Monday, September 28, 2009

Prayin' at the Pole

If you asked me to sum up the over-riding concern of ancient Pagans in one word, that word would be "fertility." Ancient people lived and died on that year's harvest, so abstract concepts like "faith" and "salvation" were never really at the top of their agenda. Human fertility was always an issue as well, given the high rates of mortality. That and the fact that the size of your tribe in relation to your neighbor's often determined its survival. Over time, agriculture became a more developed science and explicit fertility rites gave way to a more symbolic mode of worship. Well, mostly.

Now don't blush, but the fact is that veneration of a divine phallus has always been part of Pagan fertility religion, from the Maypole of Germanic and Celtic cultures to the obelisks of Egypt to all of the mounds and columns and all the rest we see in pre-Christian civilization. In the 60s, the Ren-Faire crowd revived the Maypole (after an unfortunate revival in Germany a few decades before), which became part of Beltane celebrations with the "NeoPagan" revival that rose in the late 60s, which inspired The Wicker Man, which in turn probably inspired displays like this...

I'm sure they're having fun there, but let's just say I don't really see this kind of Maypole celebration catching on. We do have obelisks scattered around, but generally not too many people openly worshiping them. I mean, seriously- we've left that sort of thing in the Bronze Age, right?

I love the "we believe in the Sun" line.

So I don't want to hear any of you smart alecks out there bringing up the 'See You at the Pole' movement, in which Evangelical high schoolers gather at a flagpole - at sunrise- and around the time of the Autumnal Equinox ( the event is set every year for the fourth Wednesday of September) - and pray against 'threats' like abortion and gay marriage. It's totally different (even if abortion and gay marriage are seen as threats to fertility)! And don't give me any of that Matthew 6:5-8 stuff either!

Read the lyrics to this song here.

I mean, just because these weirdos gather in a circle at Stonehenge on the Autumn Equinox sunrise, doesn't mean those kids praying in circles around giant poles near the Autumn Equinox sunrise are unwittingly aiding in the revival of old pagan rituals (or pagan symbolism) that are creeping into Christian churches. What are you, some kind of communist?

OK, I will admit it's a little odd to hear hyper-sexualized, Britney Spears-type music given a vague lyrical varnish and marketed as "devotional" music, as if the music in its entirety weren't based in the pelvic thrusting of the sex act itself, not to mention the whole praying around a giant phallic symbol at sunrise thing, but they're taking it back for the Lord, OK?

And just because surveys repeatedly suggest that these kids are probably almost totally biblically illiterate, that doesn't mean that shadowy interests are using the "culture war" and the corporate megachurches with their fireworks and stage shows to bring a bunch of old heathen rituals back into practice.

What are you smoking, son?



  1. Gives a whole new spin to "pole shift", doesn't it? Fabu post though. Fertility is what it's all about. I was watching a local Methodist church readerboard lately, which for most of the year said:

    "Sun worship, 11 AM"

    until about mid-summer it said:

    "Meet new Pastor Diana"

    Ummm. Just noticing.

  2. The over-riding concern of modern westerners is porn. So maybe things haven't changed so much, but now the mirror is in HD, compared to literally staring at wood

  3. Is it just me or is your writing style getting better and better?Precise, "in your face", no great distractions from what is beeing said, the message conveyed sharply.

    Me likes.

    Greetings from Germany

    P.S Ha! The word verification code is "liking".
    Thats my synchro-dose for the day

  4. Wonderful post Chris! I live in the south where "pray at the pole" events are widespread and heavily publicized. If I tried to even allude to the fact that these rallies were similar in nature to pagan festivals, I would get kicked out of my neighborhood and deposited straight into hell!

    Thanks for the great blog!

    PS. Thanks for the post on Eastwick. I have noticed the witches motif coming back strong recently as well. For a born-on Halloween female like myself I'm certainly curious as to what all this witches' revival really could be pointing to...I guess I'll have to wait on my own insights, and hopefully some more of your excellent writing, to see!
    Thanks again!

  5. Please note the display or orbs in the final photo (weirdos in Stonehenge) in this essay.

    I'm convinced that "most" orb photos are just little specks of dust that get reflected back into the lense with the flash on digital cameras - BUT - it IS curious when they decide to show up.

  6. I've heard a preacher (or two) warn against the overzealousness of worship. It becomes an all consuming trademark of religion and the church (dancing, singing, falling and flailing about) where the Bible itself is given little to no credence and people, much like those high schoolers walk out of church every Sunday afternoon as illiterate of it as they were when they walked in.

    I never considered pagan rituals within the context of fertility. I want to connect it to the moral principals they hold (or lack thereof) in justification of their practices. If there is no "faith" or "salvation" what the hell is there?

    It makes me think of the biggest debate behind religion which is are we living for our fleshly life or the preservation of our spirit? I'm at a crossroads in believing both sides hold very compelling arguments against the other.

    Again Chris, you fail to never dissapoint with your insight and humor.

  7. I'm glad you guys enjoyed this one. It took forever to get it right. Believe it or not I started working on it last year!

    But this country of mine is getting more and more surreal, innit?

  8. Did you happen to catch the spider going up one side of the pope and right down the other as he spoke
    I can't help but think of the symbology here.

  9. Okay - another comment from me.

    I just watched the YouTube clip on this posting. The tag line at the top says "See You At The Pole 2009 - Engage Official Promo" Call me perverted, but I can't help but read PROMO as PORNO.

    This is one creepy video clip.

    These kids (and most of the clips are of VERY young girls) are young, impressionable, fertile and virginal (if I'm interpreting this right) - and they are praying around a big pole. These extremely vulnerable girls are manifesting obedient poses of ecstasy and rapture.

    And - They are praying to an American flag on that pole, and it, and - in the same breath - they are intoning Jesus? Like, Eeewwww! I am pretty sure there is NOTHING in the new testament where Jesus asks us to pray to the icon of a government.

    There are a multiple images showing teary eyed girls in an overtly exalted pose looking up at this - well - this big pole.

    One very young girl says (extremely earnestly, almost writhing with emotion): "I ask that you would use us!" That's weirdly submissive!

    Am I just a lecherous creep, or is this a 3 minute and 29 second montage of brazen sexual imagery?


    I transcribed some of the song lyrics:

    Let the sun so radiantly
    Sending light for all to see
    Let your hole church arise

    . . .

    We will shine like stars in the universe
    and declare with our lives to this broke world
    that we are living for your glory

    . . .

    So we rise up with a song
    and we rise up with a cry
    and we are giving you our lives
    Jesus will shine

    Now that's some heavy-handed hot phallus fodder for obedient Sun worship and submission.

  10. You said it, Clellie, not me.

    In my old church, Godspell was considered edgy.

  11. The movie Godspell has a hot hippy chick singing: "I don't know how to LOVE him..."

  12. Ye shall judge them by the quality of their music.... and their music sucks. This more than anything else tells me they are waaaaaaay off track.

    How lost do you have to be to rally around a flag pole at dawn? Survey says: VERY!

  13. I like how the one girl says "it's just great to be able to do it with the whole body of Christ..."

    Indeed. Gives a whole new meaning to he word risen.

  14. You know, my dirty-minded friends and I have made lewd jokes from words like rapture, second coming, he is risen indeed, for at least 20 years, and now finally the Fundamentalists are doing it to, though with a straight face - and a Britney Spears growl! "The gays" are supposed to be masters of camp and the sublimely ridiculous, but I admit to being seriously one-upped by these folks.

  15. A major difference between the Yoruba religion in Africa and its Caribbean syncretes is the addition of the Celtic Maypole from the Cromwellian sending of Irish to Martinique... fertility may've not been quite as dire an issue in subSaharan Africa...

  16. Hi Chris,

    I enjoy your "sarcasm" about the resurgence of the "poles" but Chris I'm afraid you're behind the times on this resurgence!

    The poles are everywhere! As my moniker notes, I'm a soap opera fan and I enjoy some reality television. For example, dancing or strip club poles are all the rage on the soaps as the ladies predictably seduce each others husbands daily on the soaps...particularly on CBS's The Bold and the Beautiful (a fashion based soap).

    As for the reality shows: Bravo channel's "Real Housewives:" series have had stripper "poles" on nearly episode! On The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Nene danced on a stripper pole in an episode where she and the other housewives were making "Alter ego" photos (made famous for celebrities by photographer Derek Blanks who photographs A list celebrities "twice" then morphs the photos together...another "other" issue in itself!)

    Then there is E! channel's reality show "Kendra", about a former playmate married to an NFL star. And, of course there are her obligatory twirls on the stripper "pole." The show even filmed several episodes of her and her wedding preparations at the Playboy mansion. Kendra has a pole in her home and says every girl should have one! Of course, the show is a hit.

    And even on WE (entertainment for women channel!) the reality show Bridezilla is full of parties for the ladies with stripper "poles". Then there is SoapNet's dating show Holidate that has all the young ladies dancing on "poles" nearly weekly!

    I could go on but young women are inundated with the poles on all the soaps, reality shows, bridal shows, etc! Pole dancing has been the "it" thing nearly all year on the soaps.

    And finally, I have to mention the new exercise video: pole dance your way to slimness! Flirty Girl Fitness!|sm|go|gn

    You can even order your own "pole" for your home!

    BTW, the soaps are doing another "heart transplant" on The Young and the Restless this time. About the same time last year there was a heart transplant on the Bold and the Beautiful which I mentioned on your posts back then. Seems ritualistic to me!

    Thanks Chris! Great post!
    But the "poles" are way more into culture especially for young women.

  17. Wow, Soapie- I get the pop culture refs, but as someone like myself who had a religious background it's something else entirely in this context.

    When I was in fellowship our youth pastors were Nazarenes. Their idea of going hog wild was playing Go Fish or going to a PG movie. They'd figure Carrie Prejean for a whore just for parading around on TV in a swimsuit.

  18. Maybe these kids haven't absorbed much history, but some of the hand gestures look vaguely like "Heil Hitler" salutes. Not much more to say beyond that, considering the Nazis' appropriation of pagan and occult practices.


  19. Man, great post. "What are you, a communist?" Haha, your snark is beyond compare sometimes, but I find it entirely appropriate.

    Those Christians really do believe they're "taking back" the worship of a phallus. When I was in high school the Christians would just gather up each year and throw mud at eachother in this school-sponsored "Young Life" (read: Cult, if any of my friends' testimonies about such youth groups are true) event. That's kind of all I imagined them being capable of doing anyway... I think it had something to with man being created from clay (and our famous Georgia Clay of course was all up in that mud) or something like that.

  20. Carl Jung himself was the son of a Swiss Pastor caught in an intellectual faith crisis. When younger, he had a life-changing dream of a subterranean phallic god which reappeared "whenever anyone spoke too emphatically about Lord Jesus."(33) Jung commented that "...the ‘man-eater’ in general was symbolized by the phallus, so that the dark Lord Jesus, the Jesuit and the phallus were identical."(34) This "initiation into the realm of darkness"(35) radically shaped Jung’s approach to Jesus: "Lord Jesus never became quite real for me, never quite acceptable, never quite lovable, for again and again I would think of his underground counterpart...Lord Jesus seemed to me in some ways a god of death...Secretly, his love and kindness, which I always heard praised, appeared doubtful to me..."(36) The next major spiritual breakthrough in his life was what Jung described as a "blasphemous vision"(37) of God dropping his dung on the local Cathedral. This vision, said Jung, gave him an intense "experience of divine grace".(38)

  21. Have you seen the kids cartoon "Tutenstein"? Truly, amazingly weird. A reanimated Tutankhaten (Tutankamun - His father was Akhenaten, the first monotheistic ruler of Egypt and worshipper of Aten the Sun God) fights the forces of Seth and prays invocations to Isis, Osiris and Horus for the viewing enjoyment of little kiddies. Very odd.

  22. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the response, Chris and I really understood the religious references but I suppose I didn't quite continue far enough.

    It seems to me that entertainment is a sort of "new religion". And the indoctrination and acceptance of "pole" worship whether for religious zealots or entertainment is just another angle to "sneak" it into our culture.

    A sort of silent consent worship...the most dangerous kind. School kids pass the Washington Monument and have no idea of its pagan history but how much imagination does it take to see those same children perhaps decades from now worshiping that monument if our culture was to take a wild religious swing?

    After all, many of those ladies twirling on a stripper pole do look like they are in some kind of "religious ecstasy". And how easy would it be to go from entertainment to worship? Is it really that indistinguishable?

    Look at the "worshipful" sizes of the new entertainment stadiums. Also I think of the poles that were encircled in the Roman Coliseum. Just more of the "culture war"!

    Thanks, Chris!

  23. I normally do not post anonymously but this is a little personal-

    I was speaking with my Christian Evangelical parents a few weeks ago and they told me about a "prophet" that came to their church, who claimed to see animal spirits within people and made prophecies and health diagnoses based on it.

    They were predictably not happy when I told them practitioners of nature-based religions have been doing exactly the same thing for thousands of years.

    Overall, you are absolutely right about Xtian megachurches combing the New Age movement, Scientology, and the occult for inspiration. Which, of course, wouldn't be a problem at all if they didn't continue to beat up on anyone else who disagrees with their twisted version of a murderous and vampiric Christ.

  24. 17 meme:

    Tracking Sarah Palin
    Sarah Palin has finished her memoir just four months after the book deal was announced. Her publisher says the release date has been moved up from the spring to Nov. 17.

    From Dan Brown's Lost Symbol
    This colossal edifice, located at 1733 Sixteenth Street NW in Washington, D.C., was a replica of a pre-
    Christian temple—the temple of King Mausolus, the original mausoleum . . . a place to be taken after death.
    Outside the main entrance, two seventeen-ton sphinxes guarded the bronze doors. The interior was an ornate
    labyrinth of ritualistic chambers, halls, sealed vaults, libraries, and even a hollow wall that held the remains
    of two human bodies. The initiate had been told every room in this building held a secret, and yet he knew no
    room held deeper secrets than the gigantic chamber in which he was currently kneeling with a skull cradled
    in his palms.

    Overview of the new ABC series Flash Forward:
    A mysterious global event causes everyone to black out simultaneously for two minutes and seventeen seconds during which each person sees a glimpse of their lives six months from now, as of April 29, 2010.

  25. Wow, great obervation, Chris. Very interesting how the young people being groomed into this kind of intolerant "pagan" occult worship are evangelical Christians heavy on the indoctrination but lacking understanding of the roots of their rituals. During some of my travels in the American south and midwest, it was obvious that depending on where you went and how the locals perceived you, you might be on the receiving end of the "Deliverance" treatment, or worse. Definitely reminiscent of "Wicker Man" and the Dead Milkmen's "This Is a Tiny Town"!

  26. The pole and the whole. Sex magic is very powerfull. Exalted states of being. The Jungian death Jesus brought to us by Ericswan (a very intelligent blogger) is cause for thought. These Xtian rapturous autobots are frightening in a sense. Seig Heil fundementalist hate mongers. It is fine with me to have a strong reverence for the sun, and a love of Isis. To seek a selfrightous rapturous death seems like tomfoolery to me, not to mention how it fractures/diminishes our future/potential as a species. So much for my custom Xtian rant. Shineforth brave souls. Dennis

  27. Hi Andre,

    You wrote above: "Overview of the new ABC series Flash Forward:
    A mysterious global event causes everyone to black out...each person sees a glimpse of their lives six months from now, as of April 29, 2010."

    Do you know any significance for the April 29 date?

    I ask because one of my favorite soaps on CBS is doing another heart transplant. The other heart transplant was on another CBS soap, The Bold and the Beautiful. The air date of that episode was April 29.

    The heart transplant was weird because it was very, very graphic...way so for daytime television (looked like a real heart in someone's real chest too!...all bloody and beating -completely Mayan-like!)and prior to the surgery the transplant patient had a dream of an underwater JOKER faced character. Also, the surgeon began the surgery with some sort of "prayer" that was way out of character for the soap (normally not a religious overtone at all)and which seemed like an invocation instead of a prayer. But the air date was April 29.

    This week there is talk of another heart transplant on another soap...same network though! I don't know the air date but with the snail-paced story line it could be mid-October.

    Great comment, Andre!

  28. Hi Chris, Great post showing the ongoing Christian habit of hijacking pagan religious practices that they eliminated/replaced.

    Sun worship was, of course, the greatest threat to the Church. I've just come out with a book suggesting that the ancients were right to see the Sun as a living being, and examining our world in the light of a conscious Sun. It makes sense, especially in view of current solar science.

    I suspect you would enjoy this book, titled Sun of gOd, and can ask Weiser Books to send you a copy if you would like to peruse. A few comments on it at
    my email: gregory(at)gregorysams dot com

  29. Right on, Greg- Erik Davis gave me the heads up on your book- I'll definitely check it out once I get some of this workload off my desk!

  30. The song is interesting too.... You can distinctly hear a heartbeat. Not just a heartbeat rhythm, but the real deal. Still I wonder if this is a conscious effort to introduce pagan or occult practice, or just something that we humans just can't stop doing.

  31. Just looked at the Tangle video. That spooky voice singing "one in the spirit..." The sun rising between the two poles. Obviously trying to steal some of that pagan mojo. I don't see how that can be unconscious. I gues the symbolism of two columns in masonry and elsewhere goes w/o saying. Are any old timey Christians freaking out about this? You know, the ones who won't let their kids go trick or treating, and find backward masking in "Twinkle twinkle little star?

  32. The movie Godspell has a hot hippy chick singing: "I don't know how to LOVE him..." - Mike Clelland

    Actually that is from "Jesus Christ Superstar."

  33. Some of you are perverted and most of you are mislead. The kids are genuinely praying for their peers, nothing more and nothing less.

    God Bless,

  34. Brilliant observation, Chris. I have to confess that I attended a couple of these years back when my daughter was in middle school, before we started looking behind the curtain.

    Sadly, this is the kind of thought that ought to be standard at most Christian churches, but it obviously isn't. Which shows that most Christians don't put any more thought into what they believe than anyone else.

  35. Derek- it's the inevitable result of political expediency trumping doctrine. Look at the mainline churches- they fell apart because they were used to missionize the third world at a time when Marxism was very powerful. So you had all of the CIA leftists taking over positions in the church. Well, history shows that the mission effort was very successful but the weird agendas of the people who drifted into the churches under the aegis of the new leadership tore apart the denominations in America and Europe. A mirror image of that is taking place today only on the right. But whether liberal or traditional, the church bureaucracies all answer to the same powers.

    Which is why a lot of traditional Protestants are drifting back to Rome or in many cases to Orthodoxy. Not to say those churches aren't politicized themselves, but are much more solid on doctrine and don't come and go with secular fads the way the entirety of Evangelicalism does today.