East Midlands Pagan Federation
East Midlands Pagan Federation     East Midlands Pagan Federation


Serving Pagans in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire and Rutland

Pagan Federation News National Interfaith Week: Objects of Devotion Back

In England and Wales, National Inter Faith Week ran from Sunday 21st to Saturday 27th of November 2010. This national initiative, aimed at furthering mutual understanding and respect between faiths in our increasingly multicultural society, featured a number of events across the country.

Here in Derby, one particular event held at the Multifaith Centre on the University of Derby campus, stood out as being of interest to Pagans and as an opportunity for mutual education.

Objects of Devotion hosted by the Multifaith Centre in the evening of the 23rd of November, was an informal presentation by staff of Derby Museum and Art Gallery. The definition of devotion was deliberately broad and objects of a variety of ages were displayed on a series of tables, each group of objects having its own expert to explain the significance of the objects.

On the first table, the concept of devotion to onesí country was explored. This display included a variety of medals from the museum collection, World War One postcards and some NAZI pennants. These objects being of no great age and more sturdy than some were suitable for handling and a closer look.

On the second table items representing the indigenous cultures of Africa and New Ireland (part of the Papua New Guinea group) were on display. This table illustrated devotion to family and ancestors as many of these items were formally used in ancestor worship and funeral rites. This included to matching male and female figures of African origin, standing approximately eighteen inches high and carved from wood. One item from New Ireland itself was particularly impressive; a large wood carved humanoid head depicting a Frigate bird head ornament.

The third table was a collection of items of local interest and of a greater age. These items could not be handled as many were far too fragile. They included a beautiful gold coin of late Medieval origin and an equally stunning silver Saxon brooch depicting a gryphon and found at Repton.

This table also included cremation urns, Those from the Bronze Age had been found on Stanton Moor and dated to 4000 years old. The Roman Cremation urns dated to the first and second century of the Common Era, were found on the Old Derby Racecourse. This today is the home of the Derby County Cricket Club and where the EMPF held the All Fools Gatherings in 2007 and 2008.

Although we were not able to handle this latter set of objects, being so close to these historically important items, the tangible link to our own past was felt and was quite special. No glass separated us from the objects and the escorting experts were very helpful in explaining the context of the many wonderful items.

Prior to the event, the audience had been invited to bring their own objects of devotion. This was a very personal and moving moment as items representing family, devotion to freedom and an item from my own altar were viewed.

The evening stands in my opinion as one of the most stimulating and worthwhile Interfaith events I have ever attended. I sincerely hope that a repeat of something similar will be considered for the future.

Report by Chattering Magpie, Pagan Federation Regional Coordinator for Derbyshire. (© Griffith 2010).

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