I have not enjoyed the last few weeks in the Pagan Blogosphere. I honestly believe that our commonalities are stronger than our differences, and while the chorus of disagreement directed at that idea was loud, I still believe it. This weekend provided me with an opportunity to step away from the computer and the smartphone and to focus on being a Pagan again, my only regret was not doing it sooner.
It’s easy to get caught up in the comments and opinions that feed the Pagan Blogosphere, and I think those perspectives are generally positive things. (What’s never positive are personal attacks, this community is too small for anyone to think that such garbage can be said behind someone’s back.) We don’t have to agree with each other all the time, and defining how we feel is an important exercise. However, those debates aren’t Paganism, they are debates about Paganism and there is a difference. Every once in awhile you just have to set that shit down and get away for a few hours, or a weekend. Instead of writing about Paganism, it becomes necessary to practice Paganism and to see it in motion.
Summer is a hectic time and seems to mess up my private circle schedule on an annual basis. Instead of twice monthly rituals we are down to just maybe one. Our last full ritual until this past weekend was Beltane, and we had that early, so it had been awhile. Humorously it had been so long since we’d done a full fledged ritual that my wife and I forgot the order our group does things in (and since I devised that order it’s even funnier, or incredibly sad, take your pick). Once we settled down into things we got our rhythm back and our rite moved along nicely, but there were more bumps than usual at the start.
There’s something soothing about ritual that’s familiar. Beginning every circle with the same chant and using the same quarter calls puts you into that ritual state of mind quickly. Repeated ritual forms are like a psychic baseball bat and they knock me squarely out of mundania and into a more magickal world. It was desperately needed, and buy the time I held up our Welcoming Cup and said “Now I welcome all of you in perfect love and perfect trust to yet another gathering of the Oak Court” the stupid was all gone. Paganism was fun again, reverent and yet full of laughter.
Our circle this past weekend was small, but there was a closeness to it that can get lost with a full ritual room of 12 or 14. Since we were about half that number there were moments when we found ourselves discussing the last few months. One thing we all agreed on was that our lives were better now than they were six months ago. Whatever magick we’ve been weaving has made a positive difference in all of our lives. People find themselves unexpectedly (and blessedly) back in school, promotions have been attained, jobs acquired, and Jason has a column now at Witches and Pagans magazine (the print edition). You can call it random chance or whatever, but I believe Paganism makes my life (and the lives of those around me) better.
Since moving to California I’ve made a habit of visiting my local Farmer’s Market most Saturday mornings. Due to travel and other distractions I’ve missed it the last few weeks, but made sure to visit this past weekend. One of the things I enjoy about our Farmer’s Market is that I can tell where we are in the Wheel of the Year by what’s available on any given Saturday. In late June we are treated to fresh blueberries (my favorite) and stone fruits (my wife loves white plums), and we had tomatoes back for the first time in a few months. It was wonderful, and while I didn’t grow any of it, it did make me feel connected to what’s going on in the larger world that surrounds my little house.
There’s a fun energy to our local Farmer’s Market too. It always feels like a carnival with its wall to wall people, live music, and vendor tents. We have a few food trucks too so there’s always an amazing collage of smells playing hunger games with my stomach as we shop. The Farmer’s Market is not Pagan, but it’s Pagan to me because it connects me with the Earth and my local community.
Post Farmer’s Market my wife and I visited our local pub where I consumed four pints of hard cider in short order. “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals” and besides, it’s only a five minute walk home from the bar. Responsible drinking in the company of friends and loved one has always been holy to me, and besides, I know that Dionysus is usually swimming in my cups by pint two or three.
The next morning my wife and I headed to the ocean to praise the cruel and beautiful Lady Pacific, the mistress of surf and shore. A day at the beach in Northern California means finding a hoodie and dressing warmly, even more so this past Sunday as we ended up getting some unseasonable rain. Instead of eating our picnic lunch on the seashore we ate on the back-gate of our car, marveling at the gray sky, green fields, and misty rain. I think the unseasonable weather kept a lot of folks inside, but we thought the change of pace was beautiful and marveled at how the ocean went from mostly calm to mostly violent in the course of a few hours.
Shared ritual done in perfect love and perfect trust, the Earth’s bounty, and a stroll at the seashore with the Goddess of the Surf nipping at my heels . . . . all of it was a huge reminder of why I’m a Pagan. I’m a Pagan because I love the Earth, I love my gods, and I love my friends and family. Perhaps you can do most of those things without being a Pagan, but I think I do them more fiercely because I walk a Pagan path. The debates and arguments of the Pagan Blogosphere sometimes inform that path, but they don’t define it. Hail the Earth! Hail the Gods! Hail to doing Pagan things and remembering why I call myself a Pagan!