Archive for theory

Whitewashing our Deities

Posted in History, Theory, Uncategorized with tags , , on July 27, 2012 by theredlass

Dear Wiccans/ Pagans (especially those on Deviant Art),

Why you no draw deities within their respective cultural and ethnic background?

I want to be clear. I’m not insulting the talents of artists WAY better at this than I will ever be. I know I am not alone in perusing DA’s lengthy archives with the name of a favored god or goddess typed into the search bar. I am constantly in awe of people who are able ti dedicate such time and effort into their pieces and I have a great deal of respect for their perspective and ability. I’m especially fond of it when they include symbolism and show a reflective process with regard to costume and scenery.

But still, when I search Hecate, why do I see a bunch of white girls? Shouldn’t she, at the very least, have a Mediterranean appearance? Why does Innana have red hair and pale skin (mind you I have a fetish for redheads)? Shouldn’t she be closer to Middle Eastern in appearance? Again, I’m not complaining of the quality, just of the perspective.

I believe that deities are a reflection of our own concepts. They are real, but we see them through a reflective surface that is colored by our own knowledge of our culture and ethnicity. That said, in this day and age we have a wider grasp of word knowledge than was had in ancient times. So do we simply receive these deities as a closer visual to what we are familiar with, or are we glossing over their origins in favor of making them more appealing?

For my own part, I think it’s a combination of the two. Artists like to create beautiful things and our concept of beauty is colored (no pun intended) by our surroundings. But at the same time, we are the ones now worshiping these deities, so do their appearances change because of who gives them recognition?

I have the same problem when Jesus is depicted as a tall, well built white guy with blue eyes and blondish/brown hair. He’s a Jewish dude from Bethlehem. He would looked NOTHING like that. And yet whenever we see the iconicized version of Jesus on say, a piece of toast, we believe it’s a miracle. (Because Jesus has nothing better to do with his day…not like there is starvation in Africa or anything.)

I would honestly love hearing some opinions on this. It’s irking me.

Do You Really Believe This Stuff?

Posted in Experience, Life, Theory with tags , , on December 12, 2011 by theredlass

Sometimes, when making new friends or going into a new job, you get asked questions. Most of them are simple enough to answer. How old are you? Where are you from? Do you like in town? All very mundane things that help people get to know you and help develop friendships and lines of communication between the people you will now be with on a frequent basis.

For pagans, witches and the like, this line up often includes some variation of the question: What is that star for? It can take many forms, my favorite is “Are you Jewish?” my least preferred is “Are you like, a devil worshipper?” I am thankful to say that this second one has only cropped up once or twice. I’ve found that for my little area of Ohio most people are fairly willing to, if not accept, at least listen and consider what I am saying when I tell them I am a witch. It’s kind of funny to see the surprised double take when a person hears that word used without irony r sarcasm. They often don’t know what to make of it and frankly, wonder if you are serious. Let’s be honest, can you blame them? But after a brief explanation I usually get asked the following;

Do you really believe this stuff?

For some of us the simplest answer is yes. After all what else can you say after proudly proclaiming partnership with the polytheistic peoples. But what I often end up saying is; “It’s a bit more complicated than that.” I don’t often have the time it takes to really get down to it and explain everything to someone, so I feel bad leaving them with possible misconceptions about what it means to be pagan /wiccan/heathen/etc.

The truth of the matter is, ask 5 pagans what it means to be pagan and you will get 20 answers at least. I’d assume it’s the same for most religions, but pagans in particular are quite proud of their eclectic and broad individualism. I explain that, while I can describe what I believe, they should by no means take this as a general statement as to what pagans believe as a whole. We have just as many if not more sects as Christianity so it all needs to be taken on a person by person basis. I try to narrow them down to the important questions, the ones I know they really want to ask but, (for risk of offending me) are hesitant to ask.

1)      Do you believe there is more than one god?

  1. Yes and no. I believe there is a conscious, contentious Source of all things that is translatable into any religious path. It is neither male nor female at its core, and yet can easily be seen either or none at all for their qualifications are within its prime make up. As humans, we are simply unable to understand the enormity of the Source and all its power, it is too far above us. It is however a part of us, as it is a part of all things, and we can connect with it because of this. Through socio-cultural conditioning, psychological and philosophical perceptions, we visualize the Source in images which are translatable to us, things which are familiar. Thus, all religions have some validation in that we create the Gods which we follow to meet our needs. To me, the name of the Gods are representative of aspects of the Source which reflect our needs, wants, desires and the world around us.

 

2)      Do you practice witchcraft? Like do you cast spells and everything?

  1. On occasion yes, I have been known to cast a spell or two. But I view spells the same way I view asking any god for a favor. The gods won’t do for you what you won’t do for yourself. I do rituals and make offerings to increase my connection with the Source, to recognize it better and to open myself up to its presence in all things. I don’t do love spells or money spells, both are the product of greed and desperation. I do practice witchcraft in that I endeavor to learn more about the gifts of the world around me, herbalism and healing arts, necromancy and meditation, that sort of thing. I will occasionally do magic for a friend, if I can, but more often than not I simply give them the tools and know how to do it for themselves. My request will never be as strong as their own.

 

3)      Offerings? Do you sacrifice cats and stuff?

  1. Some branches, like Santeria, Vodou and Hedgecraft do practice animal sacrifice, but cats are not recommended or ever used for this. Mostly it’s livestock animals like chickens or goats. I personally have never made an animal sacrifice either from live or already butchered meat, though I know some who have. With this it is more important to understand what the animal represents to the people who sacrifice it. I don’t raise chickens, so if I went a bought a live chicken and then killed it, it doesn’t mean as much as someone who got the chicken as a chick, fed it, raised it, took care of it, and kept it safe only to give it to the gods as an offering. I garden. My herbs take time, care and concentration to grow and be fertile. So a handful of fresh green onions, the fattest tomatoes and carrots mean more because I have worked to make them good. Offerings are not as simply as throwing something into a fire. You offer it because it is your best and the best goes to the gods. This shows both sincerity and a willingness to give up something in order to achieve something.

 

4)      Do you worship the devil?

  1. I do not give recognition to the Christian concept of the devil. Nor to any other god meant to represent ‘evil’. Obviously as there is light and dark in the world, there is also light and dark inherent in the Source. But the idea of ‘evil’ is more of a human invention to explain it or give someone blame when bad things happen. I believe we create most of the evil in our world both on a personal and large scale. If you take an objective look you will realize that we facilitate our own fates either be taking control or by allowing someone else control over us. By either taking good advice or by ignoring it out of pride or ignorance. I try to recognize the darkness in the world as simply part of the natural balance. Would the colors of a sunset be so brilliant if not for the contrasting shadows? Would the full moon shine as brightly in the daylight? Would the deep void of space not leave of us wonder of limitless possibility if we could knew just how far the blackness went? No, no the only evils that exist are of human invention, the Source is amoral, and acts out of nature and necessity for everything in the cosmos, not just for the outcome of one planet, much less one species.

 

5)      Do you worship nature?

  1. As much as I worship anything else. Much like Shinto beliefs, I think everything has a spirit, this includes the earth itself. Both as individuals, like trees, rocks, rivers and plants, and as a whole, the earth represents a microcosm example of the order of the universe. Everything is connected to the earth, much like everything is connected to the Source. Though I can’t claim to have seen these spirits, I think they exist and like to be appreciated for their efforts. Once again you are going back to the idea that the Source is inherent within all things, so whatever form you view it as is legitimate.

 

6)      So what does the star mean?

  1. I explain that most pagans give a great deal of significance to the five elements and their place in both ancient witchcraft and alchemy. The circle confining the star represents one’s desire to control these elements and find the harmony of using them in both their mundane and witchy workings. For my part, I personally prefer the aesthetic, introspective and historic nature of the triquetra. It is more simplistic and rooted in a practical mindset. 3 was considered a sacred number to the Celts and it could take on many interpretations both in ancient and modern thought. (Earth, Sky, Sea/ Mind, Body, Soul/Maiden, Mother, Crone/Youth, Father, Sage/Male, Female, Androgynous/ Gay, Straight, Bi/)

I am not saying that these are the ‘correct’ answers for anything. They aren’t. They are simply my thought process and often it goes a long way to easing people’s concerns when they first meet me. It is not, by any extent, the end of what I believe in, and I would greatly appreciate comments and conversation as to your own thoughts and beliefs! But hopefully this gives other people a chance to really gather their minds and give good answers when someone comes to you with legitimate curiosity.

Hunter’s Moon

Posted in Documentary, Experience, Life, Ritual, Video with tags , , on November 11, 2011 by theredlass

The Hunter’s Moon rose over a chilled a demanding wind this November. But though the clouds had teased us with white flurries that evaporated the moment they touched the ground the night moon was clean and clear in the sky above. I could see out across the corn fields with startling clarity and I actually found the eerie light to be beautiful.

This is the time when I start to bring my rituals inside. It’s not that I mind the chill too terribly much, but to wood is too soaked to hold a fire for long and the offers tend to get blown over and rolled down the road. If the neighbors think I look crazy dancing around the fire wait till they see me chasing down the road after my incense!

I’ve been having an affair with the pomegranate as of late. I used it for my Samhain ritual and it was the very first time I’d ever tasted fresh pomagranate seeds. Now I have a tincture, honey and salve in the works. Makes me happy to have something of a plan ahead of time. I honestly enjoy having the time to sit within the household and work on these things. Makes me feel wonderfully domestic and witchy at the same time.

Laura and I spent some time on one another last night. We’ve been really stiff and sore lately, our joints and muscles aching when we wake up in  the morning. So I made up some lotion and we spent an hour each massing the muscles and getting our bodies to relax. It felt very nice getting to that point where your body isn’t feeling pulled and strained. Of course the down side is when you actually have to move afterwards and you REALLY don’t want to.*laughs*

Oh if you get some time take a peak at this documentary.