Monday, March 20, 2006

Secret Sacred Places in Portland

I found a remarkable little site online the other day when I was wandering around. Holy Places in Portland, Maine, lists a variety of sites around the city that Maine pagan Sarah Kate Istra Winter, also known as Oenochoe, has found in her travels. She is the author of the recent book KHARIS: Hellenic Polytheism Explored.

Sites she mentions range from the geographical (Western Cemetery, Deering Oaks) to the mundane objects we walk past every day, such as the lobsterman statue at the corner of Temple and Middle Street, or the old theater mask of Bacchus that sits quietly on the grass island in front of Bagelworks and Smoothie King on Temple Street.

It's funny, in all my years in Portland I never thought of this stuff in this way, but it's an interesting approach. Somehow I missed the fact that "not only can the Lobsterman be viewed as the spirit of Casco Bay as well as the guardian of our fishing industry, but his inherent numinous power seems to have been recognized independently by a variety of young people in Portland, as there is a widespread custom of leaving spare change as an offering in his cupped hand and making a wish." I never knew. Although I did leave him and the lobster an easter egg last year... I hope they liked it.

Another site I've walked past many a time is a hanging site on Congress Street:

Coming back on Vaughan St. towards intown, take a right down Congress St. A few blocks down you'll come to the Fire Station, and right in front there is a plaque commemorating a hanging. Hanging sites are sacred to the Norse god Odin, who was hung on a tree for nine days and nights to learn the secrets of the runes.

She is nice enough to provide a walking tour of the sites, with clear directions to each location. A really neat Portland resource for someone to have volunteered.


anothermaine said...

Plus that Lobsterman is a political activist!

Michelle said...

WOW! He wears many hats, that lobsterman. :)