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Article ID: 10764

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Section: words

Age Group: Adult

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“There are no Atheists in Foxholes”

Author: The Shadow Knight
Posted: May 7th. 2006
Times Viewed: 5,345

Everyone in the military has heard the old cliché, “There are no Atheists in Foxholes.” Well, not true; not only are there Atheists, but there are Pagans, Christians, and people of many different religious paths. As an Eclectic Wiccan and a Non Commissioned Officer in the United States Army, I can speak from experience.

In the days prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, I frequently walked out a ways from everyone, while staying within the secured perimeter, drew my circle and performed my solitary ceremonies / rituals. I often asked for protection, courage and strength for my soldiers and myself in the upcoming conflict. On a few occasions, other soldiers walked upon me in the middle of my ceremonies / rituals and asked what I was doing. When I would explain, most of them would ask if I could bless them also, in which I would comply. I know for a fact that a few of them were devout Christians. The day before we crossed the Iraqi border, I drew runes of protection on all the vehicles in my section. My section was in many of the engagements on the way to Baghdad, and none of the vehicles or my soldiers were ever hit with any enemy fire. We had a few close calls, but all my soldiers made it home safely. Some may say that it was luck or coincidence, but I believe that my ceremonies had at least a small part to do with it.

On one occasion in particular, as the sun was setting, I had just finished drawing my circle and cleansing the area. I was meditating to clear my mind in the growing darkness when four soldiers approached my circle and asked what I was doing. I explained that I was about to ask the Goddess and God to watch over my soldiers and myself in the upcoming conflict and cast a spell of protection over them and myself. They asked a few questions about my religion and about magic, and I explained about my path and about magic, as best I could. The whole time they were very respectful. After a little while, one of the soldiers mentioned that they needed to get back to their squad. But before leaving they asked if I would mention them to my God and Goddess. One of them commented that a little extra protection was always welcome, no matter where it came from. I felt uplifted by the respect in their voices and actions. Before I began my ceremony / ritual again, I inspected the circle that I traced in the sand. To my surprise none of them had disturbed or crossed it, even in the fading light where it was very difficult to see. I included their names in my ritual and in my spell of protection.

Later on after we had secured Baghdad, I found out that the track vehicle of the four soldiers that had approached me that evening had been hit by an RPG. Out of a squad of eight inside the track vehicle one soldier was killed, and three were injured. Of the four soldiers that had approached my circle that night, none of them received a scratch that required more than a Band-aid.

Shortly after we had secured Baghdad, my section was split up and we transitioned into different jobs. My six man team transitioned into an engineer reconnaissance team, where we would go out on missions almost daily into downtown Baghdad. Our primary job was to assess the damage to the local infrastructure and to destroy unexploded ordinances. In my team, my battle buddy was a Catholic; there was a Baptist, a Pentecostal, Atheist, one who was unsure, and I am Eclectic Wiccan. Every day before we would go out on our missions, my team would take a moment to pray. My battle buddy would say a Catholic prayer for us. The Baptist soldier would say a prayer in the Baptist tradition. The Pentecostal soldier would say a prayer in the Pentecostal tradition, and I would ask the Lord and Lady to watch over us. We all respected each others beliefs, and welcomed each others insights.

Why is it that when we (mankind) are in a situation where lives are at risk, even those who are very devout in their religion suddenly become more tolerant and even accept and seek blessings from faiths other than their own? Why can‘t people be this tolerant and accepting on a normal basis?

So just think about it; that soldier next to you has the same fears in combat that you do and while you pray to your god (s) / Goddess (es) to protect you, he / she is probably praying, paying tribute to, or requesting a favor from their God (s) / Goddess (es) to protect them. And who is to say that the good fortune that you receive is not in part the benefits of the faiths of the non-Christian and/or Pagan soldier next to you, as much as it is the benefit of your faith.

In conclusion there are Atheists in foxholes, as well as Pagans and Christians. I knew six soldiers that were Atheists before the war. I now know seven. Two of the initial six gained a religion while over there, and three people that I know lost all faith and now claim to be Atheists. War is a time and place where a person will either gain the most faith they have had in their life, or lose all the faith they may have ever had.

“Seek the Knowledge of the old ways to gain the Wisdom of the future”



The Shadow Knight

Location: Manila, Arkansas

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