Cerne Abbas Giant

rynner2

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#1
I thought we must have a thread on this, but can't find one, so let's approach the subject via this amusing story...

Wish for rain to wash away Homer

Pagans have pledged to perform "rain magic" to wash away a cartoon character painted next to their famous fertility symbol - the Cerne Abbas giant.
A doughnut-brandishing Homer Simpson now adorns the hillside above Cerne Abbas, Dorset, next to the giant.

The ancient chalk outline of the naked, sexually aroused, club-wielding giant is believed by many to be a symbol of ancient spirituality.

Many couples also believe the 180ft carving aids fertility.

The Simpsons character was painted next to the figure on Monday in a publicity stunt to promote The Simpsons movie released later this month.

It has been painted with water-based biodegradable paint which will wash away as soon as it rains.

Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: "We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind.

"We'll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away."

She added: "I'm amazed they got permission to do something so ridiculous. It's an area of scientific interest."

'Different and unusual'

It is not the first time the giant has been used to advertise products. He has been used to promote items as diverse as condoms, jeans and bicycles.

Mike Webb, landlord of the New Inn in Cerne Abbas, said his staff were amused by the temporary addition to the village.

"I think it is different and unusual," he said. "We've not heard any complaints here so far, but I'm not sure many of the local people will know who Homer Simpson is." :shock:

During World War II, the Cerne giant was disguised to prevent the Germans from using him as an aerial landmark.

Since then he has always been visible, receiving regular grass trimming and a full re-chalking every 25 years.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/6901543.stm
 

Jerry_B

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#2
It seems that the 'pagans' aren't aware of the possibility that the giant isn't all that ancient after all.
 

gyrtrash

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#3
Given the protests and arguements lately about folks potentially damaging the Long Man of Wilmington, and the Homer Simpson figure appearing adjacent to the Cerne Abbas giant, it's refreshing to see some people still have a sense of humour... :)




Wooo - Hooo!
 
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#4
Jerry_B said:
It seems that the 'pagans' aren't aware of the possibility that the giant isn't all that ancient after all.
Nor does it matter. The Giant and the 'pagans' will continue to exist, whether they fulfil your criterion and meet with your approval, or not.
 

Jerry_B

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#5
But for some reason we're expected to do things that meet the approval of pagans, when they may not have all of the relevant details to hand? ;)
 
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#7
Jerry_B said:
But for some reason we're expected to do things that meet the approval of pagans, when they may not have all of the relevant details to hand? ;)
But, of course, you know better.

Mostly, they seem to be asking that their beliefs and sacred sites, be treated with respect. Rather like The Church of England and the 'shoot out in Manchester Cathedral' Sony computer game. Does the CofE have all the 'relevant details' about their beliefs, to your high standards, either?

Or, are they just living in hope?
 

Jerry_B

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#8
Oh, where's your sense of humour? Don't you find it even slightly comical the idea that some people are getting offended by a giant cartoon being placed next to another (possible) giant cartoon? ;)

And it's hardly the same as the Manchester Cathedral stuff - that locale has proven historical links to Christianity. The same cannot not be said of the Cerne Abbas giant and the pagans - even if it was proven to be an ancient hill figure. The connection there is imagined, not based on historical realities - the giant has merely been appropriated by some people to suit their own imagined needs ;)
 

GNC

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#9
Anyone remember the local interviewed about the Giant in Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World who gloated "'e does wonders for me every morning!"? That's my abiding memory of the figure.
 
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#10
Jerry_B said:
...

And it's hardly the same as the Manchester Cathedral stuff - that locale has proven historical links to Christianity. The same cannot not be said of the Cerne Abbas giant and the pagans - even if it was proven to be an ancient hill figure. The connection there is imagined, not based on historical realities - the giant has merely been appropriated by some people to suit their own imagined needs ;)
You seem to believe that just because some things have been around longer that makes them truer.

What do you mean by "historical realities"? Are the "imagined needs" of Christians truer, more real, just because their solution to the problem of their "imagined needs" has apparently been believed in and acted upon longer?

They're also not entirely innocent of the accusation of appropriating ancient sites to their own uses, as and when the need arose. They just did it long ago and made sure to put their version of history in writing, whenever possible. Backdating documents, as and when necessary.

You actually have what some would consider a very strange view of what's real and not real when it comes to human culture and beliefs. By some, I include myself.
 

Jerry_B

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#11
Pietro_Mercurios said:
You seem to believe that just because some things have been around longer that makes them truer.
But modern pagans tend to sometimes seek legitmacy by claiming links to stuff that has been around for longer (but perhaps not all that longer) ;) This seems to be the case here.

What do you mean by "historical realities"? Are the "imagined needs" of Christians truer, more real, just because their solution to the problem of their "imagined needs" has apparently been believed in and acted upon longer?
Their religious links to Manchester Cathedral has a definite historical basis. The same cannot be said for modern pagans with the Cerne Abbas giant.

They're also not entirely innocent of the accusation of appropriating ancient sites to their own uses, as and when the need arose. They just did it long ago and made sure to put their version of history in writing, whenever possible. Backdating documents, as and when necessary.
Ah, so is this good or bad? If it's good, then why bring it up - if it's bad, it's no better for modern pagans to do the same thing, surely? ;)

You actually have what some would consider a very strange view of what's real and not real when it comes to human culture and beliefs. By some, I include myself.
Well, perhaps I just don't live in a world where I'm happy to let people try and rewrite history to suit their own needs, especially when they're not party to all of the relevant facts. Let's face it, the age of giant isn't known. Record of it doesn't seem to exist beyond a certain point in time, so claims about being ancient aren't at all proven. So I'd say it's a bit daft for some people getting in a huff about Homer being there when they imagine that the other giant figure may have something to do with their view of the world. One could be forgiven - if we're talking about 'real' and 'unreal' - for saying that Homer springs from Matt Groening's imagination, and the ancient links between the giant and the pagans springs from the pagan's imagination. Nothing more, nothing less ;)
 
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#12
Jerry_B said:
...

.. So I'd say it's a bit daft for some people getting in a huff about Homer being there when they imagine that the other giant figure may have something to do with their view of the world. One could be forgiven - if we're talking about 'real' and 'unreal' - for saying that Homer springs from Matt Groening's imagination, and the ancient links between the giant and the pagans springs from the pagan's imagination. Nothing more, nothing less ;)
So, you're a Homer Simpson worshipper? That would explain a lot.



After all, it must be true, it's been written down.
 
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#14
Jerry_B said:
...

They're also not entirely innocent of the accusation of appropriating ancient sites to their own uses, as and when the need arose. They just did it long ago and made sure to put their version of history in writing, whenever possible. Backdating documents, as and when necessary.
Ah, so is this good or bad? If it's good, then why bring it up - if it's bad, it's no better for modern pagans to do the same thing, surely? ;)

...
Either, neither, other. Human Culture is a collection of convenient fictions, created to meet "imaginary needs". It's all Lies. Or, it's all attempts to explain the raw stuff of Reality by creating models, approximations of what their creators believe to be 'True.'

Sometimes, the models are truly lies, cynically created to fool others and sometimes the convenient fictions have the power of truth, because they are believed.
 

stu neville

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#15
The fact remains that no-one really knows who made it originally. It could be a recut of a potentially much earlier work, it does stand to reason that it could be a representation of Hercules (if the now concealed line under the left arm is a skin this explanation would seem fairly compelling), and again it could be argued, as has been posited, that the Hercules figure could be a jibe at Oliver Cromwell, which would date the figure in it's present form it to the Civil War or thereabouts. It wasn't mentioned by anyone prior to the 17th century, in contrast to the Uffington White Horse, which has been described for centuries and in all probability predates the Roman Occupation. There is a much older earthwork further up the hill which was cited a lot further back, but the giant wasn't even mentioned until the late 1600s. All we really know about the Cerne Abbas giant is that he's there now, and has been for at least 300 years.

To be fair to the pagans, they don't seem to claim to have created the Cerne Abbas giant, merely regard him as sacred, and by extension they regard themselves as his guardians. As do many Druids with Stonehenge, Avebury, Carnac etc, though a number seem to morph this concept into "ownership" (see also Zahi Hawass WRT the Valley of the Kings) and a few into "creators of", despite that being bollocks.

Devil's Advocate time - wonder if Fox approached the custodians of Mt Rushmore to see if they'd mind having a giant styrofoam Homer head alongside the Presidents? Or a Kong-like Homer atop Nelson's Column? A 50 foot inflatable Homer next to Westminster Abbey... I somehow doubt it would happen. Draw your own conclusions.
 

Jerry_B

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#16
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Either, neither, other. Human Culture is a collection of convenient fictions, created to meet "imaginary needs". It's all Lies. Or, it's all attempts to explain the raw stuff of Reality by creating models, approximations of what their creators believe to be 'True.'

Sometimes, the models are truly lies, cynically created to fool others and sometimes the convenient fictions have the power of truth, because they are believed.
If that's the case then by those rules the pagans shouldn't be at all bothered by Homer ;)
 

Jerry_B

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#18
Why? Because you said 'Human Culture is a collection of convenient fictions, created to meet "imaginary needs". It's all Lies. Or, it's all attempts to explain the raw stuff of Reality by creating models, approximations of what their creators believe to be 'True.''. This in turn means that the beliefs of modern pagans are party to the same fictions, etc. and therefore they shouldn't be bothered about the giant Homer.

That said, if we found out that the Cerne Abbas giant was indeed created in the 17th century, the only fictions that enter into the scene are those of the pagans who imagine that it's much older.
 
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#19
Jerry_B said:
Why? Because you said 'Human Culture is a collection of convenient fictions, created to meet "imaginary needs". It's all Lies. Or, it's all attempts to explain the raw stuff of Reality by creating models, approximations of what their creators believe to be 'True.''. This in turn means that the beliefs of modern pagans are party to the same fictions, etc. and therefore they shouldn't be bothered about the giant Homer.

That said, if we found out that the Cerne Abbas giant was indeed created in the 17th century, the only fictions that enter into the scene are those of the pagans who imagine that it's much older.
You missed the relevant bit, of course, perhaps because it didn't fit into your narrow World view.
... and sometimes the convenient fictions have the power of truth, because they are believed.
It depends a lot on what the pagans actually believe. They may have several very valid reasons for objecting to the perceived desecration of what they see as a site worthy of respect. Even if only on purely aesthetic grounds.

You really do not know how old the Cerne Abbas Giant actually is, so you can only express your opinion and lack of respect for the beliefs of others.

For some pagans, like pagan Chaos Magicians, the real provenance of the Giant will not matter, for others, they will continue to believe the experts to be wrong, whatever the experts finally decide.

However, what is saddest, is that you seem to have missed the colossal implications in the statement above, about the 'true' nature of Human Culture. I have talked to some, who have admitted to suffering soething like a nervous breakdown, when the true implications of a World where everything they've been brought up to believe and everything that they've used to help orientate and to anchor themselves in Reality, has turned out to be nothing much more than imaginary cobwebs of convenient fictions.

Still, such deep thought obviously doesn't seem to trouble you.
 

taras

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#20
I'm in two minds about this - on the one hand, I'm very uncomfortable with ancient monuments being used for gimmicky purposes, but on the other I'm even more uncomfortable with this particular brand of 'pagans'* acting as the only ones protecting it. It's part of our shared heritage. The ones stepping up to protect it should be English Heritage.


* I say this in inverted commas, because I don't believe what they follow is genuinely a pre-Christian religion/tradition.
 
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#21
ttaarraass said:
.... The ones stepping up to protect it should be English Heritage.
The sorry record of English Heritage's involvement in the preservation of Stonehenge should be enough to show you just how much English Heritage actually cares about the preservation of ancient monuments. :(
 
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#22
ttaarraass said:
...

* I say this in inverted commas, because I don't believe what they follow is genuinely a pre-Christian religion/tradition.
Well, let's just settle for non-Christian religion/tradition, then?

Although some Pagans would probably object to the use of the term 'religion'. ;)
 

taras

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#23
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Well, let's just settle for non-Christian religion/tradition, then?

Although some Pagans would probably object to the use of the term 'religion'. ;)
I'm sure the government would have a definition like "Adherents of various degrees to non-Christian religion(s) and/or tradition(s) based upon elements of pre-Christian Celtic and pre-Celtic culture."
 

Jerry_B

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#24
Pietro_Mercurios said:
You missed the relevant bit, of course, perhaps because it didn't fit into your narrow World view.
... and sometimes the convenient fictions have the power of truth, because they are believed.
No, because it pretty much amounts to the same thing as you other point.

It depends a lot on what the pagans actually believe. They may have several very valid reasons for objecting to the perceived desecration of what they see as a site worthy of respect. Even if only on purely aesthetic grounds.

You really do not know how old the Cerne Abbas Giant actually is, so you can only express your opinion and lack of respect for the beliefs of others.
Well, what's actually the case that they seem to be complaining about something to which they only have links to in their imaginations. Should we therefore cater to everybody's personal fantasy lands? If they can prove a link to themslves and the giant in a sense that is outside their own heads, fair enough,. But as I suspect that they in fact can't, and are in a tizzy because of an imagined affront to their sensibilities, I'm don't see why we should have to pander to that.

Still, such deep thought obviously doesn't seem to trouble you.
But that depends on whether such things are literally true or something from the mind of the individual(s) involved, and whether I too subscribe to that belief. So it's only 'deep' if I, or anyone else, consider it so.
 
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#25
ttaarraass said:
Pietro_Mercurios said:
Well, let's just settle for non-Christian religion/tradition, then?

Although some Pagans would probably object to the use of the term 'religion'. ;)
I'm sure the government would have a definition like "Adherents of various degrees to non-Christian religion(s) and/or tradition(s) based upon elements of pre-Christian Celtic and pre-Celtic culture."
So, it has to be official and Government approved. then?

Apparently, their still trying to come terms with all the followers of Jedi in the UK, these days.
 

tilly50

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#26
The date the giant was made is irrelevent to it being considered sacred to pagans (although it is the druids that are saying that homer is showing lack of respect)

There are christian churches that are being built now that will be considered sacred and worthy of respect.

Not all sites deemed sacred by pagans are prehistoric and not all pagans claim that there beliefs stem from pre-christian religions/beliefs. Most of what is considered standard christian belief would not have been considered so 2000 years ago when they were the new kids on the block.

All forms of faith evolve if they are to remain relevent to he current society and if they appropriate some symbol or site as special to them they respect should be accorded. There are other faiths that would be even less tolerant to the simpsons muscling in on them than the pagans have been.

By the way has homer been washed away yet??? ;)
 

Jerry_B

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#27
tilly50 said:
The date the giant was made is irrelevent to it being considered sacred to pagans (although it is the druids that are saying that homer is showing lack of respect)
But as far as we can tell (given the possible history of the giant) this may all be a factor which exists entirely in ther imaginations. It'd be different if they could prove that the figure is related to their religion in a historical sense. But as they can't, I don't see the point of catering to people who are inventing stuff to suit their own ends and expecting everyone else to think that that legitimises their cause.

But then again, it is just a giant cartoon placed in a field quite near to chalk figure of debatable age ;)
 

Kondoru

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#28
If its Hercules and therefore roman then we are in trouble...many of my `pagan` friends hate the romans for being too civilised.
 

Twin_Star

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#29
Kondoru said:
If its Hercules and therefore roman then we are in trouble...many of my `pagan` friends hate the romans for being too civilised.
The chances of it being of Roman origin are vanishingly small. All of the temples (so far found of course) dating from the Roman occupation of Britain are Mithraic (from the Temple of Mithras in old London town, all the way up to Hadrian's wall), and there is not one single other example of this type of chalk carving found anywhere in the Roman empire, at any time. This is despite the fact that Cretaceous deposits (from the Latin - 'Creta' meaning chalk) are found all across northern Europe, all the way down to N. Italy

And no, the uffington White Horse was not carved by Roman Cavalry offficers belonging to the Eponaean cult either! ;)

With that in mind, the horse, the Cerne Abbas giant and even the "figures" in the Gogmagog hills may not be as recent as is currently accepted.

They're not Roman though!
 

stu neville

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#30
Kondoru said:
If its Hercules and therefore roman ...
As TMS said, in all probability it isn't even slightly Roman. Cromwell was satirised as "England's Hercules", and the Giant is cut within what was at the time a staunchly Royalist area - whether or not this is the origin of the Giant is not clear, however.
 
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