return of the Sun?

Call it whatever you want. I prefer to call it Chocolate 1, It's getting too hot (I don't really celebrate this one.), Chcolate 2, and Capitalism. :twisted:

A lot of peope celebrate family at the holidays, but my family celebrates it "whenever we get together" so this year it was the end of May, and the beginning of July so far. We'll probably celebrate it at Capitalism, too. :wink:
Who really might actually be back this time . . .

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Postby _Tex_ on Sat Nov 05, 2005 10:38 pm

I reject the inference that I am part of what you refer to as the fundie section of paganism.

You refute my arguements by saying there is no historical evidence whilst providing none of your own. What are you looking for here? names dates places? of something that happened like 1000 years ago or more?

We'll have to agree to disagree on the semantics issue, to my mind it is a hiding place. People usually start argueing semantics when they have no-where else to turn (not saying you are doing that here because it is clear you are not). As long as the point is made, that is the important thing. In my view anyway. Like i said- agree to disagree.

You want some specifics? a God you mentioned earlier Mithras who predates Christianity by a long shot. Part of the story if Mithras is that he is born to a human, virgin woman and is the child of the God of all Gods (the Pantheon of that particular pagan tradition united as one godhead).

or how about St Bridgit? No record of a saint by that name until the Church moves in to Ireland where it finds a populace reluctant to convert. They main goddess worshipped in those parts at that time is funnily enough called Bridgit (sometimes Bride). Yet to be a saint Bridgit would have to have been a human, alive at that time who was witnessed to perform three miracles.

If you object so strongly to the word stolen, thats fine. Lets replace it with borrowed. Not a single Christian tradition or belief is not found in other religions that were found in areas that christianity moved into. You may like to think that it was a natural form of ozmosis of ideas. Thats fine, you're entitled to that opinion. It's my belief that it was not so accidental. That Catholicism in particular and the church were intentionally created as a mechanism of invasion and control. And you have to admit, if this is the case, they've done a bloody good job.

As for your last paragraph, and it is always difficult to judge when everything is simly text on a screen so forgive me if I miss the mark here, this comes across as rather condescending. I'm not some child to be spoken down to, corrected with a pat on the head. I've seen more and done more in my 26 years than many do in entire lifetimes. I've travelled Europe, been to pagan gatherings there, visited ritual sites and christian churches built over them, spoken to local historians and done a shag load of reading. I tell you this not to say that my opinion is more valid than yours or anyone elses but to say that just as you are entitled to your view and I respect it, i would expect you to show me the same coutesy. Dont talk down to me. Dont think you know enough about me or my views from having read a couple of posts, that you can judge.
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Postby JohnGalt717 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 2:08 am

was never raised with a religion.....

still don't have one, nor want one

except Flying Spaghetti Monsterism of course!
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Postby Capellini on Sun Nov 06, 2005 3:17 pm

_Tex_ wrote:I reject the inference that I am part of what you refer to as the fundie section of paganism.

You refute my arguements by saying there is no historical evidence whilst providing none of your own. What are you looking for here? names dates places? of something that happened like 1000 years ago or more?

We'll have to agree to disagree on the semantics issue, to my mind it is a hiding place. People usually start argueing semantics when they have no-where else to turn (not saying you are doing that here because it is clear you are not). As long as the point is made, that is the important thing. In my view anyway. Like i said- agree to disagree.

You want some specifics? a God you mentioned earlier Mithras who predates Christianity by a long shot. Part of the story if Mithras is that he is born to a human, virgin woman and is the child of the God of all Gods (the Pantheon of that particular pagan tradition united as one godhead).

or how about St Bridgit? No record of a saint by that name until the Church moves in to Ireland where it finds a populace reluctant to convert. They main goddess worshipped in those parts at that time is funnily enough called Bridgit (sometimes Bride). Yet to be a saint Bridgit would have to have been a human, alive at that time who was witnessed to perform three miracles.

If you object so strongly to the word stolen, thats fine. Lets replace it with borrowed. Not a single Christian tradition or belief is not found in other religions that were found in areas that christianity moved into. You may like to think that it was a natural form of ozmosis of ideas. Thats fine, you're entitled to that opinion. It's my belief that it was not so accidental. That Catholicism in particular and the church were intentionally created as a mechanism of invasion and control. And you have to admit, if this is the case, they've done a bloody good job.

As for your last paragraph, and it is always difficult to judge when everything is simly text on a screen so forgive me if I miss the mark here, this comes across as rather condescending. I'm not some child to be spoken down to, corrected with a pat on the head. I've seen more and done more in my 26 years than many do in entire lifetimes. I've travelled Europe, been to pagan gatherings there, visited ritual sites and christian churches built over them, spoken to local historians and done a shag load of reading. I tell you this not to say that my opinion is more valid than yours or anyone elses but to say that just as you are entitled to your view and I respect it, i would expect you to show me the same coutesy. Dont talk down to me. Dont think you know enough about me or my views from having read a couple of posts, that you can judge.


I made no such inference. I specifically said I have no idea what your background regarding this is. Until this post, I didn't even suspect you were Pagan. My comment about the fluffies was in reference to the fact that a lot of people outside the Pagan community here them more loudly, and take there (almost always unsubstantiated) claims as fact.

I'm not sure what kind of proof you think I can offer. How does someone prove something DIDN'T happen? In order to prove, for example, there is no record of a goddess Ostara, I'd have to reference all pre-Christian literature. If you have any particular evidence that you think proves a specific holiday was stolen by the Christians, please share it and we can discuss it.

None of the examples you've offered refute the more accurate claim of timely assimilation rather than 'stealing'. You're right that much of Christianity is not original to it. The same is true for every religion out there, except by default the first religion, whatever that may be. I again refer to the chimp analogy.

I meant no disrespect; as I've already said, I had no idea what your background was. I know plenty of non-Pagans who think 5 million witches were killed during the Burning Times and that cave people practiced Wicca, and they think its true because they heard it from people who call themselves Pagans. Now that I know you have some background in the kind of material we're discussing, I would like to continue this discussion in reference to specific incidences.

Mithras and St. Bridget (excluding the Feast of St. Bridget) are not holidays, and the label of stealing in those cases is really more a matter of opinion than fact.

If your argument is that Christianity assimilated parts of other cultures as it spread, my response is, of course it did. Name me one religion that hasn't.
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Postby _Tex_ on Mon Nov 07, 2005 1:35 am

sure- fundamental Judaism.
and I wasnt refering to Mithras and St Bridget as holidays but as entities. Even look at the image of Pan (Cernunnos), and early images of Satan (before he got the cool red skin and little goatee look) you cant say that was a coinicidence. Pan being a God of forests and woods, clearly a positive (if somewhat mischeivious) force and yet then his image comes to represent the very personification of evil. Natural assimilation cannot account for this, if it was a process of assimilation then he and his image would have become in the new culture/ faith something akin to what he was in the old. Not the almost diametric opposite. The only logical explanation is a deliberate and propagandistic (is that even a word?) attempt to turn people away from him.

I'm not sure what kind of proof you think I can offer. How does someone prove something DIDN'T happen? In order to prove, for example, there is no record of a goddess Ostara, I'd have to reference all pre-Christian literature. If you have any particular evidence that you think proves a specific holiday was stolen by the Christians, please share it and we can discuss it.

I've got one of Edain McCoy's books here that specifically does say that there is evidence of the Germanic peoples worshipping a goddess named Eostara (and then she goes on to list a couple of different spellings inc. Ostara). I wish I had all my books here, I should get them out of storage at one point.
As I was looking for something else i found this: Whitsunday, it is a christian holiday, tradionally the fiftieth day after Easter. and St. Johns day. They occur on or near Midsummer (often with one falling on either side of midsummer i think) St. Johns day still features balefires whilst Whitsunday symbolises balefires with a candle service. Balefires being one of the main features of the Midsummer festivals, whilst according to christian tradition (although references were only found after the church had a prescence in Ireland) the night of midsummer is deemed very unlucky, particularly to revellers and livestock. This is an obvious attempt at keeping people away from Midsummer itself while still allowing them some of their traditions if they convert to Catholicism.
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Postby Capellini on Mon Nov 07, 2005 12:31 pm

_Tex_ wrote:sure- fundamental Judaism.
and I wasnt refering to Mithras and St Bridget as holidays but as entities. Even look at the image of Pan (Cernunnos), and early images of Satan (before he got the cool red skin and little goatee look) you cant say that was a coinicidence. Pan being a God of forests and woods, clearly a positive (if somewhat mischeivious) force and yet then his image comes to represent the very personification of evil. Natural assimilation cannot account for this, if it was a process of assimilation then he and his image would have become in the new culture/ faith something akin to what he was in the old. Not the almost diametric opposite. The only logical explanation is a deliberate and propagandistic (is that even a word?) attempt to turn people away from him.

I'm not sure what kind of proof you think I can offer. How does someone prove something DIDN'T happen? In order to prove, for example, there is no record of a goddess Ostara, I'd have to reference all pre-Christian literature. If you have any particular evidence that you think proves a specific holiday was stolen by the Christians, please share it and we can discuss it.

I've got one of Edain McCoy's books here that specifically does say that there is evidence of the Germanic peoples worshipping a goddess named Eostara (and then she goes on to list a couple of different spellings inc. Ostara). I wish I had all my books here, I should get them out of storage at one point.
As I was looking for something else i found this: Whitsunday, it is a christian holiday, tradionally the fiftieth day after Easter. and St. Johns day. They occur on or near Midsummer (often with one falling on either side of midsummer i think) St. Johns day still features balefires whilst Whitsunday symbolises balefires with a candle service. Balefires being one of the main features of the Midsummer festivals, whilst according to christian tradition (although references were only found after the church had a prescence in Ireland) the night of midsummer is deemed very unlucky, particularly to revellers and livestock. This is an obvious attempt at keeping people away from Midsummer itself while still allowing them some of their traditions if they convert to Catholicism.


Judaism has absolutely assimilated parts of the older polytheistic Canaanite faiths that came before it.

Pan was Greco-Roman and came before Christianity, and Satan is a relatively new concept for Christianity. As for Cernunnos, most of what we 'know' about him is speculation based on Roman information, and may or may not be at all accurate for what the actual people who worshipped him believed.

Edain McCoy is a horror of misinformation. Most of everything she's said has been completely debunked, and her work is not held with any regard in the modern Pagan communities she writes for. But don't take my word for it. Check her sources for her claims on Ostara.

Midsummer is a generic term exclusive to modern Pagans. Which specific culture are you claiming it was stolen from?
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Postby _Tex_ on Tue Nov 08, 2005 2:21 am

Pan was Greco-Roman and came before Christianity, and Satan is a relatively new concept for Christianity. As for Cernunnos, most of what we 'know' about him is speculation based on Roman information, and may or may not be at all accurate for what the actual people who worshipped him believed.

ok, i'll concede the points on Midsummer and Ostara, I'll happily take your word on miss McCoy. But you gotta concede that the early depictions of Satan look EXACTLY like images of Pan. There is no way thats a coincidence. What you say about Pan being Greco-Roman and coming before Christianity and Satan being a later concept (ie an addition, maybe an addition purposely taken from elsewhere and bastardised??) kinda supports what I am saying.
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Postby Capellini on Tue Nov 08, 2005 12:33 pm

Yes, when Satan was finally "Satanized" by Christianity, he was made to look like a 'pagan' god. But that's demonizing, not stealing. Christianity did not take Pan and turn him in to Satan. They took a concept that was a holdover from Judaism, altered it to make it an actual 'person', borrowed some Roman mythology, and made him look something like a Greco-Roman deity.

But if I steal your tv, its still a tv. Satan is NOT Pan.
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religons

Postby jebus on Tue Nov 08, 2005 4:47 pm

apparently I was born a lutheren, grew up around a bunch of jews, brother married a jehovah witness, and i decided on atheist.

I've always felt that religon was created as an explanation for things we cannot comprehend, and whats basically left over is the esoteric ones (meaning of life, how did it start, is there an afterlife, etc)

and as much as I like the "42" theory I dont think theres an answer to the first,and its rather a question of the individual that of the whole

2 is still up in the air... and is it really a bad thing that we dont know? i'd rather state that we dont know than come up with a fake explanation like god, the greek gods, the many asian and african versions, thetans, and other myths which are about as valid as zombies, vampires, ghosts, angels, pink elephants and flying spaghetti monsters

and 3 I have no belief in either, dying is a natural lifecycle and we return to the earth from which we were born, then eaten inside out by worms and maggots and eventually decompose, that whole "soul" thing is just not feasable to me, unless science proves so.

The bible was at the time the most valid explanation of things like why was the sky blue, what are stars, why do things go down after you throw them up. although the most I accept it for is a book of moral values and lessons, just like the illead.
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Postby _Tex_ on Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:54 pm

Capellini wrote:But if I steal your tv, its still a tv. Satan is NOT Pan.

:shock: TRUMPED!!
Nice work Cap, very nice work indeed.

sorry to dissapoint, but right now... i got nothin.
so I'll get back to ya later.
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Postby Shoeman on Wed Nov 09, 2005 5:04 pm

_Tex_ wrote:
Capellini wrote:But if I steal your tv, its still a tv. Satan is NOT Pan.

:shock: TRUMPED!!
Nice work Cap, very nice work indeed.

sorry to dissapoint, but right now... i got nothin.
so I'll get back to ya later.


Steal a TV and paint it red, and its still a TV. Call it evil and willing to take your soul (which a TV is actually) and the TV is still a TV, now just with a bunch of crazies calling it evil.

Steal Pan and paint him red, and he's still Pan.
A flaw I had to point out, but Cappellini is still right.

On matters of Satan. Satan actually finds his original roots in Egypt. Sure the image of Pan was applied (and corrupted to be more evil looking over time) but its still not Pan.

Satan and Pan existed separate of each other. Separate Myths and roots. While there was an amount of borrowing, in which some of Pan's imagery (horns, hooves) went to Satan to give the Fallen Angel a more fearsome appearance, it doesn't make them the same.
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