Saturday Sessions Three and Four

A. Andersdottir “Paganism in Numbers: How Numerical Systems Influence Spiritual Concepts and Shape Spiritual Culture”

Systems of accounting and other numerical systems influence interpretations of the world and events, performance of spirituality, etc. An example from wider culture is fear of the number 13 (triskadecaphobia), which can be so strong that many buildings do not have a floor numbered 13, and many cities do not have a 13th Street (though they may have a 12th).

Andersdottir advocates understanding of the numerology and mathematical systems of ancient and non-Western cultures.

[FCJ – the following, as with everything in this live blog, is a report of the talk. I haven’t done the research]

Jain Mathematics

-there are infinite ways to solve an equation, so the elegance of the method is as important as the answer

-first recorded instance of ideas of infinity

-the concept of the number zero

-swastika – made by making a circle cut with 4 equal lines, and rearranging the pieces

This system can be helpful for Pagans through its pluralism and lack of emphasis on concrete answers. It “discourages possessiveness of roles and duties,” and is “antithetical to creationism/apocalypse/rapture,” preferring a more cyclical model.

Dogon of Mali

-esoteric and secret traditions

-sophisticated astronomy

-value duality and pairs

Fractals in Sub-Saharan Africa

The art and other structures of various Sub-Saharan African culture display the replication of design that is definitive of fractals.


-quipu accounting system: a series of strings with various kinds of knots, intelligible across languages

Mangareva (French Polynesia)

-binary system

M. Macha NightMare “The Cailleach, the Cumaen Sybil, and the Pythia: Voices from the Underground”

Goddesses and female prophetic figures associated with caves.

The Cailleach is a pre-Celtic goddess (Blue Hag, Hag of Beara, etc.). She is associated with a number of mountains and caves in Scotland and Ireland.

The Cumaen Sybil is a figure from Italy. Cumae appears in the Aeneid and Strabo’s Geography. The Sybil lived in a cave (plutonion) that emitted noxious gas. The cave had “a hundred mouths” and the Sybil could hear their voices and interpret their prophecies. In the Aeneid she was 700 years old and lived to 1000. She asked for immortality from Apollo but did not ask for eternal youth to go with it.

The Pythia was the priestess (or priestesses) of Delphi and an oracle of Apollo. The temple is built over a chasm that releases noxious gas.

Starr Goode “Sheela na gig: Dark Goddess of Europe”

“Renewed interest in the Sheela is part of the great psychic event of our time: the return of the Goddess.”

The Sheelas date to the middle ages (many are carved on Catholic churches). She is an embodiment of wild, mysterious, chaotic life force, and is defined by the sacred and aggressive display of her vulva.

She is a guardian of entrances and often appears over doors and other portals, or beside windows.

Goode connects the Sheela to figures of Baubo from Greece, as well as Medusa. She seems to be arguing for universal prehistoric goddess religion, since she’s mentioned it a few times, and she hasn’t brought up the Celtic migration to Anatolia in the pre-Classical period.

In ancient cave art, vulva-like drawings occasionally mark entrances into deeper caves.

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