Posts Tagged With: Christian

The Matter Of Faith

The Matter Of Faith

Author: RuneWolf

Faith, simply put, is trust.

Some Pagans have a negative reaction to the entire concept of faith, because it has become synonymous in our culture with one particular brand of faith: Christian. But I submit that, whether one is Christian or Pagan or whatever, faith is the root and foundation of any serious spiritual life. Christian faith and Pagan faith may differ radically, but I believe that faith itself, that is to say trust, is indispensable in any genuine relationship with the Divine, however we may understand It. If I have no trust in my Goddess and my God, then I am simply going through the motions of being a Witch, and I might as well just declare myself an atheist and get it over with.

From my experience as a nominal Christian in my youth, and from my observations since then, it seems that Christian faith is an almost fanatical trust that God or Jesus will deliver the faithful from the tribulations of this life, and secure that person a place in Paradise in the afterlife. Pagan faith, on the other hand – at least as I practice it – is an implicit trust that my Goddess and my God will always help me to find within myself the resources to deal with the trials of life. A large part of my spiritual life as a Witch is spent opening myself to the various ways in which the Divine communicates with me in the course of my daily life, so that when a crisis does occur, the lines of communication are already open.

These two types of faith may be labeled “passive” and “active, ” and objectively neither is really superior to the other. I do, however, have my personal opinions and preferences.

Faced with a crisis, a Christian will tend to pray and “put things in God’s hand, ” trusting that their Lord will set things right. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most negative situations are beyond our human control anyway, and the more we meddle, trying to “fix” things, the worse the situation gets, and the more stressful it becomes. “Getting out of our own way” by turning the matter over to a spiritual power, and trusting that the situation will work out, may indeed be the best course of action, and in this situation, faith becomes the psychic buffer that allows someone to let circumstances run their course without living in constant anxiety. Using their version of prayer and having deep faith in their Lord and Savior, the Christian is effectively working magic, if one defines magic as “changing consciousness at will.”

Speaking solely for myself, I believe that this type of faith ultimately disempowers the individual. Like a child who never escapes the apron strings, the practitioner of passive faith learns nothing from the challenges of life, and can only meet each new challenge as the last was met, with passivity and an abdication of responsibility.

Active faith, on the other hand, encourages – even demands – that the individual take responsibility and take action, even if that action is taking no action at all. This last may seem a bit paradoxical, but it is really an important and subtle point. A practitioner of passive faith may take no action by default – the matter has been turned over to God, and there is no further need for personal action. Indeed, continuing to struggle after invoking Divine intercession could be seen as a denial of faith. The practitioner of active faith, on the other hand, may elect to take no action, but only after appropriate contemplation of the situation, and due consultation with the Gods. In this context, taking no action becomes a choice, perhaps just one among many.

There is a Jewish proverb that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you.” I think this is a beautiful and concise definition of active faith, one that is both eminently mystical and logically practical, and it is the manner in which I strive to live my life as a Witch.

One important function of faith, in the spiritual or religious sense, is indeed to satisfy deep psychological needs. My faith, my trust, that my Goddess and God are always with me helps me to feel secure, appreciated and loved unconditionally, often in the face of insecurity, rejection and hatred. My Deities do not eliminate the negative circumstances willy-nilly. Rather, They provide the guidance whereby I find within myself the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with those negative circumstances. I do not hide behind Them, but I know They are “watching my back.”

For many people, Pagan and non-Pagan, this sense of “Divine parenting” is all that is required of faith. Many people can accept it and practice it simply because it is a tenet of their chosen religion, and it is so effective in their lives that they never find the need to go deeper.

For some of us, however, the matter of faith runs much deeper, into realms that are difficult to address via the cumbersome medium of the spoken or written word, and the linchpin of this difference is often the “spiritual experience.”

I have heard it said that there is a difference between “faith” and “belief.” One is said to have faith when one trusts in something that cannot be or has not been proven. One believes in something that one has directly experienced. Today, the words are synonymous to me, largely because I have been fortunate enough to have had two powerful “spiritual experiences” in my Pagan life. Members of 12 Step fellowships often refer to these as “burning bushes;” the immediate and undeniable manifestation of Divine presence in our ordinary reality. Before the first such event, I had “faith” in the Gods because that was what a good Pagan was “supposed” to do. Actually, it was simply a matter of fitting the spiritual beliefs that I had developed on my own into the Pagan context. But still, I took it “on faith” that the Gods were real, as I had not yet had direct experience of Them. After my first spiritual experience, I believed in the Gods the same way I believed in my ’92 Taurus, for They were suddenly just as “real” and just as “present” in my life.

Faith and belief have their own logic, if one can call it that, and it is certainly fractal in nature. I think, at times, we grasp that logic in a brief and tentative manner. Ultimately, however, it eludes examination and defeats definition. Nor is it necessary, for me at least, to know “how” or “why” it works. It is enough that I have faith, belief and trust in my Deities. These, along with willingness, are the doors through which They enter my life, that we may dance together.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

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The Matter Of Faith

The Matter Of Faith

Author:   RuneWolf   

Faith, simply put, is trust.

Some Pagans have a negative reaction to the entire concept of faith, because it has become synonymous in our culture with one particular brand of faith: Christian. But I submit that, whether one is Christian or Pagan or whatever, faith is the root and foundation of any serious spiritual life. Christian faith and Pagan faith may differ radically, but I believe that faith itself, that is to say trust, is indispensable in any genuine relationship with the Divine, however we may understand It. If I have no trust in my Goddess and my God, then I am simply going through the motions of being a Witch, and I might as well just declare myself an atheist and get it over with.

From my experience as a nominal Christian in my youth, and from my observations since then, it seems that Christian faith is an almost fanatical trust that God or Jesus will deliver the faithful from the tribulations of this life, and secure that person a place in Paradise in the afterlife. Pagan faith, on the other hand – at least as I practice it – is an implicit trust that my Goddess and my God will always help me to find within myself the resources to deal with the trials of life. A large part of my spiritual life as a Witch is spent opening myself to the various ways in which the Divine communicates with me in the course of my daily life, so that when a crisis does occur, the lines of communication are already open.

These two types of faith may be labeled “passive” and “active, ” and objectively neither is really superior to the other. I do, however, have my personal opinions and preferences.

Faced with a crisis, a Christian will tend to pray and “put things in God’s hand, ” trusting that their Lord will set things right. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most negative situations are beyond our human control anyway, and the more we meddle, trying to “fix” things, the worse the situation gets, and the more stressful it becomes. “Getting out of our own way” by turning the matter over to a spiritual power, and trusting that the situation will work out, may indeed be the best course of action, and in this situation, faith becomes the psychic buffer that allows someone to let circumstances run their course without living in constant anxiety. Using their version of prayer and having deep faith in their Lord and Savior, the Christian is effectively working magic, if one defines magic as “changing consciousness at will.”

Speaking solely for myself, I believe that this type of faith ultimately disempowers the individual. Like a child who never escapes the apron strings, the practitioner of passive faith learns nothing from the challenges of life, and can only meet each new challenge as the last was met, with passivity and an abdication of responsibility.

Active faith, on the other hand, encourages – even demands – that the individual take responsibility and take action, even if that action is taking no action at all. This last may seem a bit paradoxical, but it is really an important and subtle point. A practitioner of passive faith may take no action by default – the matter has been turned over to God, and there is no further need for personal action. Indeed, continuing to struggle after invoking Divine intercession could be seen as a denial of faith. The practitioner of active faith, on the other hand, may elect to take no action, but only after appropriate contemplation of the situation, and due consultation with the Gods. In this context, taking no action becomes a choice, perhaps just one among many.

There is a Jewish proverb that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you.” I think this is a beautiful and concise definition of active faith, one that is both eminently mystical and logically practical, and it is the manner in which I strive to live my life as a Witch.

One important function of faith, in the spiritual or religious sense, is indeed to satisfy deep psychological needs. My faith, my trust, that my Goddess and God are always with me helps me to feel secure, appreciated and loved unconditionally, often in the face of insecurity, rejection and hatred. My Deities do not eliminate the negative circumstances willy-nilly. Rather, They provide the guidance whereby I find within myself the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with those negative circumstances. I do not hide behind Them, but I know They are “watching my back.”

For many people, Pagan and non-Pagan, this sense of “Divine parenting” is all that is required of faith. Many people can accept it and practice it simply because it is a tenet of their chosen religion, and it is so effective in their lives that they never find the need to go deeper.

For some of us, however, the matter of faith runs much deeper, into realms that are difficult to address via the cumbersome medium of the spoken or written word, and the linchpin of this difference is often the “spiritual experience.”

I have heard it said that there is a difference between “faith” and “belief.” One is said to have faith when one trusts in something that cannot be or has not been proven. One believes in something that one has directly experienced. Today, the words are synonymous to me, largely because I have been fortunate enough to have had two powerful “spiritual experiences” in my Pagan life. Members of 12 Step fellowships often refer to these as “burning bushes;” the immediate and undeniable manifestation of Divine presence in our ordinary reality. Before the first such event, I had “faith” in the Gods because that was what a good Pagan was “supposed” to do. Actually, it was simply a matter of fitting the spiritual beliefs that I had developed on my own into the Pagan context. But still, I took it “on faith” that the Gods were real, as I had not yet had direct experience of Them. After my first spiritual experience, I believed in the Gods the same way I believed in my ’92 Taurus, for They were suddenly just as “real” and just as “present” in my life.

Faith and belief have their own logic, if one can call it that, and it is certainly fractal in nature. I think, at times, we grasp that logic in a brief and tentative manner. Ultimately, however, it eludes examination and defeats definition. Nor is it necessary, for me at least, to know “how” or “why” it works. It is enough that I have faith, belief and trust in my Deities. These, along with willingness, are the doors through which They enter my life, that we may dance together.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

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PAGANISTIC POEM PAGANISTIC POEM

Moon & Witch Comments & Graphics

PAGANISTIC POEM

By Daniel Edmonds

Go ahead and talk about us, as we seem to make you doubt,
Because God has condemned us by what we can’t live without.
Preach at us when we draw near just like all Christians do.
But don’t come running back to us when spirits walk on through.
 
We freeze your conversations when we pass you on the street,
If only we saw your true God, oh wouldn’t that be sweet
We may well be exploited by your taunts forevermore
But we will not be swayed from the things we most adore.
 
We endured with admiration of our gods through burning days
And salvaged what we could from our true Karmic Phrase
To say what we believe is wrong, you really have some nerve
We deserve some freedom from the one you claim to serve.
 
Say that we are sinners, as we have no common sense?
As if we’d copy what you do at our own self-expense!
You look up at your “true” god to receive his holy smile,
It doesn’t mean that we agree, or will change our pagan style.
 
You can laugh at our starvation, and our divining games,
But know that when we rest at last, our time will come again
You’ve picked up quite the story, likely brainwashed from the womb,
What happened to love thy neighbor – you’ve been corrupted, but by whom

 

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Deity of the Day – Janus, God of New Beginnings

Witchy Comments & Graphics
Deity of the Day – Janus, God of New Beginnings

In the mythology of ancient Rome, Janus was the god of new beginnings. He was associated with doors and gates, and the first steps of a journey. The month of January — of course, falling at the beginning of the new year — is named in his honor. He is often invoked together with Jupiter, and is considered a high-ranking god.

In many portrayals, Janus is depicted as having two faces, looking in opposite directions. In one legend,  bestows upon him the ability to see both the past and the future. In the early days of Rome, city founder Romulus and his men kidnapped the women of Sabine, and the men of Sabine attacked Rome in retaliation. The daughter of a city guard betrayed her fellow Romans and allowed the Sabines into the city. When they attempted to climb the Capitolian Hill, Janus made a hot spring erupt, forcing the Sabines to retreat.

In the city of Rome, a temple known as the Ianus geminus was erected in Janus’ honor and consecrated in 260 b.c.e. after the Battle of Mylae. During periods of war, the gates were left open and sacrifices were held inside, along with auguries to predict the results of military actions. It is said that the gates of the temple were only closed in times of peace, which didn’t happen very often for the Romans. In fact, it was later claimed by Christian clerics that the gates of the Ianus geminus first closed at the moment that Jesus was born.

Because of his ability to see both back and forward, Janus is associated with powers of prophecy, in addition to gates and doors. He is sometimes connected with the sun and moon, in his aspect as a dual-headed god.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

Author:   Brid’s Closet   
 
What does it mean to be a Pagan in today’s world?

I was sitting by my desk, thinking about topics for classes at my store. Many topics come to mind, but nothing seemed to “jump” out at me. I brought up this subject to a good friend of mine (who is not pagan), and she brought up this topic.

What does it mean to be Pagan? A “card carrying” PAGAN?

Many people are still very quiet about their choices in life, even to how they practice their religion or their form of spirituality. Many friends of mine are still in the “closet” about being a Pagan or being Wiccan. That is their choice, but not mine. I have the wonderful opportunity to be open about whatever it is that I do because I own my own business.

My sons also have choice as far as to what they believe. My oldest was degreed by me, because that was his choice, and I am proud of him because of that. My middle son considers himself to be agnostic (like his dad), but still is always looking. My youngest is still not sure as of yet. He takes in a lot, asks a lot of questions and is processing what he receives. They are fine young men, all of whom I am fiercely protective and proud of.

Some keywords that come into my mind are “love, strength, happiness, comfort, inner confidence empowerment, and honor”. Being a Pagan has helped to see that I have the ability to make a change in my own life, whether it is on a magical level or a mundane one.

A lot of people come into my store asking very similar questions, but what I do most of the time is to explain what I am not:

I am not a Satanist (the term “Satan” doesn’t exist in the pagan world.)
I don’t work or believe in the devil.

I don’t walk around in black clothes all the time (though it is fun sometimes!)

I don’t sacrifice animals…or use them in any rituals (my dog does like to run in and out of circle sometimes!)

I don’t bash other Pagan traditions.

I am not evil, nor is my spirituality evil.

I don’t run round naked, except in the privacy of my own room (maybe!)

I don’t have sex with others in ritual.

I don’t insult or blast other religions. People have done that for far too long in history to Pagans. I won’t do that to others!

Nope…don’t do the orgy thingy either!

What I do….hmmm…

I do honor Mother Earth. I see the earth as a living and breathing organism.

I do believe that all animals have a soul, and should be treated and loved as we expect to be loved ourselves.

I do try to live as “chemical free” as possible. This means that no chemicals or bug killers are applied to my lawn. 2 of my animals eat the grass on my lawn if the weather permits. No bleached flour, raw sugar, recycled paper. A friend of mine raises organically raised chickens, so I have organic eggs!

I keep as many trees as possible on the land that I am blessed to live on. Trees block the sun and keep your home cooler!

I do honor other people’s religions and their chosen paths.

I go love the Goddess and the God, as I would honor my own parents.
I try to use cosmetic products that are cruelty free.

I do try to grow my own herbs and vegetables when possible.

I recycle my paper, bottles, plastic and cans.

I do a full moon ritual once a month and celebrate the 8 holidays in the wheel of the year.

I guess I could just go on and on!

Once, a person came in and asked me why I was insulting myself by using the words “HEATHEN”, “PAGAN”, and “WITCH” to describe myself! In his teachings, he was taught that these words were an insult. He was shocked that I was proud of these terms!

The word “PAGAN” actually means “country dweller” or “civilian” or “peasant”.
1: Definition: Refers to any of the pre-Christian, (usually) polytheistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism.

The term “HEATHEN” is old English for Germanic paganism.
2: Definition: Among non-Pagans, the term ‘heathen’ just means anyone who is non-Christian. But Pagans use the term to refer specifically to those who follow a Norse or Germanic path.

A WITCH was known as a “wise” person, an herbalist, a midwife or a medicine person. (I’m an Alexandrian Witch!)
3: Definition: A witch is someone who practices witchcraft (either male or female), regardless of their religious standing. Not necessarily the same thing as a Wiccan (someone who follows the religion of Wicca)

These are words that I have come to embrace and be proud of. These words open up conversation and dialog, so that others will learn, understand and appreciate. Sometimes people appreciate the information that is given, other times, they don’t.

As a Pagan, I’ve raised 3 fantastic sons, have a “metaphysical” store that I share with my best friend, counsel people, rehabilitate birds, rescued a dog, a chinchilla and a bunny (who think they own my home!), teach classes, train special needs people (personal training) and in love with the most remarkable man.

What does it mean to be a “PAGAN”?

It means being a mom, a lover, a caregiver, councilor, herbalist, a cook, storeowner, and a woman dealing with today’s modern world who practices a very old way of worship.

Bernadette Montana is a very eclectic 3rd degree Alexandrian Priestess, a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear Native American Tribe, professional Tarot reader, a mom to 3 sons, one dog, 2 parrots, a bunny and a chinchilla and owns a metaphysical store named Brid’s Closet in Orange County, New York. Bernadette@bridscloset.com

Thanks to Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of Pagan, Heathen, and Witch on the About website!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of PAGAN, HEATHEN, and WITCH on the About website!

 

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Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Let’s Talk Witch – Pagan symbols for Yule Tree

Besides Holly berries and leaves, apples, winter birds, fairies,
lights, snowflakes, candles, stags, suns, moons, gingerbreadmen,
mistletoe, acorns, bayberry and cranberry garlands, wreaths, Father
Winters, Santas, and many more? Even the Christ child in the Nativity
set has a Pagan equivalent, although most neo-Pagans I know refuse to
decorate with anything reminding them of a Christian Nativity.

Quite literally, this holiday more than most was lifted from the old
Pagan European holiday, and there is very little that isn’t
appropriate to both Christian and neo-Pagan celebrations of it.

Mirrored Glass Globes to Amaterasu? Balls etched with Holly leaves, candles, wreaths and birds abound in the stores. If you start now, you
can have clove covered pomanders ready for the tree to assure a nice
spicy smell. Have fun, and take another look at the decorations in the
stores.

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Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Similarities Between Christian Sacraments and Pagan Rites

Author:   Angelique Soleil   

Magick was first spelled with a “k” by Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) to differentiate between religious magick, and the stunts and illusions performed by stage magicians. Crowley was the leader of a cult called Ordo Templi Orientis, but is better known for his time with The Golden Dawn. Crowley says, “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” (The Sidereus Foundation)

There is another part to this definition that will have to be added in to make a usable definition for this article. Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will and the Will of Deity. Since we are talking about religious magick here, there must be some sense of a divine being in our working definition. There are practitioners of magick who believe that magick comes from within, not from a deity. In this case, I would say that their “deity” is the life energy within themselves. Deity comes in many forms.

I would first like to pause and make it clear from the start that there are many movies out there about Pagan rites (The Craft, a movie about 4 teenage girls that dabble in magick comes to mind first) that are highly inaccurate. Since that movie came out, I can’t count how many people I’ve had approach me asking if I’ll help the “call the quarters.” Movies like that make real practicing Pagans look bad. When you think of magick, don’t think of movies or TV. Remember that those are not real.

I used to sit in church and feel inspired. When I was young, I saw the magick of God in the church in the faces of the people around me. I felt it in the air around me. I was a child then, so naturally I felt bored, but I can still recall feeling something there. I won’t deny that there is some kind of magick involved with the church experience, even if people don’t want to call it that.

I haven’t been to church in fourteen years. As I grew older and kept returning to church, week after week, year after year, I felt the magick slipping away. I knew it was time to move on. I needed to find magick again. I took my Bible and my thirst for spiritual fulfillment, and walked away.

Since it had been so long, I had almost forgotten about the magick of the church. But when I take a step back, I can’t help but see that there is magick on both sides. It’s easy to see that Pagans have magick in their spells, blessings, coming of age rites, and Sabbats, because Pagans will openly call it Magick. The Christians, however, simply choose to call their Magick by different names: prayer, Communion, Baptism, holidays, and other holy sacraments. All of these involve some kind of ritual and divine power, whether from within, or from an outside source.

As I study the differences between the Christian world and the Pagan world, I see that Christians and Pagans will debate and battle about this topic, and there are some from both religions on each side. Many Christians argue that magick is wrong, immoral, and satanic. Many Pagans say that Christians use magick too, to try and put both religions on a more equal base. Some will say that magick comes in many forms. Some Pagans will even say that Christians do not use magick, and to say that prayer is the same as a spell is an insult to both religions.

I have a friend who is a very strict Christian, and whenever something went wrong, or she felt scared, she would pray. In her prayer, she would put her hands together, with clasped fingers, bow her head, and close her eyes ask God to help her, or guide her. She would begin with a phrase such as “Dear Heavenly Father, ” or “Dear Jesus, ” speak her wishes, and then end with “in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.” It is systematic, ritualistic, and it is used to request something of a higher power. Is it magick?

Marina Patelos, a member of the Greek Orthodox church in Albany, NY, says “for your average person a ‘Hail Mary’ or an ‘Our Father’ wouldn’t count [as magick] because most people just say the words and never really stop to look at what they’re actually saying. But if someone’s praying for, say, their mother not to die of cancer, then yeah, that could count.”

Shirley Oscamp-Colletti, a United Methodist Minister who has been with the Church of the Wild Wood for the past 10 years, says that prayer is a form of magick “If I use your definition. Prayer is a form of connection with an inner or outer deity. Prayer connects with God; some say it is to accomplish a goal. I say it’s more to open yourself to possibilities. The highest form of prayer is to focus on a person and allow the divine light to that person, so the goal is to bring the divine light into that person or situation, not that you want a certain thing to happen.”

I used to find a lot of magick in Communion when I was finally considered mature enough to take it. There was no real class or preparation for it at the Calvary Baptist Church in Springfield, Vermont, but when a person reached the age of 12 they were expected to sit through a whole service instead of attending junior service in another room, and were offered Communion.

The lights in the church were dim, I remember, but sunlight shined brilliantly through the stained glass windows on either side of the room. Each window depicted a different Bible story in symbols and color choices. They were the most beautiful things about the church. Small clear plastic cups that resembled test tubes filled with grape juice would be waiting in circular holders on the backs of the pews next to the hymnal pockets. The pastor would speak the same words ever communion service as bowls of bread were passed around the church and people took a piece out for themselves.

“And Christ said, ‘take, eat. This is my body, ’” the Pastor would say, and everyone in the church would eat their piece of bread. The same pattern was followed with the grape juice, and then everyone would gather in a circle around the pews and sing. It seemed like God was there at those moments when we all held hands and sung together.

I have learned that the little Protestant church that I grew up in was a little different from other churches. Some use wafers instead of bread, and drink wine instead of grape juice. Some churches see this as a symbolic ritual, and some others see it as literal. “According to the Greek Orthodox Church, ” says Patelos, “the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.” This means that “The Holy Spirit” changes the food into the blood and body of Christ. “[This] happens at the part of the blessing where he (the priest) holds up the chalice of wine and says ‘this is the blood of Christ’, in Greek, and then holds up the bread and says ‘this is the body of Christ’ and crumbles it into the wine, ” says Patelos. This sounds like a magickal transformation to me. “Although most of the people at my church would sh*t a brick if someone suggested that, yeah, I would [call it magickal, ]” Patelos says.

Colletti says that Communion is symbolic. “The other interesting things about this in the Methodist church, we don’t use wine. Methodists have been involved in the prohibition movement.” They do this out of respect for those who can’t drink. “We didn’t want them to not take Communion, ” she said.

”I do Communion very informally, ” Colletti continued. “If you’ve been to church there are words in the Hymnal that you’re supposed to read, but I speak more from the heart because I feel that is what the meal is supposed to be a time for people to come and share a simple meal together. My Communion is very earthy. When people in my church come up, they give hugs to me and the person that helps me serve, so it’s a very connective thing, and I like that. People come up out of the pews. I also often will tie it back to Jesus eating with his disciples and the meals that he shared and that’s when people let their hair down and get close to each other. Part of what Communion is about is to break down the barrier.”

“There are two sacraments, ” Colletti says, “[and] the other is Baptism. It’s initiation. The Baptism sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an outward and spiritual grace, so it’s kind of enacting something that’s already happened, which that might be where one of the difference is. When you’re talking about Magick you’re creating magick to make something happen, where as Christian magick, if you want to call it that, is an expression of what has already happened, rather than asking the divine to do something for us, and that’s Methodist through Shirley’s eyes. Catholics [say that] if you don’t have a baby baptized it’s bad. We believe babies are a part of God. Basically showing it’s bringing someone into the Christian church. It’s dying and being brought back to life in the traditional sense.”

Baptism is when a person chooses to accept God, and they are dunked in water to show that they trust God, and to represent dying and being reborn. Catholics do not completely submerge a baby when they baptize him/her; they only pour water over the baby’s forehead.

Catholics aren’t the only ones who baptize babies. “Our kids get completely dunked, ” says Patelos. “For Orthodox it’s Baptism, Chrismation, first Communion and Confirmation all in one go. After you go through that, you’re entitled to all the Rights in the Church.”

The way I see it, Baptism is very much like a cleansing in Paganism. Water washes away negativity and cleanses both physically and spiritually. This cleansing can be used for tools, as well as for initiation. There are many different ways a Pagan can use water to cleanse. Sometimes different oils or herbs can be mixed in, as with the Orthodox Baptism to add blessing properties. Often salt will be added to the water, which makes it holy because salt is part of the earth. Another common additive is rose oil for both its blessing and cleansing properties. A tool that will be used for magickal rituals can be dunked into a goblet of water and left in the moonlight overnight to be cleansed. Some initiations use this water and its additives to draw a pentacle on the forehead of an initiate. Many rituals will vary from tradition to tradition, making it impossible to cover all of them.

Pagans have their form of prayer in spells. I will reiterate that spells will vary in many traditions. Some will be the simple lighting of a candle and wishing. Some will involve chanting or poetry. Some will involve knives, wands, pentacles, circles of candles of every color shape and size, robes, and a script. It just depends on who you’re working with. I prefer the simpler rituals.

I take a candle of the appropriate color (different colors mean different things) , carve what I want down the side with my athame (ritual knife) , such as “good health, ” or “confidence, ” carve the first and last initials of the person who is to receive these things on the bottom, cover the candle with ashes, and light it, letting it burn all the way down. I will frequently sit in front of my altar (usually a table decorated with a cloth, statues of Pagan gods and goddesses, candles, and ritual tools, such as that athame) and think on this act and its results, but I usually do not incorporate words into the spell. I can’t remember where I picked it up, but it is the one spell that has worked for me consistently for the last dozen years.

“I feel that a prayer works the opposite way, ” says Salgamma, in her article “Magick Vs. Prayer” for The Pagan Library, an online Pagan journal. “The prayer is a request to effect a change in the ambient energy and invoke God. This change in energy is slower because it is ‘diluted’ in the surrounding energy and depends solely on faith (‘I believe it will happen, so it will’) .”

I have read of a Wiccan ceremony that may somewhat equate to communion. In the “Cakes and Ale” (Or “Cakes and Wine”) ceremony the bread represents the body of The God, and the wine (red) represents the blood of the Virgin Goddess. The cake does not have to be cake. It can be bread or something else as long as it has been blessed for the purpose of this ritual. Wine can be replaced with juice if necessary. This is a ritual to give thanks to the God and Goddess. After a poem of thanks is recited, all who participate partake of these symbolic food items, and leave what is left as an offering to the deities.

It seems to me that the Sacraments that I’ve covered above all have a Pagan equivalent. Baptism is a cleansing; Communion and the Cakes and Ale Ceremony are symbolic of taking in deity (deities) ; and a prayer is a spell. I have participated in most of these rituals (save the cakes and ale, but I’ve done similar things as well) at various times in my life, and I will say that there is something magickal about all of them.

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The Impact of Paganism on the American Culture, Past, Present, and Future

The Impact of Paganism on the American Culture, Past, Present, and Future

Author:   Under A Pagan Moon   

Paganism has played, and will continue to play, a positive, and growing role in the American culture.

There are many misconceptions about Paganism, and it’s role in the American culture. In this essay I will present a fair amount of factual information supporting the afore-mentioned statement. Among the facts of this essay you will find that the men who put America and the American government together were more Pagan in thinking than they were Christian. You will see that major American monuments are modeled largely after temples built to Pagan gods, and you will learn that Paganism is more common than one might anticipate.

America, land of the free, and home of the brave. The greatest country in the world. A place where people can be whatever they choose to be, a place where a person can be successful no matter what their background or current status in life is. A country based at its very roots in the Judeo-Christian religion.

Or is it?

Most Americans believe that the people who founded America were strong Christians, and that America would not be the country it is today without a Christian based history.

This belief is based on many things, including the words imprinted on money, and the word God in patriotic songs and pledges. Why does this word God have to refer to the Christian god?

There is proof almost on every corner of America that leads one to believe that this country was actually founded more on a Pagan belief system rather than a Christian one.

Before we discuss the effects of Paganism on America, let’s learn about the Pagan belief system, and the history of Paganism.

Paganism is a peaceful, nature based religion, with many of the same ethics and morals as Christianity. Paganism is the oldest belief system in the world. From the times of cave men, to the inception of Christianity, to the persecutions, all the way up to present day.

All religions and all groups of people have been mainly a “Pagan people” at some time in their history. This includes Greeks, Romans, Native Americans, and basically all ethnic groups and nationalities.

According to the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, the first and oldest book of the Bible, (the basis of Christianity), Genesis, was written around 1445 B.C. (Slick, 1996) Paganism, is so old, no one can actually put any kind of date on it.

There is proof of Pagans everywhere. One can see depictions of various gods etched into cave walls, as well as, statues and monuments in great, old cities like Rome and Egypt.

If paganism were older than Christianity, logically, one would see evidence of this in Christianity. Pagans and Christians share many of the same methods for communicating with their respective Deities.

For example, it is widely known that Pagans would gather in groups to worship. They would dance, sing, light candles, burn incense, perform ancient rituals, and speak to the gods through chanting or playing instruments.

Many Christians can be found to do many of these same acts when worshipping their god. The main difference in these practices is the fact that most Pagans prefer to worship outside, as Paganism is a nature based religion, whereas Christians generally have a church to enter for worship.

Now that we understand the practices of Pagans and Christians, which are almost identical, let’s look at the beliefs and morals of the two religions.

There are very large differences in the beliefs of Pagans and Christians. The main differences are rooted in the belief of what happens after we die and the consequences of our actions in this life.

Most Pagans believe in the theories of reincarnation and karma. The reincarnation theory basically states that after our bodies die, our souls continue on to born again into a physical body again and again.

The karma theory is the belief that whatever actions of thoughts we have, be they negative or positive, have a direct effect on our current physical world. Put simply, if we project a positive energy, or strive to create a positive environment, then positive things will happen in our lives and in our souls. The same thinking would also apply to negative thoughts or actions.

Most Pagans also celebrate the changing of the seasons and hold nature to be instrumental in worship and communicating with the gods. Christians, in turn, believe in a concept of one lifetime wherein a person must believe in the “Son of God” and live by a strict moral code.

If a person does those things, they will be allowed into Heaven, the home of God, to live in everlasting happiness with Him. If a person, any person, not just a Christian, does not adhere strictly to the Christian belief system, that person will be denied eternal bliss and will spend all eternity in Hell with Satan, the creator of all things evil and sworn enemy of God.

Most Christians are also taught that all other religions are false and that Paganism is a form of Satanism, which is the worship of the enemy of God, Satan.

In researching Paganism, one will find that the morals and ethics of Pagans are actually much like that of Christians, and nothing like Satanists.

Pagans and Christians believe that humans in general should be treated with respect and love, to harm no one, and to treat others the same way you would want to be treated. Both religions hold certain days as holy and perform ceremonies and rituals on those days to celebrate their god/gods. Both believe in moderation and respect of nature.

Now that we understand the beliefs and history of Christianity and Paganism, let’s discuss how Paganism is deeply rooted in the American culture.

Let’s start at the beginning of America. The first inhabitants of America were the Native Americans. These people were absolutely a pagan people. The worshipped many gods, and the changing of the seasons and nature.

The next inhabitants of America were European colonists. They came to America to be free of religious persecution. In most cases this persecution was coming from Christians.
“…These early European-Americans eventually succumbed to the government of Great Britain. The religious-right propagandists like to put emphasis on this period of American history because, indeed, these first European-Americans did live under Christian rule and it makes it seem as if these first colonists established the government of the United States. They did not.” (Jim, 2005)

Although these early colonists would eventually bow to Christianity, Paganism would not stay hidden for long.

The government system that the colonists, now calling themselves Americans, set-up is what set America apart from the Monarchy system which most of the colonists came from, and which they desperately wanted to avoid. The Monarchy system is one of kings and queens where religion, now mostly Christian, also plays a large part in government due to the fact that most believers in Monarchy believe the king or queen to be direct descendants of the divinity.

“The most influential American colonists rebelled against Great Britain and their taxes, institutional churches, and desired to form an independent government free from religion and Monarchies.

On July 4, 1776, The Declaration of Independence (written by a deist) announced their independence to the world.” Thomas Jefferson, a scientist, clearly believed that nature was God. He once wrote, “”Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight.”

Even in the Declaration of Independence he wrote, “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Thomas Paine also helped lead the way in separating church from state and questioning the Christian and Monarchist beliefs.

The Constitution itself barely mentions religion, quite on purpose. (Jim, 2005) With all this being true, how can it be truthfully said that America is a Christian based country?

Even the monuments in Washington D.C. replicate buildings or monuments to pagan gods. The Washington Monument being an Egyptian obelisk, as well as many of the buildings is designed after the Greek Parthenon and the Roman Pantheon, buildings specifically built for the worship of Pagan gods.

There are statues of Pagan gods littered across courthouses and monuments all over the United States. Even the graves of many of the founding fathers of America are decorated with Pagan symbols and bare no crucifixes, crosses, or any mention of Christianity. (Jim, 2005)

Even some of the holidays that Americans celebrate today are derived from Pagan holidays or seasonal celebrations. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and New Years, were all Pagan, seasonal, traditions long before the advent of Christianity; the holidays were just known by different names.

There are over one billion reported Christians living in the world today. Most Americans are professed Christians. One of the main duties of a good Christian is to spread the word. This is not so in Paganism.

Christians have persecuted the Pagans for decades. They have “gone into hiding” let’s say. So Christianity continues to spread throughout the world and throughout America. It continues to be the most prevalent religion in the world.

Paganism is, as we have learned, a very old religion. It also happens to be a quite private one now, due to the harsh treatment of Pagans during the advent of Christianity. There are many Pagans across the world, though, many more than will ever be known due to the fact that most the people that are yet undiscovered must be Pagan in their beliefs.

Pagans are also becoming more open with their beliefs in America. When Gerald Gardener came to America and publicly published his beliefs and started teaching Paganism again, the floodgates were opened.

The future looks very good for Pagans in America. In America, people are free to belief whatever they want. We can worship whom we choose and worship how we choose as long as we are not infringing on any one else’s rights. It is not this way in all countries. Even Pagans in Africa were forced to accept the colonial view of Christianity. (Levernier, 2002)

Because of this freedom Americans enjoy, Pagans in America continue to become a rising force in the American culture. There are even laws in place to protect the rights of pagans specifically. Even the U.S. Military chaplain’s manual gives instruction to the military chaplain as to how they would assist a soldier in worship. (A Handbook for Chaplains, pgs 231-236)

In the future, one can expect to see more and more Pagans expressing their opinions, and even moving into American government. There are hundreds, even thousands of Pagan churches across America, and even some Pagan schools. There are Pagan organizations for kids and adults, much like the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

In conclusion, you can see now, how America was founded more on Pagan beliefs than Christian ones. From the Native Americans, to the founding fathers, to the documents and monuments that are part of America’s creation and history, to the children being taught by Pagan parents today, America has always been a Pagan country, and always will be. This can be seen in history, and in the tombs of our forefathers, also in the up rising of Paganism in America today.

As more and more Pagans are revealing themselves and teaching others the Old Ways, there will be an a growing opportunity for Pagans to reclaim the American government and promote a real change in American thinking.

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Working Reference List:

The United States: A Country founded on Paganism By Pagan Jim, March 2005

United States Army, US Army Chaplain’s Manual, Excerpt from the U.S. Army’s Religious Requirements and Practices of Certain Selected Groups: A Handbook for Chaplains (pgs 231-236)

Wheatley’s ON BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA TO AMERICA,
By: Levernier, James A. Explicator, Fall81, Vol. 40 Issue 1, p25, 2p

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