Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sharing the God & Goddess with My Sons

For those of you who've popped onto Pagan Presence in days past, you may have read that I once struggled with the idea of instilling religion into the lives and minds of my children.  One more avenue of intolerance and challenge that they might have to face in this ever-segregated world!  And yet, as they grow [and so too do I], my Faith seems to find its own way into quiet parent-child moments. 

My eldest boy is in Kindergarten.  Recently the elementary school lost a fourth grade student, Greta, who died unexpectedly.  The principal and administrative staff sent letters home to parents asking that we break the news to our children in a way most appropriate for our own family.  My boys have thankfully had very limited access to death -- two bowl-side ceremonies to say good bye to two bubble-eyed fish. 

I took the time then to explain life and death to my son -- that though the body dies, your energy moves into a new life, a spirit life -- but I wondered how he would relate this to the death of a child close to his own age.  While we loved our watery pets, this tragic news would bring death to an entirely new and more weighted level. 

As I prepared dinner that evening, I debated whether I should even tell him at all.  This was not a girl he knew.  They just happened to share the same school building.  But then, he approached me to ask about the letter that his teacher had put into his backpack.

"What was on the white paper?  Is it a coloring page?"  he asked.

Sweet innocence!  I left the stove to let the supper simmer and sat him next to me at the kitchen table.  I told him that many of the teachers and older kids in his school were very sad because they had lost a special friend; a girl who had passed away.

Immediately he sought confirmation in his understading of what I had relayed to him.

"Her body died?"

I nodded and then asked him if he remembered what that meant.  He thought for a moment and then touched the deepest part of my heart with his reply...

"Her special light goes to the spirit world.  Then she can find other people that's body died, like Rocky [the fish].  Do you think she'll see Rocky?  I do!  And since the God and Goddess are spirits too, they'll probably be there too.  So all day she could watch her teacher and her friends with the Sun and at night she can watch them with the Moon.  I'm sure they'll let her.  Right?" 

I'm sure they will, little man.  I'm sure they will.

After dinner, he and I lit a 'blessing stick' [incense] in honor of Greta.  And he ended his blessing as he always does, with an adorable "Bless a Bee" [Bless-ed Be]. 

And I was worried about sharing my beliefs with him!  His compassion rekindles my own connection to the Divine.

For Greta
May you ride the blue skies on the arcing Sun
and dance among stars with our Lady Moon. 
Bless your special light, sweet girl. 
Bless-ed Be.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Reply to an Invitation by a Theistic Satanist

In browsing through this week's news articles relatable to the Witching World, I stumbled across a posting on BeliefNet by a reverend of the Theistic Satanism [Church of Satan] faith.  In his post, reverend Gino invites Pagans to join with his faith in a rise against oppression by mainstream religions.  If one can get beyond the ghastly writing style, grammar boo-boos and countless misspelled words [which I know is nit-picky of me but my former days as an Editor refuse to go quietly], the post offers the suggestion that Pagans might consider uniting with the Satanist movement.

The reverend states "I am asking that Pagans who want a change who want rights that every other religion has these days be strong and fight with us…using our brains our wits to gain all the religious and spiritual respect and advantages we so rightfully deserve."

I know.  But try to ignore [ *deep cleansing breath* ] the lack of punctuation and grammatical errors so that you might actually ponder the message at hand.  Per the reverend, Pagans share a common ground with Satanists -- after all, "we are the one’s that existed before Christianity so why should we sit back and be treated like we are the bad guys." 

Well, now wait a moment...

While I am the first to stand behind the ideals of religious freedom, I cannot grant support to an individual who speaks to historical significances that simply aren't true.  A Theistic Satanist, per Diane Vera [owner of a website dedicated to Theistic Satanism] "is one who does believe in and worship Satan as a deity."  Considering that the deity of worship here is Satan, a Christian construct, I struggle to understand how this faith could then possibly predate the Christian movement.  This is as much an oxymoron as the email I recieved recently signed 'A Christian Atheist'.  Um.  Yeah.  How to even begin?!

I don't claim to be an expert on the Satanist faith -- be it the atheists within the movement who view Satan more as a symbol of desirable human qualities, "such as independence, individuality, and strength" [per D. Vera,] or those Satanists who revere the actual deity.  I can only form my opinions based on information provided by self-proclaimed members of the faith, incuding the aforementioned Diane Vera. 

That disclaimer now stated, I find fault with reverend Gino linking his faith to ancient Pagan beliefs and practices, [beliefs and practices that hold historically trackable evidence linked to times before the rise of Christianity and other monotheistic religions, such as Judaism and Islam]. I find fault with it because I fail to accept how a faith that worships a deity from the Christian religion could have existed during the ancient days before Christianity.  Satan did not exist during these pre-Christian times. 

In fact, in most polytheistic religions of eras past, there was no sole figure of pure evil.  It wasn't until later, with the rise of monotheistic beliefs, that the concept of an entity purely malevolent emerged -- a balance to the pure goodness of the faith's one true God [Discovery Channel, Out of Egypt, episode: The Birth of the Devil].  It is even probable that the likeness of the Christian devil was pieced together using charateristics of varing gods and goddesses, such as Pan of Greek mythology.

And so... no Satan in the pre-Christian world = no Satanism in the pre-Christian world.             

My rant on reverend Gino's inaccuracies behind us, I finally offer up a response to his invitation to unite.

To Reverend Gino,

Note that I am but one Pagan and am responding to your request to unite as such.  I make no claims to speak on behalf of the entire Pagan faith.

You speak of common grounds and shared histories.  In referring to what each of our religions face, you state " recognition and respect from the government and society. We are constantly shunned and treated lack weirdos and freaks if we say what we are."

There is one major explanation separating the Satanist faith from Paganism.  And that is the difference between misconception and fact

It is a fact that [Theistic] Satanists worship the Christian deity, Satan.  It is of no surprise then that a Christian individual and a majority-Christian nation would find issue with the core of your beliefs, considering they are the antithesis of their own.

Unlike the deity worshiped by your religion, Pagans do not worship Satan.  That many people assume such is a misconception brought about during the time of conversion to Christianity, when the Church sought to demonize the gods and goddesses worshipped by Pagan locals.  It was a 'join us or you will be perceived as evil' sort of deal.  Actually this is where you see the coining of the term heathen -- Heathen (an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the God of the Bible) is often distinctively applied to unenlightened or barbaric idolaters, especially to primitive or ancient tribes [].

While I whole-heartedly believe in your right to seek divinity/spirituality via whatever path you choose, I am in no way required to acknowledge manufactured comminalites attempting to merge two very different forms of worship merely for the sake of building some religious army of anti-mainsteam power.

I have faced intolerance and slander concerning my Pagan path, but choose to end misconceptions through living by example.  My choices and actions represent the virtues of my faith.  Let go the bitterness and embrace a lifestyle that might prove to show these persons who treat you like a weirdo or freak what it means to you to follow the Church of Satan.

Em Graves
one Pagan voice