Heathen's Lair

Past, Present, Future

Home
Alter Setup
Past, Present, Future
Make A real difference come out of the broom closet
Bringing ritual into your every day life
America is under Attack!!
A Christian Speaks of Wicca and Witchcraft
The Goddess
The Old Ones Live in New Things Too
The Quest For Power
The Religious Experience: A Wiccan Viewpoint
The Rose
The Skeptical Witch
There Are More Religions in America Than Just Christianity
This Shall Not Be!
To Heal or Not to Heal?
Values in the Balance
Views of Deity
We Are the Other People
Weight of the World
What is drawing down the moon and how do you do it?
Where Did Magick Originate?
Wicca: It's Traditions and Concepts
Wicca and Body Image
Wiccan Basics - What is Magick?
The Celtic Vedic Connection
The Dichotomy Between Sex and Faith
The First Congregational Church of Wicca[credits]
The Fundamentalist's Problem[credits]
The God of the Witches
The 'W' Word (Witch), What Does it Mean?
The Delicate Balance of Pagan Ethics
Safety With Herbs in Healing and Magick
So What is a Blue Moon
Spiritual Conception
Synaesthesia: The Crossing of the Senses
Talking to Goddess
Saturday Morning Cartoons Aren't Pagan-Friendly
Polyamory: Loving Unlimited
Principles of Wiccan Belief
Responses to Nasty Fundies
Ritual - Expression of Will, Art and Creativity
Ritual and Ritual Preparation
Rituals, invocations and sacred space
Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Irish Witches
Jesus Christ! Youre acting like one of those Christians
Magick and Science
Modern Pagan Persecutions
Music and Magic
Namaste - Meaning and Usage
Nipping Trouble in the Bud: Community and Child Custody Issues Affecting Heathens
Obedience: On Being Sheep
On the heaviness of weight
Our Pagan Village: The Importance and Persuit of Honor
Pagan Fundamentalists
Pagan Musings
Pagan Mythology
Pagan Sexuality and Sexual Freedom
Pendulums
How to find a Coven or Group
Howling at the Moon!
I am Pagan
In Nomine Babalon: Sacred Whoredom in a Thelemic Context
Initiations
Ethics In Magick
Experiences of a Pagan Practicing Pranic Healing
From Agape to Praxis: The Fourfold Nature of Love
From Self-Doubt to Self-Assurance: The Inner Journey of The Fool
Grounding and Shielding
Healing Routine: How to setup a Healing Ritual
Ethics Or Etiquette
Everyday is Sacred
Crossing Lines
Dryads
Descent Into Confusion
Disease and The Creative Process in Magick
Can you be a Christian and a Witch???
Creative Visualization and Wicca
Can You Bhoga All Night Long?
Consciousness & Politics
Children of the Gods
Building Shadows
Blood Sacrifice
Chingle Hall
Chinese Dragons
Absent Healing
All One People
An Earth Religion
An Open Letter To The Pagan Community
An Opinion on Magick
An Overview of Clairvoyance
Are there such things as White Witches?
Christianity vs. Paganism: Why?
Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are!
Coming Out as a Witch at Work
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Asatru, an Ancient Religion Reborn
Aspects of Religion: A Wiccan Viewpoint
Comming Out
Bambi Pagans
A cup of Hemlock
Astronomy in Ancient Civilisations
Being Jewish And Wiccan { One Women's View }

Crimson's Favorites
 

Past, Present, Future

Author: Lyon
Posted: June 28th. 2004
Times Viewed: 2,365

Where are Pagans heading as a community? Where are we and where have we come from? These questions are uppermost in my mind these days. So much has changed since I first found my Path. Have I been the one who has changed or is it the Pagan community around me? I think it's equal portions of both.

I came to my Pagan path through a-round-about route. In contrast with the almost mainstream position Witchcraft assumes nowadays, twenty years ago Witches clung to the shadows. There were notable exceptions among them - Starhawk and Raymond Buckland come to mind. But for the most part you had to know someone who knew someone before you found other Witches.

Now with the Internet moving from its toddler phase into the state of a transforming teenager, a curious seeker has only to enter the word "Witch" into a search engine to receive thousands of potential leads to information. In a way this is a very good thing; as Pagans we are no longer hiding in shadows. Those who are truly serious about following the Craft can find a world of like-minded individuals from the comfort of their very own living rooms.

On the other hand, have you been to the Metaphysical/New Age section of any major bookstore lately? There are literally shelves full of spell books! Wicca and other Pagan paths are a growing counter culture - unfortunately the books on the store shelves rarely include the more serious works about Wicca and Paganism. The casual observer can easily come to the misguided conclusion that Witchcraft is all about casting spells.

I frequent several online forums. On a daily basis the moderators are overwhelmed by the curious and uninformed demanding we fix all their real or imagined woes. It is often frustrating when youngsters demand we e-mail them all our years of accumulated knowledge. Yet a few will learn that there is more to being Wiccan or Pagan than the casting of a spell to get that cute boy or girl to fall in love with them.

I had been calling myself a Witch for a little over three years when I was invited to my first Circle. I don't recall which Moon we were celebrating, although it was late in the year. The evenings were cool but there was not yet frost on the ground in the morning. There were five of us; we went out into the forest and set up camp. We planned on calling down the Moon. Only one among us had ever been in a coven or run a Circle, so he acted as High Priest. He was a very charismatic man. I remember that all around him were drawn to him. In a strange way, he seemed otherworldly to me.

I recall very little of that night so long ago. I do know we built a fire outside of the lean-to because the air had such a chill. I remember us calling in the Quarters. The sky was full of clouds and a stiff wind kept whipping the flames up from the logs, and they crackled angrily in response. We started chanting and dancing round the flames. We raised the energy to draw down the Moon, feeding it to the High Priest as we circled the flames. Suddenly, as the energy climbed to a peak, we were bathed in the cold, bright light of the full Moon. A shaft of light had broken through the sky of clouds and appeared to be bathing the High Priest in its radiance. Steam rose in puffs from our tired bodies as we concluded our dance. That night was the first night I felt the Goddess within me. We released the Quarters and opened our circle.

We discovered then we had been dancing sky-clad in our rites. The energy from our ritual was so intense that we had unknowingly removed many pieces of clothing in an effort to remain comfortable. We quickly replaced our clothing in that chilly night as the wonder of what we had experienced came upon us. We settled into sleeping bags. I fell asleep watching the hole in the clouds around the Moon gently close around Her.

I have been to a great number of rituals since then. I have even been invited to join several covens. Attendance at open rituals now numbers in the hundreds instead of a few dozen people. The feel of a circle is very different than it used to be. Nowadays, a public ritual usually goes off without interference from Park Rangers or local police. The curious non-Pagan onlooker will wander away after a few minutes - that is if they bother to stop and stare at all. We have become more commonplace in the cities throughout the United States and smaller towns, much like the one I live in, have their own Pagan residents. Some are quiet, preferring their privacy; others are quite vocal about their presence in a predominantly Christian society. When I moved to Missouri from the east coast four years ago, it wasn't at all difficult to find and meet my Pagan neighbors. In my small town of 4000 people, I know of a dozen others, who like me, follow a Pagan path - there may very well be more.

Generally speaking, at this point in time those who are Pagan were born to parents of another religion. The Pagan religion attracts its practitioners. As the Pagan paths mature, there will be more children whose parents are also Pagan. With increasing unhappiness I have observed a tendency in our community to speak poorly about our non-Pagan neighbors. There is a growing habit among Pagans to bash the paths of their parents. While it is true that there are those of other religions trying to convince us that we will be lost forever in a fiery grave, in my experience those individuals are in the minority. Rarely am I bothered anymore with people knocking on my door trying to convert me away from Goddess. After a few attempts when I first moved in, they stopped knocking on my door when they canvassed the neighborhood. I was always friendly but very uninterested. The young men couldn't leave my very Pagan home fast enough for their comfort.

I think it is important that we walk our talk. Part of being Pagan is accepting that there are many ways to honor the Divine. Whatever names we call to our Gods, we are all searching for the same thing in the end. I admit that the requirement of certain religions for their members to go out and 'witness' leaves me completely baffled. I am certain that there are parts of my Path that leave those who do not follow my ways jut as baffled. We must remember that the paths that we followed with our parents made us the people we are today. I know that there are many ideals that I learned from the holy men in my parents' temple that I have brought with me into my Pagan beliefs.

We cannot separate our past from our present. It has made us the people who we are. Our actions today will form the ways in which we will grow into our futures. Many of our customs are borrowed from other religions and cultures - if we dig deep enough we will find that we are all interconnected with each other in some way. I wish that we would all act better toward each other. As the famous quote says, "Let it start with me."

The growth of the Pagan community has been tremendous. According to the American Religious Identification Study (presented by the City University of New York) that reports on religious identification in 1990 and 2001, Pagans account for .2% of the population in the United States 1.

If you add Wicca, Druid, and Pagan together, plus 19% of the Unitarian Universalist figures (based on 1998 National Conference findings stating that 19% of the Unitarian Universalist population considered themselves primarily "earth-religionists"), the total comes to over 425,000 Pagans in the US. That means that 1 in every 500 people you meet is Pagan. Pretty good numbers when you consider that there still are a lot of people who won't self-identify as Pagan for fear of discrimination! The only Pagan category they had in their last survey in 1990 was Wicca, and there were only 8,000 identified as Wiccan, whereas 134,000 people identified as Wiccan in 2001. That means that in 10 years the Wiccan population has increased 1675%, which I think is probably pretty accurate for the religion as a whole. Projecting that at 1500%, at this current rate of growth, in 2010 there will be 6,375,000 Pagans in the US! That might be a little high - but realize that it would only take a 600 - 700% growth rate for there to be as many Pagans as Jews in the US, which I think is more than possible.

I look forward to a day when the Pagan equivalent of Sunday school for our children is a reality. I look forward to the day when the books now shelved under Metaphysical/ New age at the bookstores have been moved into the religion section next to the Holy Bible and the holy books of other world religions. I look forward to the day when being a Witch is just as unremarkable as being a Jew or a Buddhist. I look forward to the day when a friend or relative, on finding out that you have become Pagan, no longer asks if you worship the Devil. I look forward to bouncing my grandbabies on my knee and retelling the story of Persephone and Demeter with the coming of each spring. It could happen. You never can tell.

1 The raw data is at
http://www.gc.cuny.edu/studies/key_findings.htm

Lyon

A Haudenosaunee "Thanksgiving" Prayer

Except for the words "Greetings to the Natural World," the words in bold are not meant to be said.

Thanksgiving Address

GREETINGS TO THE NATURAL WORLD!

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms - waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds - from the smallest to the largest - we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest grandmother, the Moon, who lights the night-time sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars

We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.