Why practice the ‘old Pagan ways’ when science has revealed how things really work?
Recently, I have seen some Facebook posts about an article in April, 2013’s National Geographic magazine about Europe’s ‘Wild Man’ traditions. These traditions include elaborate costumes and corresponding ritual actions to celebrate and teach about the cycles of life and death in a visceral way.
I read the article and viewed the photos. They were fascinating and they tugged on a very deep part of me; the part that knows there is, still, a mystery to life. It is the part that is a child of wonder and believes in magic. That part still lives in me, as it does in each of us, way down deep in the ancestral root part of us, and it longs for a connection to the environment that science can’t provide.
The term ‘pagan’ today, is used to describe individuals who hold a view of the world in an animistic way; that there is Divine Essence in every living thing and we are all connected by that fact. There is as much divine nature to a flower, a tree, a fish, a bear, a deer, a bird, a mountain, a river, as there is to a human. This divine energy is experienced as having both male and female aspects that permeate all of creation.
As most of you know, I am Pagan. I am an elder high priestess of Wicca. I follow the ‘old ways’ and I teach how they can help us grow spiritually by understanding our connection to the past, present, and future of our life on this planet, and therefore, the Divine. I understand the wisdom of keeping the ‘old ways’ alive.
We are not visitors to this planet. Our home is here. All of our molecules come from Earth. We are an integral part of our environment, like it or not. Our ancestors knew this and they acknowledged this fact by using costuming and ritual theater to teach the wisdom of these subtle interactions to future generations. There was no question that animal behavior communicated weather changes and the location, abundance, or scarcity of food supplies. The seasons were and are the ebb and flow of life cycles and every event had consequences, not just something to be observed. There was an understanding between animals, humans, plants, and the planet itself that ‘I eat you, now you eat me.’ Everything gets a turn.
By establishing identities for forces of nature and the spirits of living things, our ancestors were able to develop a language of actions, words and ideas that communicated the energy of their intent to and with their environment. These rituals were not, and are not, just pretending, they are stating a fact, they are living illustrations of how connected we really are.
Because science and some other philosophies have given us the illusion of being separate from our environment, that we are more evolved, more intelligent, etc, than other life forms, we think these ‘old ways’ are silly and useless; just tourist attractions.
We need these ‘old ways’ to keep the awareness of these deep connections to life on this planet strong. Blurring the line between man and beast reminds us we are just one of many life forms and are part of a whole, not above and separate from. If we completely lose sight of that fact, we will be truly lost, for the balance of earthly life needs us to be fully engaged, or it will go on without us.