Category: Helen Riding

Education Department is testing us

HELEN RIDING. Religion is allowed in our schools whether we like it or not, but our schools are supposed to accommodate religious diversity (that means all religions). Despite The National Policy on Religion and Education adopted in 2003 and the Department of Basic Education’s National Guidelines on School Uniform adopted in 2006, which claim to accommodate religious and cultural diversity, we are still being tested by our schools and education authorities.

Review: Embracing Heathenry by Larisa Hunter

HELEN RIDING. Embracing Heathenry, by Larisa Hunter, is an enlightening and enjoyable book about living Heathenry intentionally. It provides a window into the lives of the author and several other Heathens, with plenty of beautiful illustrations which bring it to life. Embracing Heathenry covers the practical aspects of living the faith on a daily basis. It is not a book about Norse mythology per se although it touches on it and made me want to read more about it. I took up a recommendation of one of the “other voices” in the book and ordered The Children of Odin (also published as Nordic Gods and Heroes) by Padraic Colum.

Top 3 myths about religion in South Africa

HELEN RIDING. One might also be forgiven for thinking there is no separation of church and state in South Africa as certain religious leaders and interfaith groups have made it their business to provide Zuma with an election campaign platform, ask South Africans to forgive Zuma’s philandering, defend Zuma’s image in The Spear saga and publicly support the e-toll system. What do they hope to receive in return? I can only speculate that apart from political connections, Zuma’s new God squad wants liberal laws to go.

Evangelical fundamentalism threatens religious freedom

HELEN RIDING. Can someone please wake me up from this terrible nightmare I am having? I dreamt that Christian fundamentalists had infiltrated the South African Police Service and our mainstream media, who have somehow forgotten that we now have a constitutional right to freedom of thought, belief and religion in this country. I dreamt the South African Police Service had resurrected the Occult Related Crimes Unit under the influence of so-called “occult expert” Kobus Jonker, and was spending our tax money on initiatives with a blatant religious bias.

Divine tackies

HELEN RIDING. I feel like an idiot for not knowing that the Nike company and brand is named after a deity, Nike the Greek goddess of victory. Who knew. The given name “Nicholas”, meaning “victory-people” or “winner”, is also derived from the Greek word nike meaning victory. Nike personifies victory and is often depicted with wings and bearing a laurel wreath to crown the victor and/or a palm branch which symbolizes victory. Nike is a war deity associated with the battlefield, as are the Norse Valkyries and the Morrigan of Celtic mythology among many others. She is also associated with peaceful competition and the sportsfield, and has been depicted on the front of every Olympic medal awarded since the 1928 Summer Olympics.

Stranger than fiction

HELEN RIDING. I vaguely remember catching The Golden Compass when it was screened on M-Net in December 2008, but was sufficiently preoccupied with Life at the time to miss much of its meaning. While re-reading Chanah’s archived Lenormand posts recently, I noticed a comment about the book on which the film is based which inspired me to revisit the story, the controversy around it and “that clockwork device with 36 symbols” (as described by Chanah). I realize this may be old news to anyone reading this, but I thought I would share it anyway.

Fire over Lake

HELEN RIDING. I believe that the Divine is manifest in the universe (Nature) and therefore regard Nature as sacred. I believe that a balance of energies is natural and celebrate the natural balance and cycles of Nature. I believe that we are all part of an interconnected web of life and recognize that every action has a consequence and what affects one of us affects all of us. These are my personal core religious beliefs and values and what makes me Pagan. I did not adopt these beliefs and values after becoming a Pagan, I was a Pagan before I knew that was the word for it. Technically speaking, I am a Panentheistic Deist but that is just being ultra specific about what kind of a Pagan I am.

Weirder and weirder

HELEN RIDING. I just read Natural Magic: A Seasonal Guide by Paddy Slade from cover to cover and was curious about the author’s use of the word “weird” to mean fate. It transpires that the word is derived from the Old English word wyrd, meaning fate, which students of Germanic mythology will be familiar with. In Germanic mythology the three Norns named Urd, Verdandi and Skuld are the goddesses of fate, representing one’s past, present and future fate respectively. The Norns maintain the Yggdrasil tree representing the universe and together weave the tapestry of human lives, known as the web of wyrd. They bear resemblance to the three goddesses of human fate known as the Moirai in Greek mythology and the Parcae in Roman mythology.