“We need to start looking at celebrating open and public rituals and observances at CIVIC holidays, not only to show our lager communities who and what Pagans are and are about; but to also deepen and expand ourselves as Pagans and our relationships with the spirits of our ancestors and of our Nations, and of the World around us; and to further build and strengthen our communities!” Pax ~ from a previous rant...
So my strong feeling that we Pagans need to start finding ways of honoring/celebrating some of the civic holidays in our own ways has been influenced by many inspirations.
First off is just the “why not us?”, impulse I have been known to experience when comparing my own experiences as a Pagan with what I can observe of other religious groups and communities. Other faiths have service on, say 4th of July (U.S. Independence Day) or Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day or President’s Day… why not us? Then too there is my observation that socials can only do so much to build a community, you need multiple types of events engaging differing segments of your local Pagans to build a strong and healthy Pagan community.
It also has long occurred to me that some of the folks eager to spread all sorts of misinformation and outright lies about Pagans would look pretty foolish doing so when the average Joe or Jane on-the-street had just seen the Pagans pouring a libation to the honored dead on Memorial Day…. or having a potluck celebration on the park strip to honor their communities Veteran’s on Veteran’s Day.
I am also inspired in these thoughts by the Pagan Religious Rights Rally and Ritual on July 4th of 2007 in Washington D.C. , which occurred during the height of the Veteran’s Pentacle fight… (does anyone know if the efforts to add the Hammer and the Awen to the list of symbols is going well?!)… their ritual, archived here,blends both Heathen and Witchcraft ritual to honor and invoke the spirits of the U.S. Founding Father’s (and another U.. President) in the cause of supporting Freedom of Religion.
Then too, I am inspired and intrigued by the Religio Americana, both a yahoogroup, and a Pagan way of honoring the Ancestors, Heroes, and Gods of the U.S. historical and cultural landscape. The Founding Fathers, and Mothers… Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and the many men and women who have given their service and sometimes their lives to protect and defend and preserve our nation. Liberty, Uncle Sam, Collumbia, these are a few of the Gods and Spirits of our U.S. landscape… worth investigating if you have never done so!
It is not just about building community, or about demonstrating to our neighbors that we Pagans are good decent folk concerned (in our own ways) with some of the same things they are, it is also about engaging our culture and history and the world around us through the lens of our Paganism in a more open and direct manner.
As a Witch, I strive to find balance in my relationships with the Lord and Lady, and other Gods, and Elements and Spirits of the world around me, and with the spirits of the Ancestors. What is my relationship with the heroe’s of Valley Forge, or of Bull Run, or Normandy? How do I relate to those who fought at Little Big Horn? How do I, as a Witch and Pagan, honor the memories and efforts and sacrifices of the Founding Fathers and Mother’s, and those Heroes of our history who have worked to bring about the more perfect Union of my Nations ideals?
Witchcraft is not the only form of Paganism or Neo-Paganism that is going to wrestle with these questions as we go together through the next century.
So my dear Pagani, let us light incense to the Guardian spirits of our U.S. President (even the ones we disagree with politically, especially them), and to offer prayers of guidance and guardianship to the Gods on their behalf.
Let us raise toasts, and pour libations, to the Founder’s and Hero’s of our Nation as we celebrate our Independence.
On veteran’s day let us hold sacred feasts with places at the table for the Gods and for our veteran’s, both the living and the fallen.
Let us find, our ways, to let Freedom ring.
PS- I think the basic ideas of this article can hold true for Pagans of any nation, I just happen to be of the U.S.A and so couch my thoughts in terms of my Mother country. Hail Collumbia!
3 thoughts on “Civic Holidays and Pagan Rituals”
I completely agree with you. I presently call myself “Northern Tradtions Pagan,” which is a weaselly way of saying I’m a Heathen who doesn’t care much for Folkish types. However, I have to credit my (former) compatriots in the Troth and other other Heathen organizations for their willingness to blot and hail veterans. We celebrate Veteran’s Day and Independence Day, as we honor the warriors among our ancestors and those among us today. All of us polytheists should participate and celebrate, and let the majority know that we’re here and insist on participating in our shared civic culture. Thank you for your time!
Thank you for the comment! I have long admired the Heathen community for it’s commitment to honor veterans, amongst other things I admire about them…
… as a Witch I generally try to step back from making comments on Heathenry… different faith tradition, different ways… but may I encourage you to re-embrace the term Heathen? Not only do many of us outside the Heathen community understand that Heathen does not mean Hater, but it is important to help educate those outside the Pagan movement as to who we Pagans (and Heathens) really are versus who they think we are.
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