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.
Regardie, Israel. The Golden Dawn: A Complete Course in Practical Ceremonial Magic. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn. 1986.
I'm going to try something of a new kind of entry for a while: Comments on various works that may be of interest to Pagans, Wiccans, people interested in magic, and more. These comments are intended to introduce a book to a broader audience who may have heard of it but haven't read it. With that in mind, there are several things that these comments are not: They are not scholarly book reviews that attempt to comprehensively address the arguments of the work and all its relationships to the existing literature. Hopefully some of that sort of awareness will be included - so that someone who reads my comments would be better informed without still having read the book itself - but these are going to be briefer and aimed at a nonspecialist audience. For that audience, these comments are still not the kind of book review that tells you whether it's a "good" book or a "bad" book. I may occasionally excoriate a truly abysmal work for the fun of it, in general I want to tell readers who might want to read this book and why, and what readers will find or not find within it. It's up to you to use that information to figure out if it's a good book for you and for your interests and purposes.
In recent months, I've been lucky enough to witness some fairly ancient traditions replayed by modern folk in my local community. Rather than taking the cynical, culturally-superior, post-modern 21st-century approach, villagers across Derbyshire have delighted in the creation of Well Dressing ceremonies and presentations.
Well Dressing is thought to be pagan in origin, but now crosses social and faith boundaries in the simple act of creation. An offering is made from natural materials - such as petals, seeds and leaves - ostensibly to celebrate the local community and the various groups within it. But it is known that Well Dressing was also an act of thanks and celebration, to honour the spirit of the Well for providing clean water to that community, allowing it to nourish and thrive.