Like a lot of American kids, I grew up on a steady diet of Saturday morning and weekday afternoon cartoons. I plunked myself down in front of the tv for hours, lost in the adventures of He-Man and She-Ra, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Tarzan and Isis and Aquaman. And, of course, Scooby and the gang.
Today is Faithful Friday here at the Pagan News Beagle, the day we share interesting stories about religious communities around the world. Our stories today include the launch of the new Polytheist community website; a call for papers on Pagan and Goddess studies; animal sacrifice outlawed (in part of India); Chinese Buddhist brand building; American Muslims meet (and integrate better than Muslims in Europe.)
The new website Polytheist.com launched recently and hopes to offer a variety of columnists (the site eschews the term "blog") from across this diverse movement.
I think it was Judy Harrow that told me this story. If not, apologies to my actual informant, whoever you are. As my father is fond of saying, “Age spares us nothing.”
Dateline: Chicago, 1993: the World Parliament of Religions. (This was the event at which the archbishop of Chicago used his political muscle to get the pagans a permit to do a ritual in a public park. Now that's what I call ecumenism.) It's the main event: religious leaders from all over the world are lined up on stage. The place is packed so full that they have to set up TV screens outside to accommodate everyone that wants to see. The pagans are all outside, watching. (There are, of course, none on stage.)
Some grandee gets up to talk. “Let us all be as one,” he says. “After all, we all worship the same god.” Nods, smiles, and knowing applause from the entire line-up on stage, including (shame on them) the Hindus. The audience eats it up.
My religious practice is mostly Wiccan.Were I practicing a Heathen, Celtic Reconstructionist, or some other NeoPagan tradition, my examples would differ but I think my point would remain the same.
Wiccans have a primary pantheon of two major deities, the Lord and Lady. We also have a number of mythologies describing these deities’ relationships. Taken literally they are not consistent with one another.In some but not all Wiccan traditions She is viewed as having three guises: Mother, Maid, and Crone.Sometimes She will have three dimensions but not as mother, maid, and crone, as with Hekate.Sometimes She is treated as a single goddess.The Horned Lord is sometimes seen as the Oak King and the Holly King.At the solstices they engage in ritual combat, dying to be reborn.In other Wiccan contexts and traditions He is treated as a single deity, and sometimes as an aspect of a more inclusive deity.
It used to be simple. Wiccans and NeoPagans in general were polytheists in contrast to Christians and other mostly monotheistic religions.NeoPagan polytheists usually spent little time on theology and considerably more creating and practicing rituals.Most of us became Pagans by virtue of personal attraction enriched by our involvement with a teacher or a coven or similar group.
Today many NeoPagans first learn about our traditions from books or the internet.The net in particular has expanded easily available information about our religion but at a cost.That cost is to be severed from NeoPagan history and practice except as available through pixels or the printed word.Instead of starting with learning and practice with others and then studying written sources, many NeoPagans now go from the study of texts to practice. They hope to interpret experiences they anticipate having through the texts they have read rather than judging whether the text illuminates or contradicts the experiences they have had.
Before the blog entry proper, Id like to state that the ideas proposed are still in a somewhat incubatory stage. That said, I invite your criticism and thoughts on the topic. Still needing to flesh out the ideas and needing better metaphors, I offer up the discussion here for better ways to express these thoughts. Thank you.
A few weeks ago, I posted a Spotlight On column about Walking With the Gods: Modern People Talk About Deities, Faith, and Recreating Ancient Traditions from Connaissance Sankofa Media. At the time, the book was only available in digital format.
I happy to report that Wendi Wilkerson has just released the paperback edition. A hefty 390 pages, it can be purchased immediately through Lulu.com. It will eventually be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but ordering it through Lulu is better: Wilkerson gets a higher percentage of the royalties, and she deserves every cent for all the time and effort she put into the title. And, if this edition sells well enough, there might be a second book with more interviews that she could not fit into the first book.