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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

 

Revival of Pagan in Europe

CHRISTOPHER GERARD – RESURRECTING HIS GODS Another Pagan revivalist draws inspiration from Hinduism and India in his quest to resurrect and reclaim his ancestral heritage Christopher Gérard, now 42, is a Flemish classical philologist and studied ancient languages, including Sanskrit. He has been trained through three academic specializations: literature, philosophy and linguistics into which he immersed himself at the l'Université Libre de Bruxelles, a non-Catholic "positivistic" university. He has published in French a highly acclaimed translation of “Against the Galileans” written by Emperor Julien, the last Pagan emperor of Rome. Today Gérard teaches languages as a professional career, which he separates from the philosophical itinerary that brought him to found the Society for the Study of Polytheism. He says that The Society is his personal unfoldment which he is sharing with others who have made the same choice. “One can convert to the major, organized religions or to a school of ethics, but one cannot convert to Paganism. One simply belongs to it."

In an interview with Hughes Henry in the Hinduism Today (July 1999) Christopher Gérard shares that he belonged as a “precocious” child in a Belgian family that had outgrown Christianity three generations ago. He recalls his fascination at the tender age of ten with a book on Greek Mythology – a gift from his father. Starting to acquire knowledge of Greek and Latin two years later, he was ready to explore and experience Pagan Europe first hand when he was all of fourteen. He says that he uncovered his Pagan past with his bare hands, when he joined an archeological team in southern Belgium to excavate a 4th-century Gallo-Roman temple.

"When I dug into this temple,” he recounts to Hughes Henry, “which had been destroyed by the Christians, I was shocked". "I was barely 15,” he recalls, “yet I understood in a powerful hands-on, non-intellectual way, how harsh had been Europe's conversion to Christianity. They burned temples, smashed statues, massacred the priests and established extremely harsh laws. By 392 ce, Paganism died."

The Hindu Connection – Europe's Pagans have not failed to observe that Hindus, too, are “Pagans”. Gérard has been to India many times. "India is a conservatory of traditions going back into our most ancient prehistory” he says to Hughes Henry. “The Paganism of our ancestors has miraculously survived there in spite of Muslim invasions, Christian missions and all the other agents of ethnocide [the systematic destruction of a culture]. The Brahmins, brothers to our Druids, have never stopped offering ritual worship as we used to do 40 centuries ago. Pilgrimage to India is basic for every European Pagan because it allows him to reconnect with the living tradition, which is moreover Indo-European.

“To be an European Pagan at the dawn of the 21st century is not always easy,” writes Henry Hughes. “If Gérard does it in a discrete manner by appearing to emphasize thought, it is because he has already experienced pressure from the still-influential Catholic Church in Belgium, which is wary of Paganism's revival.”

In less than 30 years, and especially since the 80s, the Pagan groupings have multiplied, for better or for worse. From Belgium to Estonia, from Sicily to Ireland, the Pagan rennaisance is obvious. Bookstores are full of books on the ancient native religions. In Great Britain, you cannot avoid the Pagan network. They even have university professors who are openly Pagan. In Iceland, Paganism became an official religion in 1973. Everywhere in Europe, Christian dominion over the mind is gradually but surely vanishing. Witness the return of the Druids, the shamans and the priests of the Gods."

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