Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yes, Virginia, Pagans CAN
Be Fundamentalists!

I consider myself to be "a pagan;" very simply put, I find a spiritual resonance most strongly with natural phenomena, and finding my "Way" is a matter of trying to orient myself to a natural order of things. Now, my perspective on matters spiritual is not entirely that simple, but that statement is pretty close to my core beliefs.

My friends - my "Tribe" - and I have been engaging in a celebration in the beginning of February for about twenty-five years, some hoo-hah to chase away the Winter doldrums. It has evolved over the years to include a procession, lighting of torches and a bonfire, drinking, chanting, shaking bells and pounding on drums, and having a symbolic hunt of the MidWinter Beast. To acknowledge the natural rhythm of the seasons and lift our spirits.

One of our number, who has been along for the whole ride, has in the last several years become associated with a Druidic group. Now, I suspect that there has not been an unbroken tradition of Druidic ceremony in the last millennium, but never mind, whatever is meaningful to you and floats yer boat, eh?

Well, apparently it's not that simple.

Just a few days before our MidWinter Ceremonies they just sent out an email to various members of the Tribe saying:

I'm going to (the Druidic Leader's), on the full moon, and feel secure all my spiritual chickens can come home safely to roost. Whatever the heck happens at the free for all fiasco you all plan doesn't bother me anymore. My spiritual needs are covered. You truly don't have any rules about this and it has always bothered me. Think no one is watching, do you?
Well, I guess we've been set straight! Although I might quibble over "fiasco:" it is a party, after all. Oh, and as for "rules?" You mean, like, rituals? Hmm, let's see: We "Seek out the Sunbearer." There is a Gathering, a Reading, a Procession, and an Invocation. We form a united circle of torchlight lighting up the Wint'ry night, and light up a blazing pyre. We chant, ring bells, pound on drums "and make a joyful noise." If we have any tokens of bad stuff from the previous year(s) we want to be rid of, we toss it into the blaze. And then we "Summon a Warrior" to hunt down and slay the MidWinter Beast! Oh Frabjous Day!

And we feast, and we drink, and make merry. And I've noticed that this bothers a lot of fundamentalists: you're just not taking this seriously!

Well. Horned gods? Virgin births? Sprinkling of waters from special places that have been exposed to special natural phenomena or had special words spake over them in olde languages?
Death and resurrections? Yes, yes, your tales and legends and beliefs work for you, and welcome to 'em! But unless there is a Special Proving Day, they're all just our stories until then. And maybe I think a strange haircut and banging on finger cymbals is... well... strange, but that's really not for me to say. Maybe Krshna is lord. Or is that Cernunos, I forget...

The greatest irony to me is that my friend was raised in quite a straitlaced Roman Catholic tradition, and for years and years railed against the conservatism and the narrow roles of that faith. The fruit, they say, doesn't fall far from the tree. What once was a Macintosh is now a Fuji, or a Granny Smith , or...
Think no one is watching, do you?
We're all watching. But who's reflecting ?


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