hth: (i'm a veronica)
[personal profile] hth posting in [community profile] bullmoonhearth
This post from another druid living near Aurora, Colorado intersects with a conversation we had at our pagan bookclub the other night. He talks about feeling close to the tragedy of the Aurora shootings and wonders if it's odd or irrational to feel emotionally closer to strangers because of their physical location near you. I don't think it's either odd or irrational. I think it's central to what makes pagans who we are.

With everything that makes pagans diverse, I spent a long time wondering what there was that united us, and I think I finally know the answer: pagans are inevitably a people of the specific, a people who fully occupy their place and seek to deepen in relationship with it. This pops out vividly for me when I use the word tuath, which in Gaelic means both a discrete group of people and the unique, specific land on which they live. It means both the human history and the natural history of a place, culture and environment, indivisible. You can see that very clearly undergirding the older 20th century writings from the pioneers of neopaganism in Britain, in their strong sense that the religious witchcraft they were creating and codifying was a uniquely, natively British heritage, seeped in local fairylore and folk tradition, even while they reinterpreted those folk traditions in a new theological light.

Then the movement jumped the pond, and American neopagans had this whole new issue: how to take a distinctively British religion out of the land of ancient barrows and stone circles and make it relevant to a land where that type of paganism had never been practiced. The questions that brought up led, I think, to the self-conscious idea of a "nature religion" -- that is, of religion that is about "the earth" conceptually, and not about *this* earth, *your* piece of earth.

I'm not against thinking about "nature" or "the environment" -- there's something to be gained from all that. But it seems to me that the types of paganism that sink their taproots in most deeply, that avoid the faddishness and superficiality that constantly plague us as a community, avoid generalization and urge people to refine and deepen their connection to the local. You can definitely see it in the spreading influence of reconstructionist traditions and the rising popularity of "Traditional Witchcraft" that consciously avoids the ceremonial/Masonic influences of Gardener and looks more toward Cochrane and his folkloric influences. I think people who find themselves being drawn to paganism are hungry for and irresistibly attracted by the prospect of having an intimate, experiential, spiritual relationship with what they interact with physically around them. I think you can even argue that it's the pagan version of "enlightenment" -- the hope of being peacefully and permanently in right relationship with where you are.

So it makes perfect sense to me that when you live in a community that's been hit by violence (or natural disaster, or a shuddering economy, or whatever), there's an instinctive pagan urge to deal with the spiritual disruption. It's in *your home,* after all. On your land. In your own house, your tuath. It would actually be a profound violation not to fold around those affected, not to acknowledge their loss as your own. It would show that you're operating as if your wellness is separate from the wellness of your locality, which strikes me as something as close as a pagan can get to blasphemy.

(Oh, also, read the comments at the above link for some very pretty prayer offerings from polytheists of several traditions.)
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October 2013

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