Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Move, Underground? Views on Polytheism...

  We moved last weekend, and are making some headway on unpacking.  My parents were, as usual, indispensable.  No one else is as hard-working or as loyal as they are, I really don't know how we can ever repay them.
  The neighbors stopped by, they are apparently Evangelicals and are just across the fence here.  You might call me prejudiced but I am a little leery of some possible bad interactions with them.  They are very friendly people, brought cookies and tools to help us fix the facet (apparently when you move it is the neighbor's job to come bring you food and introduce themselves etc.  in big cities people often times won't do this..  Good thing my mom is here to tell me that stuff!).   I grew up in a small town, and being a different religion was not received well.  If we make enemies of our neighbors we could make things very difficult for ourselves for a very very long time, if not permanently.  We now face the dilemma of whether or not to go underground or semi-underground.
  To top it all off, getting a rep as a witch and thus part of Satan's Army would affect my business prospects as I try to open up a studio in the area (an up-hill battle here anyway, with yoga also having a reputation for being associated with Hinduism and thus, at odds with Christianity--which by the way, it is not--I can go into this more another time).
  At best, I could say we are agnostic, but that may only get us proselytized to, which I will not tolerate.  UU churches, which I will go to on occasion, are seen about as badly! I am amazed at the bad reputation they have among the general Christian population.  I don't feel I can argue much with a church that is all-encompassing, accepting, supportive of their community, and believes that you should do good to your fellow man because they deserve it, and not because you will go to hell if you don't.
  The only churches my son will go to would be Orthodox church with his Grandparents, or the UU church.  And when he gets home from Orthodox church, there will be a big talk before and after.  He will need to learn to take the teachings with a big grain of salt.  While it is fine for him to learn about Jesus, I don't want him to think that he will go to hell if he also celebrates Samhain with us... you get the picture. Most witches I know believe that Jesus was probably a powerful Magus.  He is definitely a deity in his own right, and we see nothing wrong with him in general. It is when Christians won't let us worship the divine in a way that is personally meaningful to us, that we find fault, not with Jesus, but with the way the faith is pushed upon it's "flock".  If the leaders of the churches stopped the closed-minded preachings, their people would change too.
 Back to the point:  to underground or not to underground? It doesn't seem like a real choice at this point. Keep in mind, my decision would not just affect me, but my children and husband as well. But how underground? Perhaps just avoiding the topic will do it for us...
By the way, I feel I should amend an earlier post about Paganism and community.  I was not saying that being out of the broom closet is for everyone and for all circumstances.  I truly believe it is not.  While it would be great if everyone could practice their own faith without persecution, it is not possible yet.  If you live in a big city, you will be fine for the most part, but small towns or country, or even if you are a teen in your parents house (or many other circumstances) warrant caution even in this day and age.  Not all of us wish to be pagan martyrs.  I know some who have done this in smaller towns, and had windows smashed out, unable to get a bank account, or had their small business run out of town.  Their kids also payed the price.  I do not feel ready to have my family pay the consequences for my faith.  Wicca was underground a long, long time, and it is not ready for mainstream in smaller communities just yet.  Who knows, maybe in 20 years? I can hope!
  I really believe that each of us worship a higher being that is more or less the same, but we are individuals and as individuals see that deity in different ways, whatever way is most beneficial to our soul and our spirituality.  Call me a "soft polytheist" if you will, I think I'm actually more "moderate polytheist" to coin a term.  If I were christian, I would venerate Saints extensively.  To me, it makes more sense to approach the God*dess by her individual parts.  If I am my father's daughter, I'll call him "Dad" not "John", which will "evoke" a different feeling and approach from him.  When his friends call him "John" he probably feels more carefree, or if his hunting buddies call him "red" he might feel in the zone to hunt.  It's probably much more complex than this in reality.  I believe the individual personalities evoked are more individual than they are One, which is why I say I am a "moderate polytheist", not hard, not soft...
 Okay, now that I've been rambling all over the place, my time is out! Until next time..

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All Hallows Dumb Supper

I'd like to write a post on Samhain, but I don't think I'll go into what it is, or how we celebrate it in specific.  There are plenty of blogs out there, I imagine, that cover that.
  We are just about to move, I am unsure if I will get time to write my October post after the move so I'll need to write it now.  I'm not really sure what to write, however. I'll start with the dumb supper we held a few years back.
Our coven usually holds large gatherings for Yule, so I decided (this was before the move!) to start large gatherings for Samhain as well, arguably, a more appropriate time for our spiritual tradition. 
  This only lasted the one year, because I was pregnant after that, then had our son and was too exhausted by the time the next year rolled around.  My husband was also in the last semester of his school, and we had a newborn! Not the easiest of times for our family..
Anyhow, the idea was to host a dumb supper.  Ideally, it would be at midnight, which would only work for people in the best of circumstances.  I really feel if the dumb supper had been held at midnight, or even after dark, we would've felt much more, it has great potential.  While the dumb supper itself is not part of any Wiccan ritual, it is something that we often do to celebrate the season outside of "circle'.
  A little research will tell you that a dumb supper is eaten backwards, at midnight, a very Ozark-sounding tradition that just warms my witch-heart!  In yoga, we practice Shirsasana (head-stand) not only to bring blood-flow to the brain, but to help get our consciousness used to balancing when the world is upside down.  At Samhain the world is in the process of doing just that.  I think it is a very powerful psychological mechanism to be eating a supper (with the intent of eating with one's deceased relatives), meal backwards, at an unusual and transitional time.
  At a Renaissance festival a few years back I acquired some medieval-style spoon and fork (in bronze), the fork has two tines and the spoon is engraved with a green man.  I was told bronze was probably not the best thing to be eating with all the time...Then the same year I hosted the dumb supper I found their use.  There seemed nothing more appropriate than to set the seat for the deceased with those gorgeous bronze-ware that should not be used by living human hands.  I could imagine a "dumb" seat set for each person deceased that year, but we also wanted to include deceased from previous years, so we set one place and had each person who had lost someone take something from the potluck that they thought their relative would've enjoyed and load up the plate.  We set up two black candles at the table spot and those who had lost someone recently or that year, set at the main table, there was also a pet-plate for pets who had passed away, under the table.
  Then we ate our apple-crisp first, put on some low, mellow music, ate in silence, opening ourselves to the season and to our deceased relatives.
  I would imagine that this scene might seem disturbing to the vast majority here in America.  If any of that vast majority has managed to read this far I applaud them...Please understand, that for the Wicca, ghosts are not necessarily creepy.  They are simply a manifestation of those we lost. What if your Grandmother died, but you could still be with her, speak with her, have supper with her, if only for one night? I cannot tell you if the superstition on speaking with the deceased is "bad" for them or keeps them tied here, or even if that is a bad thing.  If it is a bad thing, Samhain is the perfect time to reconnect with them without any perceived cost.  The gates of Death are already open, then they should be able to step out, then step back without repercussion on that day.
  Now to be honest, Halloween is not the only night that this can happen, or the only night where it is seasonally appropriate.  The Scandinavians felt that Midwinter was even more appropriate,and I have to say some hard winters here, when the snow is blowing and the temperatures arctic-low, I can see where they are coming from.  The gates of death must be yawning at that time, open-wide to take in those creatures who cannot withstand the hard winter.
  Ghosts can appear at any time, especially strong right after death, or other powerful astrological events etc.  but I find it comforting to have a day, a specific Wiccan Holiday, in which the dead are honored, remembered, and supped with.
Perhaps next time I'll write on holiday timing, if I remember!
Merry Samhain everyone!