In Canada we call November 11th “Remembrance Day” and it’s a pretty big deal for us culturally. It’s not just a bank holiday, like Veteran’s Day in the US. Though it is that, we also take time as a culture, in our schools prior to it and at our daily grind otherwise, to observe a moment of silence for the dead of our many World Wars, to which we now must add the Gulf War and the War in Afghanistan. As children in school, we make construction paper poppies and listen to the stories of soldiers. As adults, often we stand in the rain as our veterans stand solemnly in their uniforms and their medals, and we try to give their experience meaning and find hope in a time of darkness.
I think as Pagans, it is especially important that we engage in this practice of remembrance. Whatever your view on war (some traditions strongly respecting the warrior path, such as the Asatru; some being adamantly opposed to war, such as Reclaiming Witches,) our empathy for the experience of it is a valuable service we can contribute to our culture and the world. The many reasons connect to the uniquely Pagan experience of our spirituality. Now granted, these are all generalizations; and as such, not everyone will fit these moulds. But we seem to have these commonalities that make remembrance, especially of powerful and terrible events such as war, much more immediate and intense.
Respect for Our Roots
Many of us are called to Pagan paths because we feel a strong ancestral connection. Even the modern religion of Wicca draws its roots from the ancient Pagan practices of Europe. All but the most dedicated Reconstructionists agree we can’t exactly practice the same religion that our ancestors did; cultural and historical context, technology and needs are completely different. But something about those “Ancient Ways” draws us anyway....