Monday, July 9, 2007

The Long (Wo)man at Wilmington

The Long Man is yet another of those sacred sites reviered by modern-day Pagans, especially Druids, which may or may not have any ancient spiritual significance. There are many such sites. The most famous, of course, being Stone Henge. Whether or not these have ancient significance is really pointless to argue- though it is difficult for one to imagine why they would exist if they didn't- because they are significant today.

Because of this significance, it's not hard to understand why Druids in Europe have reacted with outrage to the Longman's sex change for the sake of a film.

Even if there was, and remains, no spiritual significance to this site, it still has incredible artistic and archeaological significance. You don't have to be Pagan to appreciate the Longman and of the millions who make the pilgramage to Stonehenge, only a small fraction are making pilgramages of a spiritual nature.

The Longman suffers damage every year due to erosion and animal activity. It has been in the care of the Sussex Archaeological Society for almost 100 years and because of its sensitive nature, it's been closed to the public for some time. They are supposed to be caring for it, protecting it. Nobody begrudges them their exclusive rights to the site because everyone can see it for miles around. It's huge.

So why was a film crew allowed access to the Longman? Who cares, let them film there. But my Gods, they let them move the stones around and make him into a woman?? They gave him pigtails and a giant ass for crying out loud. Couldn't they have found a hill somewhere to make a woman on? Did they need to dessicrate this site? Who allowed this? And I hear no money exchanged hands. The Archaeological society just let them go to it without even a proper bribe? Not that that would have made it okay, but it would have at least made sense! The archaeological society says that the activities described as "sitting and laying down" on the monument could not possibly hurt it, and perhaps this is true- but moving the stones? And before that, driving stakes into the ground to mark the areas they wanted to change? Perhaps I do not have a clear enough understanding of this monument to not understand how these activities can't possibly damage it...

When I first heard about this I thought the Druids were being silly, but then I saw the pictures and I joined their outrage. I agree that this film should not be released. It sends a message that it is okay, even fashionable and fun, to dessicrate ancient archaeological sites (religious significance notwithstanding). With all the trouble they have trying to maintain Stonehenge with people trampling all over it year in and year out, you'd think they'd try to discourage that sort of thing on more sensitive sites.

And while I maintain that in this case the spiritual significance of this site is irrelevant, or at least far outweighed by its archaeological and artistic significance, let's talk about its spiritual significance for just one moment. We are Pagans. Paganism is an extremely feminist path in many cases. The ancient sites are often pointed out as being devoted to Goddesses. Even archaeological finds which the average person would simply label abstract are seized upon by the faithful and dubbed "Goddess images". The Longman, however, is one of the few unmistakable male images in the Western Pagan collection of sacred images. And now it's been feminized? The "fashionistas" who have done this claimed it was "empowering". Why do those who wish to be "empowered" insist upon "un-powering" (yes, I just made that up) others?

So, if you're into it. Here's the petition.

And of course, what kind of Pagan would I be if I couldn't laugh at this little outrage. And of course, I'm not the only one. As usual, The Spoof has seized upon this fertile gem
The Onion, however, disappoints.