Part of forming a community is defining what that community means. What do we stand for? What are our values? Who is or isn't a member of that community? And what are our goals? Today's stories for Watery Wednesday take a look at the ways in which the Pagan community is defining itself. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!
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Modern Pagan traditions have the Oak and Holly kings fighting at the summer and winter solstices. It’s a good excuse to evoke some mumming drama and get some chaps to hit each other with bits of wood, and as such is not without merit. But what of the oak and the holly?
Winter is certainly holly’s season. The deciduous trees shed their leaves a month or two ago, so the dark glossy hues of the holly stand out. Red holly berries can be one of the few bright things in a winter environment, still vivid even on gloomy days, and vibrant against backdrops of snow. Holly is certainly King at this time of year, but in practice he’s probably been King since Samhain....
What does a sustainable future look like? And how do we get there? The book Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future contains a collection of essays on the subject. Perhaps the more important question would be what kind of influence can we, as Pagans, have? We don’t have the numbers to effect elections except perhaps locally. But we can talk to people. Interfaith is one such path. But so is FB and getting involved with local politics.
Visioning sustainable food production covers a lot of ground for me. As a Pagan, I take solace in the Earth. I want to see my planet in a healthy balance with its residents, with relationship being the basis for interaction. Industrial food production does not support the relationship model, but permaculture and biodynamics do.Read More...
As a product of the counterculture, I tend to mistrust and avoid institutions. I suspect this is a common attitude among “first generation” NeoPagans in the U.S. We found existing institutions, be they religious, educational, or governmental, to be oppressive, unfulfilling, and irrelevant to the conditions of the world in which we found ourselves.
Let’s face it: established religions such as Christianity in its many forms, were created and gained ascendency in other times and places. There was no threat of nuclear annihilation, no looming environmental degradation, no water shortage, no organ transplants, no vaccinations against such diseases as smallpox and polio. Those religions addressed the concerns of the peoples in other times and places. Further, few of these religious institutions adapted to changing circumstances. Nowadays some are trying to be more relevant, often by adopting practices, such as involving lay people in their rituals and dancing during worship....
I think I am a little ill.
I've noticed my ailment when I have been visiting the shops recently (the local shopping mall, for those playing in the U.S.A). Rather than sneer or glare at the usual proliferation of Christmas decorations that are decking the halls and the delicious treats (Pfeffernüsse! Get in me) that are sitting on shelves in early October and November, I've been smiling to myself. Smiling! Carols are playing over the speakers and I don't mind at all. In fact, I'm trilling the yuletide carols. Where did the Grinch go of Christmas past?
I've got the fever. Xmas fever!
Christmas is an awkward celebration whichever way you turn it when you live south of the equator. For starters, those snowglobes become a little irrelevant and more than a few items from traditional Christmas iconography is rendered obsolete in the Australian context. I'll allow my dear readers to connect the dots and refer you to some of my previous blogs about the Summer Solstice and how it collides with Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere. Most Aussies grin and bear it. We throw a few prawns in the barbie, sit in the 40°C heat and whinge a little and carry on with the commercial abomination of Western Christmas over-indulgence. Many of us, including me usually, absolutely hate it. It's crass, it's inconvenient, and it's often overrated. The expectations culminate in a hangover of overeating, exhaustion, and familial resentment.
This year, I'm really enjoying it, and I'm really looking forward to Christmas. I can't pin down exactly why. After a year of largely stepping away from the Wheel of the Year, I'm ready to launch myself straight back into it, and I'm ready for a little bit of anarchy while I'm at it.
This is going to take the form of indulging a 'flipped' Wheel but spreading it thick with a little applesauce that only a Discordian can bring. Some demons are coming to the party and I am going to embrace all environmental aspects of the season. This includes the natural environment: the Summer Solstice, and the fey energies that are embedded within. An acknowledgement of the polar opposition within the Winter Solstice, and the time of turning inward and contemplation that this time of year brings. We live on one planet and to dichotomise things is starting to serve me no longer, and I am beginining to look at things from a more global perspective. The cultural environment, too, will play a significant role: my black Christmas tree will receive a heap of trimmings this year that are going to be a little unexpected but a whole lot of fun. Beginning with Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
My plan is to both observe and celebrate the opportunity for revelry and retreat that this time of year brings for me. Sumsol celebrations will be held at my home with my coven, and I am really looking forward to some dastardly plans that will be enjoyed with much merriment, a lot of the colour red, and maybe a little bit of sun, sand and surf.
Wish me luck as I move on from my self diagnosis and jump into the treatment that holiday fever demands!
You may have heard, as it was not without its own bit of controversy, that the Temple of Witchcraft has bought property in Salem, NH, and is doing a fund drive for our parking lot. Why start with a parking lot? Simple: no parking lot, no temple. To gain the town's approval, a religious organization in a residential zone requires a paved lot with adequate space, lighting, and drainage.
Beyond the parking lot itself, some have asked why do Pagans, Wiccans and Witches need a temple at all? Aren't we meant to practice solitary, or in small groups in people's homes, or outside? And if I'm not in the Salem, NH, area, why should this even matter to me? All important questions and here are some thoughts in response to many of the discussions I've had with people over the last few months:...
The first time I gave a formal talk on anything relating to Paganism was for a workshop I lead in 2004 at a Pagan Pride Day in North Carolina. I was 16 years old and it was this PPD's first "Teen Talk", designed to engage young Pagans in the community. I had no idea what to expect as I gathered my notes and sat under a big oak tree, waiting for one - maybe two - participants. To my surprise, over a dozen people aged 14 to 25 came over. I was so nervous. I looked down at my notes and prepared to speak from my obsessive virgo-inspired outline. I planned to speak about how to be a Witch in the public school system, explaining the Craft to your parents, and developing a deep spirituality. As I looked around at the eager faces around me, I came to the sudden realization that I needed to ditch my outline entirely. So I put it aside, smiled, and sat in the circle with the others.
I began with a question- "why are you here?" The first girl around 16 spoke; "I want to gain a better understanding of my path, but I feel limited in the information available to me." Then a guy around 20; "I've been doing this since I was 14 but older Pagans still won't take me seriously. They think its some fad. Is there a place for me within the Pagan community before 30?" The answers continued, all speaking of the deep desire to better their lives through a sincere commitment to their various paths. These weren't youth worried so much about harassment from cowan-folk, or how to talk to their parents. For the most part, they were individuals who had already established a religious practice and either wanted to take that further, or had some unique ideas they were excited to share with others. Although I'm known for having a terrible memory, I will never forget my conversation with those young people that day. They were my peers, sharing fascinating stories of connecting with the gods and performing highly-effective magick. They were pre-teens, teens, and young adults trying to find their place at the table of an emerging religious tradition making its claim in an increasingly-informed world....