There's great sturm und drang in the Pagan communities right now over a number of things. Most are being played out here, in one place or another. Rancor, condemnation, hurt, fear...the standard variations that come back to bite us on our collective butts again and again.
Synchronicity is a mysterious muse who has always danced in periphery of my life. I have seen her out of the corner of my eye on what often seems to be a daily basis. Today was no different except to say, this time she danced across my news feed.
The other night as I scrolled through my Facebook news feed and came across a post by Witches & Pagans editor Anne Newkirk Niven. She had written that she had just gotten her a** handed to her by some readers regarding her editorial. Being no stranger to having my a** handed to me, I was among the first to offer a supportive comment.
The next morning I found a related link to Peter Dybing's Pagan In Paradise post about Pagan Intolerance. And Being no stranger to having my a** handed to me, I was quite happy the issue is finally being addressed. And I am a huge proponent of "Sacred Regard."
When I was coming up in these spiritual systems, it was all about connecting with some Divines, usually a cobbled together "pantheon" of cultures and attributes that we liked. We set that up within the elegant framework of the Wheel of the Year. I love the Wheel because it is a sweet crucible for connecting, as well as celebrating and honoring. Simple and very user-friendly. There are two Solstices and two Equinoxes (and don't bother to correct me--I know those aren't the accurate plurals)--placeholders that mark the visible change in seasons in those places that still have four of those. They actually happen--they are not based on lore or myth. You can look them up--they happen for everyone at the same time.
The planet Mercury, like all planets follows an elliptical orbit. Three times a year for about 3 weeks (see a pattern?) there are times when Mercury appears to go backwards in its orbit (it doesn't really reverse course but it looks like it from our earthly vantage point.)
In Western Astrology the planet Mercury rules over communication, technology, organization and its the ruling planet of Virgo and the natural ruler of the 6th house-both of which are associated with health.
Mercury in Retrograde has a terrible reputation-people experience communication breakdowns, there are fights, there are lost hard drives, important agreements fall through, legal difficulties emerge and travel drama ensues-it can all be rather...unpleasant.
Today in my Facebook feed I came across many people who expressed the following sentiment, which I am summing up with Devin Hunter’s (of TheModern Witch Podcast) post about our recent outbreak of people questioning Pagan identity.
“This pagan identity crisis thing is ridiculous. This is what people spend their [time] on? Not helping to educate? Not helping to take care of our elderly and families in need? Not participating in the betterment of the community? This community is wonderful at keeping its self distracted while everyone else passes it by. I'm my own definition of Pagan, and I for one would hate it if you tried to define it for me. I won't define it for you.”
We are a young community. I feel that many people are content to remain hidden under a rock, communicating anonymously, which modern technology allows them to do. But if we want to build community, we can’t remain this way. And I also think that people are missing the point: we aren’t trying to define “you”. We are working to define “us,” and what makes up “our” community. Unfortunately this takes time, disagreement and most importantly, communication between people of vastly differing views.
The God/dess/es do not care about your rice krispies nor are their messages to be found in the snap, crackle, and pop. I have had what I believe to be genuine communication with the beings that I consider to be Deities and have experienced a number of forms of divine embodiment, or divine possession if you prefer. As such I do believe and have personal experiences that deepen the belief that the Great Ones do directly affect our lives. However, I regularly encounter people who report a chatty, friendly, rapport with the God/dess/es that they work with and/or worship. I have puzzled about this and in many cases it seems very sincere, but I doubt that beings whose scale of perception and consciousness are large enough to be considered Deities engage in small talk. I will warrant that this may simply be a limitation of my imagination and sensibilities, but I have another thought.
I talk to my dogs, and like so many other doting dog lovers, I also talk for them. There is real communication between us, but there is also much that I add for my own benefit. Many humans are prone to anthropomorphizing pretty much anything as a way of bridging the gap between what we are and what is different from ourselves. This is actually a very sound and useful strategy as a starting point, so long as we remain aware that it is not the end of the process. The same is true when we theanthroposize, when we ascribe human emotions and thought patterns to a God/dess. Once again a good beginning point but one that requires heightened vigilance. This is complicated by the fact that many in this culture have a religion of origin that encouraged the idea of a personal relationship with God. Upon making the transition to some form of Paganism, this concept of personal relationship often remains relatively unchanged and unexamined. This can create another overlay of expectations that interfere with true communication with the Divine. I do believe that we each have a personal concept of the Divine and a personal way in which we relate to the Divine. Accordingly, I do suggest that a full and extensive re-examination of the parameters of human and Divine interactions is a good idea when we move to a new faith.