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Whence Cometh the Belief...

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Tue December 7th, 2010, 8:43 pm

[quote=""wendy""]
Ash;75255 wrote: All of the above discussion poses an interesting chicken-and-egg question:
Are such later myths based on Christianity OR (as some of us have pointed out) was Christianity just another tale within a long and ancient Messiah tradition? Freud assumed the latter!
My guess would be both. All of the pre-christian myths proably heavily influenced Christianity. Christianity then in turn influenced the later "king under the mountain" myths. just continuing the cycle with local adaptions.

Concerning the Czech myth, Wececlas had a clearly recorded death (at the hands of his brother, Boleslav, who actually turned out to be a much more effective leader than Wenceclas). His "mountain" is an actual Czech mountain important to history (not an unidentified locale like avalon). and wenceclas is sleeping with a number of Czech Knights who will return with him as if the legend composers realized that a great leader would be useless without loyal troops (makes sense). Historicaly he has become associated with the feast of steven (the day after xmas) which is why we have the christmas carol "Good King Wenceclas looked out, on the feast of steven..."
Last edited by Kveto from Prague on Tue December 7th, 2010, 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

annis
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Post by annis » Thu December 9th, 2010, 1:46 am

One reason why Christianity was so successful was its adaptability. Incorporation was the name of the game. Use the local festivals, just give them new names. The people missing a goddess to entreat? Give them the cult of the Virgin Mary instead; and so on.

I was quite amused by this bit in a piece about why Xmas in December doesn't suit us Down Under:
"After all, the celebration of December 25 as Christ's birthday is a completely arbitrary date invented by an early Pope to coincide with an existing solstice festival so as to appeal to pagan Romans, making it the first Christmas marketing exercise in history."

December 25 was also celebrated as the birthday of Mithras.


The Arthurian legends are a classic case of a Christianized structure attached to a framework of Celtic mythology. That potent symbol of Christian aspiration, the Holy Grail, for example, had its origins in the Celtic Cauldron of Plenty

See Thomas Voss’ article Celtic Orgins of Arthurian Literature
http://tomdevoss.www2.50megs.com/celticorigins.htm

For those with appropriate library subscriptions, Arthur C L Brown’s article From Cauldron of Plenty to Grail in Modern Philology, November 1916 (Vol XIV, No 7) makes interesting reading
http://www.jstor.org/pss/432919
Last edited by annis on Thu December 9th, 2010, 3:34 am, edited 4 times in total.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Thu December 9th, 2010, 3:32 am

[quote=""annis""]One reason why Christianity was so successful was its adaptability. Incorporation was the name of the game. Use the local festivals, just give them new names. The people missing a goddess to entreat? Give them the cult of the Virgin Mary instead; and so on. [/quote]

It wasn't just renaming the local festivals, it was providing an alternative to lessen temptation. People were much less likely to revert to their old ways if the church offered a distraction at the times when the old ways looked the most inviting.

As to the Virgin Mary, she is not a substitute for a goddess, though many people tend to view her as such. It's a myth that has been well-perpetuated throughout the centuries.

Human nature always looks for a mother figure, so it is not unusual that many pre-Christian cultures had a maternal figure as well as, or in place of, a strong male/paternal figure.

annis
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Post by annis » Thu December 9th, 2010, 3:44 am

Posted by LoveHistory
As to the Virgin Mary, she is not a substitute for a goddess, though many people tend to view her as such. It's a myth that has been well-perpetuated throughout the centuries.
The Virgin Mary must surely be seen as an aspect of the Divine Mother? Though she is regarded not as a goddess, but an intercessor.
"Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb--"

Like Easter and Christmas, she was a Christian alternative.
Last edited by annis on Thu December 9th, 2010, 4:58 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Thu December 9th, 2010, 6:34 pm

[quote=""annis""]

The Virgin Mary must surely be seen as an aspect of the Divine Mother? [/quote]

Some people see her that way, and others perpetuate it, but she was human. Sure being chosen to bear the son of God is an honor but at the same time... Not an easy task, especially when it came to crucifixion. Only a strong woman could have kept going with everything that was thrown her way. So definitely a role model, but not a goddess or equivalent.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Thu December 9th, 2010, 9:22 pm

What you're describing is an accurate reflection of the Protestant attitude towards Mary. However, among Catholics I'd say there's much more of a goddess-like veneration. After all, the Catholic church teaches that Mary herself was immaculately conceived.

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LoveHistory
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Post by LoveHistory » Thu December 9th, 2010, 11:54 pm

[quote=""Michy""]What you're describing is an accurate reflection of the Protestant attitude towards Mary. However, among Catholics I'd say there's much more of a goddess-like veneration. After all, the Catholic church teaches that Mary herself was immaculately conceived.[/quote]

I don't agree with the church on absolutely everything. I've always thought of Immaculate Conception as the conception of Jesus. I should probably double check that point (though my opinion won't change regardless). But even an immaculate conception does not confer goddess-like status.

Veneration to that extent is more common among the less-developed world. I don't know if the training is any different for priests in those countries than it is in the US, but I do know that the Virgin Mary is regarded less fanatically in a lot of the US. Of course there are still many who cling to pre-Vatican II concepts. My grandfather left the church when they changed the rules, so to speak. He certainly wasn't alone in the sentiment that the old way was the better way.

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Post by annis » Fri December 10th, 2010, 1:31 am

Was just trying to think of the book I read a while back which explored the medieval veneration of the Virgin Mary in relation to attitudes to women in general and finally remembered. It was Thomas Cahill's Mysteries of the Medieval World. It didn't grab me as much as some of the other books in his Hinges of History series, which may be why i had trouble recalling it.

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