I've just finished reading Mists of Avalon. All 876 pages of it. Take my advice and read the paperback. The hardcover is heavy. Worth the read though. I never made it through Le Morte d'Arthur. All that "dead white guy" chivalry crap. Mists of Avalon tells the story from the point of view of the women, especially the Pagan women.
I spent the early part of this week watching The Power of Myth on DVD. I had always ignoredJoseph Campbell because he was, after all, a dead white guy. And dead white guys tend to look at things from a certain point of view and get them wrong (like considering ancient Egyptian culture to be a "death cult"). I was surprised how much I actually liked Campbell. I ended up watching the series with a kind of sadness because it was filmed a couple of months before he died. I really wish I'd known him/had him for a teacher.
Anyway you might not think these two things are linked but they both say the same thing: all gods are one, all goddesses are one. It doesn't matter what you call the "divine". It's all the same. This is something I've always felt. You can call your "higher" power Yahweh, Allah, Buddha or Jim-Bob it doesn't matter.
I only have experience with Christianity. I was sent to a Catholic school so I sat through 12 years of religion/ethics classes and was forced to attend mass at regular intervals. I never believed.
I have a huge problem with "male-centric" religions. The idea that women cannot be priests because only men have a special relationship to the divine really pisses me off. Try suggesting to a Buddhist that the Dalai Lama might be reincarnated into the body of a female and you will experience a major cold front before they turn away from you."God against man. Man against God. Man against nature. Nature against man. Nature against God. God against nature. Very funny religion!" Daisetz T. Suzuki on Christianity.
This male focus is the main difference between Paganism and Christianity. While some Pagans have become "female-centric”, I feel that this is short sighted. You need both. The Goddess and the God. Working together with nature.
Mists of Avalon does a very good job at showing some aspects of Paganism. In fact, many Pagans credit that book with awakening their love of the Goddess. I found myself feeling very close to the priestesses of Avalon while reading the book. I had been meaning to read the book for years. I felt a little inferior because every other Pagan I know had read the book. Now I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.
In case you are wondering, the author, Marion Zimmer Bradley, was a Christian.
In a strange co-inky-dink a re-run of Bones made me spray coke out my nose:
Booth: God doesn’t make mistakes.
Angela: "Putting Testicles on the outside didn't seem like such a good idea". --- Aliens in a Spaceship (2006)
I’ve always felt there were a couple of design flaws in the human body. Not being male, I never considered the testicle issue but now I can see the point.
The other problem I’ve had with Christianity is it’s insistence that sex is bad and that women are the root of all evil. If we weren’t meant to celebrate our sexuality then our procreation would be just as matter of fact as that of any other animal. The female would go into heat and then the strongest male would mate with her.
Bradley’s book makes a very good comparison between the Christian view of sexuality and the Pagan view. Pagans say that all acts of love and pleasure belong to the Goddess. I would add the proviso that the acts are between consenting adults. As I’m fond of saying, consenting adults does not include children, animals or dead people. I think most Pagans would agree with me.
I think I’ll be suggesting Mists of Avalon to anyone who wants to know more about what Pagans believe. It’s as good a place to start as any.