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.
When the whole Kenny Klein issue hit the news, I was appalled but not surprised. I had met the guy in New Orleans and been less than impressed, in fact i"d found him energetically filthy and obviously lacking in any moral sense. I thought thought "well, here at least is an issue that all Polytheists, Pagans, and Wiccans can staunchly stand behind: child abuse and molestation, sexual assault. coverups -- and anything that furthers those things is wrong." How naive I was and how incorrect.
Since the affair de Kenny hit the Pagan blogosphere I have been sickened by the number of Pagans and Wiccans who have come out publicly excusing these behaviors and moreover attempting to silence his victims. Just check out the wildhunt.com coverage for a sickening sample.
Firstly, happy spring. Winter is slowly starting to loosen its grip--I know it may not feel like it for those of us in the east but soon, very soon we'll be complaining about the warm weather. I for one, can't wait.