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PostPosted: 17 Nov 2007, 23:13 
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O Say Can You See? (from: Witchvox Adult Pagan Essay Series)

Author: Luna Morgan
Posted: November 11th. 2007

As a Pagan American, I am so blessed. Every full moon and on the Sabbats, I attend circle with hundreds of other Pagans in my community. Most of my neighborhood is Pagan, and I know that my kids play with kids who grew up the same way. I think we have a few Christians at the end of the block, but they don't make a big deal about what they practice or try to convert anybody. I'm sure that what is said about them isn't true; they seem like such nice people.

The United States of America has laws that protect us from theocracy and everyone is free to practice their own religion in peace. I respect that. However, I think it needs to be noted that Pagans founded this country, with Pagan morals and ideals.

When they invoked the gods to declare independence from Britain and wrote the Constitution, they had in mind a country where nearly everyone was and would be Pagan, and the rules were made accordingly. It's evident in small things, mostly. The Rede is posted on the wall of some civic buildings and courthouses.

Every once in a while some minority Judeo-Christian or Muslim group files a suit and gets it removed from their particular town hall, but other than that we've had few problems. Our currency is printed with Egyptian symbols and spider webs and some Latin mottoes, emblazoned with the phrase "In Goddess We Trust." Our Pledge of Allegiance, which is said every day by school-age children, includes the phrase, "One nation, under the gods, and in reverence of the elements..."

Again, special interest groups have argued to have this phrase removed. I believe that the phrase can be interpreted to mean any gods, and that it's no big deal. We stopped casting circle in public schools fifty years ago (not that I agree with that) and you'd think that'd be enough catering to those who are different. The Pledge is voluntary.

My daughter tells me there are several kids in her class who stand with respect but do not recite. That's their choice.

Pagans who testify in court are sworn in on their own Books of Shadows. The vast majority of elected officials are some type of Pagan, as they should be to represent their constituents. A Pagan sits in the White House at this very moment and I feel so much better knowing that she attends circle regularly and that in time of trouble she consults the cards and speaks to her psychic. I feel that I can identify with her leadership and approve of the decisions she makes knowing that she has a good spiritual grounding.

A very vocal minority opposes her every decision and has called her every name in the book.

Speaking of books, while all of our children read Pagan-friendly stories that promote a healthy Pagan world view, some Christians have published series that are hateful to our way of life and even insult our traditions.

One series called "Left Behind" has been banned or restricted to older readers in some school districts. I've never read it myself; I'd never subject myself to anti-Pagan literature. I don't approve of any books that might scare our kids or encourage them to believe some end-of-the-world hocus-pocus. It's dangerous.

I can understand the plight of those faith minorities, honestly I can. It must be frustrating to fight the tide. Pagans are in control of every facet of our government. We control most of the money and businesses in the country and prefer to do business with one another, from stock trading all the way down to the Asatru carpenter I just hired. (He has Thor's hammer on his business cards, a cute way of letting us know.)

I can't imagine what it must be like to be part of a faith with less than a million members in this country. They search for one another on the Internet, and some of them are so isolated that it's the only coven (or "fellowship" as they refer to it) they can get. They have no temples, they just hold circle (or "church" as they call it) in living rooms and backyards across the country.

Occasionally, they plan big gatherings in public parks. They display their strange symbols and walk around in funny clothes. They use one particular book they call " The Bible." The word simply means, "book" and they believe it is complete and infallible, as well as imbued with magic powers of its own. (They claim it is ancient and unchanged since the time of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, but scholars agree that this is untrue.)

They pray kneeling right on the ground. I've seen it. Their priests are nearly all male, but they are very impassioned. I can't imagine having to learn about my own beautiful religious traditions from a few second-hand books, communing when I can with whomever I could find.

I've read that they have very few spiritual teachers. They almost no seminaries, no paid clergy, and have difficulty even getting declared tax-exempt as organizations. They fight for legitimacy, and it's a noble fight.

As long as they mind their own business and don't try to force anyone to believe as they do, I bless them. One of the teachers in my kids' district is Christian, and he wears him crucifix openly. There was some argument about that, but we concluded that he has as much right to it as any of us to the pentagram.

I've studied a little bit to learn what they believe. They're not like the Christians you see on TV. They're not really obsessed with death. They have this sacrificial figure whom they venerate and the moment of his death is very important to them. They are not the cannibals they are rumored to be; it's a metaphor that has led to that misconception. They believe that through a simple spell that they can transform bread and wine into flesh and blood to be consumed.

Now, if this change manifested physically, I'd buy cannibalism. But I'm told that the change is only evident in the astral realms, so they're not really eating people. While their sexual practices are much maligned and they have been frequently deprived of the custody of their own children, I cannot believe that any person of faith would do to kids what they are accused of doing. I think they're just a little heterocentric.

They do believe in heterosexual marriage and union to the exclusion of all other relationships. That, in itself, harms none. As Pagans, we should mind our own business and look to the joy of our own family structures. They're not all tie-wearing holier-than-thou prudes.

I went to college with a young man who believed himself to be a Christian. He looked just like everybody else, and he was a really nice guy. They do use the crucifix as symbol of their faith, and they do wear them, often.

This is sometimes confused with the Satanist use of the same image. However, the Satanists use the cross inverted with the shorter end pointed downward. It's easy to mistake one for the other unless you look closely. They don't worship the same god; the main patron of Christianity is the brother (or possibly cousin) of Satan in their mythology, and they oppose one another.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I think I have a general understanding. So, when I go to the Temple of Gaia on the end of my street, I have prayed for the Christians that I know. I pray for their well-being and peace of mind. I have done workings for the minorities in my community that they might feel welcome.

Occasionally, I pray for them to come around and become Pagan. I don't think it's wrong; I just want them to be happy. They always seem so gloomy and I understand their teen suicide rate is very high. I burn a little incense for their spirits and wish them well, that's all. No spellwork, I don't violate my own ethics. I just hope for the best.

I am so lucky to live in a country where religious freedom is respected, but I am doubly blessed that my religion is the most well-known. All our culture is intertwined. At Beltane, shops put up huge displays of flowers and maypoles and hire dancers and singers to amuse people.

At Samhain, the whole city where I live becomes a tribute to the ancestors as we welcome our beloved dead. Television shows air special episodes about the true meaning of Mabon. The rituals of adolescents and adults are dramatized so that we all know what Rudy Huxtable's first blood ritual was like, just as we all remember Ross and Rachel's handfasting. As Pagans, we are the favored people of this nation, and I give thanks to the Goddess for all that we have.

I am proud that we operate soup kitchens and homeless shelters in the names of our beneficent gods. I myself have been a foster parent, and have seen to it that foster children get the time in healing ritual that they need.

Our charities and volunteers have helped disease and disaster victims all over the world. Our temples have raised funds and Pagan doctors have donated their time to see to the wellness of our own people. Pagan hospitals are among the best-run in this country.

Pagan soldiers defend us, Pagan police officers protect us, and Pagan judges speak the law fairly under their statues of Maat. We have much to be proud of.

We built this country into what it is today, and I am so filled with love at the sight of our flag, the fifty pentagrams for our states, the thirteen stripes for each moon of the year, that I can't help but cry when it is raised at our dawn circles in front of the temple.

....

Can you imagine this world? Can you imagine being on the other side of it? I know that as Pagans we say that our world would never look like this or work like this, but if we had been in power in the same way, we could have fallen into these same traps.

See this world turned on its head. Imagine yourself in the place of anyone you believe takes this world and its advantages for granted. Step through the looking glass and see yourself as others see you.

If you can imagine it, can it change the way you think? Can it change the way you react, or the way you communicate, educate, and advocate?

This is the road to interfaith and peace. This is an act of magic. Cross over and think about it in a new way.

Blessed be.


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PostPosted: 17 Nov 2007, 23:19 
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Grand High Lord Admiral of Hell
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Location: Buffalo, NY
I thought this was an interesting 'flip-side' sort of view of America with some humor involved.

At one level it's enticing, at another, I wonder what sort of society it would be - the author's view is obviously Wiccan, so in essence, it would be trading one majority worldview against another.

Then again, Wicca is set up so that individuals or individual covens should be automnous, so ... :dontknow:


Anyhow ... I loved the stars and stripes bit ... :usa2:


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PostPosted: 18 Nov 2007, 18:01 
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Neighbor of the Beast

Joined: 03 Nov 2007, 09:17
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Very well put!


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PostPosted: 01 Jan 2008, 13:43 
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Bunny

Joined: 05 Nov 2007, 19:51
Posts: 2
A fascinating alternate view, and a good parable. But somehow one line really struck me:

"Pagans who testify in court are sworn in on their own Books of Shadows."

Now *that* is something you don't see today. Elected officials may be sworn in on rare old Bibles, antique Korans, and so on, but I have yet to year of a person being sworn in (whether for testimony or taking office) using their own handcrafted and self-designed religious tomes.

I'm curious as to how such a practice might change the opinions of the public at large, or vice versa...


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