collapse

* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)  (Read 3491 times)

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
I've gotten myself in a rut over this, and I believe the time has come for an outside opinion.

The Dilemma: Can non-Christians use icons? (I use "icon" in its original sense as a painted wooden plank.)

A Simple Problem to Ponder: Take, for example, "Saint" Brigid. Of course, everyone knows she's a pagan goddess, but Christians still love to make icons of her. Can an Irish reconstructionist use her icon, or would  the lady find offense because icons are Christian cultural artifacts, and the "saint persona" should be respected as belonging to another culture?

Historical Issues: Icons are a Christian invention. They were made solely because pagans only venerated statues and bas reliefs. Regarding bas reliefs: I haven't found any evidence that Celtic and Germanic tribes used bas reliefs prior to Roman colonization. So that raises, to me, another issue of whether using the format of bas reliefs for sacred images from a culture that didn't invent the thing is appropriate. We wouldn't borrow the idea of Native American petroglyphs to represent Zeus, would we?

Nachtigall

  • Master Member
  • ******
  • Join Date: Sep 2011
  • Posts: 287
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Quote from: Materialist;75929
I've gotten myself in a rut over this, and I believe the time has come for an outside opinion.

The Dilemma: Can non-Christians use icons? (I use "icon" in its original sense as a painted wooden plank.)

A Simple Problem to Ponder: Take, for example, "Saint" Brigid. Of course, everyone knows she's a pagan goddess, but Christians still love to make icons of her. Can an Irish reconstructionist use her icon, or would  the lady find offense because icons are Christian cultural artifacts, and the "saint persona" should be respected as belonging to another culture?

Historical Issues: Icons are a Christian invention. They were made solely because pagans only venerated statues and bas reliefs. Regarding bas reliefs: I haven't found any evidence that Celtic and Germanic tribes used bas reliefs prior to Roman colonization. So that raises, to me, another issue of whether using the format of bas reliefs for sacred images from a culture that didn't invent the thing is appropriate. We wouldn't borrow the idea of Native American petroglyphs to represent Zeus, would we?

 
Icons were used historically. You've already mentioned the saint/goddess Brigid, I might add the syncretism between Orthodox Christianity and Slavic Paganism (the so-called "dual faith") - but really, similar practices can be found all over the world, where Christianity was forced on local population. So, there's definitely a historical precedent.

Of course, people did it because the religious use of actual pagan imagery was forbidden, which is not the case today, in Western countries at least. So, you decide whether it is something that is suitable for your practice (and why do you consider that? Do you like Christian imagery aesthetically, do you think it embodies some qualities of the deities you worship, or do you feel the need to hide your practices?)

As for me personally - I've seen some images, mostly of Archangels, that definitely give me Apollon vibe, but I wouldn't be comfortable putting them on my altar, especially since the images of actual Greek Gods are widely available anyway.

HeartShadow

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2195
  • Total likes: 3
    • View Profile
    • http://www.flamekeeping.org
Quote from: Materialist;75929
I've gotten myself in a rut over this, and I believe the time has come for an outside opinion.

The Dilemma: Can non-Christians use icons? (I use "icon" in its original sense as a painted wooden plank.)

A Simple Problem to Ponder: Take, for example, "Saint" Brigid. Of course, everyone knows she's a pagan goddess, but Christians still love to make icons of her. Can an Irish reconstructionist use her icon, or would  the lady find offense because icons are Christian cultural artifacts, and the "saint persona" should be respected as belonging to another culture?

Historical Issues: Icons are a Christian invention. They were made solely because pagans only venerated statues and bas reliefs. Regarding bas reliefs: I haven't found any evidence that Celtic and Germanic tribes used bas reliefs prior to Roman colonization. So that raises, to me, another issue of whether using the format of bas reliefs for sacred images from a culture that didn't invent the thing is appropriate. We wouldn't borrow the idea of Native American petroglyphs to represent Zeus, would we?

 
The thing is, are we talking /icon/ or /painting/?  Because /icon/ says to me specific STYLES of artwork - posing, coloring, etc - to indicate which saint.  It's not just the paint-on-wood thing.  And using those specific styles would be problematic to me, yes.

If you're talking paint-on-wood, I don't see how that's a problem at all.  Humans have painted on everything that's held still enough (including each other - tats!) for as far back as we can find.  Art HAPPENS, we are a decorative species, and the idea that paint-on-surface is limited to ANYONE just boggles my little brain.

People had statues /in temples/.  We really don't KNOW what home practice looked like in every single case.  It's entirely possible that paint-on-wood was the practice in, say, Celtic Britain, but it all rotted away.

sailor

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 1505
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Quote from: HeartShadow;75934


People had statues /in temples/.  We really don't KNOW what home practice looked like in every single case.  It's entirely possible that paint-on-wood was the practice in, say, Celtic Britain, but it all rotted away.

 
To expand Heartshadow's point. The Romans had paint on plaster walls. Barring evidence that it was forbidden (Islam, Judaism - specific restrictions), I'd expect other cultures to have paint on any flat surface that their technology supports.

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10221
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 272
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Quote from: Materialist;75929
Regarding bas reliefs: I haven't found any evidence that Celtic and Germanic tribes used bas reliefs prior to Roman colonization. So that raises, to me, another issue of whether using the format of bas reliefs for sacred images from a culture that didn't invent the thing is appropriate. We wouldn't borrow the idea of Native American petroglyphs to represent Zeus, would we?

Hardly the same thing, IMHO. Bas reliefs, paintings, and the like were used by many cultures. Native American petroglyphs only by a few specific cultures.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free

sailor

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 1505
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Quote from: RandallS;75950
Hardly the same thing, IMHO. Bas reliefs, paintings, and the like were used by many cultures. Native American petroglyphs only by a few specific cultures.

 
It's Wikipedia, but they list a lot of cultures on all continents.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroglyph

Asch

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 883
  • Total likes: 5
    • View Profile
Quote from: Materialist;75929
I've gotten myself in a rut over this, and I believe the time has come for an outside opinion.

The Dilemma: Can non-Christians use icons? (I use "icon" in its original sense as a painted wooden plank.)

A Simple Problem to Ponder: Take, for example, "Saint" Brigid. Of course, everyone knows she's a pagan goddess, but Christians still love to make icons of her. Can an Irish reconstructionist use her icon, or would  the lady find offense because icons are Christian cultural artifacts, and the "saint persona" should be respected as belonging to another culture?

Historical Issues: Icons are a Christian invention. They were made solely because pagans only venerated statues and bas reliefs. Regarding bas reliefs: I haven't found any evidence that Celtic and Germanic tribes used bas reliefs prior to Roman colonization. So that raises, to me, another issue of whether using the format of bas reliefs for sacred images from a culture that didn't invent the thing is appropriate. We wouldn't borrow the idea of Native American petroglyphs to represent Zeus, would we?

 
If you're trying to find a 'culturally pure' representation of a deity good luck. Cultures do not exist in vacuums.

Sophia C

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2012
  • Location: London, UK
  • *
  • Posts: 1999
  • Country: gb
  • Total likes: 43
    • View Profile
    • http://leithincluan.wordpress.com/
  • Religion: Christian and Pagan. Anglican, Druid, Gaelic-ish polytheist, some other influences
  • Preferred Pronouns: They/them
Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2012, 02:45:40 am »
Quote from: Materialist;75929
A Simple Problem to Ponder: Take, for example, "Saint" Brigid. Of course, everyone knows she's a pagan goddess, but Christians still love to make icons of her. Can an Irish reconstructionist use her icon, or would  the lady find offense because icons are Christian cultural artifacts, and the "saint persona" should be respected as belonging to another culture?

Almost everything we know about Brighid comes from Christianity (or a Christianized culture). Anyone who follows her has to deal with this. Every individual will need to ask her what her relationship is with the saint, and accept her answer for themselves. Christian icons are the least of your worries in that situation.

I currently have a picture of a statue of St Brigid (I don't put the term Saint in quotation marks - that's who she is, in a very long faith tradition, and I respect that). I encountered Brighid at the saint's holy places in Kildare and personally believe they are the same (but everyone will have different personal gnosis about this). On that basis, I have a picture of the statue of St Brigid at Kildare on the wall above her shrine at the moment. It probably won't stay there - for me the Irish gods defy personification, but that's a slightly different issue. Brighid has no problem with me using that image to help me honour her. That won't be the case for everyone. Ask the deity in question what they think. Gods have complex cultural backgrounds and the question will depend on different factors for each one. Would I worship Brighid through a statue of Kali? Of course not - that would dishonour both goddesses. But when a deity has (or may have) a history with an image (or name, etc) that is at slight variance with how a Pagan might see them, the only thing you can do is ask.

I also have an icon of Mary and honour other saints, but that's a separate issue. (I'm not using the icon of Mary to represent Diana, for example.)
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
- Doctor Who

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10221
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 272
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Quote from: sailor;75953
It's Wikipedia, but they list a lot of cultures on all continents.

That's true of petroglyphs in general. but I believe the post I was replying to specified "Native American petroglyphs" specifically.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free

sailor

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 1505
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Quote from: RandallS;75973
That's true of petroglyphs in general. but I believe the post I was replying to specified "Native American petroglyphs" specifically.

 
Was the OP aware that petroglphys were a world wide practice or did they mean using specific NA designs for St Brighid?

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #10 on: October 07, 2012, 11:52:38 am »
Quote from: Nachtigall;75930
Icons were used historically. You've already mentioned the saint/goddess Brigid, I might add the syncretism between Orthodox Christianity and Slavic Paganism (the so-called "dual faith") - but really, similar practices can be found all over the world, where Christianity was forced on local population. So, there's definitely a historical precedent.

Of course, people did it because the religious use of actual pagan imagery was forbidden, which is not the case today, in Western countries at least. So, you decide whether it is something that is suitable for your practice (and why do you consider that? Do you like Christian imagery aesthetically, do you think it embodies some qualities of the deities you worship, or do you feel the need to hide your practices?)

As for me personally - I've seen some images, mostly of Archangels, that definitely give me Apollon vibe, but I wouldn't be comfortable putting them on my altar, especially since the images of actual Greek Gods are widely available anyway.


Thanks, Nachtigall. For the personal questions you asked of me: aesthetic imagery...hm...I like minimalist, starkly simple stuff, so the "medieval" style icons are appealing. I don't practice worship for reasons best left to another thread, but I go for images that nicely symbolize ethical traits I feel are important. I don't hide my religion, it's just an inappropriate subject etiquette-wise, so I never talk about it.

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #11 on: October 07, 2012, 12:24:37 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;75934
The thing is, are we talking /icon/ or /painting/?  Because /icon/ says to me specific STYLES of artwork - posing, coloring, etc - to indicate which saint.  It's not just the paint-on-wood thing.  And using those specific styles would be problematic to me, yes.

If you're talking paint-on-wood, I don't see how that's a problem at all.  Humans have painted on everything that's held still enough (including each other - tats!) for as far back as we can find.  Art HAPPENS, we are a decorative species, and the idea that paint-on-surface is limited to ANYONE just boggles my little brain.

People had statues /in temples/.  We really don't KNOW what home practice looked like in every single case.  It's entirely possible that paint-on-wood was the practice in, say, Celtic Britain, but it all rotted away.

 
Thank you, HeartShadow, for your input. I am referring to icons like those used by Eastern Christians. It's just, does the pagan-deityness cancel out the Christian attributes associated with the image?

Looking at reconstructions of British houses, they were basically grass huts. Some houses were made out of rough cut stone which looks amenable to hanging things from pegs-but, as you said, wooden images usually rot away. Other walls were made of wattle-n-daub and woven reed mats that don't look like I would want to be poking holes into, but the builders could easily make cabinets to hold deity images. I've thought of making something like that, when I finish designing my shrine, inspired by the temple of Bargeroosterveld-a box-like triptych thing.

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #12 on: October 07, 2012, 12:33:32 pm »
Quote from: sailor;75942
To expand Heartshadow's point. The Romans had paint on plaster walls. Barring evidence that it was forbidden (Islam, Judaism - specific restrictions), I'd expect other cultures to have paint on any flat surface that their technology supports.

 
Well, sailor, outside of villas, British walls are flat, but not smooth-rough stone, wood, thatch, wicker. Would an ancient person be inspired to paint on such a surface? Then we must wonder if they made tapestries to cover the walls in winter to keep the chill out, that could potentially hide sacred wall paintings. Would wall paintings be practical? Would smoke from the fire damage the images?

Materialist

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Posts: 605
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2012, 12:41:37 pm »
Quote from: sailor;76053
Was the OP aware that petroglphys were a world wide practice or did they mean using specific NA designs for St Brighid?


Sorry, folks, for the confusion I have caused. Placing it closer to home, then: would one use Neolithic and Bronze Age European petroglyphs to represent Zeus, not knowing what they were originally for, because they look "zeusy" to you?

Castus

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Location: Virginia
  • Posts: 821
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 76
    • View Profile
  • Religion: that’s a great question
Re: Historically Accurate Holy Images (Trying to Avoid Cultural Appropriation)
« Reply #14 on: October 07, 2012, 02:39:24 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;75929
The Dilemma: Can non-Christians use icons? (I use "icon" in its original sense as a painted wooden plank.)

I don't see why not. I prefer a strictly reconstructionist approach, but even within a Byzantine pagan context the use of Orthodox-style icons would be acceptable. As long as the deity in question doesn't mind, there shouldn't be a problem. I adore the style of icons and Eastern Orthodox artistry and have looked into getting a Byzantine-syle icon of the Divus Iulius in the past even.
“Castus, meanwhile, goes straight for the bad theology like one of those creepy fish that swims up streams of pee.” — Darkhawk

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
37 Replies
9426 Views
Last post February 05, 2012, 03:38:17 pm
by Micheál
8 Replies
1270 Views
Last post July 01, 2013, 04:38:15 pm
by Leanan Sidhe
112 Replies
9425 Views
Last post October 22, 2013, 01:35:08 am
by SunflowerP
140 Replies
17956 Views
Last post September 12, 2014, 06:48:41 pm
by Pain and Light
25 Replies
5302 Views
Last post November 27, 2015, 09:21:14 pm
by Lionrhod

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 46
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 3
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* Shop & Support TC

The links below are affiliate links. When you click on one of these links you will go to the listed shopping site with The Cauldron's affiliate code. Any purchases you make during your visit will earn TC a tiny percentage of your purchase price at no extra cost to you.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall