Thursday, March 5, 2009

Loose Ends: Valcamonica, Cernunnos, Wicca, Druids, and the Pentagram

We have covered some of the undeniable history of traditions of witchcraft in the Valle Camonica, and there are more areas to look at. This may not follow any consistent pattern, as we're tying in a number of related loose ends into one entry.

The above video is from the YouTube channel VeraMajestic, and is called 'Wicca vs Satanism.' It covers the issue well I think (3-2-12: this video was changed due to VeraMajestic closing her YouTube account). Wicca probably originated with the Celts, and goes back far before Christianity. A native European tradition. Intrinsically, there is nothing "Satanic" about Wicca/Witchcraft. Starting in the twentieth century, there exists some problems with undue influence in the "Wiccan Revival," with Illuminist type people infiltrating. However, the exact same thing has occurred in some areas of Christianity, and most other religions, as we have painfully seen in recent times. Also, it should be noted that the word "occult" merely means "hidden," and really has no meaning beyond that. It literally goes back to the idea of anything non-Christian being labeled "Occult!" For example, "He got involved in the occult!," has no meaning. Either he got involved in something specific, or not. Also, being called a "heathen" was once a major accusation, when it merely means something "non-Christian." An "infadel" if you will. The most important fact is that virtually all religions and faiths have had undue (mainly Illuminist) influence, and it certainly is a problem; but it's not just pagans. In fact, ironically, Wiccans have done a far better job of weeding out this negative influence than Christians have.

Following the lead of the video, I would like to cover the Pentagram, or also known as the Pentacle. It's basically a "Celtic Star Pentagon" (pentagon = 5 points). Satanists/Illuminists take already existing symbols and contort them to reflect the "evil side." As shown in the video, a Christian Cross, when put upside down, symbolizes Satanism. Nobody believes that the original cross is evil merely based on the fact that it can be turned upside down at any time.

The Pentagram goes back, probably with the Celts, thousands of years. Long before Christianity. It's is not at all Satanic... unless it's turned with one point downward into a "goat's head," at which time it does become a Satanic symbol, but not until. Now the above image probably isn't the best one to use because it's red and gives the wrong impression. A traditional non-Satanic/Celtic Pentagram is usually black I think.

I also wanted to at least mention Cernunnos, Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism, Celtic polytheism, Celtic mythology. Unfortunately, these bring up many false images to most people. Lets separate a little fact from fiction. Some areas, both in the Middle Ages in Europe, and in the early American colonies (Salem witch trials), were exaggerated in their scope. In other areas, it wasn't. The persecution of other forms of Christianity and Protestantism were probably far more brutal. For example, the attacks on the Cathars or the Waldensians. What was not exaggerated was the elimination and demonization of the Wiccan and Druid traditions.

From Wikipedia: "Cernunnos is a pagan Celtic god whose representations were widespread in the ancient Celtic lands of western Europe. As a horned god, Cernunnos is associated with horned male animals, especially stags and the ram-horned snake; this and other attributes associate him with produce and fertility." What has to be understood is that this was from ancient pre-Christian Europe. Fertility, the success of crops, the weather, etc., were of utmost importance. From what I have been able to gather, it was usually deer antlers that men wore.

From Wikipedia: "Archaeological sources such as inscriptions and depictions from Gaul and Northern Italy (Gallia Cisalpina) have been used to define Cernunnos. ...... Several images without inscriptions are thought to represent Cernunnos. The earliest known probable depiction of Cernunnos was found at Val Camonica in Italy, dating from the 4th century BC, while the best known depiction is on the Gundestrup cauldron found on Jutland, dating to the 1st century BC. The Cauldron was likely to have been stolen by the Germanic Cimbri tribe or another tribe that inhabited Jutland as it originated from south east Europe."

I'm only briefly going into Cernunnos, as it's involved and may confuse the issues. What is amazing is that related occult traditions, like Cernunnos, go back thousands of years in the Camunian Valley.

From Wikipedia: "Neopaganism

"In Wicca and derived forms of Neopaganism a Horned God is revered, a divinity which syncretises a number of horned or antlered gods from various cultures, including Cernunnos. The Horned God reflects the seasons of the year in an annual cycle of life, death and rebirth.

"In the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca, the Horned God is sometimes specifically referred to as Cernunnos, or sometimes also as Kernunno.

"Modern Druidry, which derives from Celtic culture, honors Cernunnos in his ancient Celto-European form as the guardian of the forests, the defender of the animal tuatha (tribes), the source of the deep forest wisdom, and the masculine half of creative energy. His restorative work in the cycle of the year is particularly celebrated at Beltaine, and is often paired with one or another of the female deities in her maiden aspect. Druids may call upon him in reference to vital, non-violent masculine divinity."

Celtic polytheism, "sometimes known as Celtic paganism, refers to the religious beliefs and practises of the ancient Celtic peoples of western Europe prior to Christianisation" (Wikipedia). Also, Celtic mythology "is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure" (Wikipedia). Lastly, Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism "is a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement. It is an effort to reconstruct and revive, in a modern Celtic cultural context, pre-Christian Celtic religions" (Wikipedia).

It should also be noted that the old Greek and Roman deities were exchanged with Northern European traditions, which is too confusing to go into now. Also, don't be afraid to go to YouTube and look some of these things up. It doesn't mean that you're becoming a Druid, a witch, an Odinist, etc. I've said it before, and I will continue to say it, the Greek-Americans have no problem at all adhering to the Orthodox Christian sect while honoring their pagan past. I think that this is the way to go. Who said that there ever had to be any conflict? Why deny what our ancestors were for thousands of years?

I wanted to end this by briefly taking a look at Druidism. From Wikipedia: "A druid was a member of the priestly and learned class in the ancient Celtic societies of Western Europe, Britain and Ireland. They were suppressed by the Roman government and disappeared from the written record by the second century CE. Druids combined the duties of priest, judge, scholar, and teacher. Little contemporary evidence for them exists, and thus little can be said of them with assurance, but they continued to feature prominently in later Irish myth and literature. Most of what is known about them comes from the Roman writers." More subjects relating to the Druids can be found at Wikipedia's Druidry categories.

4-8-09 ADDITION: I think that there are several items that could use clarification here. First, if you are new to the LAA, this had been "Bresciani nel Mondo - Northern California," and focused on issues of Brescian or Camunian origin. One such subject was the deep roots of witchcraft in the Valle Camonica, likely of predominantly Celtic origin. We still want to cover this, and any other part of the history and tradition of any other province of Lombardia (including Ticino and Grigioni). You may send us items to post if you like.

Second, it should be noted that Druidism is not the same as Wicca, although both are mainly identified with Celtic tradition. Also, that's an area where we need a little help on. How did the two interact. I'm not certain, but Druidism seems more Patriarchal, while Wicca seems more Matriarchal, so it would be interesting to find out how the two interacted, especially within a single culture.

Lastly, and this is interesting. The Runes, of Etruscan origin, not only were adopted (and modified) and used by Odinist traditions, but also by Wiccans (not sure about Druids), who used them in their practices. That would be something to look into. As stated before, the Romans destroyed virtually everything Etruscan.

8-1-09 Clarification: The third sentence of the second paragraph begins "Wicca probably originated with the Celts...." Wicca is the modern incarnation of European Witchcraft, therefore was not in existence prior to the twentieth century. It was used here as a convenient term, rather than saying "European Witchcraft." Christians probably would not like a term like "Levantine Priestcraft," and the same for other religions.

3-2-12 Addition: Loose Ends: Valcamonica, Cernunnos, Wicca, Druids, and the Pentagram - Part II


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