This is the seventh in a series spotlighting some of the signatories to A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment from around the world. Today, we are sharing an interview with Rolando Gomez Comon a.k.a. Apu Adman Aghama from the Philippines.
If you would like to be interviewed for the Global Eco-Paganism Series, contact me at allergicpagan [at] gmail [dot] com. And don’t forget to sign “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” at ecopagan.com.
Meet Apu Adman Aghama from the Philippines!
Hi, I am Rolando Gomez Comon, and my craft name is Apu Adman Aghama. I am the Founder and Chief Priest of Luntiang Aghama Natural Divine Arts Shrine of Healing Inc. or Landas ng Lahi, which is a Recognized Shrine of the Correllian Nativist Tradition of Wicca in the Philippines.
Where do you live in the world?
Currently, I am in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, working as massage therapist.
How long have you practiced your religion?
I started embracing Neo-Paganism in 1998, prior to becoming a Correllian Wiccan in 2007. So this year I’ll be celebrating my 17th year in Neo-Paganism.
What is it like practicing your religion in your part of the world? Are there many others like you?
Practicing my religion here [Saudi Arabia] as Neo-Pagan is like living in the Dark Ages. I hide my practices at night and leave no trace of my craft. When I arrived here, my employer forced me to take the Shahada to become a Muslim. But that oath does not make me fully Muslim, because my heart and faith goes to my Goddess alone. I see all Gods are manifestation of the Divine, though, so taking Shahada is not a big deal to me.
But if they found out that I still worship my Goddess, they might accuse me of being a shierk or being one who is still calling to other Gods.
Here in Riyadh, I only knew three of us. One who works as house keeper, the other one at the hospital, and me. We have no opportunity to see one another in fellowship or gathering, but only through chat online saying “Hi” and during sad moments as overseas Filipino witches.
In the Philippines, we are broadly open and we can do activities in public places. We do our rituals, seminars and workshops in public parks, and sometimes we go to our member’s houses, from one house to another to celebrate esbats and sabbats and other important rituals.
In the Philippines there are many established covens, and most of the practitioners in the Philippines know one another. It seems that Filipino Paganism in the entire country is just one family. Though we have different paths and practices, I believe that we are one in faith that we all came from the Goddess.
Do you interact with Pagans online? How?
Yes. I believe that Neo-Paganism in the Philippines was born online. That is how Luntiang Aghama was founded. We started as an online study group, then we called for a meet up, then had a regular weekly meeting and formed curriculum for discussion, and then an eclectic initiation.
Then in 2007, we (Luntiang Aghama) become a recognized Personal Shrine by the Correllian Nativist Tradition, with its teachings available through WitchSchool.com
What is your religion of origin? What religion were you raised with? . How did you transition to your current religion? Tell us a little about your faith journey.
My parents and whole clan of maternal and paternal origin are Roman Catholic. I was raised as Catholic until when I reached high school. During my freshmen year, I was converted and became a member of the Bible Baptist Church. I was a devout Baptist member and also a Sunday School teacher and Bible Study Group leader.
The Church declared spiritual warfare against Satan, because in those times the Church encountered many demonic possessions and engaged in the rite of exorcism. As we all know, Christianity condemns the practice of occultism and other worship aside from God the Father and Jesus Christ.
And I remember, prior becoming a Bible Baptist, I kept lots of amulets and talismans, because I was a pure believer in magick and miracle. When I became a Bible Baptist, my pastor confiscated all of them and burned them in a ritual during a summer camp.
During college, my spiritual journey began. I changed religion from being a Bible Baptist to Metro Manila Christian Church. Then I also joined the Messianic Jews, and Islam as well. By 1998, my search for spirituality ended when our family got access to internet, and there I found Wicca and Neo-Paganism.
What makes my Neo-Paganism, specifically the Correllian Tradition, fit to me is the free will that my religion offers to us, the morality of the Rede, which states “harm none do as ye will”, and the respect for all mankind, whether the person be a clergy of the tradition of any degree, an outer court member, clergy of other tradition, or even of the Abrahamic religions. And most important is the respect we give to the Goddess by caring for Mother Earth.
How do you practice your religion?
On a daily basis, I have private devotions and quiet times. These devotions consist of daily offerings, meditations, and caring for the Earth, which is in the form of tending an herbal garden.
And I am so blessed that even at work I can profess my faith in the Philippines, because I am a Traditional Filipino Hilot massage therapist trainer and assessor.
How does your religion affect your daily life or your state of mind?
Correllianism affects me a lot in more beneficial terms. Within the tradition we have the Order of the Peace Weaver, that as member we have to live a life of peace everyday by weaving peace in our daily activities.
Inside the order, we give importance to prayer, meditation, healing, ritual and other things, such as making a Peace Art that will serve as a Portal of Peace energy to the world.
Is your religious identity a secret? To what degree? Why?
No. I profess my religion publicly, and I’m proud being a Correllian and a Pagan.
I love the Correllian Tradition because they give emphasis to strong family values and ancestral veneration. Personally and as Chief Priest of Luntiang Aghama, I believe that our living ancestors are our parents. And our parents are the direct lineage of our ancestors. And our ancestors are the direct descendants of the Divine Creator, which makes give us all a magickal and divine lineage.
What is one thing you would like to change about Paganism or the Pagan community?
One thing I would like to change about Paganism or in the Pagan Community is the tradition of lighting candles, incense, and smoking cigars during rituals, devotions, and honoring the ancestors. I believe that it adds to the effect of global warming. Yes, tradition is tradition, but the Earth is changing and it is about to wear down. So if the Earth is changing, I believe that we in the modern world must also adapt to the changes in order to preserve the Earth. If we really want to heal the Earth, then let us not make things that will worsen the situation.
Why did you choose to sign “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment?” What part(s) did you find most compelling?
I believe in all what the Statement says especially on the second part of the Statement that says Nature is sacred.
Thank you very much for giving me opportunity to become part of your spotlight interview as well as to the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment. I pray that everyone could sign the Statement because it is not only us who will benefit from it but also for our future generations.
As Peace Weavers, we act now, even though we might not see the fruit of our labor in this present lifetime. We have a firm faith that in the next lifetime we will achieve what we have planted in this present generation.
More power to you Brother John and to all may you Blessed be Peace!