The following article on fear was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on June 27th, 2014.
I was visiting my friend Camie at Texas Snow Store in Watauga as I sometimes do on my way home from work and a couple of guys walk up carrying a big box of banana nut bread for sale. She says, “Oh, you have to try this banana bread! It’s the best ever!” So, she goes running up to meet them and buys a few loaves for herself and one for us to share. She offers them a snow cone each to cool them off from walking in the afternoon heat and humidity and they come over and join us in the shade of Dave’s gazebo close to his Philly Shack restaurant.
These two guys are from a Christian based rehabilitation house nearby which helps drug addicts turn their lives around and change their habits. The banana nut bread they sell helps fund the program and helps the people going through the program get accustomed to the trials of everyday productive work and interacting with people. They tell us about how some of the people who are doing what they are doing don’t want to change their ways and instead steal the money made from selling the bread to go buy drugs.
But if the program can help 1 in 10 people pull themselves out of the gutter of addiction then it’s worth it right? I am happy to see people improving their lives through whatever means work for them. Now cynical me has thought on occasion about how these programs latch on to people when they are at the lowest points in their lives and most vulnerable and susceptible to persuasion in order to brainwash them into a manner of thinking which benefits the people running the program. Like, I said, that’s cynical me talking and indeed such programs do usually come with a stipulation that one needs to submit to and turn over their faculties to the particular organizations interpretation of what their “one true god” wishes. Essentially using it as an avenue to recruit more members. The very thing those of us from minority religions like Wicca and Druidry are often accused of.
But still, if this organization helps those people to make a better life for themselves then some loyalty in return is probably not too much to ask is it? Perhaps some of the Pagan organizations should take note if they ever become large enough and organized enough to fund such programs. 😉
But anyway, at one point one of the guys pipes up and asks us if we are “God fearing people.” I answered as I often do such queries. “I have no need to fear my god because I know my god loves me.” He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that answer based on the look on his face but it was no matter because Camie piped in with “Well, he’s spiritual but not religious.” So the guy says, well, the important thing is that we believe there is something bigger than just us out there. Which I agree with regardless of what form that something bigger might take on from one individual or another.
That phrase and others like it have always bothered me though. It’s a popular one in Bible Belt Christianity. “God fearing.” It smacks of being in an abusive relationship to me. Why should I have to fear my god(dess) if (s)he loves me? Perhaps fear letting my god(dess) down if my actions are not worthy of his or her approval or that I am not living my life up to the fullest potential the gods have laid before me. But to fear my gods themselves? That concept just seems odd to me. What do you think?
“Paganisms are not proselytizing religions. We don’t have to proselytize. Our job is to provide for ourselves a vibrant, flexible, and ongoing sustained pagan culture that is so beautiful, so rich with, and so sexy and so desirable that people will want to come to us because they see us and they say, ‘I want what they have.’”
“Perhaps it’s the greatest of all human vanities to assume that one’s religion is the only way to deity. Such beliefs have caused incalculable bloodshed and the rise of the hideous concept of holy wars.” – Cunningham – Wiccan Author
I promise I had not seen this picture before I wrote an article awhile back in which I referred to each person’s life story as “their book”. If I had, I most assuredly would have used it as the feature graphic for the article. But the day after writing it, this turned up in my news feed on the book of face. Who says the gods don’t speak to us each and every day?
If one dream should fall apart and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick up one of those pieces and begin again.
The gods can be perceived as different things to different people.
I received this question from a wonderful person who has been attending some of our temple events in recent months and I answered it as best I could then got to thinking, others might also benefit from this conversation. So, with no names involved to protect privacy, here is an excerpt from the discussion…
Another thing I’ve been trying to figure out is how exactly to see the gods. I have a hard time seeing them as literal beings. I can see how they could be archetypes that represent a certain energy force that can manipulate or be manipulated, but I’ve felt more in the last few months when meditating and praying then I ever did from anything else I have ever tried before.
Hang on, I need to explain something so this will make more sense.
So before I started researching paganism I was an atheist. This spring I took a couple of philosophy classes and I started thinking about how I have been trying to improve as a person. I realized since some shitty things had happened with *my ex* my personal growth had been shifting toward intellectual, academic growth while virtually ignoring any emotional or spiritual growth. I had become incredibly analytical and skeptical about everything. So I decided to shift my focus and try to work on the other side of things. I started googling stuff, ended up finding some stuff about paganism, and here we are.
The point of all that is I suppose is to point out that I tend to have a hard time letting go of that skepticism sometimes. Even when I see signs, I have to stop myself from trying to logic them away.
For 22 years of my own life I considered myself to be an agnostic so I can relate with where you are coming from in some ways making the journey from an atheist’s perspective. Understand, there are some folks who consider themselves Humanistic and even Atheist Pagans so it’s not unheard of to come to this conclusion in your relationship with the divine. I, began my journey after having a vision which convinced me that YES there is something besides just me, my fellow humans and other living beings, etc. A Goddess actually spoke to me as far as I’m concerned and no, it wasn’t like you and I might speak to one another in person. It was something like a lucid dream but so much more. I can’t really describe it in terms that I feel do it justice other than to say I felt a presence and that presence did not feel like it came from myself or within my own mind. So, I have spent years since meditating on it, connecting in whatever ways I find and trying to wrap my own head around what the nature of that presence might be. I too, explored the concepts of Jungian archetypes and because they fit into my (at the time) more scientific and academic view on things that model worked for me for a long time but after awhile it just didn’t “feel” right anymore. By this time I was beginning my formal study as an Alexandrian Wiccan and my mentor was teaching me of the duo-theistic nature of the divine, the Lord and Lady, God and Goddess. This made much more sense to me at the time. I liked the idea of balance and that just as there are masculine and feminine energies at work in nature, so it would be in the world of the divine. The diamond concept of the divine seemed sensible too, that all gods and all goddesses are facets of the same divine source. I subscribed to this model for several years. Then eventually I began studying ADF Druidry. Druids teach that all gods and all goddesses are their own individual entities upon themselves. I struggled with this concept for quite some time before finally accepting it and ultimately, I do feel that these divine beings do have their own autonomy from one another, their own personalities and spheres of influence. But it seems to me that they are also, still, quite interconnected with one another in some way that I haven’t quite conceived yet and am not sure if I ever will.
These are the legs of my personal journey so far but it’s by no means complete. But the answer to your question is, I can not tell you how exactly to see the gods. The gods are a concept that we all have theories on and, much like the blind men and the elephant, I think we all may well have a piece of the truth but none of us can really see the entire, big picture. Your journey will be your journey just as mine is mine. How you see and interact with your gods will be a very personal matter between you and them. This is why most pagan religions focus on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. In other words, what we do is more important than what we believe. We all may have a ritual together or have some other spiritual experience together but we will each take something different away from the experience. While I might see a shimmering ball of light descend from the heavens, you might see a warrior goddess riding on a horse. We see what we need to see and we take that vision to lead us on our journey.
But, that being said, I too, find meditation to be the most effective way to prepare my mind and spirit for connection with the divine. It is the vehicle I prefer to use and I recommend it highly to others. I know, some use other methods and those are reported to be highly effective to. But I am happy with where meditation has taken me and I feel it deepens my connection with the gods, whatever they may be.
Multiple gods as a mainstream view of the divine fell out of favor twenty centuries ago or so throughout most of the western world but for a long, long time our ancestors saw the ethereal realms of the gods as a place populated by families of divine beings with light and dark, struggle, strife, plots and twists. In other words, pretty much like the world we live in.
Polytheism makes more sense to me than a single entity that is supposed to be omniscient and omnipotent because the world is just not an orderly place where things can easily be categorized as totally good, totally evil, purely black, purely white or even sensible. Questions such as, “Why do children die of cancer?” or other variations don’t add up in a universe created and totally controlled by a single being who is all knowing, all wise and all powerful. But the chaos of struggle and strife between multiple competing forces? That makes more sense to me when I observe the world around me.
It might not be fashionable these days but some other folks I know, and myself are re-adopting the notion of multiple gods.
So, this meme is making the rounds these days. It’s troubling in many ways and I am going to attempt to address them all in this post. First, I am assuming they are talking about the taxpayer funded, public school system here which is staffed by employees who work for the government. Therein lies the problem for me. I am, always have been and always will be an advocate for the separation of the powers of church and state. I believe history has shown again and again that it is disastrous to combine the powers of religion and government and therefore that religion should stick to the religion business and government should stick to the governing business. Now, if a Christian child wants to say a prayer or even join a group of friends in prayer before or after classes, sporting events, or even have after school bible study I see no problem whatsoever in that. They should be allowed to do so as long as they are not disrupting the course of study (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history, art, etc.) which is scheduled to be undertaken. That goes for children of any other religion who attend the public schools as far as I am concerned. But when the school itself puts up biblical verses or an official of the school leads prayer of a particular type to the exclusion of all other religions then the state has established a preference for one religious school of thought to the exclusion of all others and that is wrong in my opinion.
The public schools are funded, at least where I live, by property taxes raised by home and land owners throughout their region. Those taxes are raised whether you have children in the school system or not and I am okay with that because a well educated populace is beneficial to us all. But it is raised from you whether your family is Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Wiccan, Atheist, or any other religious tradition or non-religious one. To take money from me for the public schools and then have me send my children to said schools and be instructed that their religion isn’t “good enough” to be represented on the walls of the classroom, or their prayers aren’t supported by the state is a form of indoctrination. That is really what it comes down to. It is an attempt by the majority religion to take advantage of the position of power and authority in the institution set up to mold young minds and leverage that to force their religious beliefs on others. In your homes, not problem, in your churches, no problem, out in the streets, go for it, but in the schools? Hands off of my kids or make me exempt from paying taxes to support your school. It’s as simple as that. What you are advocating is a misuse of power and funds and it’s wrong.
Now, let’s address some of these other claims. The Pledge Of Allegiance. I love America. I love what America was founded to represent and stand for. I love the opportunities of freedom and to pursue life, liberty and happiness for all. That is the ideal I believe all Americans should strive for. But the thing about the pledge of allegiance that seems to get glossed over in most history classes is that the original did not contain that phrase “UNDER GOD” which I have seen emblazoned in big letters like that on bumper stickers, stenciled onto the back windows of pickup trucks and on signs in store fronts. Why do you suppose that is? Because from 1956 on the Pledge of Allegiance has been converted to a prayer to a monotheistic God with a capital G. All other gods, goddesses, etc. need not apply. This was done during the height of the McCarthy era in response to the rise of hysteria over “godless communisim”. But the original, as it was penned in August of 1892 by a social minister named Francis Bellamy looked like this:
Dominionists don’t like that version. They want all the kids saying the other version so they can make all of the other kids who do not subscribe to the view that there is only one supreme being feel left out and awkward during the saying of the pledge. Basic peer pressure.
Reading from the bible? Do we really need to go into this again? State employees? Why not the Torah? Why not the Vedas? Once again, only one religion represented and given superiority status by the state. Read the bible in Christian private schools, home and in church all you want. Heck, as I said earlier, let the Christian kids have bible study after school in the public schools even if it isn’t disrupting anything. But led by the school staff? What do you suppose the reason for wanting that is again? Yes, misuse of power and funds again. Indoctrination again. Not right, again.
The Ten Commandments? As a historical reference maybe. Alongside similar documents such as Hammurabi’s Code, Brehon Laws, the Wiccan Rede maybe. But once again, cherry picking from one religious text in a school that is not supposed to prefer one religion over all others. Not acceptable in my opinion.
Now, let’s move up to the original claim about not remembering any school shootings when they were a kid. For me, the earliest school shooting I could remember was Kent State in 1970. But I went in search of other school shootings and found many of them dating as far back as 1764. Unfortunately that earliest one was one which Lenape American Indian’s perpetrated against colonists. I have long supported Native American’s causes and feel that what they have historically endured has been atrocious. So sharing that bit of history is troubling to me but in order to truly understand history we have to look at all of it, not just the parts we like. We can’t gloss over the ugly parts and act like they didn’t happen if we’re going to be honest with ourselves and our descendants and if we are going to work to build a better world going forward. So, we have to recognize that there were terrible things done by both the Natives and the Settlers. There were also good things done by both sides. Anyway, for a more complete list of school shootings throughout U.S. history, take a look at this:
America Is A Christian Nation? There are those who claim it’s okay to do these things because America is a Christian Nation and they are only trying to preserve that heritage. While, certainly it is true that the majority of (but not all) Americans have always subscribed to one denomination or another of Christian thought, this nation was not founded as a theocracy and should not become one. Back when the United States was founded there were still many first nation tribes living on the land and practicing their native religions. There were Jewish settlers, Deists and some even who did not subscribe to a religious belief at all. The Declaration of Independence does not refer to Jesus one time but does make three references to “GOD” and in it he is called Nature’s God which can be interpreted many different ways by many different religions. The United States Constitution does not make one single reference to any deity whatsoever. Indeed, Thomas Paine said “As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of government to protect all conscientious protesters thereof, and I know of no other business government has to do therewith. ” ~~ Common Sense, 1776. Thomas Jefferson professed “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ~~ Notes on the State of Virginia , 1781 – 1785 and “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded upon the Christian Religion.” 1797, The Treaty of Tripoli, initiated by President Washington, signed by President John Adams, and approved by the Senate of the United States among other quotes by the founders of this nation. Majority Christian yes, but founded as a Christian Theocracy? I beg to differ.
Besides, ask yourself this. If your god needs government enforcement to back him up, what does that say about your faith in him?
Practicing our beliefs is a far greater path to awareness than speaking about them.
I have long subscribed to the school of thought that Pagan religions tend to lean more towards orthopraxy than orthodoxy. In other words, what we do is of greater significance than what we believe. In that light, our tradition, still being a new one, is currently in the process of laying out the framework for what we would like to see from those in our clergy training program as they progress up the degrees. The other elders and I have kicked around ideas together and picked subjects which, to us at least, seemed sensible. But some questions came up at my temple’s recent esbat meeting that makes us wonder if perhaps our focus might be a bit too narrow.
Now, keep in mind that I am but one elder in our tradition so the opinions and vision I might express here are my own but might not necessarily reflect the views of Spirit Of the Sycamore tradition as a whole. My vision for where I would like to see our tradition position itself is eclectic enough to be welcoming to people from a wide swath of Pagan thoughts and philosophies. Admittedly, that’s a very wide and deep cross section of the community to shoot for. At the same time, I would like for our folks to draw upon a foundation of as much factual information as we currently have available on subjects such as the beliefs and practices of the ancient Pagans of our ancestry, knowledge of the natural world, plants, animals, the cycles of the earth, life and the stars. Not too much delving into romantic fantasy about these things but acknowledgment of where we do utilize more modern inventions in ritual and practice that these are indeed things we do just because it feels right to us or we just like it that way without trying to gloss them over as having unverifiable ancient origins.
As for beliefs about the divine? I prefer to leave such things open to individual interpretation. I feel that a person’s relationship with deity is a very personal matter and should be something that they develop as individuals while they travel their spiritual path with us. I have long been a fan of Thomas Jefferson’s quote,
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.
in his Notes on Virginia written in 1782. I bring this philosophy with me in my practice of Pagan spirituality. So, one of the things that came out in our esbat meeting were the concepts of naturalistic, humanistic and atheistic paganism. Admittedly, when considering ideas for clergy training I thought about concepts from duotheism, polytheism and even monotheism. I had considered earth centered Pagan ideas and Heathen based ideas. But I hadn’t considered non-theistic concepts. Nor had any of the other elders. So, we’ve been reading up on these concepts and forming our own opinions on how or if we might recognize these philosophies in our clergy training program. Some of the research comes from blogs I have been subscribed to for quite some time and whose authors have written other articles I have enjoyed but I wasn’t previously aware of their thoughts on the existence of deity.
I have to say, I like the tool John Halstead has constructed in his article The Three (or more?) “Centers” of Paganism at his blog The Allergic Pagan. It makes sense to consider earth based, self based and deity based as common centers of Pagan thought with the Heathen, community or folk based as a possible fourth. It is true that different people tend to base their spirituality around one or more of these centers with possible overlap between all of them. To what degree there is overlap varies from individual to individual and from group to group.
I also enjoyed reading Rhett Aultman’s Care And Feeding Of Your Atheist Pagan in which he explains how a non-theist Pagan’s approach to group ritual and interaction is very much beneficial to them and those within their group even if their views on the divine are different from us theists.
I return now to my original thoughts on practicing being of greater importance than believing and to what Thomas Jefferson said about it not mattering how many gods my neighbor believes in or even no god at all. When I am in ritual and we light that candle for the divine feminine, the goddess candle, it doesn’t matter to me if my brothers and sisters in circle see that as a representation of many goddesses, one Goddess or simply as the feminine divine within themselves. What matters is that we are doing this together and honoring that force in whatever way we conceive of it. The same for the god candle, the same for the elements. People can witness the same event, come away from the same experience and have totally different perceptions of what they saw and experienced. What is important though, is having the experience and having it together.
So yeah, practicing or preaching? I’d have to go with practicing. Explore your path and learn from it. Believe what your inner self chooses to believe about it. Seek your own truth.
Deities are a funny subject. Different people perceive them in different ways. Who’s to say which is right and wrong? Certainly not I.
And yes, that title should be sung to the tune of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’
My personal approach to Paganism is through the eyes of an animist. I guess you could call it Animistic Paganism. My concept of Animism is that nature itself (not just here on Earth but throughout the universe) has a soul. Plants, mountains, animals, the sky, entire planets, entire galaxies even have and are made up of the same divine, creative energy at their very basic level. I believe in the saying “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” Hermes Trismegistus. So, I look to nature and the universe when I seek answers to life’s great mysteries. There are certain patterns and interactions of energies that occur at every level throughout the universe. The macrocosm and the microcosm. In pondering these things I believe it is possible to grasp a better understanding of the nature of deity.
How does animism relate to monotheism, duotheism, and polytheism? Some believe it is the great grandaddy of all of these concepts. Long ago, in the tribal antiquity of all of our ancestors from all cultures the world over, some form of animism was the spiritual root of the beliefs which they adhered to. Long before gods were given names and religions were founded people believed that the wind was a spirit, the fire was a spirit, that mountain was a spirit and the life giving water from the river was a spirit. All later concepts of how the divine might be constructed came about after each tribe or culture first grasped the concept we now call animism.
Because we are Pagans living in a modern day world, my sisters and brothers and I at Temple Of the Standing Stones adopt many of the ritual elements and god/goddess names and concepts into our practice that a great number of today’s Pagans are familiar with. I’ll talk more about our practices in another article but ultimately my beliefs about deity stem from this core concept. Some of our temple members may speak of the divine as ‘The Lord and Lady’, some may refer to them as ‘The gods’, some may use more encompassing terms such as ‘The Kindred'(meaning gods, ancestors and nature spirits). That is all okay. Those are reflections of each individual’s perception of and relationship with the divine at this point on their spiritual journey. But ultimately, I believe all of these concepts lead back to animism.
To me, within this concept are the elements by which we may explain gods, goddesses and other forms of divine beings which we may perceive of. In Hinduism, for example, there is the expression Namasté which is often interpreted to mean “I bow to the divine in you.” I too believe the divine resides not only outside of ourselves but also within each and every one of us. From ancient Celtic sources I get the concept of ghosti which relates to not only the guest/host relationship between ourselves and other people but also between ourselves and our deities. So, taking this into consideration, my concept basically is that as conscious parts of the divine fabric ourselves, and having been descended from our ancestors who also believed, we are all essentially co-creators of the world we live in. The guest/host relationship between ourselves and our deities boils down to this to me. The gods have always been and always will be because the divine energy of their creation is eternal and lives within us. We need them and they need us for our mutual growth and manifestation. So, if several million people throughout the world believe the goddess Brighid exists and have a concept and perception of her then that is a lot of collective energy and intent. With that much energy and intent, how could that goddess help but to manifest and exist? That is my personal take on it but some may have another take. Pondering these great mysteries of the divine and sharing our perceptions with one another is what makes getting together with other Pagans such a great thing I think.
The field of quantum physics has taught us that by merely observing something we change it. The interaction between one consciousness within the fabric of creation and another is unmistakable. Not to mention inherited memory and self organization of systems as put forth by Rupert Sheldrake when he speaks of morphic resonance (a fascinating scientific theory by the way). What I’m getting at here is that if our ancestors believed in these gods and through inherited memory these deities live on and are self organized or manifested from the creative energy of the universe, then we in turn believe in these same deities, then they just, simply are. Your perception may be different and I would like to invite you to come share yours with us on our Temple Forum so that perhaps together we may all grow and learn.
My friend Toby S. Posted this as his status on the book of face yesterday and as one might imagine a great deal of commentary and debate soon ensued. But he brings up an excellent point which too many people, I think, miss. Is it a singular worldview arrogance that drives those who claim that prayer is not allowed in school (It is indeed allowed in most public schools actually.) or is it a drive for true religious coexistence?
So, when a person endorses or says they want prayer back in schools, or “god”, do they mean ALL concepts of prayer, ALL concepts of “god”? Or just one version? It is a mystery to me, how many people say things, but don’t truly know what they are really asking for. I think prayer is a fantastic idea! I also think that if that prayer is a rug facing East, or sitting Lotus style and chanting a mantra, or pacing off a sacred space to call god and goddess into, or simply laying prostrate at the feet of your interpretation of god should also be allowed. This advocating certain doctrines or ideology is two faced and should REALLY be examined when standing up for equality or trying to pressure legislation.
I’ve said it before and I won’t be silent about my stance on equality. What is good for one religion, lifestyle, political view, gender etc, is good for ALL of them.
Would it be right to take property tax money from a Wiccan household to pay for public schools but when their child goes to that public school, which their parents took a part in paying for, the child is then taught that their religion is wrong and only one god should be prayed to? That’s the million dollar question.
My patron goddess Brigit is the exalted one and a goddess of pre-Christian Ireland. Her stories are told in Irish folklore acknowledging her as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann and a daughter of the Dagda as well as a wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán.
She is associated with the coming of spring season, fertility, healing, poetry and smithcraft. According to Cormac’s Glossary which was written in the 10th century by Christian monks she is also “the goddess whom poets adored” and that she has two other aspects as Brigid the healer and Brigid the smith. The Christianized version of her, Saint Brigid shares many of the goddess’s attributes and her feast day was originally a pagan festival (Imbolc) marking the beginning of spring.
The above is a statue I use on my own altar as a representation of my goddess while making offerings and honoring her.
Brigit, daughter of the Daghda, daughter of Dugall the Brown, Son of Aodh, Son of Art, Son of Conn, son of Criara son of Carbre son of Cas, son of Cormac son of Cartach son of Conn.
Brigit of the mantles
Brigit of the peat-heap
Brigit of the twining hair
Brigit of the augury.
Brighid of the white feet
Brighid of the smithcraft
Brighid of the white palms
Brighid of the poetry.
Brigid the Goddess
Brigid of the Spirit
Brigid of the fairy-mound
Brigid of Essence.
Brig of the moon
Brig of the healing
Brig of the common fire
Brig of the Fairy Woman.
No sun shall burn me
No fire shall burn me
No beam shall burn me
No mon shal burn me.
No river shall drown me
No brine shall drown me
No flood shall drown me
No water shall drown me.
I’ve been knocking around in this Dallas / Fort Worth Pagan Community since 1998. Longer than a lot but not nearly as long as some others I know. In that time I have had a great opportunity to learn and grow spiritually just by hanging around the very wise, knowledgeable and sometimes crazy folks who make up this diverse community of many faiths we have here. From the time I was 8 years old and my dad passed away from a heart attack brought on by complications of “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” til I was about 30 years old I declared myself basically agnostic. Agnostics are very often confused with atheists. For those who do not know, basically an atheist has made up their mind that there is no god at all while an agnostic still questions the existence of one. So I believed pretty much in what could be scientifically proven and said, okay, if there is a divine presence out there somewhere, prove it. My mom wasn’t one to push religion one way or another. She too had become disillusioned with the church at an early age when (I am told) the pastor in the small community church she and her family went to got caught having an affair with one of the women of the church. Both were married. Mom read from the King James Bible and her parents, like my Dad’s parents were very committed members of their churches but she let me choose my own way spiritually. There was an occasion when I was about 7 that I went to the church of some neighborhood kids a few times to see what it was all about. I remember a little bit about Sunday School and playing Red Rover in the yard with the kids. I also remember morning services and the collection plate being passed around but that’s about all I can recall. Then, as a teenager I became interested in a T.V. Preacher who was kind of a rebel. He drank whiskey, smoked big cigars, wore a leather jacket and tied a necktie around his head like a headband the first time I saw him. He talked about things like how the pyramids in Egypt were perfectly aligned with certain stars and constellations and other interesting things.
Mom, never encouraged or discouraged me in my explorations but over time I lost interest in following the teaching of this guy and went back to my world of science and what man has learned through research and critical thinking. There is a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to be acquired in this way too but science can’t answer all of man’s problems.
Now, in my younger years I have always been what they call a lucid dreamer. My dreams were always in color and had great amounts of detail to them so I was accustomed to that sort of thing but one night something very different happened to me and I had the first of only two encounters I have had in my life of direct communication with The Goddess. It wasn’t a mere lucid dream, I refer to it as a vision because it is all I can explain it to be. First appeared a roughly 4 foot tall half man, half peacock creature who spoke to me in a language I did not understand but I could still get the gist of it’s meaning as if he were speaking to me telepathically. Then appeared, in all her glorious splendor, the Goddess Hera of the Greek pantheon. She told me in no uncertain terms that my path was to gather all of the knowledge and wisdom of the ancients that I could and then my task was to become a teacher and pass this on to future generations later in life. No more, no less. She did not tell me, I will become a priest of this particular tradition or that particular tradition. She did not give me any specifics on what to learn and later teach she only set me on this path to learn what I can, then teach it to others. So I have, as best I can until I took my sabbatical for a couple of years after my mom’s passing. Then the second vision came and this time she appeared more as what I can only describe as “Mother Nature” as she has been depicted on things produced by hollywood and that old Parkay commercial from the 1980s. She reiterated in no uncertain terms what I am supposed to be doing and seemed rather annoyed with me that she was having to repeat herself. So, I am back on my path and seeing that the way is being cleared before me to do the things I am supposed to do. I have learned to accept it and go with it when I realize this is what is happening to some extent but still that Irish, rebel lineage of mine tends to want to buck the system from time to time. 😉
So, if I speak of “the Goddess” a lot and not “the God” don’t take it that I do not believe in both aspects of the divine or even that I am necessarily purely duo-theistic as most Wiccans are. For me the jury is still out on the whole “hard polytheism versus soft polytheism debate) as Isadore refers to it. I only speak of “the Goddess” a lot because she is the one who has spoken directly to me. I also must clarify here, directly. I pull a rune for divination every day, I receive signs of other types all the time. I know the Kindred spirits are there guiding me if I only still my mind, pay attention and listen. I feel the presence of Cernunnos, Lugh, Dagda and others in my life. But only twice have I received direct, one on one communication with the divine and both times it was a Goddess who appeared. So far and for whatever reason. I figure if more is to come later it will but I will continue on my mission because I do think the old Parkay commercials were right about one thing. It’s not a good idea to piss off Mother Nature! (Well, maybe they didn’t say it quite like that.) 😉
So, that being said how about I talk a little about what I really wanted to say this morning at the moment I jotted that title down at the top before I wandered down the rabbit hole of this tangent I ended up on regarding my history. I do think some of that background will help people who are interested understand me a little better and see where some of my viewpoints come from. I still have some of those agnostic tendencies of, okay, prove it that show up from time to time for one. But I have learned, not all things can be proven. Some of them have to be experienced first hand. Which is why Contact is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I really enjoy the company of Pagans. I mean all Pagans, and when I use the term I am referring to people who do the digging and research into what their ancestors believed and why they believed it. For the most part, you don’t run into many spiritually lazy Pagans. Most of them know exactly why they believe what they do because they have taken the time to figure it out and not just say things like “Well my mom and dad did this, their mom and dad before them did so I do too and leave it at that.” Most Pagans know their history and it’s not like any history that is taught in the public school system. They know the stuff that gets glossed over or missed completely in the teaching from other sources but often times they can point to references and citations to back up what they know. I love hanging out with these people and hearing their stories, their wisdom and learning from them. Pagans tend to enjoy life and have a good time with one another. I love the energy of most gatherings, circles and rituals I have been to. I love getting closer to nature, the ancestors and the overall inter-connectedness of all things. I have had the occasion to go to American Tradition Of The Goddess gatherings and meet some very wonderful people there, I have, of course been to Alexandrian Wiccan circles, Council Of The Magickal Arts festivals, drum jams, Witchstock, Sumerians gatherings (Oh! I love my Sumerian peeps!), ADF Druid gatherings (I love my grovies from my ADF days too) and a bunch of types of gathering that probably are slipping my mind. Of course Pagan Pride Day get togethers. Pagans are, at the heart of it, very friendly, loving and accepting people for the most part. Yes, they are people and as most people they have their differences and sometimes don’t get along but most of them believe if you’re not harming them then they will accept you for what you are and Co-Exist with you. These are a few of the many things I love about Pagans. How about you?