A Smudging Prayer

While smudging of self and home is use by a lot of Neo-Pagans now, it originally was a Native American cleansing ritual they used before entering their sacred circle, sweat lodges and other religious ceremonies.

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A’Ho = Blessed be or So mote it or Amen or I agree with you

A’ ho is used by some of the tribes and nations but not all of them.

Paganism – Past or Present

Paganism – Past or Present

Author: Crick

One often hears neo pagans talking about following the “old ways” and I stop and wonder why? There are even neo pagan groups who call themselves re-constructionists. Exactly what is it that they are trying to reconstruct and more importantly, why?

These particular groups use the title “Celtic” within their group descriptions but in all reality little is known about the ancient Celts. They were a people who believed in passing down their beliefs and customs orally and so there are very few written records. For the most part what we do have is the Christianized versions of the oral history of the Celts. And in all actuality, those who call themselves Celtic re-constructionists draw upon information from the Nordic, Hindu, Egyptian and so forth to form their particular Celtic neo pagan gathering.

But this article is really not about yet another neo pagan group seeking to establish what is pagan. It’s about neo pagans and their beliefs in general.

Why do neo pagans, as a religious/spiritual movement feel such a deep need to validate themselves by referring to the way things “used” to be done? Do you really think that the pagans who lived in 5000 BCE tried to emulate the pagans who lived in 7000 BCE? Did the pagans who lived in 500 CE try and emulate the pagans who lived in 1000 BCE? Was it even a concern?

I personally believe that prior to the recent neo pagan movement which began about the mid 1950’s, that pagans in general lived in accordance with the beliefs and customs of “their times”.
And so I have to wonder why is it so important that neo pagans forgo their own moment in history in an effort to emulate those who went before them. Theoretically society advances forward and does not (in theory anyway) regress backwards. And yet the neo pagan movement of today seems determined to do just that.

One would have to venture into an isolated section of a jungle in South America and perhaps parts of Africa to find a societal community, which has not evolved in accordance with the world growth pattern.

So why it is that neo pagans are so determined to buck the trend of thousands of years of paganism and try to revert back to what they think might have been at one time. In all reality, one cannot return to the womb. So what is it that scares the neo pagan movement so badly that a legacy of paganism as it applies “today” is avoided at all costs?

Could it be that subconsciously it’s known how superficial today’s society has become and with that superficiality there is a severe lack of spiritual will? A possible answer to such a lack of will l is to first acknowledge that such a problem exists and then be true to oneself and set a different example one neo pagan at a time.

Of course this sounds easier then it is because of the pervasive influence that the so called organized religions has had on the hearts and minds of folks. And such a cancer will take time and a sincere effort to heal.

Could it be that the concept of paganism relies on an interpretation of values and morals such as those found in many of the Lebor’s associated with Celtic paganism? This thought can be extended to other forms of paganism, but as an Irish witch I speak from my comfort zone. And yet again in today’s society such values and morals have become a memory of yesteryear.

In today’s society, many folks consider their individual selves to be far more important then Mother Nature and even their fellow travelers within this realm. Could it be that paganism, which was once akin to a massive island, is now no more than a tiny atoll just barely hanging on? With such a sad demise related to the erosion of spiritual values, and human morals?

Quite frankly, I personally believe that the Celtic pagan societies that existed prior to the Christian invasion from England were far superior to the society that we have today as far as morals and values go.

The Celtic pagans had a legal system called the Brehon Laws that was brilliant. It applied fairness in law, throughout Celtic pagan society regardless of ones wealth, social status, sex and so forth. These laws unfortunately were preempted by way of the invasion of the Christians into Celtic lands and beliefs.

As it is today, we have pimps in Washington D.C. who cater to special interest groups such as the Right Wing Christians, Oil companies, Lawyer groups and many others who offer their money, special favors and votes in return for certain laws favorable to their particular groups. And in place of a legal system that one could be proud of, we have the Patriot Act, which is a frightening affront to any imaginable concept of freedom within a free society. In short we have managed to regress as a society.

And what about the determination to associate with a particular pantheon of Deity, even though many neo pagans do not live in the areas that such Deity held sovereignty over? Does a particular pantheon only recognize and respond to those peoples found within their particular geographic areas of worship? Or do they respond to the hearts and minds of those folks who recognize those particular Deity regardless of where they reside?

Is Deity in fact the same throughout the world, albeit known by different names and aspects? Or are neo pagans inadvertently being irresponsible in their approach to Deity. For instance what of the Deity that Native Americans recognize and worship?

Very few non -Native Americans acknowledge and worship that particular pantheon. Is this a form of disrespect for a particular pantheon that has long been associated with a specific geographical area? Does the pantheon that was recognized by the original inhabitants of the US have precedence over Deity imported from other parts of the world?

At any rate if neo pagans want to be like the pagans that preceded them for thousands of years why not do as they have always done? And that is to actually exhibit a deep love and reverence for Mother Earth not just in words but also by substantive actions.

Neo pagans might also want to take a look at themselves and their current society. And apply pagan concepts and ideals in a way that works in “today’s” society. Pagans are indeed different in that we are as one with nature and not as some would have us believe, above or lords of nature. If one is to follow true pagan precepts then one should work to set the right example for others to possibly follow.

Paganism did not begin in 1954 CE. Trying to re-create the pagan wheel has done little but set the stage for would be elitists groups and to give a platform to egotists with massive insecurities. There are more pseudo “masters” today then there have been real masters over the last five thousand years.

At least there are thousands of years of pagan history for our ailing atoll to “reclaim” the values and morals that could once again restore us to the Grand Island that paganism once was. I use the analogy “island” because paganism is a diverse belief system and not one that can be contained or properly described under just one description or continent if you will.

At the end of the day when lay our heads down, it is in the current society that we sleep and not one from hundreds or thousands of years ago. So we can as pagans either work to improve the woes of our modern society or we can continue to try and emulate a pagan society long since gone…

Religion vs. Spirituality

Religion vs. Spirituality

Author: Crick   

There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?

AGAINST THE WITCH HUNTERS

AGAINST THE WITCH HUNTERS
Robin Culain

“All this has happened before. And all this will happen again. But this time it happened to …”

Well, us.

The beginning of Sir James Barrie’s Peter Pan must echo what many of us are feeling, as we watch a new and loosely-knit conglomerate of yellow journalists, right-wing eco-spoilers and Evangelical and Fundamental Christians move slowly towards a Witch hunt for the 90’s. Our spiritual ancestors faced similar problems in many times and many lands.

Recall the Priestesses of Eleusis, last of an ancient line, in decline, falling at last to the stratagems of Theseus and his new Attic Gods. Recall the Etruscans, their vision of sexual-political balance overpowered by the might and organization of the husband-headed Roman Empire. And most tender to the touch, recall the agony of the middle ages, as the Catholic, then Protestant churches
consolidated their grip on the rural population, killing six million alleged or actual Witches in the process.

The hunt is in a beginning stage and beginnings are important. The formal focus of the television specials, Redbook articles, diatribes in the LaRouchite New Federalist, “Occult Crime” seminars and newspaper articles is some thing called “Satanism”, which bears little or no relationship to Wicca and Neo-Paganism.

In fact, media “Satanism” bears little resemblance to any historically verifiable Satan-ism. It is neither classical Egyptian Set-worship”, Romantic Ceremonial Satanism a la Huysmanns nor modern Egoist flamboyance per La Vey. Sometimes it’s heavy metal sullenness, drugs and violence, but that’s usually only for starters. The heavy metal boys, we’re usually told, are just dupes of
the Great Conspiracy. And when you get down to the real stuff, the genuine complaint, it’s generally the stuff of horror movies and nightmare — baby-eating, virgin-sacrificing bloodsucking monsters!

All this has happened before. And all this will happen again.

There’s a limited range of things that can be used to stir up the anger of a populace against a group, or deaden moral sensitivity to a persecution. It pretty much boils down to baby-eating, virgin-sacrificing and bloodsucking.

This has been the century of Hitler’s Holocaust, but the Russians who butchered entire Jewish villages in the Pogroms, the inhabitants of York who slaughtered nearly every Jew in the city in the 1100’s didn’t merely think the Yiddim dressed and talked funny. The accusations were the same. By Jesus, those Jews ate babies! They were just like Satanists, with one exception.

You could find the Jews.
There probably aren’t any “Satanists” as portrayed in the articles, seminars and diatrib-es. If there are, they’re certainly not Neo-Pagans or Wiccans. But in the lucrative atmo-sphere in which the press, missionaries and so-called “Crime Advisers” publicize and proselytize the word “Witch” creeps in every third sentence.

Naturally, we Witches and Neo-Pagans have spent a certain amount of effort pointing out that we love children like anybody else, have no particular attraction to virginity, and tend, in the most extreme of our diets, to vegetarianism. In short, we have tried to educate our detractors and the media to our harmlessness.

This tactic is true, and this tactic is good, but I think that if it becomes our primary response to persecution we will ultimately fail to endure.

Imagine a Witch in the Middle Ages in front of a Catholic or Protestant tribunal. In some cases she has been denounced by a business competitor, or an envious rival in love, or a spiteful neighbor. In other cases she has been brought to the dock by an expert in “Occult Crime” — the traveling Witch
Finder.

She stands bound before her Inquisitors, plain or pompous depending on their religious persuasion. Perhaps there’s a crowd around. She tries to educate them to the simple fact that she’s a worshipper of the Old Gods, loves children like anybody else, has no particular attraction to virginity, and tends, in the most extreme of her diets, to vegetar-ianism.

They, in turn, accuse her of worshipping a living fiend, blighting the cattle, and eating babies.

She doesn’t stand a chance.

Now picture another scene, one that has not occurred often. She stands before those assembled, and begins, shall I say, to point out some facts. She points out the medieval physician with the two per cent live delivery rate who wants the local midwifery practice shut down. She points out the priest and bishop who are terrifying the once fun-loving populace into penury and pestilence with the twin threats of damnation and the noose. She denounces the Christian nobles who will brook no interference with their rule, least of all from the old Nobility of the land.

She’d be shut up in short order, but in a different way, for she would be addressing the real issues. The nonsense about babies, Black Men and cattle was then, and is now nothing more than a smoke screen to mask real and significant religious and political differences. It’s all a cheap trick, a coward’s cheat, a way of throwing muck until some sticks. It is only used when the real terms of
debate cannot stand the light of day, and it works only if we permit it!

Our situation is in no way as dire as that of our ancestors. Only now have things moved to the stage where one group, the far-right and sometimes farcical Limonites, actively bait Wiccans and Neo-Pagans as being “as bad as Satanists”. And unlike our ancest-ors, we have a freedom of speech they could only dream of. We will not be silenced if we speak, certainly not at this time. So let’s not waste our opportunity! Whenever the “Witch-Hunters” bait us or attempt to smear us with their cannibal taunts, let’s find out what the real agenda is, and address it. Make the Lyndonite defend himself against whipping up the population against a minor-ity religion as Hitler stirred hatred
against the Jews. Make the entire La Rouche crew explain their suicidal environmental policies, and their editorial statement that “the worship of Mother Earth does indirectly lead to mass murder …” Engage them on the real issues — just what the worship of the Mother really means, and what people are really like that scapegoat innocents and despise nature!

Likewise with the “Occult Crimewatch”. Ask them about their sources of revenue. About their religious agendas and connection with Evangelical missions. Ask the if they support religious freedom, and if non-Evangelical religious belief, in their opinion, is a hazard to the public. Ask them, if you can corner them into a frank reply, what on earth they are doing lecturing hate to police officers sworn to protect all the public, Christian and Pagan!

The media deserve the same. Let’s not spend more than a breath denying lurid charg-es. Instead, ask them why they are sensationalizing and smearing a legitimate religion to make sales. Inquire as to whether the German press in the 30’s had a responsibility for the slanders on the Jews that they printed. Ask them how they’ll feel if harm comes to one Pagan woman or man, girl or boy
through their negligence, indifference to non-sensational fact and search for sales.

In every case we have an opportunity to turn the tide, by coming right out with our real differences in front of the public, and insisting that the terms of debate be on genuine issues. We must refuse to be backed into a defensive posture, denying ever-wilder charges.

Instead let us bring our active advocacy and love of our Gods, of Mother Earth, of our families and children and ourselves to the fore in every debate. We must require our opponents to bare their genuine beliefs and motives, and contrast them clearly with our own in full view. We must sharpen the terms of debate so keenly that no person can leave the scene without having to make a clear and conscious choice about what they value and believe is right.

There’s no point in lecturing to the Cardinal. The audience for every debate is not the Witch Hunter, it is the neutral observer. Let them see the love of the Earth, and contrast it to nearsighted greed and poverty of emotion. Let them see the love of the Old Gods and contrast it to a cringing fear of the Father’s judgment. Let them see generosity and intelligence and refusal to be sacrificed,
and contrast them to venality, cunning and scape goating. In every debate, let us rise to the height of our capability, and let our opponents have it in the Values — right where it hurts!

Religion vs. Spirituality

Religion vs. Spirituality

Author:   Crick   

There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?There is often a blurring of the lines when it comes to the difference between what is a religion and what is a spiritual path. Neo pagans in particular are guilty of this lack of distinction, perhaps because so many neo pagans come from a Abrahamic religion originally. I also believe that because Wicca tries to define itself as a religion that it readily serves as the stepping stone for those who are interested in the mystic arts.

This is not a bad thing, just a pragmatic observation from one who follows a spiritual path rather then a religion.

But then that is where the dual focus of this article comes into play.

To begin with, religions of all types have to define themselves in a manner that sets them apart from other types of religions in order to be seen as a distinctive school of thought and/or belief.

The ironic result of this attempt is that basically all religions have the same underlying theme, whether it be an Abrahamic religion, Judaic, Muslim, Wicca or any of the other four hundred plus religions in the world.

And that theme is that their particular gathering represents all others in the world.

And that the gathering in question does it better then all of the rest. For instance within the Abrahamic religions the Christians claim to be the only “true religion”, within the Muslim religion there are the Baha i, amongst others that claim to represent a better way and so on. Within the neo pagan community the Wicca claim to represent all other pagans, though such claims are simply naive.

For instance those who follow the Shamanic path do not belong to a religion but rather engage in a very personal and thus individualistic spiritual path. They are represented by none but themselves.

My question is; if religion is supposed to be a means of communicating with deity then why does such a communication require so many middle men as it were?

What makes specific folks so special that only they can talk directly to the deity of ones choice?

Is it possible that religion is more about elitism and the many human travails that define our existence as a species?

As far as paganism goes, does connecting with other-wordly entities really require all of the trappings that a religion imposes upon a person?

For instance, does one really need to cast a “Sacred Circle” every single time they want to communicate with deity? Is not the entire earth and all that she contains not sacred?

Has the Sacred Circle simply become a substitute for a raised dais that one uses to distinguish themselves from others with?

This is not to say that there are not “times” when the Sacred Circle should be employed. Such a tool should in my personal opinion, be used as a form of protection when dealing with certain entities and in other instances as a portal to travel to other-wordly realms.

But I also personally believe that some neo pagan religions have perhaps appended the use of such a tool in an effort to define themselves as a separate religion, in short, an attempt at elitism. And as such, the use of such a special tool has become mere dogma and thus has lost much of the meaning of its originally intended use.

One of the problems that I see with religions in general and with neo pagan religions in particular is that when one sets up parameters, especially when dealing with the magickal arts, one sets up barriers to any real spiritual growth.

Paganism was never meant to be stifled by the whims of certain humans and that is exactly what a religion is.

A personage or small group of personages set out a particular dogma and thus a religion is created.

This may work well for those who need such a group mentality in order to relate to their choice of deity. However, paganism is a school of thought and action that does not fit within such a group consciousness.

The magickal arts that are a prevalent part of paganism is never discovered within its entirety. It is a on going process of trial and error which in many cases is what constitutes a real Book of Shadows and not the kind that is purchased off of a book shelf.

What works for one may not work for another and so there is no one BOS for all. Which brings me to yet another thought. Todays neo paganism, on the surface at least, appears to be less about the discovery of ones latent abilities and more about the commercialism that is so prevalent amongst certain so called mystical neo pagan religions. If paganism is about the individual experience, then how can one person define this experience within a book in a way that represents everyone. In reality, they cannot accomplish such a feat and yet there are thousands of neo pagan books written over the last 30 or 40 years that claim to do just that.

As a result the true meaning of paganism and what it represents has become mired in the blatant commercialism that now defines neo paganism.

This sad situation is the direct result of a few folks attempting to fit the concept and workings of paganism into the restrictive parameters of religious dogma. Such an attempt is like trying to fit a square peg into a circle.

In short, this attempt has in many ways stifled the growth and knowledge of what paganism is really about.

And what is that you may ask?

In my personal opinion, paganism is not about yet another form of religion, rather it is about the individual growth of each person who seeks what I personally see as a spiritual path.

If neo pagans would spend less energy in trying to re-invent paganism and instead would spend more time learning about themselves there would be no need for the elitism and commercialism that neo pagan religions bring to the table.

There are many spiritual belief systems under the real pagan umbrella that one could learn from. Those such as the various shaman practices, Native American, practices, Australian bushman and so forth, have been practising their forms of paganism for generations. And yet these folks are not flooding the marketplace with how to books on paganism. But neither do they claim to belong to a mystickal religion either.

They practice and learn from a spiritual point of view. And isn’t that what true paganism is supposed to be all about?