Thursday, July 15, 2010

As If It Mattered

Here's a pretty moving account of this year's Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG) from St. Louis Today.

Priestess Cynthea Jones once set up a ritual at Diana’s Grove with this thought: “How would you invoke the elements if the harvest depended on it? How would you pray if that harvest was truly a matter of life or death?”

The late summer ritual that followed was filled with a passion and urgency unlike many others I have attended. Until the one at this year’s PSG.

This year’s PSG happened during the ongoing oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. And the growing awareness in the larger society that our modern way of life is causing grave harm to the planet we call home. For many Pagans, it seems as though our beloved Earth’s life is indeed in the balance. And that our individual actions, from filling the recycling bins at each campground to praying for Gaia’s healing, can help tip the balance towards life and health for us all.

So, when we began the final ritual, we were not calling just Earth and Air, Fire and Water. We were calling the planet’s breath and blood, her bones and spirit. When we reached out to touch the glowing globe that moved just above us, we asked for more than the healing of Her wounds. We also asked forgiveness for all the years we have spent as a species taking without giving back.

Eight hundred hands, reaching up. Four hundred people, focused on one illuminated orb. One tall, slim man moving among us, carrying the representation of Gaia, our Mother Earth.

I love the initial question: “How would you invoke the elements if the harvest depended on it? How would you pray if that harvest was truly a matter of life or death?” How many rituals have you been to where the person assigned to call an Element got up and, clearly haven given little or no thought to the process beforehand, began to mumble a free-association about the Element. "Oh, Powers of Air, we um, we call you to help us today. Bring us fresh ideas and help us to communicate. Blow through our hearts and minds and, and, carry our thoughts, and, um, Hail and Welcome." Heck, I've been guilty of it myself enough times to make me blush. How would it be different if we really stopped and considered the import of our actions, the powers that we invoke, the truth that words have power? How would it be different if the life of our tribe depended upon the outcome of our magic? Why do we imagine that it doesn't?

How will you do it differently next time?

Picture found here.


Vivienne Grainger said...

Indeed, how would we do this as if it mattered, and why do we think it does not? This unwillingness to put energy into our worship on the part of many pagans is the primary reason I work as a solitary. I don't wish to be "the passionate one" in a sea of apathy.

The word verification prompt I was given was "spera," which is a form of the Greek verb "to hope." Maybe some still exists for us.

Hecate said...


Love your comments. Sometimes, what we do begins to seem "mundane" and we forget that we are invoking vast powers, participating in sacred mysteries, approaching a place between the worlds and a time outside of time.

What we do between them, affects them all.

Merely meditating upon that, for a few moments, should really give us pause.

It's why, IMHO, all the ritual, symbols, costumes, and paraphernalia that we can bring to bear, in order to impress upon Younger Self that THIS IS THE REAL THING -- matters.

Others mileage may vary, and, Goddess knows, I've done some damn good magic w/o anything but salt water and the naive belief in those involved that I honestly could invoke the Elements. (And, my Sister, E.)

Anne Johnson said...

When I do Ritual, I channel my grandfather and great-grandfather, for whom harvests were indeed a matter of health or starvation. As we become removed from our agrarian roots, Rituals have become symbolic and metaphorical. But it doesn't hurt to have a healthy dose of reality. Through our own actions, or through the vagaries of Gaia, we may all face famine some day.