Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unitarian Earth Spirit and Paganism

Recently Tony McNeile gave a talk at the Unitarian Earth Spirit Network at the General Assembly meetings in Keele, entitled Forward to Paganism.

My thoughts on Tony's article (as a Wiccan and a Unitarian):

Gerald Gardner was not a loony, whatever people might have thought at the time. He had some ideas which were based on erroneous history (such as the idea of an ancient witch cult, which he got from Margaret Murray), and his ideas about women and homosexuality were a bit off, but he tried to give women respect and equality. And very importantly, he contributed to the return of the idea of the Goddess.

What Tony describes as Paganism is more like Pantheism. But it doesn't really matter what label you give it.
I don't think worshipping the Goddess (or goddesses) is a prerequisite for Paganism, but I do think that being aware that the Divine (or deities) includes both genders, and transcends gender, is important. Women have been disadvantaged by being regarded as second class citizens because of not being reflected in the Divine, and the return of the Goddess has been incredibly important for women.

Very few Wiccan covens are women-only (only a few lesbian separatist groups exist, mainly in the states, and they are not really Wiccan). Men are welcome and equal.

Ritual nudity is liberating.

Magic does not have to be part of Pagan spirituality, but when it is, it is usually used for healing, and it is not irrational. People who practice magic usually have an understanding of it that they have squared with their rational side.

The pagan origins of Easter are now regarded as rather dubious. There is only one reference in Bede, and it's very likely that he got it wrong.

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