Again, with the ignorance!

Yes, I’m a pagan.  I saw this floating by in cyberland today:

 “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Thomas,

      I write this letter in concern of your daughter, Aradia Moon. Please don’t take this the wrong way, however, although she is a straight A student and a very bright child, she has some strange habits that I feel we should address. Every morning before class, she insists on walking around the room with her pencil in the air. She says she is “drawing down the moon.” I told her art class is in an hour and to please refrain until then to do any drawing. And speaking of art class, whenever she draws a night sky, she insists on drawing little circles around all the stars and people dancing on the ground. And that brings up dancing, I had to stop her twice for taking off her clothes during a game of Ring Around the Rosés! By the way, what does “sky clad” mean? Aradia has no problem with making friends. I always find her sitting outside during recess with her friends sitting around her in a circle. She likes to share her juice and cookies. It is nice how she wants no one to ever thirst or hunger. However, when I walked over to see what they were doing, she jumped up and told me to stop, pulled out a little plastic knife and started waiving it in front of me. I thought this a bit dangerous, so I took her to the Principal’s Office. She explained to the Principal that she was “opening the circle” to let me in. She also said that her Mommy and Daddy always told her not to play or run with an “athame” in her hand, that she could put someone’s eye out. I don’t know what an “athame” is, but I’m glad she keeps it at home. As for stories, your daughter tends to make up some whoppers. Just yesterday while I was talking sternly to Tommy Johson and shaking my finger at him, he started screaming and ran from the room. When I finally caught him, he told me Aradia told him and the rest of the class that the last time I shook my finger at someone, they caught the chicken pox. I explained to him that the Sally Jones incident was just a coincidence, and that things like that don’t really happen. One of the strangest things that happened was when I asked the children to bring in Halloween decorations for the classroom. Aradia brought in salt, incense, and her family album. I see she has quite a sense of humor. One of Aradia’s worst habits is that she is very argumentative. We were discussing what the Golden Rule was (Do Unto Others as you would have them Do Unto You), she firmly disagreed with me and stated that it was “Do As you Will, but Harm None” and she will not stop saying “So Mote It Be” after she reads aloud in class. I try to correct her on these matters and she got very angry. She pointed her finger at me and mumbled something under her breath. In closing, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, I would like to set up a parent/teacher conference with you sometime next week to discuss these matters. I would like to see you sooner, but I have developed an irritating rash that I am quite worried about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       With deep concerns, Mrs. Livingston

 P.S. Blessed Be.  I understand this is a greeting or closing from your country that your daughter informs me is polite and correct.

      Now, being  pagan, and raising my children the same way, this brings up some uncomfortable feelings. It’s obvious that whoever initially wrote this letter was either versed in a form of the craft, or did research. HOWEVER……I’m very disturbed to think that anyone would believe that being a pagan/witch/wicca/druid/celt parent would mean that your child would innately do these things in public. Do Christian children routinely bless food in the cafeteria before lunch?

 “she insists on walking around the room with her pencil in the air. She says she is “drawing down the moon.” ” Drawing Down the Moon is a sacred, powerful thing. No child, no matter what her parents practice, would EVER be doing this, much less in school!

 “And speaking of art class, whenever she draws a night sky, she insists on drawing little circles around all the stars and people dancing on the ground.” And this is an issue………why?

 “She also said that her Mommy and Daddy always told her not to play or run with an “athame” in her hand, that she could put someone’s eye out.” The athame is a consecrated tool, not a TOY. Just as a boline, or a cup, or censer…..its not something to be played with, but rather a powerful means to an end.

“Aradia told him and the rest of the class that the last time I shook my finger at someone, they caught the chicken pox.” Wow….lets just set ourselves back to the burning times, shall we? Evil eyes, hexes, curses? I found this particularly offensive because the author had included “Do As You Will But Harm None” in their diatribe. Ugh! Theres more, but to be honest I’m starting to get more upset about this than I should. Guess its time for me to go get naked, find my black cat and go for a ride on my broom.

   **Feel free to add comments about home and unschooling here, as well.  I was too irritated to even bother to hit on those points!**

“The Evil Pagan Influx”

     While watching a special on Halloween last night, there was an interview with a “Christian” minister who was ranting about this holiday and the “evil pagan influx into this country.” Over the course of the next few minutes, he proceeded to blame paganism for every ill and moral sin currently rampant in this country, and called for Christians everywhere to spend this Devil’s Night educating themselves and others on this horrid, devil worshipping cult of pagans who are ruining the youth of this country. I stared in absolute shock at the television for about ninety seconds, actually appalled that someone in the year 2010 would actually believe and preach this utter nonsense! Has nothing changed since the 1600’s? Are witches still women riding on brooms and blighting crops? I don’t expect acceptance, but I did expect tolerance and knowledge. Heres a few of my favorite quotes before I head off into the land of education:

“We are not evil. We don’t harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don’t have to be afraid of us. We don’t want to convert you. And please don’t try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you–to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think.” Margot Adler

“If you take [a copy of] the Christian Bible and put it out in the wind and the rain, soon the paper on which the words are printed will disintegrate and the words will be gone. Our bible IS the wind and the rain.” Herbalist Carol McGrath

“When one defines oneself as Pagan, it means she or he follows an earth or nature religion, one that sees the divine manifest in all creation. The cycles of nature are our holy days, the earth is our temple, its plants and creatures our partners and teachers. We worship a deity that is both male and female, a mother Goddess and father God, who together created all that is, was, or will be. We respect life, cherish the free will of sentient beings, and accept the sacredness of all creation.” Edain McCoy

     So..some basic FAQ’s? Wicca, sometimes called “The Craft” or “The Craft of the Wise” is one of many earth-based religions. The religion which is closest to Wicca in America is probably Native American spirituality. Traditional Wicca was founded by Gerald Gardner (Gardenian Wicca), a British civil servant, who wrote a series of books on the religion in the 1940’s. It has references to Celtic deities, symbols, seasonal days of celebration, etc. Added to this were components of ceremonial magic and practices of the Masonic Order. A more recent form is eclectic Wicca which involves a combination of Wiccan beliefs and practices, combined with other Pagan and non-Pagan elements. The various traditions of Wicca are part of the Pagan or Neopagan group of earth-based religions. Wicca and Satanism are not at all similar religions. However, the Christian church did link them in the past — particularly during the Witch burning times of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance (by the way…not one “witch” was ever burned at the stake!). They regarded Witches as Satan worshipers. Some Christian denominations have not been particularly thorough in correcting mistakes of the past. So, Wicca and Satanism continue to be linked in many people’s minds. This problem is rapidly fading as more Wiccans come out of the closet and become public with their faith.

     Wiccans do not recognize an all-evil deity or quasi-deity like Satan. Christianity and Islam are the main religions that teach of Satan’s existence, either as an evil principle or as an all-evil fallen angel with supernatural powers. Common to almost all Wiccans is the recognition of the existence of the Goddess, and her consort the horned God. These may be viewed as real living personal entities, or as symbols. Wiccans follow the Wiccan Rede “An it harm none, do what thou will.” This means that as long as it harms no one, including yourself, one is free to do what they wish. A Wiccan carefully reviews the implications of each action or non-action in her/his life. Domination, manipulation and control are particularly prohibited by the Rede. Wiccans typically go through a dedication ritual at the start of their training, where they declare their intent to study Wicca. If they choose, they experience an initiation ritual when they complete their first study of the religion — often a period of a year and a day. Wiccans engage in rituals, either alone or within a coven of other Wiccans. They are committed to personal spiritual growth.

      How does Wicca differ from Christianity? In many ways, the two are similar. For example, the have similar ethics of reciprocity. The Wiccan Rede and Christianity’s Golden Rule both emphasize kindness to and consideration of others. But there are many differences: On sexual and gender matters: Wicca has generally accepted the equality of men and women. Christianity has historically reserved positions of power in the church, the rest of society and the family for men. Wicca regards responsible sexual behavior as a gift of the Goddess. Some committed Wiccan couples engage in private sexual rituals. Christianity has tended to have a negative and restrictive view of sexual behavior. Wicca generally accepts all sexual orientations as normal and natural: heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. Wicca is largely an oral tradition, and has no holy text that corresponds to the Christian Bible. Wiccans stress the cycles of life and look upon time largely as cyclical. Christians mainly view time as linear. Most Wiccans reject the concept of Heaven and Hell, and embrace reincarnation. The concept that a person must believe certain things or behave in a certain way to achieve salvation and avoid being tortured in Hell for all eternity is foreign to Wicca. Wiccans feel close to nature and are highly concerned about its preservation. Wiccans do not proselytize. In particular, they do not usually dedicate, teach, or initiate potential converts unless they are 18 years or older. Where possible, and where it is safe to do so, Wiccans prefer to perform their rituals out-of-doors.

Hey………if you have questions……ask?

It’s Lughnasadh!

    “Lughnasadh marked the beginning of the harvest season, the Harvest of Grain (Bread), the ripening of first fruits (usually berries), and was traditionally a time of community gatherings, market festivals, horse races and reunions with distant family and friends. Among the Irish it was a favored time for handfastings — trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.  In Celtic mythology, the Lughnasadh festival is said to have been begun by the god Lugh, as a funeral feast and games commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtiu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. The first location of the Áenach Tailteann gathering was at Telltown, located between Navan and Kells. Historically, the Áenach Tailteann was a time for contests of strength and skill, and a favored time for contracting marriages and winter lodgings. A peace was declared at the festival, and religious celebrations were also held. The festival survived as the Taillten Fair, and was revived for a period in the twentieth centry as the Telltown Games.” (via Wikipedia)

     Lughnasadh (say it loo-ness-ah) is one of the eight big holidays we celebrate on the wheel of the year.  It’s the first of the three autumn festivals, and opposite Imbolc which occurs on February 2nd.   Imbolc is also known as Brigid’s Day.  We celebrate the beginnings of spring and preparing growing things for planting on Brigid’s Day, and here on Lughnasadh we remember that summer is starting to come to a close, and we harvest those things that just a few months ago were tiny green shoots.  Some pagans call Lughnasadh “Lammas” — if you see it differently that’s why.  We choose to use the longer and unspellable version because DH affiliates himself with Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) an international fellowship devoted to creating a public tradition of Neopagan Druidry.  Its important for him to recognize Lugh in the day.  ADF is celebrating their 26th anniversary this year!

     So what does celebrating today entail?  That’s a personal choice.  Today the husband is celebrating with his fellow druids, and I’m sure it will involve a bonfire and alcohol.  A few ideas that we’ve done in the past and may do today include:

  • Decorate your home and /or alter with the colors of yellow, orange and green. Use bunches of herbs, grains, ears of corn and small baskets of fruit and vegetables to add to your décor.  We have some dried ears of corn leftover from planting this past spring that will go on our family altar.
  • Make freshly baked bread made with fresh herbs. The kids can help with this, and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can add fresh herbs to frozen bread dough (after it thaws, of course!) Basil, oregano and dill are good choices.
  • Take the kids on a nature walk and point out how the plants have matured and changed over the summer months.
  • Have a feast or picnic with family and friends.
  • Enjoy the last few days of summer!  Stay up late tonight and catch fireflies! (My littles still call them fairies 😉 )
  • Since this is a harvest festival, collect food to donate to a food bank so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of a “harvest”.
  •      We will go out into the garden today, pull the plants that have gone by (cucumbers, tomatoes, squash) and retill the ground for our second planting.  The summers are long enough here in Virginia that I can get a second crop harvested before frost.  Soon I’ll plant carrots, peas and beans, lettuce, radishes, and the like.

         The wheel of the year keeps on turning….

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