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Pagans - Children Of The Earth

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Sacred Path Call

~unknown~

My sacred life path begins in the East
Place of dawn, place of awakening.
Be with me this night, element of Air
As I learn on the sacred path of life. Blessed be.
My sacred path is fortified in the South
Place of Will, place of transformation.
Be with me this night, element of Fire
As I take action on my sacred path. Blessed be.
My sacred path carries me into the West
Place of emotions, place of intuition.
Be with me this night, element of Water
As I follow my heart on my sacred path. Blessed be.
My sacred path endures to the North
Place of strength, place of sustaining life.
Be with me this night, element of Earth
As I keep my feet firm on my sacred path.
Blessed be.

Pagans - Children Of The Earth

I would like to clear up some misconceptions that people have had about the Pagans, Paganism, and yes Witchcraft, and to share with you, truthfully, what it is all about. Please note that in no way do I promote intolerance of any other belief system.
The term "Pagan" refers to a group of people, loosely associated and organized, who consider themselves members of what is basically a nature religion. Nature religions are an important part of the "New Age" philosophies, but because of prejudice and ignorance, open sharing about the subject was difficult until a few years ago. The majority of Pagans are of the Wiccan tradition, but we also have Witches and other groups such as the Church of All Worlds, Feraferian, the People of Holy Earth, and also many of the Native Americans.
I'd like to start with a bit of history that you don't usually learn in school. Going back thousands of years before Christianity became established in Europe, we see a very different way of life. The people at that time based their lives on agriculture and were much more oriented toward the land. As a matter of fact, "Pagan" originally meant country dweller, and "heathen" meant people of the heather. It came to refer to a person who was not a Christian because, for a long time, Christianity had only existed in the cities. The awareness of the people then, though limited in some of our technical and mechanistic ways, was more open to the forces and elemental beings of the natural world around them.
They looked around themselves and perceived a great female energy. This was considered to be the spirit of the earth mother. This goddess was seen in all the creative glory of nature and also in the beauty of the moon. She has been called by many names in different times and places: Erin, Kore, Ishtar, Isis, Yehemia, Diana and many others including Mary. The Pagans also perceived around them a great male energy. This god - the consort of the goddess - was seen in two basic ways; as a solar sky deity and, particularly as he expressed himself in nature, as a horned god of the woodlands and forests. A great being who was lord of all nature. He also has many names: Cernunnos, Merlin, Lugh, Pan, Osiris and many others including YHVH, or Jehovah of the Hebrews. The Pagans had no concept of a devil or great devil principle. The polarity they saw around them was not good/evil, but the interplay of the male/female energies. Their religious festivals celebrated the changing cycles of the moon with their monthly meetings, and the changes in the great solar cycle with their eight festivals of the year.
During the sixth century of the Christian era, most of the people of Europe were still Pagan, and free to be so. At the beginning of the seventh century, however, word came from the Church in Rome that the Pagans must be converted. As many of the European rulers were already enjoying the political benefits of being nominally Christian, the conversion process was facilitated by them, in conjunction with the Christian clergy. Initially this conversion was attempted by assimilation. One of the best examples of this is in Pope Gregory's instructions to forty monks in England:
"Pagan temples are not to be destroyed but converted to churches...
Christian feasts and celebrations should be planned to coincide
with those of the Pagans."


Some practical examples of this are as follows:

Christmas. The conversion of this previously Pagan holy day was accomplished in Rome in 325 A.D. Previous to the time of the Christian church, many people in Rome and around the Mediterranean celebrated the birth of the sun god Mithras on December 25th. He was considered a kind of "savior" by his followers, and his worship was strikingly similar to that of the Christ-cult consisting, among other things, of a communion where the participants would partake of bread and wine as a ritual eating of the body and blood of the god himself.

Easter. It was previously a Pagan festival for Eostre, the goddess representing the rebirth of new life in the spring. In many areas, the people celebrated by exchanging colored eggs, which were symbols of fertility and prosperity. Much of the worship of the goddess was channelled into the worship of the Virgin Mary, or in some cases, the goddess was changed into a saint, like Saint Brigid, the Triple Goddess of Medicine, Poetry and Smithcraft of Ireland. As her worship was suppressed, the feast day of Saint Brigid appeared to take over the worship that had previously been supplied to the goddess.

It become noticeable to the Christian church over the centuries that far from converting the masses to Christian beliefs, many were still carrying on the Old Ways, particularly in rural areas where even the church sent priests who joined in the Pagan revelry. The conversion of Europe was not going according to plan. The Romans, when they had occupied these lands, could accept other religious customs so long as they did not interfere with the government of the Empire. But the Christian church which supplanted it and took over its lands completely, ruled out acceptance or tolerance of any belief that was not Christianity itself. The worship of a mother goddess was particularly abhorrent to the church because, in its view, the one god was male - only! Woman was believed to be a second class citizen. There was actually a Church Synod held to discuss whether a woman was a human being at all! Sexuality and the female body were considered to be disgusting - or at least distracting - from man's real purpose. This new belief was in sharp contrast to the Pagan attitude: that the sexual organs of woman were holy and a reflection of the fertility and femininity of the great Mother herself - whose womb was the earth, and whose children were all living things. Sexuality and the love between man and woman was an affirmation of life itself.

In response to this dissatisfaction with the conversion of Europe, in 1252 A.D., the Pope gave instructions on the use of torture to persuade Pagans to confess their crimes. It is during this period that we start reading the words "witch" and "witchcraft" in the records of Christian trial recorders. Let us digress for a minute to explain the true origin and meaning of these words. Back in Pagan times, the religious leaders of the community had become known by their people as those with the "Craft of the Wise, " because of their knowledge of healing and accomplishing various things with herbs and the auric energies of the human mind and body.

From two different words which referred to the male and female practitioners of this craft, there came to be one word that referred to these people - witches. The witches then, were people who studied and lived the ways of wisdom that had been handed down to them from millennia past.
Well, back to 1252 A.D. ... After this time, the persecutions and violence against Pagans increased, particularly as the cities grew larger and the number of Christians in them increased.
The Church gathered together some rather distorted information on Pagan beliefs and invented a system of Christian superstition known as "demonology. " Their invention was supported by verbal declarations given under torture by Pagans and Christian heretics who were only too eager to admit to anything in the hope that further torture would not be inflicted upon them. The Church had taken the concept of an all-powerful "Ruler of Evil, " which had been borrowed from the Persians during the early centuries of the Christian era, and gave it primary importance.
Through their teachings, they made Satan/Devil/Horned God all synonymous. Thus, the horned god of the Pagans, who was a god of nature representing joy and happiness, was transformed into the devil by the Church. It did not matter that the Pagan beliefs had no place for an all-powerful ruler of evil. This was an effective way to motivate Christians against Pagans, and to justify the persecutions. Four hundred years after the original Papal instructions, the witch hunt had reached fever pitch. No one was safe - from peasant to noblewoman to merchant - the accusing finger was pointed. This culminated in what is known today as the "Burning Times. " You may have heard of it as The Holy Inquisition. Over nine million people were killed in this expression of brutality. It has yet to be equaled by any acts against humankind, even those of the Nazi regime. Of course, most of the people killed were not Pagans but had the misfortune of owning too much land, or had offended someone politically; but, many of the Old Religion were killed. The effect of this persecution was to drive the Old Religion underground. It survived to the present time in isolated pockets. In some cases, the secret family traditions were distorted but they still carried the basic ideas of the Old Religion. In 1951, with the repeal of the witchcraft laws in England, the Witches started to worship openly again.
Today there remains much ignorance about the religion of Witchcraft and the Pagan movement. In so many people's minds, witchcraft - or craft of the wise - is still linked to evil. Television, movies and popular books on the subject have compounded the problem by perpetuation of superstitions and stereo typing. Pagans and those of the Witch tradition do not worship the devil, nor have they ever! The concept of Satan/Lucifer/Devil/All-Powerful Ruler of Evil is a part of Christian theology. Any one who claims to be a Satanist or worships the devil is not a Pagan or witch.
The spirit of Paganism can be described as independent and interdependent relationships between these peoples that consider themselves "Children of the Earth." There is no ONE person, nor one set of scriptures to follow. Neither is there a body of dogma that must be learned.
The Pagan way is very close to the soul and common heritage of humanity. It is a natural belief which sees man and woman as they are and seeks to push either one into a preconceived role model. Paganism sees the mystery and richness of nature and opens the way to an understanding of it that the modern world has overlooked. Pagans conceive of the creative power in the universe as manifesting through polarity; as masculine and feminine; and that this same creative power lives in all people and functions through the interactions of the male and female energies. They value sex as pleasure, and as a symbol of and attunement with the forces of nature. All attempt to live by the old Witch law, "And it harm none, do what ye will. " They do not seek power or personal benefit through the sufferings of others.
In the spirit of the Witch teaching that "whatever ye send out returns to you threefold, " many Pagans and witches are involved with service oriented activities.
Pagan and Witch religious practice recognizes the mother goddess as physically manifested in the earth around us and also in the energy of the moon. Her consort, the lord, is also recognized with various solar and woodland symbologies; although to varying degrees depending on the particular tradition. Because of the emphasis on the goddess, women, in most cases, have an officiating role at religious gatherings. In practice, Pagan worship, ritual and meditation seek to tune in with the forces of nature. The movement of these natural forces - called tides by some - directly affect our lives, the evolution of humankind, and the course of the manifested universe.
Witches and other pagans celebrate this tidal movement, and, in fact, unify with it through the eight festivals of the year. The eight festivals start at sundown on the day previous to the calendar day listed, and are as follows:

Samhain - All Hallows Eve, Westwind Sabbat; begins Sundown, October 31.
The Festival of the Last Harvest; Focus on divination and departed Ancestors. The beginning of the Witch Year. The God presides. The end of good weather.

Yule - Winter Solstice, begins Sundown, December 21.
(day before Solstice.) Day of the Yew, Mistletoe, Palm and Silver Fir. Birth of the Sun God; the Divine Child.

Imbolc - Northwind Sabbat begins sundown, February 2.
Fire Festival of Brigit. We prepare light so that our goddess may find her way out of the darkness and return to us; Brigit, the triple goddess of poetry, smithcraft, and medicine. We bid farewell to the horned god. Goddess Brigit presides.

Spring Equinox - Eostar Sabbat - Begins sundown, March 20 (day before Equinox)
Day of the Gorse; Festival of the Goddess Eostar, to whom the hare and the scarlet egg are sacred. Fertility Rites for the early sowing. The Goddess Arianrhod names and arms the Sun God, Llew. The Sun God, Llew rides forth in splendor.

Beltaine - May Eve - Eastwind Sabbat Begins sundown, April 30.
Fertility Rituals for growth and health of crops and animals. The beginning of good weather. The Sun God becomes the Lover of the Goddess. The Goddess Bloduewedd presides.

Midsummer Eve - Litha Sabbat Begins sundown, June 21 (day before Summer Solstice), Day of the Heather. The Feast of the Summer Goddess who rules Marriage. The Sun God is crucified by his Dark self and his domains confiscated.

Lammas - Festival of August, Southwind Sabbat, Begins sundown, July 31.
Funeral Games of Lugh and Festival of Early harvest. The death of the sacred king, that life might continue; he is symbolically eaten. The new king weds the Goddess.

Autumn Equinox - Mabon Sabbat begins. Sundown, September 21 (day before Equinox)
Day of the Aspen. Harvest festival. Horned God is mourned by the Goddess.

Some of the names of a particular festival may vary according to the particular Witch tradition; also the exact dates of the Solstices and Equinoxes vary slightly with astrological changes or localities.
I'd also like to mention an important point. The symbol of the five-pointed star, the pentagram, is a sacred symbol of Witchcraft representing the goddess, the craft, and the perfection of man and woman. It does not represent evil or the devil, nor has it ever been anything but a positive symbol of the craft tradition. Satanism has adopted not only an upside-down cross, but an upside-down pentacle as well. They wear their five pointed star with the two points up.
The Pagan way is ancient and long predates Christianity. It is a way of love, joy and beauty; and it teaches the recognition of the divinity within nature and ourselves. The ideal of a sacred ecology of this planet, and for ourselves, answers so many of the problems and concerns of our time.

Who are Pagans?
Pagans are witches descended from the old families of Europe; they are seekers discovering their desire to be witches; they are priests and priestesses of the Temples of Isis and Horus, and Ishtar and Ra; they are people like you and me in organizations derived from religions in Greece, Africa, Egypt, Mayan traditions, Celtic traditions, Native American culture, in Canada and the United States. Pagans are not Satanists, devil worshipers or evil. As previously stated, there is no Satan or devil concept in the Pagan belief system.

All Pagans have two things in common:
(1) a belief in reincarnation, and
(2) a love and acceptance of nature as a law and extension of the universal consciousness.

Hans Holzer published a "Pagan Manifesto" in his book The New Pagans that is generally accepted by Pagans worldwide:
1. Thou shalt always say, think and do what you truly desire, so long as it hurts no one else
2. Thou shalt live in accordance with the laws of nature, not against them, and coordinate sleep, food, physical exertion, and work with the ways of nature
3. Thou shalt not destroy nature or take from it without restoring that which has been taken, and thou shalt keep the balance of nature in tact at all times
4. Thou shalt worship in any way that pleases thee and let others do likewise, even though ye may not understand their ways
5. Thou shalt not take the life of another living thing, except for protection or for food
6. Thou shalt not cage another living thing
7. Thou shalt be free to love whomever thou pleasest, so long as thy primary obligations to family, home and community are not neglected
8. Thou shalt express thyself through art, crafts, music, dancing, singing and poetry, for in so doing, thou shalt be in harmony with nature
9. Thou shalt accept communication from the world beyond and the inner planes as natural, and thou shalt develop psychic abilities as a natural function of thy personality
10. Thou shalt always strike a happy balance between mind and body, exercising both and developing thy inner self through the interplay of both thyselves, ever mindful that the spirit is above and beyond mind and body
11. Thou shalt not forget the Spirit within and the Spirit without are the one and only true God/dess.
Paganism has one primary law - the law of Threefold Return, which states: "Whatever you do, for good or for ill, returns to you threefold."

I'd like to close with a Pagan blessing:
" In perfect love and perfect trust
Joy be shared by all of us.
Merry meet and merry part
Living wisdom in our hearts. "

"Elements of the Directions
Thank you for joining us
May there be peace between us now and forever.
Stay if you will
Go if you must
Hail and farewell!"


So mote it be!

By Willow