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Witchcraft vs. Religion
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 15261
Age Group: Adult
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Author: The Redneck Pagan
Posted: November 11th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,172
A while ago I was watching a television show with my husband. In this show there was a society that was divided into Castes: The Worker Caste, the Warrior Caste and the Religious Caste. Each Caste had their own leaders, and the leaders from each Caste came together in a council to guide the society as a whole. In this part of the television show, the Council of the Castes had been broken, and the Castes had been embroiled in a Civil war, with the Warrior Caste attacking the Religious Caste. The Religious Caste, being unable to withstand the forces of the Warrior Caste surrendered. A trial of strength between the leader of the Religious Caste and the leader of the Warrior Caste ensued to determine the new leaders and at the end the Religious Caste came out as the winning Caste.
The winning leader set up a new council in which the previously ignored Worker Caste held the majority of the seats on the council. The leader explained her choice: “You had forgotten the worker caste, hadn't you? When our two sides fight, they're the ones caught in the middle, forgotten that it's their time to serve, to build, and to die. They built the temples we pray in, the ships you fight in. They look to us to guide their hands. But prayers are fleeting and wars forgotten. What is built endures. They do not wish to conquer or convert, only to build the future. And now, they will have that chance. The religious caste and the warrior caste will advise and council. We will serve, as is proper. Religion and war must act in the service of the people, not the other way around.” The last line really struck a chord with me: “Religion (...) must act in service of the people.” It’s a powerful statement that was made there. It’s one of those moments where something hits you like a ton of bricks, at least I know it did for me.
I like to think of myself as a very spiritual person, I think most pagans do. We watch the seasons change, keep tabs on the moon phases, most of us have altars and shrines in our homes as daily reminders of the divine. I pray often and think about the Gods often. I try very hard to treat people as the God and Goddess within I know they have (i.e. I try and be nice, respectful and kind. I don't always succeed, but I try) .
I perform rituals and cast spells from time to time. In our house alone we have one large wall Shrine to the gods, an Ancestor Shrine, a small shrine on the bookcase beside my bed and in my pagan room I have a wall shrine and my main altar. So I have really worked hard at having spiritual spots spread throughout our home. At work, I have spiritual pictures (for me that includes stone circles, angels and pictures of Gods and Goddesses I follow) with me and I try to surround myself with beautiful natural items such as shells, pine cones or go outside in nature.
I am very good at taking care of my spiritual needs and try to be good at cultivating a daily spiritual practice. I must say that my spiritual practice has served me well. I draw strength and comfort from my practices and from the Gods. I feel it has made a much better person, has made me stronger and more compassionate. Some of the spells I have worked have been very successful such as the spell I cast to find a good job and the spell my husband and I cast to find our house. (Obviously we paired it with a heck of a lot of work such as resumes, job hunting, keeping a good credit rating etc.) So again I say, my religious practices have served myself and my family exceptionally well.
Then I began to ask myself the question... What do I do to serve my Gods? I am definitely not a priestess! Although I have been practicing for nine years I still truly believe I am more of a novice than anything else. I have no real formal training and do not belong to a coven, circle or grove. My own personal studies are very sporadic and tend not to have any real discipline to them. I tend to float from topic to topic and up until very recently would read a book, go to the next, trying to get that next spiritual high (as you know) . I have recently started trying to cultivate discipline in my practices but I am not very far long and certainly am not an expert!
Ok so I do not serve in a group, nor am I really experienced enough to be clergy. So what do I do? Well, one of the ways that I serve is through my job. I am an administrative assistant in a hospital. I work for three managers and under them are a bunch of therapists who directly treat our clients. We treat the elderly, stroke victims, accident victims, people with strain injuries and many others. My work tends to be very boring and repetitive at times. I do a lot of typing, data entry and a lot of phone calls. However, by doing my job well I free up our therapists to treat the clients rather than chasing paperwork, and I free up the managers to help create new programs that will address the needs of our clients better. Although I am not directly helping the clients, my work is vital to them getting the care they need, and through that I feel I serve the Gods by helping ensure my fellow humans get the care they need.
So I serve with my job, that's great (well I think so anyway) but is this the only way I serve the Gods. Well actually no, it's not. Two nights and a day out of the week I work with a local youth organization. This youth organization is free for teenagers and has no other requirements besides the minimum and maximum age ranges. So any young person who wants to join, can. From there, they get to go camping, go flying (right up to and including getting a pilots license) , go on trips around the province and possible even overseas. We teach them map and compass, have a band they can join and teach them how to safely use a firearm.
I volunteered with the group for five years and in the past four years I have been paid a little for my work (I make enough to cover the gas to and from our activities) . I spend a lot of time with these young people, sometimes they talk to me about problems in their lives, and sometimes they share with me their interests, their ups and downs. I do the best I can to comfort them, reassure them, share their joys and be there. Some of the kids come to us from bad backgrounds; some of them have nowhere else where they feel safe and accepted. We strive to create an environment that they can feel loved, accepted. We also teach them leadership skills and citizenship, to help them grow to become productive young adults and give them the confidence that they can accomplish anything in life.
The work is stressful, as a rule teenagers are impulsive! Their hormones are going a little crazy, their brains are changing and developing and they are still trying to figure out who they are. They have days where they are brilliant... and days when you can only shake your head at the strange feat they have attempted. There are long hours, preparing training plans, lessons, full weekend activities and as with anything... paperwork! It's enough to make anybody want to pull their hair out, but I do love it. I love having the opportunity to watch them grow, discover who they are and where they can go! By making them better people today, I can ensure a better future for them, for all they encounter, for my country and for the world.
To me, the work I do with the young people in the youth program, and even the work I do in my day-to-day job, is part of my service to the Gods. While I am not the mighty High Priestess, or lead a coven, or conduct rituals for starry-eyed admirers, I still work with what I am good at to create a better world. Some may argue that this is not service to the Gods, and I have to respectfully disagree with them.
The Redneck Pagan
Television quote and show details form J. Michael Straczynski.
The Redneck Pagan
Location: Lacombe County, Alberta
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