The Gift of the Cross?

They cut down our sacred trees.

Defiled our holy wells.

Tore down the houses we built for our beloved gods.

Banned the very mention of their names.

Raped our women, broke our men, and defamed our priestesses.

But hey, let’s focus on the bright side—at least, we’re the only Christian nation in Asia.

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‘The first baptism in the Philippines’ by Fernando Amorsolo

It is heartbreaking that so many Filipinos still parrot the centuries-old colonial propaganda that we were somehow “civilised” by European colonisation and that Christianity was its most precious gift. Neither the Cross nor western clothes made us better.

She would definitely disagree.

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A painting by Botong Francisco of a babaylan or priestess

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Señor de Sonrisas

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A collection of Santos Niños at the Indophile’s house, January 2016

The Feast of the Holy Child or Pista ng Santo Niño is one of the most popular festivals in the Philippines. The fiesta, which supposedly celebrates the arrival of Christianity in the archipelago, has become a showcase of syncretism of the Christ Child and other, much older spirits (but don’t tell this to the Pope). There’s a Farmer Niño, a Policeman Niño, lucky green-robed Niños for shops, and protective red-robed Niños for homes. (I’ve even seen a cross-dressing Niño! Don’t tell the Pope!)

Much like St Patrick, who could only convert a few Irish chiefs to his Christianity, the Santo Niño is a symbol of this false triumph of the Cross in the Philippines. It wasn’t until several years later, when the galleons returned, that the country was truly overrun by evangelists. What emerged in between those years, however, was a vibrant syncretism of Catholic art and pagan devotion, one that is still evident to this day.

Here, the faces of the Holy Child are as numerous as the islands that foster them. They remind us of a time when religion was more child-like: generous, inclusive, and intimate.

Tulad ng sa mga batà, nawá ay magíng palaging maliksí, matuwain, at mausisà ang iyóng diwà. (I have no translation for this blessing, sorry. But it’s a blessing!)

Papurì

I’m not sure if litanies are as popular in other Catholic countries as they are (or were?) in the Philippines, but when I was growing up, every rosary was ended with a litany to the Virgin Mary.

As a child, litanies certainly seemed boring — they’re long, repetitive, and contain fancy, old-fashioned constructions you don’t normally use in everyday speech. But now that I’m all grown up(?), I’ve come to appreciate the intricate poetry (and piety) that goes into them. Litanies are amazing.

The litany I’ve made below follows the traditional Catholic style where each name or epithet is recited or sung by the person leading the prayer, followed by a response from the rest of the worshippers in chorus. The response can be: “Pinupurì Ka namin” (we praise you), “Sinásamba Ka namin” (we adore you), or “Dinárangal Ka namin” (we honour you). Obviously, if you’re the only person available, you’ll have to recite everything yourself, but typically, litanies are recited by at least two people.

I plan to write more, but for now, I’m starting with Hermês (my personal lord and saviour, ha). It will be in Tagalog (as I’d really like to build a solid Tagalog liturgy this year), but I’ve provided rough English approximations in parentheses.

Hope you like this (first ever?) prayer to Hermês in an Austronesian language!

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Litanya kay Hermes

Anak ni Maya, pinupuri Ka namin. (Son of Maia, we praise you.)

Apo ni Atlas, pinupuri Ka namin. (Grandson of Atlas, we praise you.)

Sugo, pinupuri Ka namin. (Messenger, we praise you.)

Tagapamalita, pinupuri Ka namin. (Herald, we praise you.)

Tagapaghatid, pinupuri Ka namin. (Escort, we praise you.)

Taga-akay, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guide, we praise you.)

Kaligayahan namin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Jubilation, we praise you.)

Kaligtasan namin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Sanctuary, we praise you.)

Kasama, pinupuri Ka namin. (Companion, we praise you.)

Kaibigan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Friend, we praise you.)

Gabay sa daan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guardian of the road, we praise you.)

Kasing tulin ng hangin, pinupuri Ka namin. (Fleet of foot, we praise you.)

Kamay na lumupig kay Argos, pinupuri Ka namin. (Hand that slew Argos, we praise you.)

Tagapagtanggol, pinupuri Ka namin. (Defender, we praise you.)

Tagapagligtas, pinupuri Ka namin. (Saviour, we praise you.)

Agarang saklolo, pinupuri Ka namin. (Ever-our-succour, we praise you.)

Prinsipe ng mga panaginip, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of dreams, we praise you.)

Kaibigang tapat ni Dionisio, pinupuri Ka namin. (Faithful friend of Dionysos, we praise you.)

Kaibigan ng lahat, pinupuri Ka namin. (Friend of all, we praise you.)

Tuso, pinupuri Ka namin. (Cunning One, we praise you.)

Mapagbiro, pinupuri Ka namin. (Playful One, we praise you.)

Haring Sinungaling, pinupuri Ka namin. (Master of lies, we praise you.)

Hari ng tuwa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Joy’s king, we praise you.)

Matamis ang labi, pinupuri Ka namin. (Honeyed-lips, we praise you.)

May *ginintuang dila, pinupuri Ka namin. (Silver-tongued, we praise you.)

Mapanlibang, pinupuri Ka namin. (Merry One, we praise you.)

Gabay ng mga naliligaw, pinupuri Ka namin. (Guide of the lost, we praise you.)

Maparaan sa lahat ng bagay, pinupuri Ka namin. (Crafty One, we praise you.)

Ama ng wika, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of tongues, we praise you.)

Salita ng Dios, pinupuri Ka namin. (Word of God, we praise you.)

Mabuting Pastol, pinupuri Ka namin. (Good Shepherd, we praise you.)

Mapang-aliw sa mga tupa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Solace of the flock, we praise you.)

Pasan mo ang Cordero, pinupuri Ka namin. (Ram-bearer, we praise you.)

Ama ng lira, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of the lyre, we praise you.)

Sundo ni Proserpina, pinupuri Ka namin. (Persephone’s chaperon, we praise you.)

Sundo ng lahat ng kaluluwa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Chaperon of all souls, we praise you.)

Sinisinta ni Afrodita, pinupuri Ka namin. (Beloved of Aphrodite, we praise you.)

Kilabot ng mga ninfa, pinupuri Ka namin. (Adored by nymphs, we praise you.)

Ama ni Hermafrodito, pinupuri Ka namin. (Father of Hermaphroditos, we praise you.)

Tagapawi ng takot, pinupuri Ka namin. (Fear-slayer, we praise you.)

Hari ng himpapawid, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of heaven’s path, we praise you.)

Hari ng lahat ng daan, pinupuri Ka namin. (Lord of all paths, we praise you.)

Nababalutan ng ligaya, pinupuri Ka namin. (Filled with joy, we praise you.)

Aming Panginoon, pinupuri Ka namin. (Our Lord, we praise you.)

 

(*ginintuán actually means golden, but culturally, silver-tongued would be a more fitting approximation in English)

Happy Harvest-That-Isn’t-Happening

It’s that time of the year again when a great bulk of Neopagans around the world—across the northern hemisphere, at least—celebrate their harvest festivals. Anglo-Celtic Wiccans have at least three and the Neo-Hellenes have one or two depending on their chosen polis.

But despite being a Hellene and a Hibernophile, I will have none of these because —

I do not live here:

My dream is to live in a forest of perpetual autumn.

(Which is sad because I am obsessed with foliage.)

But here:

In the Philippines, there is always something to harvest, so the

(Which is pretty OK because this means more food for Christmas.)

However, it seems that our local Wiccans and Wiccan-ish Neopagans couldn’t care any less about the nature around them. Happy harvest? Happy autumnal equinox? Dress your altar with autumn foliage? Who are you kidding?

Now, I know it isn’t my business, but I think it’s rather absurd to “celebrate” a harvest festival when there isn’t an actual harvest going on, especially if you claim to follow a “nature religion”. It doesn’t seem to serve the harvest gods very well to celebrate a harvest festival that isn’t happening.

That said, I want my pumpkin spice latte.

Whilst the North Freezes, My Country Enjoys a Perpetual Equinox

… Which is something I’m not sure I always enjoy, but hey, whenever I feel slightly jealous over countries with four seasons (because I love spring and autumn), all I have to do is look outside and see all the lush, abundant greenery, and I’m content.

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I still look forward to cherry blossoms and tricolour foliage, but appreciating the here and the now helps me stay a good gentile.

Polytheism Without Borders and Helpful Heathens

I know it’s been on for quite a while, but in case you’d like to know, I’m on Polytheism Without Borders as Aldrin of the Two Trees [aldrin]. I haven’t been a forum person for a very long time (social media has been so much more accessible these days), but hey, I might just make a come back.

In other news, following their call for relief fundraisingThe Wild Hunt was thoughtful enough to look into the lives of [some] Pagans in the Philippines last month (hint: I was part of it). Consequently, several Pagan groups (and individuals) have made extensive efforts in lending their hands and hearts to the typhoon-stricken areas of my country (hats off to Elaion‘s charity movement Pandora’s Kharis for raising a total of $304 despite the small size of our group). We may not be a particularly wealthy demographic, but we are quite stout of heart. Good job, people!

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Hermês comes to save the day!