Seriously, sometimes they barely bother to slap some veneer over the ancient practices.
Pretty crown of stars, eh? Can anyone name the big gold magic wand in her hand? Is it merely the scepter of the "Queen of Heaven and earth?" Speaking of hands, notice the baby is holding up the extremely Pagan by about 1,000 years Roman Hand of Power.
Here is Her prayer:
"Oh most beautiful flower of Mt. Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in my necessity. Oh Star of the Sea, help me and show me you are my Mother. Oh Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart to succor me in necessity (make request). There are none that can withstand your power. Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee (say three times). Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands (say three times). Amen."
The emphasis is mine. Just pointing out some of the typical Pagan Mother Goddess titles which were reassigned to Mary. This one adds a different title: Star of the Sea. La Sirene? Yemanja? Astarte?
Mount Carmel was an important place in ancient times. Pythagoras found his way there, oracles were consulted in the caves. Zeus was worshiped there as was Baal. Early human remains have been discovered in the caves, including neanderthals and other paleolithic evidence. :-o
Pythagoras is said to have visited there "on account of its reputation for sacredness, stating that it was the most holy of all mountains, and access was forbidden to many" as per the holy wiki. It's difficult to delve into other sources on that because little of Iamblicus' work remains, so what we have here is at best third hand heresay.
Essene groups are also said to have lived in the caves there. Some claim the "lost" years of Jesus were spent with the Essenes. At this hour I can't tell if the web info I'm coming across is legit or crackpot, so I leave it to you to comence with Teh Googlez.
I also came across this group: "The Our Lady of Mount Carmel Society is an independent nonprofit Catholic Organization formed in 1875 by Italian immigrants new to Hammonton, New Jersey, who took time to celebrate their safe journey to America and a successful harvest by giving praise and thanks to the blessed Virgin Mary."
A main part of the Feast is handing out, and breaking bread with everyone. Why, hello, Demeter, virgin mother grain goddess of fertility :)
Consider this a part 1. Her feast ends on Sunday, so I hope to post more about it at some point. It's feast season, and I hope to not go overboard on the theme of Pagan origins of catholic practices, or, how Paganism survived to modern day. I couldn't possibly go overboard with that, especially not on this blog!
These feasts are uniquely Italian American. Aside from the much lauded patrick's day, I can't think of any other proper feast that isn't Italian (and Pagan!) in origin. Tonight I'll leave you with this video from a previous celebration in Williamsburg. Around minute 5 you see the boat on the left unite with the Star of the Sea on the right. This feast was started here by immigrants giving thanks. I'm happy to keep that tradition going. After all, I wouldn't be sitting here in America right now if my ancestors hadn't had the coglioni to get on a boat to a strange new country. I'm going to break bread with my family and with my friends, dance and celebrate the Star of the Sea, who, if you wear Her symbol, will personally escort you into Heaven. Pretty nifty, huh? SO much more to say about this... must sleeep!