Paganism


Greetings everyone!

 

Wanted to let you know that I wrote a post on Pagan Square/Witches and Pagans on the Sciences et Avenir – Hors séries (January-February 2013) issue on the Pagan origins of Christian beliefs.

http://witchesandpagans.com/EasyBlog/the-origins-of-our-beliefs.html

Enjoy reading!

Adelina

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English: Lords Prayer in Aramaic(Syriac)

English: Lords Prayer in Aramaic(Syriac) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past full moon, I found myself in a hotel room alone up north. Alone! No distractions, all evening to myself to sit in Spirit. Something moved me inside in a way that I had not felt before, something calling me back to my roots.

As I entered sacred space, I veiled my  head. I placed a bread roll and a cup of tea in front of me, which was all I had as means of offering. I lifted them up and gave thanks.

I turned to the north and I saw a huge circular stone. The stone that guarded the tomb of Lazarus. The stone of resurrection. I put out my hand and moved it and it slid open.

I turned to the east and blew out a deep breath. A warm wind arose, whipping through my hair, violent yet warm. The breath of spirit that filled the hall at Pentecost.

I turned to south and there I saw the fires where the weeds are sent to burn. It was angry and strong and purified all in its flames.

I turned to the west and I saw a rising wave: the tide of the flood, the parting of the seas, the purification of baptism.

I came back to the middle and I raised one hand to touch the sky and one hand reached to the earth. ‘As above, so below.’

Then, it dawned on me the Mystery. We are that which joins the Above and the Below. We are the meeting point which connects the two. There is no other species, seen or unseen, that can do that. There is no other species that can simultaneously live in both worlds. That is the next step of our evolution: To become Human, which means to be sentient beings that connect Heaven and Earth and walk in both worlds at all times. That is what we are meant to do. That is what Jesus was.

At that moment, I heard my Lord whisper: ‘You can be what I am. You are what I am.’

I repeated that like a mantra for a long time. It seems that anything else I could write about Christian Witchcraft would be redundant.

I closed my circle, placing back the stone as I finished. I ended with the recitation of the Our Father in Aramaic. Here is a gift of a video for the sung version, which also ends with a audible pronunciation of the prayer.

Abun d’bashmayo….

From a Christian Witch point of view, it was nice to be in a place where fields grow. Rural Poland still has a very ‘Old religion’ feel in spite of the prominent place of the Church. My husband and I would go for a walk every day. I loved the road-side shrines that were falling in various states of disrepair.

The statues of our Holy Mother looked so different than what we are used to seeing. She is depicted as short and stout, as if she has just come back from working in  the fields. It is a stark contrast to the usual Renaissance depiction we have of Her.

Central motif of Our Lady in the church in Wislica

Pagan elements are still present in some folk celebrations, like the lighting of lanterns on the summer solstice. When we were married, the priest blessed our rings with a straw broom. Not to say that they would acknowledge this as pagan, but it is quite plain to see to whoever has her vision on. It makes for a fun treasure hunt.
We spent a few hours in Cracow, which I believe is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In 1999, I spent a month there to study Polish. It always felt special to me, especially a specific spot on the main square. This was before I heard the legend that the city held one of the seven sacred stones that regulate the energy of the earth. I really encourage anyone who is passing through eastern Europe to take a moment in the main square, right between the Cloth Hall and the clock tower and see how you feel…

And here is the whole family in Warsaw’s old town

That spot next to the clock tower is me and the kids sitting on one of the chakras of the world.

English: Winter scene taken at in Bulgaria. Fr...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been walking my talk over the last few weeks. I’ve been focusing on taking care of myself and my family. Not to say that it wasn’t busy (it always is in the city, isn’t it?) I gave a couple conferences at the Magical Blend for the Yule fair. It was nice to talk to people in the flesh about this blended path of ours and to see how excited we are about it. I also had the pleasure of attending a lecture by my friend Brendan Myers on sacred sexuality. You should be able to listen to it on his podcast (see blogroll: Standing stones podcast) We’ve met new people and had them over for game nights (like the good old days in Chisasibi).

Most importantly, I am transitioning into Winter. Since following a Pagan path, one of the great lessons that I have learned is to follow the flow of the seasons. With a blessing of crystal flakes, God tells us that it is time to come home and rest. The work of the summer is done and the harvest is in. What we didn’t have time to finish will have to wait. It is time to get in from the cold and ponder the meaning of things. It is time to catch up on the stories that we didn’t have time to tell each other. It is time to light a fire, pick a book and continue our studies and reflections. It is time to pick up our knitting or stitching or woodcarving and settle in its soothing rhythm. With Yule and Christmas on its way, it is also a time for family and joy, for sharing food and laughs and to take back the spirit of the holidays.

I wish you all a warm and peaceful Winter!

Blessings everyone! I’ve been away for work over the last couple of weeks. Every time that I take such an extended leave from my writing, it brings home the fact that it has become such a life-giving part of my life and that the interactions I get with all of you are worth a million!

My Samhain was quite different from the past few years. For the first time in a long time, I went to a public ritual with the rest of the Wiccan community. Up to now, my contact with the Pagan community was limited to Crescent Moon and a few offshoots. My spiritual circle extended to a few spirit-minded healers, shamans and psychics. But this was the first time that I attended a public Wiccan ritual that was not organized or run by students of Crescent Moon or its affiliate teachers. I had other plans for that evening, but something within yearned to celebrate in a purely Wiccan way. I was curious of how it would feel.

There were over one hundred people at this ritual, most of whom I did not know. I had met some of the organizing members at Gaia gathering in May. I have to lift my witch hat to these people who pulled an amazing feat. It is difficult enough to lead an open ritual with people who are not familiar with one another. They lived up to the challenge of a huge crowd, with people of different backgrounds, different levels of knowledge of the Craft, from the seasoned practitioners to the merely curious. It flowed seamlessly, they took the time to explain the proceedings at the beginning so that everyone would be on the same page and the ceremony was simply poignant.

I had been removed from the organized Pagan community for more than 5 years, while I lived up north. All this time, I spent writing and forging my own identity and practice. Coming back to Montreal and reconnecting with the Pagan world brought home a few things. First and foremost, I realized how varied the community was and how established. And those who adhere to Wicca as a religion really live it. Some have lived this way for decades, so that they are no longer just dabbler and explorers. They are Wiccan in all its expressions. Their rituals are organized, their wording shared. They share common songs and expressions. As the organizers explained before the ritual, the ritual was conducted in a pure Wiccan style. Having studied in an eclectic setting with a little bit of this and little bit of that, this was not something that I was used to. But it made me understand a little more some of the backlash that I got when the book came out. There is a purely Wiccan tradition and I have a tendency of forgetting that.

This being said, the ritual was beautiful. The symbolism and the songs brought me back to what I had looked for from the beginning: the raw connection to the earth cycles and the Goddess. We chanted about death and passing, we called our ancestors and asked for guidance for the coming year. So, I found there what I came to find. But at the same time, I looked around at the people gathered there (OK it was Samhain and everyone looks a little odd dressed up…), but I did not feel like these were MY people. There were a number of the usual suspects: the dark, the eccentric, the dramatic, the seekers, the curious, and for sure the priests and priestesses of a Craft that needs to be preserved. There were also some of the people that I was also used to in my initial circles. In a crowd of over one hundred, it is obvious that I could not talk to everyone and learn their stories. But I would have liked to do that, just to know how all these people had gotten to be in the same place that night.

As I looked over the crowd, it struck me that I have a Tradition of my own that may differ quite a bit from a purely Wiccan practice. Part of that is the eclectic background that we may share as Christian Pagans or Witches. Another part is that we have a Christian tradition that inspires the kind of liturgy that we may include in our rituals. This includes a certain attitude and way of attending that may differ from Wiccan practice.

Maybe we are our own tribe…

On this Samhain, may the ones you loved be with you and may the new year bless you with the inner fire of Spirit!

The Goddess

Image by LilithSativa via Flickr

I promised to come back on the concept of deity. It is a topic that comes back regularly on the Christian Pagan Fellowship and that evokes the most controversy. I’ve addressed this in my book ‘The Path of Christian Witch”, but surely one small book cannot cover such a wide topic. An entire library could not cover the question we are really asking: ‘What is God?’

I do not claim to have the answer to that question and will not attempt to answer it. The question that is often asked is how do we view God from the point of view of a Christian Witch. How do we deal with polytheism and how do we include biblical figures and mythological figures into our practice? Do we view God as an almighty energy or do we give It faces? Are these two views mutually exclusive? Are these faces really Gods and Goddesses?

I don’t have THE answer. But I have my answer. I see God as a multitude of things and somehow, I feel that all of these can coexist without contradiction. I see God as an action rather than a being. The ein sof, the breath, described in Kabbalah. This is the breath of life that brings things forth all there is from the great Void. But even though I believe in that Essence, I also believe that it does manifest itself to us in very real terms. I feel all representations of gods and goddesses in mythology, our biblical figures and saints and other holy people hold a parcel of that Essence. I think we all come here with lessons to learn and these figures are different ways for God to talk to us in a personal manner. S/He gives us different lessons through these Holy people. Are they gods and goddesses? They are expressions of God, so to me they are divine. Do I worship them? I do in the same measure that I also worship the divine within myself.

 

From a practical point of view, what should a Christian Witch/Pagan do about worship? She can choose to worship the essence of God, the Almighty, the Great Spirit. She may decide that she needs a representation of that Essence either in one figure or in a deity couple that represents our human polarity. She may decide to worship God the Father as we have been taught. She may also worship the Goddess uniquely or in combination with the Father. She may decide to choose one or two expressions of the Divine from any pantheon and walk her path with them to learn the lessons that she has to learn to fulfill her calling. Any combination of this is all right. We will only really know the full expression of God when we cross over, so for now, the best we can do is have a taste of Its many manifestations.

Cover of "Drawing Down the Moon: Witches,...

Cover via Amazon

Someone emailed me a question that I thought may be of benefit to many. I was asked the difference between the terms Witchcraft and Wicca, and between Pagan and Neo-Pagan.

Witchcraft vs Wicca: Wicca is an official religion and is usually regimented in covens, with the passing of a book of shadows between initiates. Witchcraft is an umbrella term which may refer to Wicca, but also to other forms of folk magic or traditional witches that are not necessarily structured into an organized system with initiates and a high priest/priestess. So Witchcraft encompasses everything from the cottage witch, family traditionals (passed from one generation to the next) to Wiccans of diverse traditions (there are MANY!) 
 
Pagan vs Neo-Pagan: The ‘Neo’ distinction comes from the fact that the Pagan revival is a relatively recent thing. It is a 19th century phenomenon brought about after the lift of the laws against witchcraft in England. Many Pagans claim primitive roots, as if they are resurrecting old prehistoric Goddess worship systems. The term Pagan is, again, an umbrella term to describe all practices that stem from earth-based, Goddess worship. ‘Neo-Paganism’ reminds people that this refers to the new organization of Pagan beliefs into a modern system. Its use is to distinguish between what is generally called a Pagan practice and the new way of expressing these practices in organized religions, such as Wicca. In short, Neo-Paganism has as much connection to ancient Goddess rites as we do to the chimp. People coined the term the term Neo-Paganism to really remind people that this type of Paganism is a modern expression of ancient ideas. But it is a modern practice nonetheless.

I hope that’s clear. One thing that became apparent when I attended Gaia gathering this year is that Paganism is starting to have its own history, and it is quite a complex one. There are a number of books of shadows that have been circulated, lineages and traditions branching out in various directions. It is fascinating to hear the oldest members of the Pagan communities talk about all that history. One excellent source on this topic is ‘Drawing Down the Moon’ by Margot Adler. A must read for anyone who tries to understand where Paganism came from.

When writing the book, I had numerous debates about terminology. What do I call this practice of mine? Is it Christian Witchcraft? Christian Wicca? Christian Paganism? Mystical Christianity?

You will find that at times I oscillate between Christian Witchcraft and Christian Paganism. Most often, it tends to be Christian Witchraft. I felt that this was the term that offered the most freedom, being two umbrella terms. Witchcraft, rather than Paganism, refers to an actual practice rather than a set of beliefs. That is what I was looking for: a practice to regiment my life. Also, the term Witchcraft gave me a sense of reclaiming that which the Church had robbed from me: the essence of my femininity. It was a way of saying that I would not be an accomplice to the crimes of my Church against women throughout its history. When I talk of Christian Paganism, it is in the hope that more people feel included by this even wider term. Here I refer to a common belief in the sanctity of nature, in the many faces of the Divine and in the existence of the unseen, while upholding the teachings of Jesus. The terms Christian Paganism and Christian Witchcraft are not mutually exclusive as far as I am concerned. They simply talk of different things and will suit different people on the pursuit of their own Truth.

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