Tag Archives: Wicca

Things Overdue

There are a couple things I’ve been needing to do for a while.

When I started writing again after the month-long hiatus in April of this year, I mentioned that I would be introducing the occasional “Skip-Week” into the regular blog schedule whenever my work/life/writing balance became too much to manage.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve hit that point a few times in the intervening months, but have yet to actually take a pass on my regular Monday post.

Why?

I really don’t know.

The writing I do here is important to me.  It feels like there is so much that needs saying and that even if the individual posts don’t seem to matter that much, the whole of them will form some kind of complete thought.

Also, there is that nagging feeling that skipping out on a post is somehow admitting defeat.  My work schedule is ridiculous, and those moments in which I am able to pursue my many other interests, along with the minutia of everyday life, are fleeting.

We shouldn’t have to pack the things that we live for around the edges of someone else’s schedule, and skipping that regular Monday post because I am beat down by an unforgiving work week feels like surrender.

Is that silly?  Almost certainly.  But there it is.

So, with that in mind, I’ve set aside the post I’d wanted to do this week (but was in no way prepared for) and will instead take this opportunity to accept an award.

I’ve been nominated for a handful of these over the last few years.  They seem to spread and multiply through the WordPress community only to vanish for a while before returning again unexpectedly.  And usually I put off replying for a week or two and then things get in the way and eventually I forget about them entirely.

So a couple weeks ago, I was nominated for the “The Witchy Blog Award” by Lunapo of Biblebelt Witch.  I thank her for including me in this and apologize for taking so long to reply.

Witchy Blog Award Logo

Now then, in following the rules, nominees must answer each of the following seven questions…,

1) How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Neo-Paganism?

I had known that the old pre-christian gods still existed since childhood but had no clue that anyone else still honored them, so I didn’t discover Neo-Paganism until I went to University (give me a break, this was pre-internet).  I learned about Wicca and eclectic-witchcraft from members of the campus Pagan Student Association, and although what they were doing didn’t exactly resonate with me, I was deeply grateful to learn that I was not alone in my beliefs.

 

2) Do you grow herbs?

I’m sure there’s something in my backyard that is either edible or medicinal, but not because of anything I did.  Tending a nice little herb garden is one more of those goals that will just have to wait until I have more time.

 

3) Are you “in the broom closet”?  If not, share your coming out experience.

Well I don’t walk around with a flashing neon sign (those things are heavy!) but no, I am entirely open with anyone who asks.  It’s not a secret with work, friends or family.

I don’t have a particular “coming out” experience.  It happened a little at a time over the span of a decade.  A few folks had to be told several times, and in increasingly overt ways, before it finally sunk in.  Several of those who know, still don’t exactly get it – which is one of the things my blog is actually intended to help with.

 

4) What tradition do you follow, if any?

I practice my own particular blend of Celtic Polytheism.

 

5) Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?)

I have plenty of experience with the first – although I’ve never claimed that title.

Gave the second a brief try back in college – didn’t everyone?

The third is a pretty broad category (even by my definition) but will do in a pinch.

 

6) How much of witchcraft/Wicca are you able to incorporate into your everyday life?

Allowing for the difference in terminology, I see no distinction between my religious practice and my everyday life.  Certainly there are moments when I feel more (or less) ‘in tune’ with the gods and spirits around us, but I see no evidence that our ancestors drew such a harsh line between the spiritual and the mundane.  The world around us is infused with magic – one need only know where and how to look.

 

7) Do you have a familiar?  If you do, tell us how you met him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all).

I had a feline pal who understood more english than some people I know who are, in theory, proficient speakers.  He would sit on my lap while I wrote, and then he’d get down and jump on the bed which sits behind me and snore gently and reassuringly as I fussed over my keyboard.  He was crap about knocking things over on my altar, and an absolute pest whenever I’d try to meditate.

A familiar?  No.  But an excellent friend.

— and sometimes, I still hear him jump up onto the bed while I’m writing.

 

After answering the questions, the nominee must pay it forward by choosing five other Pagan bloggers to nominate.

So I give you…,

Metal Gaia

Druid Life

Lady Imbrium’s Holocron

Under the Owl’s Wing

Oak and Cauldron

BART Station Bard

Each very different from the others and all deserving of a signal boost!

Thanks again and I’ll be back again next Monday.  🙂

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Filed under About this Blog, Spiritual Journey

Outside Looking In

Sometimes we need to take a step back from the things that we feel are the most important, to look at them from a distance and to see them within their greater context.

A friend of mine (a young seminary student whom I know from work) recently had a brief encounter with a gentleman who happened to be a Jehovah’s Witness.  He posted briefly about this encounter on Facebook and after speaking very kindly of the fellow, he ended his status update with the words, “I hope and pray that he acknowledges the deity of Christ soon.”

I was struck by this.  I shouldn’t have been surprised, as I know well enough the tenets of his chosen religion, and yet I still found myself dismayed by the meaning behind his words.  I know this friend to be one of the kindest, funniest, most loving souls I have ever encountered.  Some days I can almost allow myself to forget that good people with good hearts believe in a God that would damn a man to an eternity in Hell, for what is, to an outsider, truly a trivial difference in the particulars of their belief.

I have a few VERY Christian friends who post on Facebook and usually I leave their more religious posts alone.  They are not talking to me, I reason, but rather to those who share their particular faith.  However, on this occasion I could not help but comment.  I pointed out to him that there was really very little difference separating him from this Jehovah’s Witness and that it was quite likely the gentleman in question had himself felt sympathy for my friend.

What I got back was a laundry list of their differences…,

“I can affirm the Athanasian Creed; he cannot. I can affirm the first four ecumenical councils; he cannot.  In short, significant, meaningful differences exist between us.”

I knew these things already.  I’ve studied the rise and evolution of Christianity and its various branches, in some detail.  I also know that for centuries, people who insist that the Christian god exists as a Holy Trinity, have been killing, imprisoning or otherwise discriminating against folks who don’t agree with them.  This despite the fact that nowhere in its first 39 books does the Bible state that the Hebrew god exists as a Trinity.

I’ve read the Gospels and Jesus never mentions a Trinity.  You would think, if it was important enough to send people to Hell over (or to have them stoned to death by their fellows), that he might have mentioned it somewhere along the way.  Maybe he could have tucked it between parables.  “Oh, and by the way…,”.

So the majority of Christians believe, like my friend, that there is one God who exists as a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which are all equal and without beginning or end and unified into a single whole.

I have been told, on occasion, that I simply do not understand the concept of the Trinity, but in reality I am quite familiar with it.  The Celtic pantheon includes numerous triplicate deities.  It’s actually a fairly common motif in Pagan beliefs, both modern and ancient, but was never a feature in the worship of the Hebrew God until Christianity began to make its home in pagan Rome.   I’ve occasionally wondered if the Trinity is not just one more thing the “church fathers” borrowed along the way.

So, what about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, what do they believe regarding the divinity of Christ?

In their view, the God Jehovah is the singular and eternal architect of the universe.  He created Jesus (the first act of creation) and it was Jesus who then created everything else.

And that’s it.  The fundamental difference between the two groups, when you scrape away all the Councils and Creeds (and those are really just there to explain away the inconsistencies among the various holy texts), it all comes down to the immortal question of “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”.

These sorts of questions are not unique to Christianity.

Every so often the Pagan community blazes to life with debate over continued use of the word “Pagan.”

There are those who think the word is worthless because the meaning has been stretched to include almost anyone who is not a member of one of the big-three monotheist traditions.  Admittedly, simply calling oneself a Pagan is much less descriptive of what you believe and more so of what you don’t.

Others argue that they do not want to be associated with some of the people who are “also” considered Pagan.  Many Reconstructionists and Traditionalists are leery of outsiders conflating their beliefs with those of Eclectic Wiccans or even New Agers who may choose to call themselves (Neo-)Pagan.  We are talking about a whole range of different and often conflicting beliefs including Humanism, Monism, Pantheism and Polytheism, all wedged together under a single umbrella term.

Which brings me to the question of what constitutes, “meaningful differences?”

From the perspective of my friend, I was attacking him by dismissing the very core of his belief (the divinity of Christ) as inconsequential.  However, from the outside looking in, the differences between trinitarian and nontrinitarian doctrine seem painfully small.  Both men claim to be Christians and while each feels that he has ample evidence to prove that the other is wrong, there is far more about them that is alike than there is that makes them different.

Perhaps they are each too close to the problem to see it clearly.

So then, from the outside looking in, what must the squabbling within the Pagan community look like?  Is there any point to it – particularly when eternal damnation is NOT on the line?

Do any of us really believe that eschewing the word “Pagan” in favor of something else will still not get us lumped in with people we don’t necessarily agree with?  And why should we be so bothered by the opinions of outsiders?

I know many people within the community who prefer to use the term “Polytheist”.  To them, I offer this nugget from the same conversation with my seminarian friend…,

“Believing that all religions are equally valuable is basically a form of polytheism.”

It’s not at all true, but it proves my point, which is that we will never accomplish anything if we spend our energy debating what we should call ourselves.  Choose any word you want and even our most well-meaning Christian friends will still find a way to lump us all together with the other sinners.

DeconstructCoexist

There are better things we could be doing with our time.

I’ve always believed that our ability to look past our particular differences was one of our great advantages over the People of the Book.  So why should we strive so hard to emulate them by constantly bitching about who gets to be included under the “Pagan Umbrella?”

I use (and will continue to use) the word ‘Pagan’ to describe myself to those who ask.

If you need more detail than that, I am a Polytheist.

More still?  I am a Celtic Reconstructionist.

If the conversation moves beyond that, we are talking about the very specifics of my belief, at which point labels become unimportant.  Most people don’t make it that far, being more comfortable on the outside, looking in.

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Filed under Culture, Interfaith, Philosophy, Proselytizing, Religion