As One; Old Wiccan Wisdom Poetry

Shawl adorned,
Familiar black dog beside;
The Wiccan priest, his mind forewarned.
To an ancient Crede he must abide.
 …
Many decades,
Graybeard muttering truth aloud;
Others devoted to selfish, personal charades.
Our life scarred soul now unceasingly proud.
 …
Heartfelt humbleness,
Judge not of others;
Step away from beings exhibiting doubleness.
Bonded through energy we are all brothers.
 …
Days end,
Approaching those not listening;
Earthbound we must begin to mend.
Become one while humanity is still glistening.
 …
*Image Credit:  https://www.google.ca/search?q=global+wisdom&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH3_iV1pnQAhVJ1oMKHZw5CncQ_AUICCgB&biw=1368&bih=795#imgrc=5opnY4I8HLoebM%3A

A Wiccan Self Challenge; Do Ye Really Harm None?

During a brief glance out of my kitchen window this morning I immediately noticed that the sky was grey and a light rain was falling.  There was a sharp contrast visible in the dull light between the thriving, green grass and other plants that had moved closer toward their Winter dormancy.  My mind anchored on the thought that I had become increasingly misanthropic over the recent months.  Through continuing reflection I came to realize the likely cause of the shift in my previous outlook on humanity.  A thought crystallized in my mind and I recognized that every day, I am an unwitting recipient of countless messages designed to shape my thoughts from buying habits to voting preferences.  We live in an age where it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible to tune out undesired messaging.

I continued pondering along the same thought-path and it occurred to me that although many of the messages were birthed as an outcome of complex marketing strategy, the messages were actually simplistic at their core; a binary of ones and zeros that represented buy or don’t buy, good or bad.  Yes, messaging attempted to shape my attitudes and actions.  However, at their core many messages pushed me into making hasty judgements in the absence of complete information.  With this realization I felt that my thought train had entered the station and not yet come to a complete stop.

Personal judgements represent an alignment and focus of our individual power.  We are in fact represented by our judgements as they daisy-chain to create a concrete history of our character, of who we are as individual entities.  I wondered, if I was placed to account for my history of judgements, like a politician before their public voting record, what would my history of judgements say about me?  Would my self reflection clearly demonstrate that I maintain emotional intelligence, while gathering available facts, before making balanced judgements?  And if so, are the judgements that I ultimately make in concert with the Wiccan Rede?

My ego would like me to proudly proclaim that I am fair in my judgements and always in line with the Rede.  Of course I’m factual and balanced in my judgements; I’m me!  Hasty, cutting and emotionally immature decision making is a nasty indulgence carried out by the weak.  I’m a good guy!  The inner me, the authentic and self-honest me realizes that I’m fallible, very fallible.  I must admit to feeling some shame in knowing that I certainly do  jump to conclusions or cast unfair judgements about others on occasion despite my best efforts.

There is comfort in my self admission and not from my ego.  The understanding of self is a critical component in becoming a better being for oneself and the world.  And so in celebration of the upcoming New Year,  I pledge to remember that life is complex for all of us.  I will endeavor to refrain from making hasty, nasty judgements about others because of something that I was told about them by trusted friends or by the media.  I will do my best to remember that we are all prone to making mistakes as we travel our interwoven paths.  That daily life can emulate meditation in that thoughts can pass through me without my acting on impulses to grasp for them, pull them into being and inevitably cast judgements.  Judgements that are by their nature accompanied by harmful, negative energy.  This is my Samhain self challenge.

I wonder how many others who subscribe to any similar belief about doing no harm are willing to travel the same path of self exploration and take their personal version of the Wiccan Self Challenge?

Image Credit:  https://www.google.ca/search?q=wicca+challenge&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiF7PP2mPzPAhVK74MKHc8DAz8Q_AUICCgB&biw=1368&bih=795#tbm=isch&q=window+onto+grey+day&imgrc=XsXaiuLQjArrlM%3A

 

 

 

 

 

Spirituality in a Multi-Faith and Multi-Home Family

I was born to parents from different religions and raised in a multi-faith house.  Despite the fact that my father and mother were both grounded by their religious belief systems, we attended church infrequently.  Our time in any house of God was limited mostly to Christian holidays and I was an adult before recognizing the subtle differences between the paths that my parents had pursued.  I believe that my experience was common amongst Canadian children in the early 70’s.

I exited a first marriage with 2 tremendous children and a number personal feelings to untangle.  At the time, my son was just reaching an age where in my mind, he could understand the notion of spirituality and its many teachings.  My daughter was still steadying her steps and mastering the art of controlling newly realized abilities.  As the kids and I settled into our new reality of a 50% custody and residency agreement, the question of spirituality for our children remained unanswered and was overtaken by the necessities of life.  My former spouse continued to pursue a personal path devoid of spirituality and religion.

Nearly 2 years later my question about spirituality for my children rchristian-paganeturned.  I had by that time introduced spirituality through books, songs and our occasional attendance at a local church or Zen temple.  I remained cautious about sharing my Wiccan path with the kids and introduced them instead to an eclectic commonality of underlying themes from many religions.  My goal was help establish a moral compass within them and help them to learn how to accept and appreciate others. 

Each time the kids enjoyed a spiritual talk or event with me, they shared it with their mother.  Sadly, a trend emerged as the kids would return to me espousing the evils of Buddhism, Christianity or other easily identifiable paths.  One day my son returned home from kindergarten in a state of dysregulation.  He explained that all of his friends were mad at him because he informed them that he agreed with his mom and that god did not exist anywhere.  On another occasion my son explained to me that Buddhists were bad because mom had showed him a story from Myanmar in which some Buddhists had apparently attacked some Muslims.  On a third occasion, I received a scathing email from ‘mom’ chastising me for the kids attending a church service at Christmas.  Concerned about any age inappropriate messaging that the kids might be receiving in retaliation for my spiritual sharing, I suspended temple and church visits. 

I have since married a devout Christian woman and we openly share our spiritual beliefs with each other.  Together we have woven a spiritual tapestry of love, mutual respect and humor within our home.  We celebrate Christian and Wiccan events; sometimes together and sometimes individually.  There are benefits to a multi-faith home but it takes understanding and togetherness.  It isn’t always easy to hear the snide comments of close-minded, 3rd parties when they speak to my wife about my beliefs when I’m within earshot. 

The kids are still operating on a weekly schedule and spend 50% of their time at our home.  The goal of mastering spirituality in a multi-home environment is one that continues to elude me.  With Samhain drawing close, I am feeling a pull to share more information about Wicca with my children and to celebrate as a family.  Ultimately, I believe that it is critical for me to shield the two young spirits that I am blessed with guiding until they can choose their own spiritual paths.  For now, protecting them from misinformation and manipulation is paramount.  I think that I’ll feel it when the time is right to share more.

Image Credit:  johnwmorehead

(https://www.google.ca/search?q=multi+faith&hl=en&biw=1368&bih=795&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjw25WRiovPAhXIeT4KHUz2A4UQsAQIOg#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=pagan+and+christian&imgrc=uqAY7blJrTq3PM%3A)

Advancing Paganism: Awareness in Canada

 

All Canadians share fundamental liberties, similarly to those provided to American citizens through the United States Constitution.  Canadian liberties are provided through the Canada Constitution Act of 1982 and referred to as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Amongst other freedoms, Canadians are granted the “freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and d) freedom of association”.

U.S. and Canada based businesses might salivate over the fact that Paganism is legal in Canada.  This is because Canada offers a market in excess of 35 million people with an online connectivity rate exceeding 88%.  From the perspectives of population and internet usage, Canada rivals California.  Although the Canadian market is spread throughout a very large geographical region, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) claims that 90% of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the international border between the USA and Canada.  For online businesses, this means that most of the Canadian population can easily receive goods that are shipped by mail, courier or common carrier.  The CBC article is available here:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/by-the-numbers-1.801937

To me, the legal but somewhat cloaked nature of Paganism in Canada results in a market identification problem for all businesses.  How do you connect with a largely hidden market?  Further, how can you connect with a market that doesn’t necessarily want to be found?  The notion of wanting to remain hidden makes reference to Pagans who are not necessarily open and public with respect to their religious beliefs.  Wiccans often refer to socially shielding their beliefs as ‘being in the broom closet’.

I believe that the decision to ‘out one’s self’ regarding religious beliefs is solely personal.  Those that want to stimulate awareness for Paganism have a number of avenues which may include and are not limited to:

Identifying the Pagan marketplace in Canada is in my opinion, most efficiently approached electronically via the internet, and through the use of Pagan religious terms.  I’d suggest using a number of different search terms to enhance your search results.  Many people will search for one word or phrase such as ‘Pagan Canada’ and move forward with results from the single search.  However, adding additional words or phrases such as ‘Canada Pagan Festival’ or ‘Pagan Shopping Canada’ will likely broaden and deepen your results.

In addition to providing a space for market research, the internet provides a space for community interaction.  PBN is a great example of Pagan community and a space where like-minded individuals can share information.

Pagan stores represent a resource that can easily be overlooked.  The owners of Pagan Craft businesses might initially contact retail stores to carry some of their merchandise.  Regardless of how the first contact works out, I would recommend that all parties work to deepen these relationships.  During a recent conversation with the owner of a storefront business located in Mississauga, Ontario, the owner suggested that I visit a competing store, commenting that “it’s all about supporting the cause” of promoting Paganism.

There is a great deal that the Pagan community can do to support the growth of Paganism and Pagan focussed businesses in Canada.  Our future can be as bright as we want to make it through individual effort and collaboration.

image credit: Canada-Flag-545 [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.freelargeimages.com/canada-flag-545/

The Cloaked Politics of Paganism in Canada

Canada is a tech savvy nation with 88.5% of the population connected through the internet.  With such a high national internet user rate it seems reasonable to expect that information about any subject would be easily accessible.  But the internet is a repository for information just like any library.  Neither libraries nor the internet create information; both are repositories.  Information must exist in a library or on the internet before it can be accessed.  Herein lies a dilemma for Canadian Pagans.  The challenge appears to be about the existence of contemporaneous information on Paganism, not an issue of access.

What information exists for new or long time Pagans in Canada and what is the current state of Pagan politics North of the 49th parallel?  Statistics Canada (StatsCan) is the government agency that was founded in 1971 to support better understanding of the nation’s population, society, culture, resources and economy.    StatsCan completed the latest national household survey in July of 2016 but according to their published schedule, the freshest information won’t be released until February 2017.  Until that time, we’re limited to data from previous surveys.  Historically, StatsCan has lumped Paganism into a catch all bucket of religions called ‘Other’.  In 2001, you were included in the ‘Other’ bucket if you stated that you had a religion and did not identify as:  Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish or Eastern Religion Other.  In 2001 Canada had a reported national population of over 29.5 million individuals.  Just under 64 thousand people were labelled as ‘Other’.  StatsCan predicts this group to grow to 185 thousand by the year 2031.  We can’t determine the percentage of self-identified Pagans that are included in the bucketed number.

Interestingly, Canada does not have any state recognized religion(s).  The definition of the term ‘recognized’ is debatable.  My interpretation of the definition is that despite a national history steeped in both French and English religion and law, the Canadian government recognizes all religions similarly.  In general, religions are recognized in Canada from an administrative perspective and as charities. 

It would be easy to feel that Pagans do not have a voice on the national Canadian stage.  After all, how can the government take the Pagan electorate seriously when we’re considered ‘Other’?  I would argue that the Canadian Government struggles with the decentralized nature of Paganism.  In a 2011 Canadian Military guide for chaplaincy (http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/dn-nd/D2-147-2008-eng.pdf), contact information is provided for the governing bodies of many well recognized religions.  It appears that the Canadian Government is at a loss about how to recognize religions that do not have a centralized, hierarchical structure.  The guide can be found here:

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/dn-nd/D2-147-2008-eng.pdf 

 Wicca was the only Pagan religion that was evident to me in the chaplaincy guide.  Further, the document did not recognize the various forms of Wicca and listed the Wiccan Church of Canada as a central body.

The Peel Board of Education, Canada’s largest school board, publishes an annual calendar of religious holidays.  The calendar states that it lists dates from 11 world religions and includes Wicca.  A copy of the 2016 – 2017 calendar can be found here: 

http://www.peelschools.org/calendar/schoolyear/Documents/2016-2017%20Holy%20Days%20Poster.pdf

Through my research it occurred to me that the key political issue for Pagans in Canada remains the matter of widespread and positive recognition.  The challenge of recognition, particularly positive recognition is not a new one for the Pagan community.  I will address avenues for recognition in a follow-up article.