The belt (or more properly ‘girdle’) of the Virgin Mary is kept under lock and key by the Orthodox monks on Mount Athos in Greece, a place of great significance to both pagans and Christians, ancient and modern. This week, they brought the girdle to Russia, to share it with the Russian Orthodox faithful.
In ancient times, the Asos peninsula was a centre for healing and sanctuary sacred to the Goddess, which is why Mary sought refuge there after the execution of her son. “Let this place be your lot, your garden and your paradise, as well as a salvation, a haven for those who seek salvation”, the Christian God is supposed to have declared to the Virgin Mary when she arrived there. From that time, Mount Athos has been considered the “Garden of the Virgin Mary” in Christianity.
Yet, no refuge is offered at the sacred place today, and no woman may set foot there. Fortunately, women can occasionally beg for a glance at Mary’s girdle, before it is locked back up in its golden box and returned to the Mountain of the Men.
Of course, as an object of mystical power, the girdle’s powers of fertility may prove useful to Vladimir Putin in the upcoming elections. If he can translate the half a million Russians lining up in the snow to get a glimpse of the relic into half a million votes, he’s on his way.
An interesting piece for Huffington Post, in which Briggs gives some interesting stats on the demographics of the New Age and non-traditional beliefs in the US.
Friends in Egypt are concerned about the rise in attacks against Coptic communities and churches. Coptic friends are becoming more fearful as they feel the violence is escalating. Muslim friends are aghast that they will once again be labeled in the same box as extremists. All my Egyptian friends are determined to maintain their friendships and unity, and are taking steps to make public statements of their faith in non-violence and the enduring unity of the Egyptian people as a collective. Following the violence against a Coptic church in January, Muslim Egyptians attended Coptic services in a statement of unity and resistance to extremism.