Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Explaining Paganism

Some of us who walk High Magic's Path are also Pagan and work with the Earth Magic as well. Sometimes, though, it is very difficult to explain to our primarily Christian society what it is we do without using pejorative terms. They have taken the words Pagan and Heathen and made them analogous to Evil and Satanism. This is their own misunderstanding but it is one that is deeply ingrained in them. Sometimes it is difficult to explain in terms they can understand.

One thing that has become very common knowledge is the Native American/Canadian's attempt to recreate their Native traditions. Those very traditions that our governments have driven from them through such atrocities as the Residential School System and the relegation of them to some of the crappiest corners of the land. Yet this attempt to reclaim their heritage is sometimes seen as heroic, or at least looked upon in a kindly fashion. They had something taken from them, and now they are trying to cobble it back together.

But what is Paganism but OUR Native Tradition? Caucasian people from the British Islands and Northern Europe (even into the Mediterranean) have lost our heritage, we have lost our Native Traditions and, worst of all, have lost our homes. It was not so long ago that generations of our ancestors lived in the same place century after century. I don't mean the same house (though for some families with an ancestral home this was true) but the same village, community or county. Our blood bound to the land, and the land to our blood. Sons and Daughters of Alba or Eire or Gaul know the connection they have to their land. Patriotism isn't political, it's blood and stone, earth and breath. It cannot be washed away by a few generations of migration.

When we are formed, the energy of the land affects us. From the food our mothers ate to the vibration of the land under the home where she lived, the spiritual energy of 'home' is somehow part of our very DNA, it's in our blood and it calls to us. This is what I think home-sickness is truly about. And though it affects us in this body, at this time... when a family has been in one place for a long time the bond is greater and it is not replaced by being born in a new land, only added to. In time, it could be washed out, the new land becoming the true home, but for most Americans and Canadians that generation is a long way off.

So what are we, dispossessed from the land of our blood, in a foreign culture (Christian) to do? Certainly we brought Christianity with us, but even into the late 19th century Pagan practices were still a major part of agrarian society, and therefore part of our culture and our land. Here we have lost most of those Pagan parts of our culture, the few remaining having been vastly watered down by Christian symbolism.

Don't get me wrong, I know many very good Christians, and have no issue with the more enlightened sects (such as the Anglican, United, etc...) but they have taken away what was part of our connection to the land, our celebrations, our rituals, our cultural heritage.

So being Pagan means that we are reconstructing our Native Traditions in an attempt to connect to our roots, our past, our blood, our land. These are our Native Caucasian/European/British Traditions, no less worthy of respect than the Native American/Canadian Traditions. Sometimes it helps to make this connection when explaining it to modern day Christians. They seem to have more sympathy when you associate your Paganism to that of the people who truly belong to this land.

For us, though this is made even more difficult by the sheer vastness of our countries. The land of our forefathers was cultivated over a long period of time in small nations with their individual egregore. Such egregore mated to the land and they became one. In those days (and sometimes even today) that marriage has a human manifestation. "The Land and the King are One!" We were part of something tangible and we could see the symbol of that embodied in a person. And when that person worked against the good of the land, the people rose up and destroyed them.

Here, though, we can go hundreds of miles away and not have left the province, let alone the country. We have tried to take too many nations and force them into one identity under one ruler who does not stay in power long enough to be part of the land. We have someone in Ottawa now who was born in the prairies, what little connection he has to Canada is far removed from Ottawa from where he is attempting to rule. What he may feel is good for the country can only be good for that place from which he came. We are all like that, which is why the American Countries are having so much trouble. We're too big, and we do not connect to the land... in fact we've become so stoic and scientific that we even go out of our way to break that tie, not wanting to believe in it, and by doing so, becoming unhappy and nobody knows why.

So there are those of us who seek to connect to our land, to give treats to the local Fey population, to dance around the bonfires and to celebrate our Native traditions, even if we are in a foreign land. Even families that have been here for a hundred years are still immigrants from the perspective of their blood/land ties. A thousand years in Eire is not washed away by a hundred years in Canada, especially if you've moved from city to city during that time. Performing the Native Rites of our forebears gives us some connection, some feeling of Home that has been lost to us. We are practising our heritage and honouring our blood and our families and our homes back where our families were born from the rock and soil. Like our Native American/Canadian brethren (especially in the Eastern Woodlands) we have lost our heritage and now we reconstruct it in order to rebuild a sense of self, a sense of belonging and a sense of roots in our world and our new land.