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An Introduction Jehanna Silverwing
Not so long ago, about 12 or 15 of us from several different covens and backgrounds performed a land protection ritual. This ritual involved minimal planning and little notice, and no props other than leaves and rocks from the land, and the petition to the local zoning commission we had all earlier signed. Most of us had not worked together on a magical basis before. Although the ritual was coordinated by one facilitator, Peregrine, each participant who took up a role brought to the ritual in her or his own words and actions whatever of value was needed. We held no rehearsal - Yet, the ritual worked -- it was powerful, beautiful, and filled with directed energy. Each of us involved in the spontaneous invocation of quarters or deities spoke from the heart, and all was interweaved into this ritual with skill by Peregrine. peaking with a powerful chant and dance that connected with Earth and Sky - something greater than the sum of the ritual's individual parts or participants.
I've been in the Craft over ten years, now. I am one of those who, for a long period of time, was sustained and maintained by Pagan festivals and gatherings, where people of many traditions and backgrounds gather, party, connect, tap into sources of spirituality, and work real magic, not necessarily in any particular order. This eclecticism formed me, and forms yet much of what I find to be of value in the Craft. That people of diverse backgrounds can meet; can meld; can braid their differences into something worthwhile and positive; that they can ideally touch one another without diluting the essence of what they themselves are. This doesn't always happen. But when it does, it underlines a certain specialness. Twenty and fifteen years ago, such festivals and gatherings were rare. People stayed within the traditions they first found, and did not travel afar to bring back other ways of doing things; other ways of approaching things. Some say that the current way dilutes the Craft, by encouraging a bland blending in doing Craft. Others say it encourages diversity and communication; appreciation of other Paths. There's probably a little truth in both arguments. But anything which encourages communication cannot be a negative value. Some dilution may indeed occur -- I have heartfelt sympathy for Native American tribes who worry about the sudden influx of white ‘wannabees who hodge-podge all Native material together in their search for the "True Native" -- this is indeed damaging to the valid need of the Native to retain each tribe's cultural identity and each individual's personal sense of self. It is likewise important for Wiccan and Pagan trads to retain their own sense of selves. However, intercommunication, with respect and encouragement for differences, is essential for the survival of the Craft, now, and in the future.
But there is more to our lives as Witches than ritual and magic and networking. Whether we desire it or not (and there are indeed some who do not), we live in this world, and are formed by it. We may be a part of an (oft times hazy) Pagan Community, but we are also part of the world around us. How do we interact with what world around us on a daily basis to form it in turn? Are we willing we learn from our faith into our d future hold for us myriad "Beltane who are the direct descendants of Christians"? In order to understand we need to get to the roots of what religion is to us in the here and now. What are the patterns we are currently forming, and will they still remain affective when we are ten times as populous? And how, perhaps most immediately, will we raise our children, our most precious asset?
Images in the Glass. Don, who suggested this topic and this title, harkens us to the image of the scrying-glass. The black-mirrored glass shows the future, not in terms of absolutes, but in "hazy" terms of possibilities and potentialities It builds on the present and it learns from the past. It is not infallible; it knows not of dogmatism.
It looks at communities in terms of the individuals in communities. Some of the things we might favor. Other things, like a fun-house mirror might reflect grotesque distortions. Other things, like the Dark Mother, will reflect truth from which we may wish to hide until we are prepared to face them.
So. Who are we? Who do we wish to become? All religions change with time. The Christian faith in the time of Saul/Paul was different than the Christian faith in the Middle Ages is different than that of today, whether stereotypic "Bible-thumper" or Mormon or Quaker or Episcopalian. We’re not going to be exempt. We can't flaunt time. We’re not the Perfect Answer. No, the world isn’t going to be a better place if everyone suddenly becomes Pagan. Sorry, I personally don't ascribe to any Utopias. We’re human. And that is wonderful. And there is no conceivable reason why it should be otherwise.
Issues addressed herein include mainstreaming our religion; communication and respect; admitting the real emotion of anger; the issue of paid clergy along with concomitant thoughtful insights on the overall quality of the thing we are trying to build with this Pagan Community; a study of naming; questions of what ways are our Gods real to us; issues of spirituality; and what it means to be Pagan or a Witch in day-to-day living.
This is not to slight other realities which we as Pagans will be (and currently are) needing to deal with as individuals and/or as communities. Our growing interactions for good or for ill with other religions, including Fundamentalists (who have their own validations as respectable people until proven otherwise, just as we do) ; our growing interactions with other Earth-oriented religions – will we find ourselves coopting them. or vice versa, or will our interactions with them be for their gain as well? There are issues arising from conflicts that may arise from treating covens as small, extended, volitional families (people don't enter as blank slates into these families); issues of sexuality and the subsequent confusion of sexual and attractional expectations; questions as to the benefits of small groups such as covens in contrast to the benefits of larger networking communities who lack inner intimacy; issues of standards and divergences from standards as traditions splinter and reform; issues of the elderly -- since most of us aren't, how do we give the elderly full respect for the wisdom of their Crone years, or do we; remembering that some of' them may be as new to this religion as we are? And the children? Why is it that childcare is the last chore many Pagans will seek to take on at a festival? Could it be that in this fertility religion, Pagans are simply and oddly child-fearing? Or could it be that there is a small percentage of Pagan parents who believe in not setting limits for their offspring, and that a stranger at child-care doesn't see a need to subject her/hisself to those children who are more noticeable in proportion to their numbers or their manners? And in matters of spirituality, how do we bring our polytheism into a dichotomous world with its "black and white" "do or don't" expectations?
So. Here. Material to get you thinking. Or to make you bemused. Or angry. Perhaps some of it will stir you towards action or re-action. Choices are in your hands. Which is where they belong. Blessed Be.
"Squirrel" illustration, Copyright © 1991by J. Silverwing.
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