Tuesday, November 2, 2010

By Any Other Name

I have always felt a very deep connection to the unseen forces of the Natural World. I think that everything in life is magical, because life is a miracle and much of it is unexplainable- and I think that's right, because that's where faith comes into the mixture, that's where God (whatever you call the Source of Life)comes into it. I think it becomes 'science' when we have an explanation for the unknown and unseen; science is a process of unending discovery. Faith is knowing that there is something there even if it's intangible. Faith is not the same as belief: Belief is what you think you know. Faith adds hope to that knowing.

Before mankind created organized religions, there was Nature. The God/ess of Our Understanding was and still is everywhere. The magic and wonder of Nature was framed for us differently by our primitive cultures, and some of us have never lost that connection even in an Age of Science and Belief.The beginnings of our spirituality and the ritual of the Church was first a part of the ritual and spiritual understanding of Nature. The Church created ecclesiastical ritual through a means of Ceremonial Magic.The Eucharist is a undeniably a magical ceremony when the transmutation of the Body and Blood takes place-otherwise for some it is just a ceremony, a remembrance. Either way is correct. It correlates to the time when our ancestors raised a glass of wine and a bit of grain to the God (s) of their understanding to give acknowledgment and thanks.It's all good in it's purest forms. You do what you believe is right in the form you believe is correct, and so will I, that's where we meet God.

Our modern day medical system came out of our learning to use plants and animals in a special, magical way. No one today would call that 'witch craft', but it was exactly that; it's hedge witchery and herbalism. Alternative medicine has it's roots in hedge witchery and is more closely associated with it because it is less mainstream.

In the late 1940's, Gerald Gardner, a British civil servant and military hero began exploring what he claimed was the 'Old Religion', a belief and faith system born our of worship of the ancient deities with a central Goddess at it's core. In it's day, GG chose to claim it as (British Traditional) Witchcraft. We now know it as Wicca. There are probably as many different forms of Wicca or Witchcraft as there are blades of grass or snowflakes. Each has it's own unique characteristics.

Jews, Christians and Muslims are know as People of the Book, that is, their religious roots are in the same faith and belief systems as Abraham and Moses.For some the Book is the Bible, for others it is the Torah or Koran. Buddhists, Taoists,Shinto, and all native aboriginal religions, fall under the category of Pagan/Heathen. These were faith systems developed by recognition of spiritual deep indwelling, of faith within the person, of what was there of Nature from the day of Creation. Spirit is all knowing, a Oneness.The Latin root Paganus means 'country dweller'. Heathens were traditionally the people living in the heath- the prairies and wild countries. There is no negativity attached to these words,and remained so until they were used as derogatory phrases to distinguish the masses from the 'educated class' of the People of the Book.

End of history lesson, back to me...I believe in the Immanence of Nature, that the natural world is a holy place, and I recognize and celebrate this through rituals and other expressions of spirituality. I believe that Jesus was not only the Son of God, and a great teacher, but that the Buddha is also.... as is every great religious and philosophical teacher through the ages, including Martin Luther King and the present Dali Lama. That makes me a Pagan. Into those beliefs I have incorporated knowledge of divination systems, herbalism,reflexology, and other forms of spiritual expression. By all accounts, that makes me an eclectic practitioner of Earth-centered Spirituality, and if you stretch that a bit further and I have to label it, then yes, I am a technically a witch.( A side piece of information here-all witches are Pagan, but not all Pagans are witches.) Furthermore, I have studied theology and was educated for the ministry, into which I was ordained after graduation. I am licensed clergy and ministered in a mainstream Christian denomination as a chaplain for many years, as I expanded my knowledge of other religions and studied in several esoteric orders. I now am associated with a liberal spiritual tradition that espouses all and every belief system...Pagan, Christian, Humanist and Atheist. I do not share in all of these beliefs with my fellowship members, but I respect their right to their own form of finding God or the answers to the Universe in their own way...and they respect mine. Being a witch or not being a witch hardly ever enters into the picture because it isn't as important to label what I believe as to to be able and willing to share it. 

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