The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Thursday, April 30, 2020

'Train up a Child............'; The Rebirth of Bil Dona

As Apologies go, this is not the best I have ever heard, but then again, it's not the worst. This was related to me by Mr. Bil Dona & I have written it down here for the consideration of my readers, to the best of my abilities.

'I was brought up in a fairly strict Christian setting. My parents both had a somewhat baptistic background, thus having been raised themselves, to varying degrees, in Christian households. So, as the case may be, I was brought up to mind my 'P's & 'Q's, in a manner of speaking. As a child, though for the most part, I behaved as I was expected to, I harbored a very rebellious streak! Somewhere between the ages of 10 & 12 ( more toward the lower end of the spectrum, I think ), I experienced something that scared the 'hell' out of me', so to speak. Right then & there, I decided I didn't want that to happen to me, so I 'accepted Jesus as my personal Lord & Savior', just like I'd been taught. That 'event', if you would know, was a certain part of a film by a popular Christian evangelist, that involved the burning of witches, which, as I'd also been taught, were an abomination to the 'God' of the Bible, 'Yahweh Elohim' of the Hebrews. I barely missed being baptized in water ( dunked ) on the spot, as several of my brothers were being baptized into the Baptist 'faith' several days later: I had not quite made up my mind about that yet! Several years later, though I had narrowly escaped being 'whelmed' in the waters of baptism, I did receive 'baptism by sprinkling', at my father's behest.

As I grew in the 'faith', particularly as I neared the later teenage years, I began to question certain of the things I had been & was being taught! My rebellious streak was beginning to show, faintly at first, but growing bolder all the time! Several years later, when I finally screwed up the courage, 'with a little help from my friends', to 'strike out on my own', I made a small leap & more or less began to establish myself as a bit of a pariah. I may have been accepted as a 'Christian', but some of the questions I was posing & some of the ideas I was espousing were pretty 'heretical'! One thing led to another as my Journey continued & I strayed farther from the 'faith' I had been brought up in! I never left the 'Path' that my Journey had started me on, oh, so long ago, but it had begun to look a bit different than the one in which my parents had trained me.

With the passage of Time, Life itself began to show me that things were not always as they seemed, especially as I'd been taught to believe. Events began to 'happen' in the midst of my Journey that convinced me that my 'faith' didn't have the answers I needed. Not only the questions of Life on our good Mother Earth, but even theological questions like, 'who or what really IS 'up there'?'; 'IS there SOMEONE 'up there'?!' It occurred to me, for instance, that the 'God' of the Bible, though usually pretty patient with 'His' own, wasn't really fundamentally much different than the 'Allah' of Islam! Then there came the experiences with the Teaching of the Masters of the Far East; 'that was a real 'Eye' opener, let me tell you!' If people thought I was a heretic before....................

So, fast forward to the 'Now', as I sit here having coffee with a new, yet very old acquaintance, relating my previously untold Story ( thus far ); I have begun to explore the very thing which 'scared the hell out of me' in the first place'! Witches, I have learned, are not inherently 'evil', as I had been taught. Witchcraft was not 'of the devil' as our Bible clearly told us! Witches are simply Guardians of the Earth & their Purpose is simply to remind us who we are & where we came from. As more of a Way of Life, like, yet unlike Christianity, Witchcraft in general & Wicca in particular holds to no such dogma as the Big Three ( Judaism, Christianity & Islam ). They follow this 'creed' & this only, that 'an ye harm none, do what ye will'. Even according to the Bible, one might note, the Earth is our Mother! I myself began to realize this & other comforting Truth as my Journey continued to motivate me along the Path of Life. I had not strayed from the 'Path' in all my manifold & manifest ramblings, I had simply gone where it led me, instead of where everyone else around me seemed to believe it led!

Life is a 'funny' thing, I was quickly learning; It was not what It seemed! Truth had a way of revealing Itself, whether it came in a package from the Far East, or was bottled up in Western 'rigmarole'. I was taught that Life was made up solely of 'absolutes', or black & white, but I was beginning to see that there are as many shades of grey involved as there are different people. Whatever 'God' you pray to, even if it's simply your Higher Self, as long as you live your own life, not intruding on others or bringing harm to them, you ARE on the Path, no matter what you have been taught to believe!

Rebellious though I may be, my religious upbringing is not a cause of regret to me! If I had not been brought up to believe the way I had, in all probability, I would not be where I am right now. Where I AM is a good place, a Place of Peace, a 'place' where I am at peace with where I have been, where I am NOW & where I am headed. I have learned that I am like a turtle; I carry my Home with me. My new mantra, 'it is what it is', has made Life so much easier! Simply letting Life, like yourself, just BE has brought a much-needed freedom. When we go through Life not trying to be 'judge, jury & executioner' ( even if we leave the 'executioner' part up to 'the powers that be' ), we are freed up to focus more on our own part, our own responsibilities in Life; but I digress.........................

My Life is a blessed one! I have seen much in my relatively short Journey, much that others in my 'world' have refused to see & much I haven't seen that others in my ever-expanding 'world' have seen. I know that there is much more ( infinitely so ) for me to explore; 'the realms of possibility are endless'! One might note that I've come ( some would say 'strayed' ) a long way, but I realize that I've got a long way to go; you might even say 'I've only just begun'!'

So ended our conversation, as far as my failing memory serves me. Bil's Story is not so far from my own experience, nor, I imagine, some that might read this account. Though our personal Journey might not exactly match that herein, or even show much semblance at all, I can only imagine that most who peruse this account will find something here that resonates with their Spirit, the Divinity that rests Within each & every one of us!

Namaste' & Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Guardian

Rising majestically from the ashes, slowly flapping her great wings of fyre, Sa'phyna ascended into the air! Clouds filled the air around her, clouds of dust, steam & even some that were chock-full of moisture. The beating of her giant wings may have seemed to just stir things up, but they also had a calming effect. The flight she was now embarking on was one of Mercy, Truth & Love. Sa'phyna winged her way over the City below with a watchful eye. Things seemed quiet enough, but She knew, from Her own experience, the Storm brewing just beneath the relatively calm surface. Life, She had noticed, was often like that; things often appeared calm & peaceful, but more often than not, there was an active volcano ready to violently thrust its way skyward!

Her Journey, unbeknownst to Her for years, was one that had consumed Her entire Life, thus far! Sa'phyna knew that it was not over either, nor would be so anytime soon. Since her Rebirth, it seemed It had only just begun, She had been instilled with New Purpose, even a Second Chance, so to speak. She had begin a New Path, only it was not a new one. Neither was it necessarily a totally New Purpose; it was more like she had been rejuvenated for Her Purpose, Her Intentions, so now found She had more Freedom to fulfill those intentions.

Ashes still dripping from Her flaming pinions, Sa'phyna circled in the air above Her little town. She kept an Eye out for any form of trouble. As She soared over the City, She noticed the heaviness in the air; She could smell the Fear wafting up from below! Not only that, She could feel it with every fiber of her glowing Being! Although it didn't affect Her Flight or Purpose ( it only served to strengthen Her Intentions ), She was still somewhat sad, even incensed, by the feeling. Her New Life had not freed Her from these memories, these feelings, only filled her with Strength to face the Day. No more did She wallow in these feelings, allowing the ashes of Her storied past to keep Her down; now She soared above the clouds of Despair, enjoying the Freedom She'd always had, just never realized!

'Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose', Sa'phyna seemed to remember from long ago & far away. As Her Journey had progressed, She had begun to realize the true meaning behind those simple words. They meant that it is only without attachment that one is truly free! ( 'It should go without saying, of course, that 'without attachment' does not mean that one doesn't care for or about thing on this earthly plane!' ) Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with feeling a sort of attachment to things, persons or otherwise, She knew; that's a constituent element to this Life. No, the problem crops up when we become so attached that we begin to identify with the thing we're attached to, even if it's simply our own body, this mortal vehicle we have chosen to traverse our Path in!

With this Realization, Sa'phyna had learned, over Her relatively short life in this iteration, to soar above it all! To simply allow things to happen, without the unnecessary worry over whether this was wrong or that was right. To simply embrace Life for what it is, without reacting in judgement to what happened around Her in the natural course of things. She knew that what was important was Her own actions & that as long as those were in Order, She was Free to do what She knew to be right & good. Even though many around her were consumed by Guilt & Fear, Sa'phyna knew that, as long as She was attached to them, as She once had been, She could never truly enjoy Her Freedom.  No longer did She Fear, as She once had, what dreams may come!

With Her newfound Freedom flowing as the wind beneath Her wings, Sa'phyna, with Her Renewed Purpose, winged Her way over the quiet little town She had chosen. This was Her town, Her Charge. She would remain in this Life & fulfill Her Purpose in this Iteration! No More would She allow the Fear of Attachment to engulf Her; She was Free to pursue the Life & Charge she had given Herself!

The Rain, which had been waiting to fall from the clouds, had begun, almost unnoticed, to cleanse the landscape beneath Her! Sa'phyna experienced a feeling of Joy She had never previously known, though She had felt its vestiges! While the Cleansing Rain cleared the air of the Threatening Clouds, Sa'phyna shared with those below the Freedom that they too could enjoy, if only they freed themselves. 'If you want to be free, be free' were some refreshing words that flowed through Her ancient memory as well. A bit of Sadness remained, though, in Her experience, for Sa'phyna realized too, that though She & the Rain fulfilled their several Purpose, it was still up to the Individual to set Him or Herself Free! With this feeling of Joy, Sa'phyna continued to wing Her Flight, tirelessly & effortlessly, over Her Charge, knowing that all would be Well!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, April 10, 2020

Spirits of the Earth?

First of all, what do we mean by 'spirit'? Depending on the context, of course, it can be used in several different ways. One might use it in the sense of  'the spirit of a thing', often referring to the motivation of a person or group engaged in a certain activity. Then again, coming from a Christian perspective, it is used to refer to the third 'person' of the Trinity ('God-head' ). The Christian 'God' is 'Himself' a spirit/Spirit, according to the Bible. What one calls 'spirit', another may simply refer to as 'Energy'. 'What is the difference?', one might well ask. According to certain mages, 'everything is made up of Energy'. Then again, there are those that attach an individuality, or persona, to this Energy, calling them 'spirits', for good or evil. This is not to say that, as a Collective, 'made up of Energy', we, as human beings, don't wear masks, for we do; we each wear our individuality like a garment. All human beings ( animals too ) have their own unique ( individual ) personality, or spirit. This is how we operate in this biological world!

Most popularly attributed to Albert Einstein, the phrase, 'Everything is Energy', though it sounds fairly simple & straight-forward, is really a complex statement. 'If everything is energetic in its makeup, does that by extension mean that everything has an individual spirit?' Of course, such a question is based on the presupposition that the two words convey the same meaning. 'If 'Energy' is what motivates everything, why doesn't everyone have the same amount, or even the same sort of Energy? For that matter, why do some people have a different 'spirit' than others? At the heart of the matter, whether one refers to their 'God' as Spirit, or universally applies the term 'Energy', it should go without saying that Whatever/Whoever is 'behind the curtain', so to speak, 'It' is what motivates every individual, indeed, everything that grows!

It almost goes without saying, though it may have become lost in the translation, that Paganism, at its roots anyway, predates Christianity & both the other major world religions ( Islam & Judaism ) by thousands of years. Often equated with the term 'heathen', the term 'Pagan' is derived from the Latin 'paganus' & simply means 'country-dweller'. Pagan, as a religious descriptor, simply means, in the understanding of this blogger, that the practitioner follows the Old Ways, that is to say, the rituals of the pre-Christian world. Of course, we should take into account as well, that even after the 'birth' of Christianity, there were many who still practiced, in secret mostly, the 'rituals' they had been accustomed to for 'ages'. One the other hand, there are those as well who have rightly noted how many of those 'Pagan' practices, including rituals & symbolism, were integrated into, even at the heart of what became known as 'Christianity'!

Christianity, of course, is typically based on the life & teaching of Jesus, who was 'the Christ', or 'The Anointed One'', the Messiah of the Jews. Though again, much has been lost in the translation, Christianity has become almost synonymous with religious dogma that, unless you fully subscribe to, you cannot enter 'the Kingdom of Heaven'. In fact of the matter, unless you believe, if only in word, everything taught by this religion, you will almost certainly end up on the wrong side of Eternity! On the other hand, most who call themselves 'Pagan' have no such dogma. For the most part, they believe, as it should be, in 'live & let live', in essence, 'an ye harm none, do what ye will'. Even Christian teaching, aside from dogma, says not much if anything different.  Paganism, put simply, teaches that all life is sacred!

Unfortunately, Christianity, as a religion ( institutional or not ) has become more focused on believing this or that dogma ( this goes for the other major world religions as well ), while Paganism, in its 'umbrella' of religious purviews, is focused more on doing, whether it be as simple as picking up trash along the side of the road, or in living a life, as far as possible, in perfect union & communion with all of nature. This is not to say that belief is necessarily a bad thing ( 'we gotta start somewhere, right?' ), for, depending on what one truly believes; their beliefs will manifest in action. If, for instance, one truly believes 'an ye harm none...........................' , that one will live by those words, that belief. However, if one believes certain dogma & henceforth acts accordingly.....................

Paganism, as an 'umbrella' religion, is basically an earth-based ( rather than 'Heaven'-based ) way of Life. The notion that the earth, besides being sacred in & of Herself, holds all that is necessary for the continuation of Life is prevalent! The Wiccan Rede, as iterated earlier, 'an ye harm none, do what ye will' is a good representative statement for this religion! For the most part, if not in whole, Pagans are not taught to be judgemental of other religions! Sad to say, but of what other major world religion can we say this? Of course, whether because of conditioning or some other environmental factor, some people, no matter their chosen ( professed? ) religion, are just plain assholes. Only Perfect Love & Perfect Trust can change that. The Energy that we put into our religion, our daily practice, will return to us, sooner or later, in the same form that we 'sent' it!

Though we all, individually speaking anyway, are motivated by differing energies; at heart, there is but One Energy that moves us. The problem, if 'problem' you would call it, is that most people are so focused on these differing, individual energies, that they forget what motivates us all! Pure Love is what rests at the very center of our being! With the cares & worries of  'the everyday', though, many or most have forgotten this, forgotten who they really are. For the most part, with our forgetfulness, we have seemingly 'zeroed in', in our individuality, on what we THINK matters, totally bypassing what really matters, love for our neighbor. Then again, our 'neighbor' is not just the individual that lives in our 'world'; our 'neighbor' is really US!

'Energy'? 'Spirit'? As we've seen, both of these terms can be applied, in a fairly general way, both individually & Collectively. As a Collective, at the very core of our Being, Energy is in our DNA! 'Spirit', in some sense, can be closely related, although it should be noted that this is, in many ways, more of an individual term. Coming from a Christian background, of course, this blogger is very familiar with the term being applied biblically, as in 'the spirit will return to God who gave it' ( Ecclesiastes 12:7 ), or in reference to 'the Holy Spirit'. Individually speaking, then, we're all more or less familiar with the American Indian's reverence for 'the Great Spirit', with their fondness for 'spirit animals' & such. On the other hand though, 'the other side of the coin', so to speak, while some people obviously manifest different 'energies' than others, 'as above, so below', it is only because they have forgotten who they really are, for the same Energy is at the heart of all Creation!

In conclusion; 'it is, as always, a matter of Choice'! We are, in a biological sense, individuals with differing 'spirits', different 'energies'; there is no escaping that while we remain in this Biology. But this is where Choice comes into play. We can choose whether to manifest from the Universal 'Spirit', or 'Energy' that motivates all Life, or we can choose to manifest our own ( selfish? ) 'spirit', no matter the cost to our 'neighbor' & ultimately, to ourselves! The choice is yours, dear reader, so as always; 'Choose Wisely' & Namaste'!

Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank