Monthly Archives: October 2003

Inter-cultural Wedding

For the “Crafting a Wedding” class I took at Cherry Hill Pagan Seminary, we had to write an interfaith wedding featuring a culture or religious tradition with which we were unfamiliar.

In this ceremony, the groom is Navajo and the bride is a neo-Pagan of Scots-Irish descent. This ceremony is co-officiated by a Pagan priestess and a Navajo elder.

It is important to me that the traditions in the ceremony belong to the heritages of the people getting married, rather than “something I read on the Internet.” If I were asked to perform a ceremony for a couple who had ethnic or spiritual traditions unfamiliar to me, I would collaborate very closely with them and their families, while doing a lot of research on the side into the meanings of the traditions.

Wedding Ceremony for a Navajo and Scots-Irish Pagan

Grief and Growth

Three years after my father’s death, I still grieve. Usually at the weirdest times and usually when something in my current life has made me emotionally vulnerable – from crushed self-esteem or fears of loss. At these times, my heart chakra, inflamed and swollen, attempts to leap past my throat chakra and escape my body. My throat burns whether I let out the pain in jagged sobbing or keep it within.

I have a vision of being able to open up my chest like a coat to expose my heart to the whole world and allow the savage beasts to feast on it. Or maybe my heart will explode with the force of a thousands suns and I will be a part of the universe, but no longer tied to the consciousness of my own personal pain.

Sometimes it feels like being born – literally being pushed through an opening that is tight and too small for my physical body into a totally unfamiliar and potentially hostile world. I pray that there will be comforting hands on the other side. Grief is much like a small death in this way—but it repeats itself ad nauseum.

Then I become tired – tired of being alone, tired of being sad, tired of crying, tired of being numb, tired of being tired. I ask myself if this ever ends — and then, mercifully, I sleep. The next day is always better.

Sometimes you say to the Gods “this SUCKS!” But a few years ago, I read something that was strangely comforting to me and has shaped my pantheistic understanding and my human place in the universe: The purpose of the universe is not the convenience or comfort of human beings.

It’s not all about me. The gods are not out to get me. Sometimes the flow works in my favor. Other times it does not. I am a node in the web of life that makes up everything. I can either shine or be dull. Other nodes may choose to help me. I can help other nodes. This is where I draw my comfort. And this is how I work through my grief.

At our Samhain last weekend, I began to cry even before we stepped into circle. Crying in front of others is always embarrassing for me. But I have been told that my tears allowed others to feel it was okay to cry themselves. Somehow working through my pain has helped others to work through their own.

My heart explodes. The process is painful, but I shine with the light of a thousand suns.

Blessings from a full heart.

What is it about Paganism?

There is a certain je ne sai quoi about calling oneself a pagan. It is not as if our beliefs are that singular—nature as sacred, interconnectedness, the divine feminine, unity through diversity, tolerance, and an acceptance of relative or subjective knowledge. Many other religions embrace many of these ideals. So, what is it about paganism as a religion, a practice, a worldview, and a community that calls so strongly to some and repulses others? Why does it have this ability to polarize people to take such dramatic views and actions either in its support or for its destruction?

Drama. Drama makes the enchantment of the world seem a little too real. Drama gives life to otherwise provocative, but harmless, philosophies of the mind. Drama embodies the magick and urges the fantasy to be enacted. Drama moves the heart and befuddles the mind.

I suspect that we are drawn to paganism and pagan forms of worship because of the drama. The fire of the spirit is allowed free reign to create something beautiful, alluring, enveloping. And the beautiful is always a bit dangerous. Paganism is a religion of artists, musicians, dancers, pyros, poets, mad-hatters, wild animals, and angels.

And that is why some will heed its call, while around them, other condemn it.