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Article ID: 6598
Age Group: Adult
Posted: July 13th. 2003
Texas Religious Freedom Circle
by Iarrthóir na Fírinne
We live in a time that can be considered amazing, alarming, exciting, intimidating, captivating, harrowing, exhilarating and frightening all at the same time. Above all we live in a provocative world. No matter which side of the political spectrum on which you rest, all must agree that since September 11, 2001, our way of life United States has been put through an arduous series of tests. The deplorable acts of a small percentage of an otherwise honorable faith have forced our leaders to react. Those reactions have led to many battlegrounds regarding life beyond the tragedy. One issue that seems to be at the forefront of the fray is religious freedom. Many of our political leaders are taking a more strident stance than they have in the past regarding the definition of a "valid" religion and interpretations of what our founders intended when setting up our country.
This past July 4th weekend, in Waco, TX, our Pagan community decided it is time for action. Waco Eclectic Circle, an open Pagan group with wide-ranging beliefs teamed with Circle of the Spiral Moon, a local Wiccan coven, to present the Texas Religious Freedom Circle. The TRFC was a unique ritual designed to motivate individuals to take a positive stand regarding our religious freedom in the United States and to magickally reinforce our current political leaders with the wisdom and positive energy of "Great Americans" selected by our circle participants. We also sought to celebrate the country that gives us the freedom to worship according to our individual wills. The ritual turned out to be very powerful and an emotionally moving experience for all whom attended.
Through several months of planning and a true collaborative effort, we created an environment that allowed us to build a bridge over the obstacles we faced. We had a true challenge considering the diversity in beliefs and practices of the two groups. However, the overwhelming power of the project itself seemed to take on it's own character in the final weeks and propelled us toward a potent magickal working.
We agreed to tackle the two following challenges:
1. That we respect each other's personal beliefs and seek to do no harm, even if we disagree with certain points of view.
2. That before passing into the circle, we resolve to not let its' energy go to waste.
At the end the circle we asked all attending to join us in acting upon our own convictions and to do something to better the cause of religious freedom in our country. This could be something as simple as writing a letter to our Senator or Representative, or to the local newspaper, but our point was to DO something positive to disrupt the negative energy that has overtaken our elected leaders. On that evening we practiced American Magic. And American Magic is a mighty powerful thing that comes from a mighty powerful ideal- the ideal of personal freedom.
There were several unique facets to the TRFC. Some examples:
Symbolic of the Lord and Lady were the Bald Eagle and the Statue of Liberty, respectively. Instead of the usual Call to the Goddess and Call to the God using specific deities from a Religious Pantheon, we called upon aspects of the Lord and Lady revealed in Great American figures past and present:
We call upon the Lady,
who shines her beacon through
the strength of Eleanor Roosevelt,
the passion of Sojourner Truth,
the wisdom of Ayn Rand,
the intellect of Maya Angelou,
the humor of Lucille Ball
the courage of Rosa Parks,
the compassion of Florence Nightingale,
the humility of Helen Keller
the spirit of Starhawk
(and the soul of Aretha Franklin!)
We call upon the Lord,
who who soars in the sky
through the strength of Dwight D. Eisenhower,
the passion of Martin Luther King,
the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson,
the intellect of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
the humor of Mark Twain,
the courage of Lance Armstrong,
the compassion of Jonas Salk,
the humility of Charles Shultz,
the spirit of Billy Graham
and the imagination of Dr. Seuss!
We also used an unusual method to Call the Elements. Each station corresponded to a geographical region of the United States and the qualities of each reflecting those of the cardinal directions (as well as the Center) were emphasized. As each Element was called, a sparkler was lit to complete the July 4th theme. The words used are reprinted below:
The East brings the winds
that blow of freedom's promise
a nation's new beginning was birthed
with a quiet footfall
upon the rocky shores
of a fateful place
that would be known as Massachusetts
The sea air,
There giving the gift of inspiration,
that the East would lead in bright discovery,
In commerce and policy
And invite our imagination
To wander far and wide.
Powers of air,
You are honored and welcomed!
The South stokes the fire
the passion of the summer's heat-
the rising up of sabers
forged of honor and tradition
defending to the last breath
with the spirit
of the sacred phoenix of antiquity,
blessed with the courage
to bloom once more after having been burned
and to recast itself as a bastion of justice
churning plumes of zealous ardor
and sparking drive to succeed.
Powers of fire,
Of passion and courage
You are honored and welcomed!
The West floods with waters
Flowing with emotion
The gateway to the Pacific ocean
Pours out all intuition.
Past the sands of the desert
Where moisture is a precious gift.
A healing salve for the wounds of our journey,
and a quenching of thirst for a new frontier.
Our west is blessed with the rains of Oregon
and the wisdom of those that came this way first,
the ancient knowledge
like the foam of the sea,
tucked to and fro
along the supple shoreline
tells us of love to encompass all beings.
Powers of water
Of healing and emotion
You are honored and welcomed!
The North stands solid
upon mounds of earth
solidified and sturdy
a mountain of certainty
in an uncertain world.
Steadfast and reliable
like the wheel of the seasons,
yet ductile and malleable
Resilient through changes
As when shaped into art
In the South Dakota ranges
jutting faces of the fathers up over the expanse.
Gifts us with nourishment from her arboreal hearth.
Holds our bodies at birth
and at death returns them home,
And we merge with the soil
No longer alone.
Powers of earth
Of stability and sustenance,
We welcome you!
The Center quietly sings
though it's voice contains arias
resounding into space
and the ageless beyond.
With you we crossed the Delaware
We beat back the odds
And defended the dream of a regentless realm.
When we shredded in half, torn asunder by hatred
The liberty of your song
caused the wounds to convalesce.
We broke forth from tyranny,
Great emancipator of souls
All above and all below
Gave us strength to to strike a blow,
to loose the shackles of impiety
At Argonne, at Normandy,
At Midway and Iwo Jima
in Korea and Vietnam we learned your lessons.
Now your melody is heard
past twin scars of light
blazing in the sky in a New York night.
We sing back in harmony-
Our spirit unbroken
our voices echo strong
with the character of this land,
this ideal that will not die
Powers of spirit
of immanence and will,
We welcome you!
After opening the circle, we participated in a meditation in which we put ourselves in the body of an immigrant to the United States in the early 1900s. From the start at the dock in the Old Country, to the grueling journey over the ocean, to the eventual sighting of Lady liberty in New York harbor, the experience was created with painstaking sensory detail. All of this though, was merely preparation for what was to follow.
We each had brought a photo of a person or people who we considered to represent the qualities we would like to see in today's leaders. There included important figures from Susan B. Anthony to Franklin D. Roosevelt to Danny Thomas to Starhawk to all of America's children. After lighting a candle to represent the energy of each person or group of people, the High Priestess and Coven Maiden from Circle of the Spiral Moon led us through the working, using chanting and drums to raise energy. We combined our own emotions, energies and wills with the qualities we admire and sent them forth to transform the status quo and bring about positive change.
Personally, I have attended few rituals filled with as much emotion and sheer dynamism. Our pride in being Americans and our collective desire to continue to feel this way wrought a singular aura about the proceedings. I have talked to many that attended the circle, and their reactions are remarkable. I do not know if what happened that night can truly be appreciated in the form of an article, but I do believe that change will take place. I also believe that this ritual helped energize our Waco Pagan community to be more active participants in the political process that will determine future policy in the United States. Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." In Waco, TX, on the evening of July 5, 2003, our community took the first step.
Email: Veritus firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio: Veritus is an Eclectic Pagan who lives in Waco, TX, otherwise known as George W's backyard. He is one of the founders of Waco Eclectic Circle, who will celebrate one year together this Samhain. He would like you to know that he is not wild about labeling himself according to any set tradition, but that it is kind of kicky to refer to himself in the third person. He is married with two children who are not afraid to question, two dogs, three cats and umpteen rabbits. Among his favorite Pagan authors are Kerr Cuhulain, Phyllis Curott and Grey Cat.
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Iarrthóir na Fírinne
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