In a Perfect Pagan World
I was thinking about this sentence, and considering how my life would be different if Paganism was the predominant faith. If you’d like to use the icon, feel free to snag it and flesh out your thoughts on the subject. I’d appreciate a link back, or comment with your link so I can see what you have to say!
For one thing, I wouldn’t feel like I have to hide my beliefs from certain members of my family. I am actually feeling less and less the need to keep my real identity under wraps and separate from my Pagan identity; there is a point on the horizon that’s fast approaching where I won’t be able to hide. There really isn’t much keeping me ‘in the closet’ at this point; I posted a public picture of myself wearing a pentacle on my personal FB page the other day. Plus, leading our local Spiral Scouts group under my real name is bound to form some connections. I’m fine with that – revealing in stages. Less scary that way.
I wouldn’t have to coach my kids on what is ‘okay’ to talk about with my parents. They don’t celebrate Christian holidays even, so ALL religious topics other than their own are basically off-limits for my kids when they’re with my parents. If pressed, my kids would class themselves as Atheists, friendly Atheists, but Atheists nonetheless. They have been raised with the idea that a person’s religion is their own, and they choose that faith because it makes then comfortable, but one path is just as valid as the next (unless that path is actively spreading hate or oppressing another group of people). So they are non-judgey as they can be in most circumstances. They know that Daddy is Atheist and Mommy is Pagan, and that they’re allowed to join in anything they want, for the most part. The kids have come to class with me, and to Ritual observances before (Beltane, most recently). They’ve gone to church with my parents, and with my grandmother. There have been times where we’ve felt the need to pull them out of situations where there was indoctrination going on, rather than sharing. My oldest really enjoys Tarot class when we have it (and he’s pretty intuitive, as well), but doesn’t generally like ‘class’ (of any sort). In any case, in the Pagan community, children’s preferences are generally respected and their contributions both welcome and appreciated. In contrast, in other religious communities, children are commanded to listen, learn and obey, and they are not seen as having anything worthwhile to contribute.
Another area that would be vastly different would be in terms of religious language. If someone says ‘Christmas’, most people know what the discussion is about. But if I say ‘Yule Ritual’, I get blank stares. Same with Ostara vs. Easter, Samhain vs. Halloween… and if I try to explain the appropriation of Pagan Holy Days by the Catholic Church in order to convert the Heathen Hordes in Europe, they get offended (no matter that a few quick searches on the interwebz can clear that right up). Sabbat and Esbat days would be respected, and Pagan deities would be as well known as folk heroes and saints are today. We could use traditional holiday symbols and people would know the meaning behind them, not the pretty Christian packaging that has replaced historical significance, and we would be able to find traditional decorations commercially!
Instead of celebrating Christopher Columbus, we would celebrate Leif Erickson and instead of venerating the Pope, we’d venerate Gerald Gardener. Words like ‘ritual’, ‘Circle School’, ‘sabbat’, and ‘esbat’ would take the places that ‘church’, ‘Sunday School’, ‘mass’, and ‘bible study’. Invitations would request ‘Ritual Garb’ instead of ‘Sunday Best’ for outfits, and we’d have ‘cakes and wine’ instead of ‘coffee and dessert’. We would do healing spells instead of praying for recovery, or spells for peace and love and strength instead of praying for trials to pass. The entire landscape of language would change, and that would be a cool thing.
We would have vast centers for worship, Pagan style, instead of massive stone and brick churches. Nature would be at the forefront instead of a much-abused dead and dying man renowned for his agony and suffering ‘in love, and on our behalf’. We would celebrate all facets of life; all phases in their time and place. We wouldn’t torture our children with the threat of hell, or sin, or make the ashamed of their thoughts or feelings or sexuality. We wouldn’t make our elders feel ashamed or that they are burdensome; instead their knowledge would be respected and they would have an honored place as Crone and Lord in our society. Being in tune with nature, we wouldn’t have so much focus on money, or possessions, instead focusing on harmony and peace and balance with nature. The world at large wouldn’t be seen as a possession or commodity, but as the Source, to be revered and nurtured.
Simplistic view? Sure. Even I know that this is a pipe dream. Even if we did have a Pagan Society, there would still be factions that seek to prosper at the expense of others. There’s always that opportunity, especially if the majority isn’t like that. It only takes a selfish few to upset the harmony that such an ideal society may have – just a few greedy ideas to subjugate the masses probably before anyone realizes what’s happening. But then, it wouldn’t be a ‘perfectly pagan world’.
While a PPW may be impossible, I don’t see anything wrong with moving in the direction of at least true religious freedom. Even today, in America, where we are supposed to be free to worship as we please under full protection of the law, we still have articles like this one: Summer Solstice Pagan Festival has Pahokee Residents Outraged, the ones from last year about Ginger Strivelli, and numerous articles about Pagan children/students being asked to remove pentacles or other Pagan symbols of faith while at school. It’s happening daily and most non-pagan people don’t pay attention to it unless it’s thrust into their faces. But we Pagans see it all the time. Our faith and practices are misconstrued, misunderstood and misrepresented as though we’re a challenge or danger to the communities we live in, which is odd to me since I don’t know of very many place that are near me with a booming Pagan population – how could such a small populace possibly bring such destruction on a ‘strong Christian community’? Mind boggling.
I think that if Pagan religions were more predominate, there would be less fear of being exposed to something new. I have not personally come into contact with anyone from a Pagan path who ‘preaches’ that their path is the only valid one; in fact quite the opposite. All paths are considered equally valid. Pagan paths vary, even within the same tradition, and the discussions I’ve participated in within the Pagan Community are more about sharing what things mean to you, personally, or what significance things have for you. It’s about broadening your own path by learning about someone else’s. It’s about finding meaning for yourself; being encouraged to apply things to your own practice. In stark contrast, many other religions preach how their interpretation is the only one; the only way to ‘salvation’, and anything else is ‘wrong’ or cause for fear. Just that mindset, alone, would do so much to change the attitude of the general population, I think.
I guess I am just rambling, but it’s an interesting idea – a Pagan World. Feel free to expand on the concept!