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Do We Mean It?
Pagans on a whole like to feel very serious (rabid perhaps) about our religious path. We love to be "politically correct" Pagans, pulling ourselves up about how big a part Paganism, (to which, incidentally, most of us are converts) plays in our lives.
Let's face it, folks, a lot of the talk we hear is just talk. A better way to tell how serious someone is to look at what people say and do when they're not speaking specifically for public consumption. The person who stood up at that workshop and made a five minute improvisation on his views, all of which scream "look at me being Politically correct" still says "Jesus Christ" or "Cod-damn- it', when he drops a hammer on his foot. Why? Do Christians say "Odin's Eye!" or "Hecate!" when some halfwit cuts them off at an intersection? I haven't heard any.
"Swearing" was originally an attempt to get the Deity in question to look upon you and either blast that idiot in the sports car or keep you from flattening your thumb the next time you miss a nail. If we really are serious about being Pagans, let's think about who we want to call upon
Likewise. our holidays; most of us probably exchange gifts and send carefully non-denominational greeting cards around Christmas-Yule-Winter Solstice, but how many of us got a Lughnasadh card last year?
Planning on sending out Valentine's Day cards? Frankly I'd rather you didn't send me one (I know, you weren't Planning to send me one anyway, but you get my drift.) However, please do send me a suggestive (or blatant) card come Beltane. I'd also like to see a change in gift-giving habits among Pagans. Rather than going through the Christmas crunch every year, try spreading things out. If you see something a friend of yours might like, buy it and hang onto it until the next holiday appropriate for your Pagan path. This also eliminates the depression from not getting a card or gift at any given time of the year.
Naturally, I don't suggest you send a garter-belt and fishnets to your Baptist grandmother for Beltane:
your Jewish friends probably don't send you Rosh Hashanah cards either. It doesn't make sense to send religious greetings to people not of the faith in question, but it does make sense to reorient ourselves within the Pagan community. Let's really celebrate our holidays!
Another aspect of this whole subject is sexuality. We love to talk about how we really see sex and sexuality as sacred rather than dangerous and dirty, but do we really treat it that way? Frankly, no. Attitudes of my experience range from Gardnerians who make much of the Great Rite, but leave the room when it actually occurs, to large gatherings which I have heard described as a place to go to "get stoned, drunk and laid".
Neither of these attitudes displays any reverence for sex. At the one end, sex is still treated as some-thing to be hidden away, which the subconscious is likely to perceive as shameful, vulgar, and dirty. At the other end, we see people fucking indiscriminately, like good (?! ) Pagan rabbits. How much reverence can we have for sex under these circumstances?
I'm not saying that either of these attitudes is always inappropriate: many people were raised in such a fashion that they probably couldn't perform sexually with the coven standing around chanting "Io! Io! Evohe!" At the other end, "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals," and there's nothing wrong with a little lovin' pleasure, but let's see if we can't treat sex the way we describe it: as a delightful gift and a way of sharing and growing closer; neither shameful nor the ultimate method of masturbation.
At the other end of the lifecycle is the question of how we deal with death. I'm not going to discuss the religious aspect of the subject here. I'm just going to stick to the practical. Have you taken steps to insure that your funeral and burial arrangements will reflect your beliefs or will you end up being buried in conjunction with rituals from the faith of your parents? And don't think it's too early: you can eat only the healthiest foods, exercise, watch your weight, practice safer sex, keep your stress level low, and still get run over by a truck tomorrow. Do you really want to have your last ritual be that of a faith hostile to your own?
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Consumer Affairs publishes The Consumer Guide to Planning a Funeral, available by writing to them at: 1 Ashburton Place, Boston MA 02108. Check out your state burial laws too: see if they allow the type of burial you desire. Some states require the coffin go into a sealed concrete vault, which means the body will never re-enter the ecosystem. So much for the Wheel of Life. The time to make decisions like these is now; when you're dead, it's too late.
Some people may see much of this article as trivial, especially the section on cursing and holidays. "How I behave doesn't affect what I believe," I hear them say, as if the spiritual and the physical were unconnected. Haven't they learned anything? Are these people really embracing a Pagan path or just fooling themselves and others? Even if spiritual and physical are separate what you believe should affect how you behave. Otherwise, why bother?
Do we really mean it, or are we just playing?
(Reprinted from Moonrise, Volume 2, No. 2 - Lammas 1990)
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