Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Sacred or Profane...Which is Which?|
Posted: February 1st. 2003
Times Viewed: 2,191
Having been a frequent visitor to this website for nearly as long as I've been a practitioner of the Craft, I have eagerly awaited each month's essay selections and yet never felt the need to offer my own humble opinions on any subject until now. It may be that this month's topic resonated so strongly with me because this is one issue that I have already given a great deal of consideration, and perhaps always will. The question of sanctity versus profanity is one which every Pagan, Wiccan, or Witch confronts and (hopefully) comes to terms with at some point on their spiritual path. While I would be among the first to admit that there are times when differentiation between the two appears to be an easier task than at other times, careful consideration of the impact of our words and actions upon other people and the world around us is what I rely on to help me to sort out whether an action is either sacred or profane.
Speaking strictly by definition alone, the Riverside Webster's II Dictionary defines "sacred" as, "1. Dedicated to or reserved for the worship of a Deity. 2. Regarded with religious veneration. 3. Dedicated to or set apart for a single use, purpose, or person. 4. Worthy of respect or venerable. 5. Of or relating to religion. Alternatively, "profane" is defined as, "1. Debasing what is sacred; to desecrate by treating contemptuously or irreverently, to blaspheme. 2. To put to an unworthy or degrading use; to misuse or abuse." Obviously, a profane act violates the Wiccan Rede's admonition to avoid causing willful harm.
Okay, okay... so how is all of this applied in the "real world"?
Let's look at it this way: As Pagans, we recognize that human beings, animals, plants, flowers, trees, the stars, Sun, Moon, Earth, the tiniest atom, etc. all contain the Essence or Spirit of the Divine. By seeking to attune ourselves with the cycles of Nature, the natural world, and with God/Goddess within ourselves, we increase our sensitivity to, and awareness of, Spirit or Akasha---the fifth element. This most sacred element permeates the world around us, thus interconnecting each of us (and our world) in very subtle ways. As our awareness of this Energy increases, we may experience (and even say) "Everything is sacred!" (refer to "sacred" definition number "4"). Some Pagans firmly attest that it is this emotion that sets us apart from those less aware. But let's be honest: while the Universe and we, ourselves, are essentially sacred, many of our actions on this planet are clearly anything but.
Remember our dictionary definitions? If the Akashic energy endows us and our world with a Divine energy, then pollution and violent attacks upon one another (either verbal or physical) are clearly a violation that dishonors this sanctity. As a University student, an East Indian friend once told me that the Hindu greeting of "Namaste" was much more than their way of saying "Hello". This one word encompasses the meaning of "the presence of the Divine in me acknowledges and greets the presence of the Divine in you." Immediately, the simple, yet profound, beauty of this expression struck me. That which is blessed by the presence of Divinity is certainly worthy of respect and should not be abused, misused, violated, debased, or harmed in any way. Of course, we do not live in a perfect world, and oftentimes even our best intentions are met by rudeness or worse. Any positive act of benevolence or good will is one that could be considered sacred.
Likewise, a truly sacred act is one that has one or more of the following resulting effects: to relieve pain and/or suffering; to impart hope, joy, or comfort; to remove negativity while adding positive energy. It is usually life affirming or life-enhancing. That which constitutes a profane act has the opposite effect: it causes or increases pain and suffering; lessens or eliminates hope, joy, or comfort and tends to add negativity while removing positive energy. It destroys and diminishes or demeans life and those who are living.
Any sacred act blesses both the giver and the receiver. A profane act demeans both the perpetrator and the one who is acted upon by disrespecting the Divine Force residing in each. This is why anyone who is sound in mind naturally feels remorse when they realize that they have hurt another. I am not ignoring the notion that there is polarity in all things by writing this. Of course there can be no light without darkness, no youth without age, no spring without winter. The cycles of birth, life, death, and renewal are intrinsic to all things and are among our faith's great Mysteries. Nor am I saying that the guilty should not be brought to justice for malevolent deeds. However, the point I am trying to make is this: the ills of our society are caused by ignorance, misunderstanding and lack of insight. These are qualities that are, in my opinion, the most profane of profanities. From these emerge all that is truly "evil" on our planet. If these maladies were reduced - or eliminated altogether by applying the healing balms of understanding, cooperation, compassion, and a sincere desire to seek the wisdom of truth through self-education so as to break free from crippling bigotry and the fear, anger, or distrust which divides races, nations, faiths and creeds - our society would be more unified and less violent as a whole. Wouldn't it be more beneficial... more sacred to attempt to eradicate the real root of all of our problems? Isn't it better to bless than to harm? We may not end up living in some Pollyanna utopian paradise, but we would have a better world to leave our children.
Witch wars aside, I understand that I'm (to borrow a monotheistic phrase) "preaching to the choir" here. Most of us already are doing our part to heal our Earth, both socially and ecologically. Regardless of whether we are open about our beliefs or so deeply within our Broom Closet that we've just been asked (again!) to consider to teach yet another Sunday school class at the local Christian Church and have less than a week to come up with a credible excuse that won't cause suspicion. If we are creative, there are ways to make the Earth a better place in which to live. For example, rather than teaching Sunday school (I can't imagine any Pagan who could happily do this!), why not offer to organize a food drive, a municipal park cleanup, or a tree planting? Wouldn't this, too, be a sacred act? Several years ago, while in the midst of my "year and a day" period at the beginning of my Wiccan studies, the thought of the Burning Times and other crimes wrought in the name of the Judeo-Christian "one, true, God" caused me to feel downright hostile toward any modern-day followers of monotheism. The more research I did and the more I learned made me extremely angry. Plus, I had my own issues with Christianity, which would be entirely out of place were I to discuss them in this essay. I've only begun to come to terms with the profanity of what took place during the Burning Times within the past couple of years. That doesn't mean that I have excused it. Nor does it mean that I am unaware that there are zealots out there even today who would like nothing better than to slaughter every last one of us "sinful ones." We still must remain ever vigilant against such ignorance to avoid having history repeat itself. Their extreme right-wing ideology causes them to actually believe that to destroy us would earn them "brownie points" with their "vengeful, jealous God." What is more profane than this?
This is precisely the type of twisted thinking that inspired the September 11, 2001 massacre at the World Trade Center. The fact that the perpetrators of this heinous crime were members of an extreme, ultra-conservative Islamic sect and not from Islam's mainstream group of devotees was all but overlooked in the ensuing media coverage. What I find most disturbing, aside from the horror of the attacks themselves, was that the members of this misguided brand of Islam were shown celebrating the destruction of the Towers! According to their beliefs, they had performed the sacred act of 'murdering the Infidels!' Does this mean that this was indeed a sacred act? No! By willfully destroying the lives of those who had absolutely no conscious connection to their "cause" (whatever they conceive of it to be) they committed a supremely profane act. They have not improved their chances of being heard or understood. They have done no more than add to the bloodshed. Since I am a Witch who believes that whatever energy, positive or negative, is sent out returns to its source, I believe that they have only exacerbated their troubles. This profane act only insures more bloodshed. Judging from current news media, war seems likely. Regardless of where you stand in the debate of whether or not we should go to war, it's clear that our President desires retribution for September 11th and related issues. I won't speculate on any potential outcomes here. I will state however, that it's evident that our world and its inhabitants are hurting. The action of performing positive, sacred acts which improve our current state are like rays of light shining through the darkness of ignorance and despair.
Witches have always been the wise healers of the world. Whether society at large realizes it or not, our light, our unique contributions to heal the Earth and one another are badly needed today---perhaps more than ever. Seek out opportunities to do positive, sacred acts. It doesn't matter whether you feel comfortable making your spiritual path known or not. Tutor a child, read to a group of children or to the elderly, share a smile with someone who's having a bad day, or volunteer your time to any number of worthy causes. It may not seem like much, but even these little acts will continue to bless you and others in both overt and subtle ways for years to come. If more people practiced these random kindnesses with greater frequency, little by little, we could change our world for the better. Isn't that one of the most sacred of tasks? Your own individual gifts and talents hold the key to what your contribution ultimately will be. Whether we actively choose to or not, each of us will leave some sort of legacy behind. When we die, the world will be a little bit different because we lived our life as we did. Wouldn't it be wise to try to discover what our contribution was meant to be before we return to the Summerland? Meditation can uncover your life's true purpose. Walk your own path... wear your own shoes... and wear them well.
Lady Isis Serena Manalani
Location: , USA
Bio: Isis Serena Manalani has been a practicing Witch since 1999 and is now a Solitaire Eclectic (by choice). She is an Orlando, Florida native currently living in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two small children. She is an entrepreneur, a voracious reader and an aspiring author. A perpetual student of things spiritual, she is ever seeking to expand her knowledge of the Craft (you can never learn too much!). She and her husband of seven happy years are proud to be homeschooling their two children, aged two and five.
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