For some reason, this doesn't fly with Mr. FundieDouche and his right wing compatriots. They continuously ridiculed the attendees because of their lack of ancient religious text, their nature-centric beliefs, what they assumed to be a lack of dealing with man's sin nature, the idea that all paths are valid, and the veneration of balance within all things - including people. deo and Mandy don't spend a great deal of time talking about these issues. In fact, their following episode was supposed to be about these topics, but it was never posted. So, I would like to give my editorial opinion on these matters.
- On the idea that neo-pagans are somehow at fault for not having some ancient religious text and replacing that with an individual's Book of Shadows, Grimoire, etc. FundieDouche and friends initially go on the defensive, talking about how those horrible pagan religions attack Christianity for relying on a text that's over a thousand years old. Then, they claim that this should be a source of pride for Christendom. They say that they have had the same material that comes from their god for thousands of years, and that this somehow makes their religion more valid than a religion without such a text. I would like to posit that having a source of information created by an individual, family, coven, etc. allows the faith and practice of the various neo-pagan religions to grow organically. The faiths can stay current, and decide what is and isn't working. There are several laws and commandments in the Bible that haven't been upheld in thousands of years, because they're outdated principles. When was the last time you declined shrimp, wore mixed fibers, or slaughtered your finest cow at a murder scene because the Bible told you to? Sure, a lot of the material contained in one of these books is probably redundant fluff, but it's personal and full of meaning to the collector of that information. They have decided what they want to whole-heartedly believe. There is no vacillating with indecision because you cannot resolve yourself to worshipping a book in its entirety that you don't necessarily believe is 100% true. This should be honored, or at least not treated as less than an outdated manuscript by people claiming to hear the voice of god. (Good question: Why when one guy hears the voice of god he's a prophet, but if I hear it I'm schizophrenic?)
- Nature-centered beliefs. Well... I won't even delve into this one. I think this is yet again another example of Fundies Gone Wild in which they attest only their beliefs are the right ones. Nature worship has been around for eons. Bunk on those that invalidate these beliefs as lesser or false.
- Sin is a Christian concept. However, many of us were raised Christian or with some sort of idea about sin. FundieDouche and friends made a point of stating that neo-pagans do not believe they must ask forgiveness for their sins. I would greatly disagree. In the pagan faith, or at least the modern pagan traditions that are Wicca-derived, the practice of esbats is fairly common. The phases of the moon and cycles of life are revered. In these cycles, many people have a wonderful ritual at the time of the New Moon. This time is seen as a time of letting go of faults, pains, wrongdoings, and what some might perceive as sins. Also, each sabbat is a time of celebrating the new and letting go of the old. The Gods and Goddesses are beseeched to absolve us of what we have done wrong and allow us the opportunity to make things right with that person we have wronged. Also, pagans are pretty strict on the idea of the Three-fold law. What we put out into the world - actions towards others, the environment, ourselves, etc. - we believe comes back by three. Now, how that actually occurs is up for debate - as in any ambiguous religious dogma. However, we most definitely believe in atoning for wrongdoing and making things right with our higher power(s).
- I'm not sure all paths are valid, but I know that I don't want to be the one telling someone else their path is not valid. Do I believe we should worship some rock as the ultimate being? No. Do I agree that someone else's right to worship a boulder as the ultimate being? Sure! Because, who in the hell has the right to tell me I can't worship a Goddess? And hey, when we all get to wherever we're going, wouldn't it really screw everything up if the Grand Poobah of all Creation was some ruddy boulder? Sweetness...
- Ok... Something that rather upset me was the digging on the very idea behind the celebration of the sabbat. The equinox is a time to recognize the balance of all things. This is a time to see, take in, and give voice and honor to the universal balancing forces - life/death, youth/old age, fertility/barren, good/evil, etc. Now... Why do we celebrate these forces, rather than wishing for only good, or fertility, or youth, or life? Well, I think it's the same reason the Christians celebrate the birth, death, and rebirth of Christ. It's the everlasting cycle of life, and it should be honored. If we are to only ever wish for goodness inside of us and around us, then why do we even bother telling children about death? Why do we feel the need to give pause and explain that to every thing under heaven there is a season? Because we know that for every good and wonderful thing there is in this world, there is a balance, a price that must be paid. In order for us to have gorgeous days, we must have chilly nights. We must have death if we are to continue to live. This is a fundamental truth. If everyone were to stay alive, then we would be overrun on this planet within a matter of single-digit years. We need everyone to die. And, to get to this point specifically, we need evil in order to learn what is good and how to appreciate it. In order to recognize what is good and right and true, we have to know its opposite. We also have to respect that within each of us sits the balance of both good and evil. Instead of hiding from it, we must recognize it. Now, do we want to be evil? Do we want to have this inside of us? No. However, we all have this nature and we've got to deal with that. I think the idea here is more being grateful that we have not allowed that darker part of us to overtake the light. We're not being victorian about our darker bits and sweeping them under the rug - like some religions I know...
Sorry for the diatribe, but I really wanted to comment on some of these points. If you haven't listened to deo's shadow yet, please do. The show had 39 episodes fantastic episodes before it was cancelled due to an inability to continue pumping out the podcasts while deo went through his doctoral program in philosophy. It is definitely a thinking man's podcast with a pagan twist.
Let me know what you think about this topic, or any of the topics I discuss.
Love and Lyte,
PS. Can anybody else just NOT get enough of Adam Lambert on American Idol? YUM! And seeing him all cleaned up, without the emo look on this latest edition... My goddess, I was... Well... that's for another time.