Thursday, December 6, 2007

Looking Backward

Okay, our visitors have gone, and it's time to get serious again about doing the blog. Yesterday it snowed heavily here, so that's yet more grounds to stay home and work at the computer. The sunlit snow makes the river valley and the mountains look even more beautiful than they did a month ago when the trees were turning color.
The snow brought back memories of other snows in other places : As a kid making my own sled in England, the trick was to use coppiced saplings for the runners, steaming them to shape. It was considered not cricket to have an adult help you with making your sled. Then we would all race them down a local hill. Many of them collapsed ... but it was all in good fun, and the winner got to light the bonfire at next year's Guy Fawkes celebration on November 5. The only thing comparable is the construction and racing of soapbox cars, with lots of adult involvement (legally or illegally) and large cash prizes.
More recently in Germany I remember giving the driver of the horse-drawn sidewalk plow a bottle of beer for his work. I wonder whether they're still using horse-drawn plows for snowy sidewalks over there in Munich. It's easy to look back and forget the bad and remember the good; but I have to say a lot of the good was really good.
It seems to me that the Kennedy assassination marked a turning point in the history of this nation. Before that, we had hope for the future; we had a vision and optimism. Today most people are only existing, feeling that the best they can hope for is that the future won't bite them in the ass.
A West African word, sankofa, means
"It isn't forbidden to go back and fetch what you forgot"
with a symbol of a bird looking over its shoulder. It is often interpreted as a call for African people to look back to their roots. Similarly, the Bolivian government of Evo Morales has a motto:
"Moving forward by looking back".
Have we forgotten in Wicca how great the early days were? How informed we were, and how deep the arguments over theology really went? --Yet the disputers could still circle amiably together. People of different traditions enjoyed one another's company. And we all had a vision. Today we can only shed a tear for that vision that we've lost.
Can we as Wiccans do less than go back and fetch what we've forgotten? Are there better ways to move forward than by looking back? When people arbitrarily change such things as the Charge of the Goddess to make it more correct politically, when they change rituals so that they are shorter or held on a more convenient night, do they not realize that they are destroying that which in the past was as beautiful as sunlit new snow on mountainsides?
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne

9 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

No matter how old something now is, it was at one time an innovation. No matter how new something is now, it will get old pretty quick. That's pretty much the way it is.

I was not around of course in the "good old days", so I can not speak from experience as to that aspect. But I know it helps to have the benefit of that knowledge of the past, and the way things were. As long as things don't become considered too set in stone, which is a kind of fundamentalism in it's own right, it can provide fresh insight pointing the way to a renewal, onward to a freshness, recapturing that oritginal pioneering spirit.

I sometimes wonder about Reconstructionists who insist on following to the letter the old sacred calendar dates, who adhere vociferously to such things as genealogies of the gods, who even insist on dressing in ancient style attire.

To me, paganism in general-not just Wicca-should be fresh and new, not some return in full to the ancient long gone past. True, that past should be studied and discussed, not for how it might change the world back into the way it once was, but for the ways in which it led to the world we have, and the world we can yet build.

People as individuals have what they call a "dark night of the soul", and unfortunately, religions and movements themselves have them. If they survive these "dark ages", they hopefully go through a period of "rennaissance", or perhaps a "reformation".

These are necessary times, in that they lead to growth, development, and a discarding of those things which become archaic over time. Otherwise, it becomes meaningless ritual.

When a Hellenic Recon tells me, with eyes and voice of fire that, he will have me know, Hermes was born exactly on the First of May, and that hell no Hecate was not the daughter of Zeus and Hera, I've kind of just learned to smile and say, well, alright then.

These things are of pressing importance, you see, and everyone should be aware of them, otherwise, you just aren't quite "authentic".

The Pagan Temple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fenix said...

I personally have no problem with using our knowledge from the past for what we are doing now, but I do believe that all paths, all people, everything around us does evolve. That doesn't mean we should abandon anything from our past - if anything, I do think that Paganism and Wicca should be looking to our past and learning from what we did and what we had.

A "Dark Time?" That is a distinct possibility. It had crossed my mind earlier this year that maybe some of what is "occult" should become hidden again. Whatever this thing is that has sprung up out of Wicca and Paganism, it doesn't look anything like what I have known and practiced.

Is it possible to reclaim what Wicca once was? I know I've been working on returning to the magical roots I grew up with, but so many Pagans now consider what I do to be "dark." I'm not particularly fond of the whole dark/light designation and prefer working in shades of grey. Too much emphasis on the light side of things creates a nasty imbalance in my life.

It would be nice to see a reformation of sorts for Paganism and Wicca. I hate seeing pentacles become a fashion statement instead of a religious statement.

Enjoy the snow! We're getting ready for what could be a bad ice storm, along the same levels as what we had in January. Pics of what happened then are here in my blog: http://fenixmage.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html. The destruction was everywhere. We're really hoping we avoid the damage this time.

wushih said...

Fenix,

Another storm like last year couldn't possibly be as bad. Most of the trees that broke and fell to the ground because of the weight of the ice have been cleared away and there isn't much left to fall on the houses.

I remember the first night was terrifying with the heavy, heavy branches falling on the roofs and wires. Slamming the houses, ripping stuff off, blocking roads, crushing cars and punching holes in the roof. I remember the neighbor's house catching on fire in the middle of the first night of the storm. The firemen showed amazing courage just to be out there with everything falling everywhere. Graham Cracker (a person we tease a lot) showed astonishing courage by crawling up the ice covered steps on the side of the burning house to rescue the old lady who lived upstairs. After he handed her over to her family who had been standing out in the yard screaming, "Mom, Mom get out of the house," he then crawled up the stairs again to get her little dog. The second and third nights of the storm weren't so bad because almost everything had already hit us. The aftermath was tedious and awful and I don't know if I will ever be the same.

Another two weeks without electricity or school? Playing Harry Potter Monopoly over and over again? Oh no.

Regarding Wicca and Paganism these days...I haven't bought a book about either for years. The "Wicca light" and "fluffy bunny Wicca" and other books that are just a rehash of what has already been written or said tend to strike me as a waste of money.

Too many "Wiccans" and "Pagans" are just playing games. We can either learn and grow or we can dress funny and claim to be wise. Wicca and Paganism are about learning and growing and that isn't always fun or cute.

Dark night of the soul? Fenix and I can both tell you about that.

q.spike said...

Howdy there Enyo!

***

Gavin and Yvonne,
what a thought-provoking blog.
Thank you both.

Too much of what I see today in the "mainstream" pagan and wiccan movements is the new-agey white lighters everything is beautiful sort of thing.

There is certainly lacking serious scholarship and research. Recently, I "learned" that the Native American Great Spirit was a "goddess" rather than a god. Rewriting history for our own twisted purposes or agendas however noble they may be is wrong.

The Charge of the Goddess is a beautiful piece of literature in its' own right.

I am kind of amused by the Charge of the Bee-otch Goddess myself. Though I suppose that isn't what you had in mind.

I must be in the dark. I haven't run across anyone removing stuff out of the Charge to make it more palatable to the masses. I don't mind dancing around a bonfire naked in the dark or in the sunlight myself. I object when temperatures reach below the fifty degree mark and the wind is up a bit.

I think "Suggestions of the Fluffy Bunny Goddess" would be a hoot to write.

spike

Shadowhawk said...

When tradition flys in the Face of Eclecticism then thats when we lose out. Im so sick of the ecclectic mantra. it all works lets just throw it together. Paganism used to be in alot of ways a MYSTERY TRADITION.. as far as modern and some not so modern pagan belief systems. I miss the mysatery, this everybody can know it and do it has made it so no one really wants to see where there traditions come from, how it ties to there roots so on and so forth. As long as they can cast a circleand light a couple candles they just dont care. As long as Paganism continues to be watered down i dont see the MYSTERY coming back any time soon

The Pagan Temple said...

By the way, Gavin, the more I think about it, the more you sound here like some old man rocking on his front porch and moaning about the "good old days", and complaining about all those "young whippersnappers" and all of their "newfangled ideas".

You wasn't by any chance enjoying a good chew of "bakker" when you wrote this post, was you?

fenix said...

Ew! Dude, I can promise you Gavin doesn't chew anything as nasty as that!

Hayley said...

In reply to shadowhawk-

A fair enough comment, but again speaking as the outsider wanting in- how do you grow a "mystery" religion?

Isn't that maybe part of what caused the problem to start with? people outside covens to my understanding (and please correct me if i'm wrong) and outside traditions weren't exactly easy to find their way in- so they did their own thing instead. Even I (living in the south bible belt of the US) can find a group of ecclectic pagans, three in fact, all of whom are happy to let anyone in. I have found no tradition witches, and one coven who won't tell me anything but "look elsewhere" (admittedly I did only ask once, but I try to be polite).

Is it mystery you want, or depth?
I'd personally prefer depth.