Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We are the Pagans who have moved on

We are the Pagans who have moved on.
We do not pretend that our traditions stretch back into the mists of time.
We do not use custom or tradition as justification for our actions.
We do not berate the Christians for stealing festivals that our predecessors invented in the 1950s, or for ancient persecutions or wrongs, actual or perceived.
We do not pretend that we know what ancient pagans believed, or thought, or did.
We do not appropriate the culture of others.
We do not leave litter at sacred sites.
We do not hold heterocentric or hierarchical rituals.
We do not pretend to be better than others
- everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn.
We do not pretend that we are the holders of arcane secrets.
We do not mistake our personal truth for universal truth.
We do not tell others what they should believe or value or do.

We leave these behind and move on,
not in arrogance, not unaware of tradition’s worth,
not creating new conflicts as bad as the old ones,
or so we hope!

We find the divine in all nature
- in place, and animals, trees and birds, and human beings.
We hold love, compassion to all beings, and wisdom as our highest ideals.
We seek and honour the truth wherever it may be found.
We tread lightly upon the Earth.
We seek to live in peace with all beings.
We seek to cultivate virtues in the garden of our own souls.

We are the Pagans who move on.

(inspired by a meditation by Cliff Reed)

(if you want to copy this to your own site, you are welcome to do so but please retain my authorship and the acknowledgment of Cliff Reed, and link back to this page)


Bo said...

That's marvellous! Two point seven five cheers from me.

I broadly agree. I do think *some* hierarchy is often necessary for discipline, which is what enables focus and concentration. There needs to be someone with whom the buck stops, otherwise one squalling halfwit can derail a rite that's taken weeks to plan and cost over £50 to put on. (This has happened to me. You need someone in charge who is sympathetic and approachable and ethical, of course, but who is by common consent invested with the authority to say: you're not wearing that, no, our Green Man does not need a shrink-wrapped cucumber for a cock, and if you are 45 minutes late again you will be kicked out.)

Not bovved by heterocentric ritual either, personally, speaking as a Big Old Gay.

I'd wouldn't dream of telling others what they should believe, value, or do!! (I might ask strongly leading questions and be ruthlessly socratic though.)

Titus said...

Hello Yewtree, how much clearer the mists are getting for me. I especially enjoyed the clarity of the first 6 points. Actually, that's not true, on a re-read I enjoyed the clarity of it all. And not a restricted blog! Thanks.

Clare Slaney said...

Pretty good! Actually, I am better than others on the basis that I don't get drunk before ritual or am addicted to cannabis, and because I don't pretend to do magic because it improves my image, I actually do magic. On other basis' people are better than I. I'm with Bo re hierarchy.

And you *know* this will create new conflict! For myself, I'm content to be judged on the quality of my enemies as well as my friends.

Anonymous said...

Lovely phrasing.

Linking via Twitter, straight to here.

Anonymous said...

I like this- it needs wide distro. I'm at that place on my own Path, and I couldn't be happier.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on all of it.

Makarios said...

Thanks for your permission to copy. I've done so, together with an acknowledgment of your authorship, Cliff Reed's inspiration, and a link back to your post.

Yewtree said...

Dear all

Thanks for the positive feedback, I'm glad you like it.

Dear Bo: absence of hierarchy does not mean absence of leadership. I tend to find that the best way to run things is to get everyone to agree on a set of guidelines, and then refer to those when an issue arises (and also pick people for your coven who are unlikely to want to wear tasteless outfits or use shrink-wrapped cucumbers for anything). Referring to a set of rules that everyone has signed up to and/or drafted themselves takes the personal idiosyncracies out of maintaining sensible practice.

Being ruthlessly socratic sounds like a good idea (unless you actually are Socrates, in which case you'll probably end up being forced to drink hemlock for "corrupting the youth").

Yewtree said...

Dear Clare: yes it probably will create new conflict, as indeed I suspect Cliff Reed's lovely piece would if you tried to get some Christians to sign up for it. But it's a laudable aim and I'm a believer in "keep pure your highest ideal and strive ever towards it".

Re hierarchy: I guess I mean unnecessary and undeserved hierarchy. Self-appointed grand panjandrums. Also I put that in based on Bo's post.

Haukur said...

There is good stuff in there but the whole tone seems a bit, ah, self-satisfied and divisive? "We do not pretend to be better than others" doesn't seem to fit in very well there because the main point comes across as being "there are pagans who feel differently about some of the things listed here and we are better than those people".

And some of the points seem overbroad - there's no need to knock customs or traditions, even customs or traditions that just go a few decades back. And while I don't pretend to know what ancient pagans believed to an arbitrary level of detail, I don't pretend I'm completely unaware of what they believed either.

I had to read the part about the Christians three times before I got it - I kept parsing it as "We do not berate the Christians for ... wrongs, actual or perceived" but presumably you're only talking about ancient wrongs and it's okay even for super-inoffensive pagans who have moved on to berate Christians for actual wrongs in the present time.

Anyway, I should think I'd be the sort of pagan who could broadly subscribe to the sentiment you're expressing here. Yet, somehow this rubs me the wrong way. Or maybe I'm just reading it wrong, my religio-cultural context is no doubt different from yours.

Yewtree said...

Hi Haukur

Those are good points. I'd be sad if it came across as self-satisfied, because I try not to be like that, but I can see how it might look like that.

My point about custom and tradition is not to disregard them, but not to use them as sole justification for anything. If a custom is good, then do it because it's good, not because it's a custom, or traditional, is my point.

Re the Christians - yes I was talking about ancient ones, not current ones; but I wish people would take the time to work out which Christians are actually bad and which ones are inoffensive before tarring them all with the same brush.

This is coming from the context of British Paganism and its current discontents, which is a bit different from that in America - I don't know much about your context; are you American?

Haukur said...

Yes, lots of different Christians out there. Personally I have a soft spot for Mormons and, to a lesser extent, Catholics.

I'm Icelandic and live in Iceland. I did live in England for a year and a half but - and I regret this now - did not get in touch with any local pagans at the time.

Yewtree said...

Oh so you're really called Haukur, as opposed to just being a Heathen who has adopted the name as an internet pseudonym!

Well perhaps in Iceland, where you have Asatru as an official religion, the politics are different?

Haukur said...

Haha, yes, Haukur ('Hawk') is my actual name. A common enough name over here.

I've been writing a Wikipedia article about the group we have over here. It touches on some political issues.

Yewtree said...

Good article, and it's great to see that your community have managed to work together to organise a graveyard and speak out on political issues. It just shows what can be achieved if people work together instead of bickering.