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Article ID: 4507
Age Group: Adult
Posted: April 16th. 2001
Home is Where the Spirit Is
Greetings Witches, Wiccans and Pagans,
It's official: Springtide has arrived in Florida. We don't go by the calendar here; we go by the ducks. The mallards flew in this week and 'coincidentally' they arrived on the same day that the U.S. crewmen and women arrived home from their 11-day detainment in China. The instinct and desire to return home drives many creatures in nature's realm to cross enormous distances and face many trials in their journeys back to their point of origin. Humankind often thinks that they-that we-are above such 'animal' compulsions, that we are the masters of our own destiny and free of the instinctual bonds that govern the behaviors of many of the 'lesser' creatures of the Earth. Are we just kidding ourselves?
"Home" can mean many more things to humans today than just the geographical place of our birth. We are a mobile society. In the past too, humans were on the move. Nomadic tribes spread humankind across the continents and encompassed the globe with trade and migratory routes. Yet, wherever these ancient nomads went, they brought their cultural beliefs with them. Religion met religion everywhere in the vast spaces of time and culture encountered culture. These encounters could either be friendly-with elements of both becoming intertwined and adopted by the people-or they could be violent-where one culture completely dominated and wiped out the other. One thing remains though: unlike our own take-it-as-it-comes mallards, wherever Humankind goes, he/she changes the landscape and alters the environment to suit him/herself. Volumes could be written on whether one thinks that this is a good or a bad thing.
The Homelands and the longing for a sense of belonging drive many Pagans today to search out their family ties to lands and cultures that they personally may never have known. On the North American continent, this is a particularly poignant desire. The history in North America is a short one for all save the native indigenous people whom the new cultures displaced. Much to our regret these days, the mostly white explorers and settlers of 500 years ago set about destroying the rich, ancient history of these lands in order to superimpose their own. Today, we long for a more continuous ancestral history and because of the impunity of those early North American invaders, we cannot easily find it within the history of this continent itself. So, Americans, in particular, have turned their eyes towards the 'old countries' in their search for a pedigree.
In the shadow of recent world wars and especially the ever present memory of the rise of Nazism, the concept of nationalism is often met with discomfort. National pride or patriotism can easily turn into despotism and intolerance. While we must all be ever on guard against such terrors, still the longing for ancestral homelands in the spiritual sense is something that we as Pagans are drawn to these days. As we seek to define ourselves-and finding little present in our adopted countries that we can claim as our 'own'-it is only natural that we would turn our thoughts and minds toward the lands where our ancestors did once roam. As long as we keep in mind that we are indeed residents of a 'new' country, there is certainly no reason to not embrace a revised or reconstructed spiritual or cultural belief system as a link to those ancestors whose own travels brought us to where we are today. "Home" is not only a physical address, but also a cultural and spiritual place where we can feel welcome; a place where we belong.
The mallards obviously feel that they belong in our little patch of water. They are North American birds for sure. But this flock are also Florida birds, and more specifically, they are the 'mallards-who-return-to-the-little-pond-behind-our-apartment birds. Likewise, we Pagans may be Americans (or Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, etc.), but we can also be spiritually or culturally Celts or Asatruar or Norse or Voudon as well without conflict. Home may very well be 'where the heart is'.
Our wish for you is this: No matter where you roam-physically, emotionally, spiritually-may you always be able to find your way home.
Photo credit: The Maypole shot to your upper right came to us last year from Susan Lockwood of Rose Hill, Ohio (web: firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks Susan!... NOTE: We are looking for group shots from THIS years Beltane celebrations, if you capture a good one of your group, send it in so that we can share its magick with the community.
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