PDA

View Full Version : Pagan religion, calendars and priests



DrZoidberg
01-19-2011, 03:46 PM
I've read as much as I can about it, and haven't got a clear answer to this.

Was it widely believed that pagan priests could influence the seasons and the weather, or were their skills simply to calculate the seasons?

Or to put it another way, as far as the seasons go, did they (allegedly) purely fill an information function, or did they exert some power over the gods?

Or can it be that this facet of pagan religion is lost in history? My focus is on ancient Greek religion.

Thanks in advance.

PeterL
01-19-2011, 07:08 PM
I have never heard of any religion in whih the priests were thought to affect the seasons.

The ancient Greeks had their branch of the general Indo-European religion. While a lot of the ancient ceremonies would be lost, most of that (and a lot of other) material still exists in India.

Drachen Jager
01-19-2011, 08:09 PM
Pagan pretty much refers to anything non-Christian/Muslim/Jewish. Can you narrow it down?

Kenra Daniels
01-19-2011, 09:45 PM
I've spent years reading about both historical and modern Paganism - primarily focused on European Paganism, but I have also read some about the Greeks. I haven't found anything that hinted that priests were thought to be able to influence the seasons. The weather, yes. Many Pagans, if not most, had, and still have, ceremonies to commemorate the changing of the seasons.

Historically, the seasons dictated what humans had to do in order to survive - ie harvest and preserving food in the summer and fall. Given all that, I find it very unlikely that anyone would have expected priests to be able to influence the seasons. In the deep of a harsh winter, I'm sure they prayed for the return of spring, though.

If you need a priest to have his people think he could influence the seasons for your work, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to have one charismatic individual to lead his followers to believe that. Sort of like a modern cult.

ETA: When I mentioned priests being thought to influence weather, I mean in immediate terms, rather than long range. For example, an impromptu ceremony to lessen the severity of a terrifying storm. Or ceremonies to bring rain in times of drought, or to lessen rains in exceedingly wet times. Today, some Pagans believe they can affect the path or severity of a storm, for example.

Kenra Daniels
01-19-2011, 09:47 PM
I've spent years reading about both historical and modern Paganism - primarily focused on European Paganism, but I have also read some about the Greeks. I haven't found anything that hinted that priests were thought to be able to influence the seasons. The weather, yes. Many Pagans, if not most, had, and still have, ceremonies to commemorate the changing of the seasons.

Historically, the seasons dictated what humans had to do in order to survive - ie harvest and preserving food in the summer and fall. Given all that, I find it very unlikely that anyone would have expected priests to be able to influence the seasons. In the deep of a harsh winter, I'm sure they prayed for the return of spring, though.

If you need a priest to have his people think he could influence the seasons for your work, it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to have one charismatic individual to lead his followers to believe that. Sort of like a modern cult.

* Damn double post. I've tried to delete it several times, but for some reason it's still here. Oh well...

Medievalist
01-19-2011, 10:12 PM
In terms of the Continental and Irish Celts, I wouldn't say that the druids could influence the weather, etc. specifically in terms of crops, but Irish medieval texts discuss "good" days and "bad" days in terms of specific activities as a form of prophecy, and the Gaulish Coligny Calendar c. 2nd century C.E. marks "good" and "bad" days.

PrincessofPersia
01-20-2011, 06:20 AM
The Ancient Egyptians believed knots had special powers, so to speak. The priests and priestesses of the Cult of Isis believed they could influence the weather by either braiding or not (no pun intended) combing their hair. Offerings were also given to other gods in order to influence the weather.

kalencap
01-21-2011, 10:28 PM
Since you mentioned Greek as the focus, I would say it may partially depend on the specific time. My initial response would be no, the priests weren't seen as controlling the weather or able to do that. Persons could give offerings to the gods in an attempt for a specific outcome, but how that offering was received would have again been up to the gods.

What is more likely is that some would have been seen as better at divination, and possibly interpreting divination if its meaning was initally unclear. Here, you would be concerned about the oracles. But the skill would have been in either divination or interpretation - a predictive accuracy, not in controlling the weather.

Of course, there were mystery cults, so there isn't one single answer that would apply to all of Greek culture anyway

Ran across one blurb that talks about the subject in a general way - http://www.essortment.com/all/weathermagic_rmqf.htm.

Hope that is helpful.