Growing From the Inside
Article ID: 15189
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 23rd. 2012
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If you self-identify as Pagan, I am positive your library either is in the process of or does have many books that detail about how to build an altar and the proper tools recommended to assist in making you feel a vital part of our faith. But is materialism and the designation of a “sacred space” really all there is to us? A religion that espouses “Nature as Sacred” neatly pigeonholes that same sacred space to a corner in the room?
Paganism is a living, breathing and organic modern faith with ancient roots. Don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying that Paganism is unbroken or untouched for the past 50, 000 years since the sinking of Atlantis. What I am saying is that modern Paganism has teachings, which are drawn from our past, the times when our ancestors lived and walked the land. Most likely this land was never vacated for many generations. People remained in the places they lived for many hundreds (or even thousands) of years, pushed only when empires came and exiled them by force or else natural disasters took place. Simple research in itself will reveal that many ancient cults and faiths grew out of Domestic Cults. In other words, religion was an organic process that began at home.
The faith of our ancestors was not a faith forced on them from the outside. Like the analogy of the baby chick that will die if you force the egg to be broken rather than allowing the creature to break free and grow on its own, religion began on the inside. It began around the hearth, the community fire. It began with stories and songs. It began with women telling women the secrets of child rearing, dealing with the men, and working together as a community. Religion began with men working in the fields and watching boys become men, the latter attempting to find their place in the world. Religion grew and changed, spreading from place to place as people traveled and shared their personal experiences. Ideas were exchanged. Gradually, the Domestic Cults that venerated the spirits around them, highly respected their Elders, and venerated their ancestors who came before them were at some point established as Mystery Rites that either became part of a city-states’ Temple or else a religious movement.
But whatever state-sponsored religions might have come and gone with empires, the families at home retained some remnant of their faith. Religion continued on, because families and faith were inseparable. One thing remains clear: there is a real Mystery at the center of your home.
Our religion is in danger of becoming materialized, if it has not already been. Too many people obsess with details about tools, altars, and “getting rituals right.” They fixate over grimoires and books, hardly reading through any and mostly wanting visitors to be shocked or impressed that they have such a collection of occult paraphernalia! Precious stones such as amethysts, malachite, and others are valued above the very rocks beneath our feet. Is this what our faith has come down too…expensive trinkets that become worthless when we leave our bodies?
Paganism is not about spaces, tools, altars or books. Paganism is about directly experiencing the Divine in however it comes to you. Whether it is in the form of a Deity in your explorations, the chill of a cool breeze at sunset, meditations at the seashore during a moon, or even caring for your family and enjoying a nice meal together, our faith is not contained by what we have or don’t have. It is everywhere. It is about building a legacy with those you consider kin with you: your family and closest friends. It is about connections – whether with your lover during sex or sitting down watching the latest episode of your favorite show! Paganism should not be a contest of “whose wand is bigger than whose?” The minute that you forget this, you have lost a grip on what this faith means to you.
So do yourself a favor and put away your altars and tools for a while. Instead, have a get-together with those you love and care about. Have a community potluck meal, barbecue or outing somewhere on a day that everyone can make it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It can just be fun.
Many, but not all, Pagan groups don’t cater to parents with kids, and that can be shameful. Why not skip a ritual for a Holy Day, instead inviting Pagan parents to bring their kids over? Encourage your Pagan group to come up with activities that center around the children. Many of us can be misanthropic towards people and kids, and although morbid jokes are funny to some, too much extremism on that point of view locks our spirits and can be a disservice on our Path to Gnosis (Knowledge) . Open yourself up, challenge your boundaries, and help those in your Community who need support rather than make them the butt of your jokes.
It is clear our ancestors had much to teach us in the here and now about spirituality. We cannot forget the Hearth Fire – the Sacred Center that symbolizes the vitality of what makes us part of one another. We need to learn how to compromise for the betterment of others and realize that we have compartmentalized our faith into a corner. By doing this, we compartmentalize a part of ourselves as well. We teach our minds and spirits to relegate religion to a Day, a Time, and Place. We do not flow with Nature, instead becoming a dam that blocks the natural rhythms that live in our house. Again, simple research into domestic house spirits can give you an idea of how important a home and a community were to one another.
If we look to our past, we can be given the keys for the present and unlock the doorway to our future. In these uncertain times, it can be easy to disconnect from everyone and everything. Connect, and allow your faith to grow from the inside. I believe you will discover Living Fire of your ancestors within you.
Eirene kai Hugieia!
(Peace and Health!)
Rev. Luis A. Valadez
Co-Pastor, Pagan Place Temple
Hierophant, Temple of Hekate: Ordo Sacra Strix
Mikalson, Jon D. “Religion in Hellenistic Athens.”
Bodel, John and Olyan, Saul. “Household and Family Religion in Antiquity.”
Worsfold, T. Cato. “History of the Vestal Virgins of Rome.”
Parma, Gede. “Taking Paganism Beyond the Circle.”
O’Gaea, Ashleen. “Family Wicca: Practical Paganism for Parents and Children.”
Patsouris, Laura. “Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors.”
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