MythArc Radio #10: Of Pigs and Pagans

The title of our podcast this week refers to our subject matter, the spread of a mutant form of Spanish flu through Korean pigs and the revival of ancient pagan rites by modern neo-druids.

The annual spring celebration of Beltane, we are told, originated with the druids more than two thousand years ago. However, because the druids disappeared under the combined pressures of Roman conquest and Christian evangelism, we don’t really know much about how the druids worshipped.

One reference that survives is Julius Caesar’s account of the wicker man sacrifice, in which victims were stuffed inside a giant hollow man made of wicker and burned alive. Oddly, modern neo-druids have elected to revive this practice, although without the human sacrifice (which they claim was an invention of Julius Caesar, since his account is the only historical reference that survives).

Wicker Man
A wicker man burning at a 2004 Beltane celebration

Sharon and I discussed the connections between the modern Beltane rites and the ancient cult of Tammuz and Astarte (Asherah), condemned by the Old Testament prophets, including Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

Manasseh, the last king of Judah before Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion, was condemned for introducing this cult into Solomon’s Temple:

He did what the LORD considered evil by copying the disgusting things done by the nations that the LORD had forced out of the Israelites??? way. He rebuilt the illegal places of worship that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He set up altars dedicated to Baal and made a pole dedicated to the goddess Asherah as King Ahab of Israel had done. Manasseh, like Ahab, worshiped and served the entire army of heaven. He built altars in the LORD???s temple, where the LORD had said, ???I will put my name in Jerusalem.??? In the two courtyards of the LORD???s temple, he built altars for the entire army of heaven. He burned his son as a sacrifice, consulted fortunetellers, cast evil spells, and appointed royal mediums and psychics. He did many things that made the LORD furious.

Manasseh had an idol of Asherah made. Then he set it up in the temple…
2 Kings 21:2-7a, God’s Word translation

There are new developments in the outbreaks of the Marburg, H5N1 (avian flu), and WSN/33 (the modified Spanish flu), and they aren’t good. The World Health Organization is acknowledging that H5N1 is morphing into a less deadly but more communicable form in Vietnam, but the WHO appears to be pretending that the WSN/33 spreading through pigs in South Korea doesn’t exist.

As expert Dr. Henry Niman writes, viruses don’t read press releases.

Show links:

Our movie pick of the week: The Wicker Man (1973) – Starring Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward (The Equalizer), and Britt Ekland.

Plot summary (from the Internet Movie Database: Police Sgt. Howie (Woodward), of the Scottish mainland, receives an anonymous letter from the offshore community of Summerisle, asking him to investigate the disappearance of a young girl there. He travels to the remote isle and discovers a secretive, tightly knit neo-pagan society. Being a devout (and rather self-righteous) Christian, he is shocked by the islanders’ open sexuality and ritualistic devotion to the “old gods.” As the mystery of the missing girl unravels, he begins to suspect that she is a victim of human sacrifice. In the film’s chilling final sequence, the truth is revealed when Sgt. Howie meets the “wicker man.”

Listen to MythArc Radio #10: Pigs and Pagans (58 min., 20.3MB mp3)

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