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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: 8778
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,063
Times Read: 8,232
Author: Sia@FullCircle [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 17th. 2004
Times Viewed: 8,232
In April of 2003, I wrote an article for the Witches' Voice which appeared soon after the U.S. declared war in the Middle East. The article is titled "The Elephant in Our Circles: Pagans Tolerance and the War in Iraq" [link]. Since then, tolerance has become an issue in many ways and in many venues.
In January of 2004 Full Circle declared that our theme for the annual Witches' Ball would be The Silk Road. We deliberately choose this theme because it spoke about tolerance and the exchange of ideas; two things that tend to take a back seat during wars and elections.
As our Council member, Laurel, notes, "The Silk Road was a network of ancient caravan routes that opened commerce between the great civilizations of east and west. It was, in effect, the Internet of its day. In addition to a commercial trade route, the Silk Road was also a pipeline that spread new concepts of religion, culture, and technology". In that spirit of tolerance and discovery, we choose to celebrate a historical period in which the parties that are fighting now, once lived in peace and relative harmony.
Some people have criticized us for choosing this theme. Some of this criticism springs from prejudice towards the cultures involved (which include the West, Asia and the Middle East). Others have felt that the theme wasn't "Witchy" enough or that it was too obscure. To them I say this: To be Pagan is to find meaning, to know what is truly sacred, and to celebrate connection even when times are hard. While it is easy to become heated, it is much more difficult to make light. To us here at Full Circle, the job of any Witch or Pagan is to make light when we can and where is it most difficult to do so. As the Pagan Voting Project notes: "Lighting a candle is not enough". Sometimes, we have to stand up and speak our truth, whether that truth is popular or not.
It would be easy for us to host a Witches' Ball that was only about shiny things and showing off. Instead, we've chosen to make an interfaith charity event where all are welcome and where the Humane Society, the Wildlife Rescue groups and others of like mind can take a seat at our table. This is being "out of the Broom Closet" with a vengeance, folks. And the Nay Sayers can make of this what they like.
Just after this latest new moon I received an email from a woman named Labrys. She had recently read my article on the war at TWV and she was kind enough to write and tell me how she felt about it. She also shared with me her story of building a labyrinth to remember the American service men and women who have fallen and to comfort to their families. Her email speaks so movingly about tolerance and right action in difficult times that I have asked her permission to quote it here. You will find it below.
I noticed with some dismay just after 9/11 that some groups hosting Samhain rituals choose only to remember those they deemed "politically correct"; an oxymoron if there ever was one. I have hopes that this year the Pagan community will remember all of the mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, children and elders who are no longer with us. May these people find the peace in their next life that they may not have found in this one.
As we celebrate the memory of our Beloved Dead this season, let us remember those who have suffered loss, not just because of this war, but also because of intolerance, disease, poverty, hunger, neglect, hatred, crime, and apathy. As Terry Pratchett rightly notes: "There is no justice. There's just us." What we as individuals choose to do or not to do matters, it matters deeply. May we choose wisely and well.
Blessings to you and yours this Samhain.
This article is dedicated to the readers of The Witches' Voice and to all those who lost a Loved One this year. can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Sia@FullCircle - Click HERE
Bio: Sia is the Founder and Council Leader of Full Circle. She can be reached for comment at email@example.com
Author's Note: If you have enjoyed reading this piece, I would ask the you help support the Witches Voice in their efforts to celebrate and support the Pagan community by becoming a Witchvox Sponsor. They rely on our support to keep this non-profit website up and running, so please, do your part to help our community and send them a donation. With thanks, Sia
I wanted to thank you for your article at Witchvox about the elephant in the circle, tho' I admit I found it very belatedly. The war has certainly be divisive, and in more than pagan circles. I think it is ripping very hearts apart. Unfortunately, as you pointed out, nothing is easily black and white and the effort to deal honestly (rather than in sound bites) with such a morass of moral, political, and religious issues all combined in this war does stress the soul.
I much appreciate your thoughtful comments. My husband and I are both Army veterans, my son is currently in the Army. My son and I both consider ourselves warriors in many senses of the word, but this war dismays us both on several levels.
While I do not avoid that elephant, I do try to keep many of my own opinions soft and muted as my first real action put me in a place I never expected to be. You see, last May, after the supposed 'mission accomplished', I began planning a memorial to the men and women we were losing. In August my husband and I together built a seven circuit Cretan labyrinth with 4 tons of sandstone. The monument at center bears the name : Walk of the Fallen Iraq 2003. I admit, I did so hope that somehow, that year would be the end, but I doubted it. We opened it at Samhain 2003, on Nov 8th with luminaries bearing the names of the fallen service members and a fire in the adjoining fire pit. On Veterans' Day only days later we invited the public, but almost nobody appeared. But those who came bore such open, emotionally devastated faces in the face of their personal losses that I knew my own political and spiritual desires and needs must take a back seat to being facilitator of the labyrinth's own healing purpose.
This year, we celebrate Samhain on Oct 27. I cannot light over 1100 luminaries, and very wet weather is in the forecast; therefore this year the lights will be electric, one per dead American service member. We will light the labyrinth every night from our Samhain through Nov 11, Veterans' Day for all comers, pagan or not. On Veterans' Day I will also put out small American flags, again, one per service member fallen.
Because those who find and walk this walk have varied and torn feelings, as you pointed out, and sometimes include those who have lost a loved one to the war, I keep my silence on my personal passions in the cause of promoting healing and comfort, and I hope, rest for the fallen themselves. My pagan friends assure me the labyrinth is potent in energy and force, a magical creation in the finest sense. Myself, I am partially 'blind' to such things; perhaps in protection to me...as working it weekly and sometimes daily, if I were oversensitive, I suspect I might be overwhelmed. I continue my work there, and welcome any who wish to walk there....in the season of Samhain or any other time.
You may see it, if you like at www.tomcynphotoarts.com by clicking on the Walk of the Fallen link.
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