15 Apr

The ugly side of Paganism

On Saturday I was wandering about town with my husband and daughter. We were browsing in a shop when a lady came up to us and asked my husband about his pentagram.

“You’re a Pagan? I am too,” she said as she fished around under her shirt to find her pentagram.

After she proudly displayed her pentagram she then said: “I hate Christians… Pagans were here first.”

To be honest, I was quite taken aback and the conversation came to a quick end.

Wearing a pentagram doesn’t mean it’s OK to share your religious views with total strangers who just so happen to be wearing a pentagram too.  Especially when the word ‘hate’ is included.

Hating Christians is such a negative, sweeping statement. Even though my belief system might be more in line with the lady in the shop than with Christians, I found her statement to show an ugliness of character.

You can argue that the Christian church has been less than kind to pagans but it has hardly been understanding and welcoming of other faiths too.  Pagans haven’t been exclusively persecuted… we’re in the same group as Muslims, Jews, and any other group that refused to see life differently.  But that doesn’t mean that Christians are bad or deserve to be hated.

There are many paths to the Divine and diversity should be something that enriches life.

When you look at history, and even in today’s society, you can see where hate leads.  It doesn’t bring understanding or peace – hate leads to bullying and violence.

Belonging to a faith that has been on the receiving end of these hate-inspired actions means, at least for me, seeing past a person’s faith and taking them for who they are at face value. There’s good and bad in every religion.

What do you think? Do Pagans have a right to hate Christians or should we be ‘the bigger person’ and live with open hearts towards different faiths?

16 Mar

Just for the record (a rant)

Dear journalists,

It would be lovely if you could try, for once, to represent modern witchcraft and paganism of the western world realistically.  Articles are published on a daily basis, often in the national press, written by people that have either no knowledge on the subject or simply don’t care.  Poorly researched information might sell papers but it misrepresents modern witches and pagan, and breeds fear into people that might believe everything they read.

Paganism and modern witchcraft in the West does not necessarily mean:

  • We worship the devil.
  • We sacrifice cats or any other animal.
  • We especially sacrifice cats on the solstice and leave the fur and blood behind.
  • We desecrate churches.
  • We steal from churches.
  • We urinate in churches.
  • We spend our lives hurling curses, killing livestock and giving people ‘the eye’.

It gets so tiring reading the same ill-informed rubbish time and again, such as this article in North Wales Weekly News. What you might find, should you ever be interested in researching before you write, is that generally as modern witches and pagans:

  • We don’t believe in the devil, that’s a Christian concept and we’re not Christian.
  • We would never sacrifice a living creature.  We have a strong community of animal protectors and probably a higher than average percentage of vegetarians.
  • We hold our animal fur babies in high regard, especially feline friends.
  • We really don’t pay much attention to churches.  Some of us, me included, enjoy visiting churches because of the strong links to pagan sacred sites that churches usually sit upon. When we visit, we go with respect.
  • We aren’t really too bothered either with the items or artefacts in a church.   We make our own altars with our own symbolic items, and besides, stealing is wrong.
  • We probably would never think of urinating in a church.  If it’s a common problem then perhaps the parishioners have weak bladders as they visit churches far more often than witches and pagans.
  • We are normal people. We have better things to do all day than the weird stuff people accuse us of doing.  It doesn’t sell many newspapers when you find out the truth that we’re just like anyone else – we’re educated, we have jobs, we have mortgages to pay, we have families, and we have the same problems as anyone else.

Journalists get your facts straight. There are enough of us out of the broom closet that would talk to journalists on a serious level but if that’s too much bother then you can find a healthy community of blogs written by witches and pagans, which might give you some inkling that what you write is fabrication.

And while I’m riding the rant wave, please stop wasting my time trying to us my belief systems as cheap TV.  I’ve lost count of the times I have been contacted by Wife Swap and several other reality shows that find it appealing to have a witch on TV.  History has taught us to be a little cagey and we’re not stupid – if you can’t represent us correctly in written media then we don’t stand a chance once footage gets into the editing room.  Next time, you’re going in spam.

Thank you for listening.

Lyn

29 Nov

Pagan Rules

pentagram on a tree
Do you often wonder what the rules are to being Pagan? The Pagan path gives you such freedom and flexibility to worship and connect with the Divine in a way that feels right to you. But it’s also comes with no guide book, no official buildings and no main deity.  You really are on your own – even if you belong to a group of like minded people there are no official rules.

I popped on over to dictionary.com and looked up the word ‘pagan’.  Here are the definitions:

  1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
  2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
  3. an irreligious or hedonistic person.

Hmmm…interesting.  But no help whatsoever. When you think of the whole world then minus the said Christians, Jews and Muslims you’re still left with a whole bunch of Pagans.  And they’re all very different.  Pagans can be, by definition, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and other people, you know, the ‘Pagan’ Pagans.

I often ponder on what exactly makes me a Pagan and witch. Just for the record it isn’t hedonism – having kids sort of makes that impossible!  But seriously, what is that vital spark or criteria which puts you firmly into the Pagan category?  What are you rules you follow?

When I have to break it down, these are my 4 personal rules to being a Pagan:

  • Finding the Divine everywhere and in everything
  • Reconnecting with the Divine feminine
  • Taking a step back from modern day life and looking towards our ancestors for guidance
  • Being tolerant and accepting of others

But those are my logical, left brain statements. When I connect with my heart I’m Pagan because it feels right and, as an added bonus, I love to make my own rules!

What are your rules? Do you have any?  Or does it just come from the heart?

05 Oct

Insulting Druids and Pagans

Druid TempleDruidry has been given official recognition here in the UK.  The charity commission granted charity status to the Druid Network a few days ago which means it can have the same status and rights as mainstream religion.  This is the first time druidry has been acknowledged as a bona fide religion in Britain.  There’s a well balanced article in the Daily Telegraph if you’d like to read more.

You won’t find a well balanced, informed article at the Daily Mail.  Instead you will find an insulting column that attacks religion which isn’t Judeo-Christian based.  And I quote….

But if all creeds, however absurd, have equal meaning then every belief is equally meaningless. And without the Judeo-Christian heritage there would be no morality and no true human rights.

There is nothing remotely enlightened about paganism. It was historically tied up with both communism and fascism, precisely because it is a negation of reason and the bedrock values behind Western progress.

The full article can be read here:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1317490/Druids-official-religion-Stones-Praise-come.html

Then you might like to click on over to an online petition which is going to be delivered to the Daily Mail regarding this article.

Thank you Stella for letting me know about this.

25 Aug

Pagans do not believe in angels

…because they are Judeo-Christian.  And a Pagan told me so.

Oh, I just wish I’d known before I bought the books :(

Angel Books

Anyway, away from my own little space here on my blog I write a weekly newsletter.  One week I chose to write about angels and the encounters people had with these celestial beings.

The response was quite amazing.  I had people e-mailing me with their own personal stories.  Life changing situations which they strongly believe were influenced by an angel.

AND then  I got an un-subscription with the following note:

“As a Pagan I do not believe in angels and have unsubscribed from your newsletter.  Angels are Judeo-Christian and not Pagan”

This happened a while back but I remembered about it yesterday when I was sorting through my bookshelf. And *tsk tsk* there were my angel books.  My angel cards are in the conservatory *ahem*

I quite like angels.  Not that I’ve ever seen one mind you (well, at least I don’t think I have).

If you look at the word ‘angel’ you’ll find it comes from the Greek word angelos which simply means messenger.  Angels were first described in the Bible without wings and simply as men but then later on they sprouted wings and other differentiating features.  It’s interesting in mythology, beings with wings have been around since, well, the days of the gods and goddesses.

Going way back in time to ancient Sumeria, the Cradle of Civilisation, you’ll find carved stone images of humans with wings.  Some 5000 years ago this civilisation had a religion based on many gods, goddesses and spirits and they included the notion that everyone had their own personal ‘ghost’.  This ghost is most likely the predecessor to today’s idea of  guardian angels.  Back in 3000 BCE altars were set up in homes to honour the personal ‘ghosts’.

Semitic tribes conquered Sumeria and began to organise the ‘angels’ into some kind of hierarchy.  An idea we still see in the mainstream religions.

It’s not just Sumeria that had winged messengers – they’re all over the world.  Just think of Hermes, that Greek messenger of the gods.

Personally I don’t have any trouble with believing angels exist (the hierarchy thing though doesn’t sit well with me).  I guess my beliefs are similar to those ancient, and dare I say Pagan, Sumerians.

What’s your opinion?  Can Paganism embrace angels or is it a case of never the twain shall meet?