Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sabbat Approaches - Beltane rant

It seems like just last week I was posting altar photos from Ostara and getting all sentimental about the coming move. Now, the move is less than 2 weeks away, my graduation is in 9 days, and my last day as an officer in this county is in 8 days (21 hours, and 16 seconds...but who's counting?). My classes for the last week or so have been coming to an end. My last test in Spanish is Friday. I've been allowed to exempt finals for 3 classes due to high enough grades and good attendance. One class has no final, and I'm inches and 2 tests away from being done with my undergraduate degree!!! I've decided that it'll be ok to take the fall semester off and focus on work and family before diving into a Master's program. This is probably going to be something I regret in the future, but oh well. I need some me time.

In all of this hullabaloo, I completely forgot that BELTANE is approaching! It's actually this Friday, or Saturday depending on how you celebrate. (Perhaps other days in May as well.) Either way, it's approaching this weekend! Basically, the holiday is about the approach of summer, the celebration of the planted harvest, the asking of fertility from the Gods, and communing with Nature and nature spirits. And, yes, sex. Though, I'm not sure how this festival turned into an excuse for covens and pagan festivals to become orgies around balefires.

Let me rant a bit. I left a pagan group that I'd been a part of due to its devolution into a bunch of old, horny men trying to get it on with the younger female members - despite their respective marital statuses. The yahoo group had sex stories posted onto it depicting orgies as being a part of coven initiations - including lesbian incest between sisters. Whipped cream became something that was brought to any and all gatherings, as it would be squirted upon the women and eaten off by said horny men. The campout every Beltane was an excuse for the majority of the group to head off into the woods and have very dirty, adult fun - including much nudity and casual sex. Well, that's all well and good, but I don't know that labeling the group as a strictly pagan-themed entity quite fits that description. I think many people find problems like this nowadays. I was getting to the age where career and family were becoming quite important to me, and I wanted a group that reflected that stage of my life. I wanted to learn and grow in my path and magical workings, and the group wanted to learn how many orgasms they could give one another while growing their various body parts. Now, granted, I've learned a ton from the few friends I came away from there with, but I think this problem needs to be addressed.

I've been listening to a number of wonderful pagan podcasts as of late. A topic I've found in many of them is that the pagan community wants to be taken seriously. Too often our community is represented by some random Technicolor Sparrowbear fluff bunny wearing fairy wings and speaking with some fake, ethereal accent attempting to convey the idea that they are a reincarnated dryad or Cleopatra's bartender. What sets us back as a religion and as a people is that many people try to pass off paganism as a real life version of Charmed or Sabrina the Teenage Witch. We're neither of those things. There are no white lighters or talking former-criminal cats telling you which spell to use to vanquish the demon Poontang. This is an earth-centered belief system that allows for magic and the revival of many ancient historical customs, but we are by no means an ancient religion. (No, there weren't any ancient Wiccans, people. Please.) And the "Burning Times" is a myth. 9 million women were not killed for being witches, nor were the few thousand that were killed (randomly throughout a millennium) descendant from some ancient matriarchal heritage. They were women that nobody liked, or that had pissed off someone on the hanging committee. And something that really sets a lot of us back? Those pagans that don't indulge in the fluff bunny mentality, or the fairy wings, or the dressing in druid garb and walking around town with a staff and beard, or go by some weird combination of an element and a natural phenomenon in real life and refuse to be called by their real name with a color thrown in there... those pagans that don't indulge in any of that? The ones with respectable jobs, or the ones who seem halfway normal? They're out having orgies around a fire pit to celebrate the Great Rite. I'm sorry, but too many people get into paganism for the chance to have as much casual sex as possible without the repercussions of having to admit infidelity to your wife - who is just as happy to let you do it so as not to go against the Old Religion. (Yet another myth...though, an ancient veneration for the divine feminine may not be out of the question academically.)

In short: Orgies are not a part of paganism. They're a part of casual sex. If you're into that behavior, fine. Who am I to say you can't engage in it as long as it's between consenting adults? Please just don't label it a religious practice. You make us look like Technicolor Sparrowwhores. Some of us actually want to get something beautiful out of this faith, and I'm tired of being disheartened because pagan groups turn into pseudo-bath houses in which the members just all want to screw.

I know that all pagan groups are not like this, and I know that a few bad apples spoil the bunch, but it's the bad name that I truly hope our community collectively pulls up their bootstraps and decides to it's time to grow up, get real, and put that in the past. (Along with our spinning-fire-pentacle websites.)

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

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