Pagans: Magic Moments (2008)

Channel 4

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Documentary Description

Is paganism a living tradition with roots deep in prehistory or just a collection of superstitions, magic tricks and witches' spells? Pagans explores the origins, history and beliefs of Europe's ancient religions. We see pagan tradition through the prism of generations of modern religious thought. Through history and prehistory, the representations of the ancient gods and traditions followed by pagans have been marred by propaganda from other religious groups eager to rein in those they defined as `wild barbarians`. In truth, the word pagan is a Roman term meaning `country folk`, and the general concept of paganism is of oneness with nature and a quest to fully understand the world around us. Though historical accounts lead us to images of stone dildo-wielding women flashing their genitals at cattle, chieftains having sex with horses before slaughtering them and whipping sessions in mixed saunas, the underlying theme is of human similarity with animals and nature. Where modern religion aims to emphasise the difference between humans and the world around us, the ancient pagan perspective is that human beings are interdependent with the world they inhabit and that sexuality is a powerful and natural element in the success of a people.

Today magic is used as a form of entertainment. It still thrills us to see an apparently impossible phenomenon happen before our eyes. Reaching back through to prehistoric times, the pagan magicians, who could conjure material from nothing or predict the future, would almost certainly have been held in the highest regard. They would not have been tricksters like the conjurers of today. In historic and prehistoric times, it would have taken great knowledge to understand the seasons, through their relationship to solstice. Predicting this yearly cycle would have been crucial to the agricultural societies of the time - a science to those who understood, but magic to those who didn't. The fine art of producing the first bronze artefacts would also have been greatly respected. The ability to produce a knife from an ore is still magical, even though we now understand the chemistry. As for drug-induced shamans talking to the spirits, they must have appeared exceptionally powerful. Source: Channel 4

 

Pagan is a series in 4 episodes:

Episode 1: Sexy Beasts
Episode 2: Magic Moments
Episode 3: Band of Brothers
Episode 4: Sacred Landscape

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