Grove-wise, it’s been a quiet week, but then, the period between the Yule ritual and mid-January always is. With our members’ commitments to the other holidays at this time of year, what with shopping and parties and travel and all, I know that we won’t get a lot of participation in anything we schedule, nor will we get many inquiries from interested non-members. And that’s certainly okay with me, since I’m not *that* obsessed with keeping our Grove active, and even if I were, I know that the pre-Imbolc period is one of our busiest of the year. Really, the only down side to the downtime is that I run low on things to blog about here. >8)
Today, my mom and I went to see Avatar in 3-D on the IMAX screen at Showcase. Having heard so many good things about it so far, my only real concern was its 160-minute running time, and that wasn’t helped by having to wait for an hour past the scheduled starting time because they were having technical difficulties with the projector! But once the film started, wow. Amazing visuals, a decent story, and even after sitting in one place for three and a half hours, I never for a minute felt like the pace was dragging. It’s definitely worth seeing in theaters, even if you have as little money for movie-watching as I do, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it win the Best Picture Oscar.
So the real question is, as the Wild Hunt blog asked recently: Is it a Pagan movie? Opinions seem to vary wildly, depending on who you ask. The Navi culture has many obvious similarities to Native American cultures, and the trees of their world functioning as a single life form may have a touch of nature worship to it, but then that function is explained in scientific terms as well, so I don’t know that any real live human watching it would have to feel the same way about our real live world. (Side note: For those interested in stories that explain ancient myth systems in science fiction terms, I’d say that Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny is even better than this film.) And even if we do consider that aspect of the story to be spiritually important to its viewers, is that really a form of Paganism? It’s panentheism (“god is in everything”), sure, and probably pantheism (“god is everything”) as well, but it’s not polytheism (“there are many gods”), and now that I’m in my old fuddy-duddy conservative Druid years, I consider that the more explicit requirement for me to deem something “Pagan”. Yeah, we don’t all agree on a definition for what is and isn’t Pagan, and I respect the beliefs of those who think that pantheism equals paganism, but after twenty years on this path, I know what I think. Honestly, the most pagan thing about the movie from my point of view is its title, which comes to us from a Hindu term referring to the earthly manifestations of their deities.
So no, I don’t consider this a movie that extols Pagan virtues, any more than “The Legend of Bagger Vance” extolled Hindu virtues because it was based on the Bhagavad Gita (no, really!), but a movie doesn’t have to be Pagan for a Pagan to see it and enjoy it. So go see it!
Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF