Religion. It can be a touchy subject, especially to those who follow Pagan paths. I don’t know why it has become the standard to assume the pose of a misunderstood and abused soul simply because one chooses to look at things from a different perspective. It seems more than a little silly. If one were to step back an look, say, at both Judeo-Christian religions and Wicca and related Pagan beliefs then one would find a remarkable similarity. The differences really are not all that profound. In fact, they are laughably subtle in their own way.
Both sides have rituals and celebrations. A goodly number of the Christian holidays coincide with Pagan celebrations. It was a way to encourage the conversion of ‘heathens’ to the ‘true’ religion. Many of the rituals are formalized on both sides. There are certain prayers that should be said or certain actions that should take place depending on the particular day in question. Unfortunately, many of the rituals have become so commercialized that the true meaning of these days is now largely irrelevant. Pagan holidays have been fortunate enough through obscurity to maintain their original meanings. It is my belief that this lack of commercial sanitation is why Pagans revere and rejoice more sincerely during these times. It isn’t that Christians do not care or that they do not have the strength of faith. The problem is that Mother Culture has succeeded in slowly dulling the mind to the spiritual meanings behind the holidays.
Ceremonies exist in both paths. They range from weddings to funerals to regular congregations of rejoicing. Pagans for circles for most anything that fills their hearts with song and joy. Christians routinely attend church functions for the same reason. A marked difference is in the style. Many covens will create rituals for circling that have a deep meaning for that group. Church mass has been standardized like a public school test and is very much the same from coast to coast. This isn’t to say that one way is better or that there aren’t standard rituals for Pagans. I am merely pointing out that while the styles for these things are different, they are still the same at the core. The point of mass or a circle is to rejoice in the divine. It is to find that connection with something far wiser that our conscious selves and try to make ourselves better through that contact. This leads us to another similarity.
Both sides believe in divine power. A Christian believes in God and that all power comes from Him. A Pagan believes in the God and Goddess and that the power resides in us because we are of them. Both sides believe in the divine power, the difference is in where the divine resides. God resides in Heaven for Christians. The God and Goddess reside in everything and everyone for Pagans. Yes, I know that Christians believe God inhabits us all, but the popular view is that the majority of what makes up God is in some place that is separate from us on this world. Pagans have a more personal connection with divine power. It is within each and every one of us. We merely have to quiet our minds enough to touch it.
Both sides pray. We all do so in slightly different ways and for vastly different reasons. Take this example: If someone is extremely ill and in need of help to heal, a Christian will pray to God asking for Him to aid the person in their time of need. They will bend their thoughts and thus their will to the desire of that person getting better. If it happens, the God has been benevolent and has performed a miracle. A pagan will cast a circle, draw the energies from his surroundings, and send it to the person in need so that they can be healed. If it works, then the spell has been successful. What’s the real difference at the core of this? There isn’t one. A Christian’s prayer is merely a ritual used to channel the energy of the one praying to the one in need. The intent is to heal because that is what the prayer is about. That is what the will is forging with the energies. But a Christian does not accept the success or failure as his own. It is God’s will that must have that burden. One could argue that Pagans are vain and suffer from hubris. One could also argue that a Christian hides from responsibility by consciously accepting that it is not his will but God’s to save the person in need of help. I do not think either way is better…they both have faults.
Oh how Pagans love to wallow in martyrdom. It is a silly pastime and it serves no purpose. To be taken seriously, we should act serious. Save the performances for the stage. If you are that uncomfortable with the decision to follow an alternate religious path, you have some soul searching to do. It may be that you have some pretty significant doubts about the choice.
Christians on the other hand have a completely different set of issues. This constant badgering of people to convert is absurd. If a person is truly interested in finding a new way to worship, they will look for it. They will ask for it. If they don’t, then leave them alone. They obviously are not ready or not interested. Just learn to back off and wait. While you are at it, however, why not take a little time to find out the true Christian meanings for the holidays. Odds are they do not include buying larges amounts of things and covering them with bows and fancy paper or about dying eggs and hiding them. The true meanings of these days are much more moving.