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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pagans Celebrate the Equinox, and Pride Week

Merry Mabon to you. What is Mabon you ask? Well that is an appropriate question on this, the Autumnal equinox, a day held sacred by many of the Pagan faiths such as Wicca and Druidism. According to PaganNet News, a Virgina based Pagan/Wiccan newspaper, Mabon the second of the three harvest Sabbats. Mabon is also the Autumn Equinox, that time of the year when night and day are of equal length, from which point the dark begins to dominate the light. The month of September also marks the "Wine Moon," the lunar cycle when grapes are harvested from the arbors, pressed and put away to become wine ... a favored drink of Pagans everywhere. Wine and grapevines were considered sacred by early Pagans as well. Reaching its height of popularity in the eighth century BCE, the following of Dionysus, a God of Resurrection, honored wine and the grapes as symbols of rebirth and transformation. Generally, wine is associated with the God, and the Goddess with bread created from the crops. The full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is known as the "Harvest Moon," since farmers would also harvest their crops during the night with the light of the full moon to aid them. With the waning sun still observed in the sky and crops continuing to be gathered for the coming bleakness of winter, the farmer's life was harried and rough. The struggle to reap the crops and store everything for the oncoming months of cold dominated his daily life. In those days, people lived by the harvest, which was quite literally life itself. Folks were also deeply concerned with the slaughtering of herd animals and gathering of other provisions.
In addition to the crops, there were other items to be prepared as well, for it is not the crops alone that are of such high value, although they feed us through the barren times. It is the ability of the seeds to renew themselves in the coming year that we honor and cherish as well. So, along with the crops, we gather the seeds that hold the promise of new life in the spring. Seeds of all kinds are collected and stored away 'til winter's end. Contained within them is the mystery of Life in Death, the spirit of nature, the "Corn Man" or "Wicker Man" whose sacrifice has provided the harvest.
As we leave summer behind us and begin to look forward to the first stirrings of a coming winter, several things usually come to mind. How cold will it get? Do I have enough warm clothes this year? Do I need to replace that aging furnace now before it's too late? Should I change the oil in my car? Today, our lives can present problems far different from those with which our ancestors struggled. Still, we turn and face the first cool whispers of wind that herald the coming of winter and begin the preparation for the transition to a period of rest - a turning inward to things closer to the hearth.

Also happening in conjunction with Mabon, is Pagan Pride Week. This international celebration of faith includes dinners, get togethers, parades, and in some cities like Washington DC, outside events where the public can come and learn what Paganism is….and more importantly what it is not. Paganism is a header for many nature based faiths such as Wicca and Druidism. Many Pagan religions are a return to the ancient belief structures of our distant ancestors. The Celtic pantheon with its Gods and Goddesses of hunting and nature is an extremely popular one, as is the Greek and Egyptian pantheons. Paganism has nothing to do with the Hollywood portrayal of evil black robed Satanic worshippers (Pagans don’t even believe in Satan, he is a Judeo-Christian entity), or disaffected high school kids all in black, or vampire slayers, or sisterly witches fighting off demons to save the world. Paganism is simply another set of beliefs practiced by millions of people around the world.

Modern Pagans do not fit the preconceived mold that many people would put them in. Most local Pagans, and yes, there are many in the Lynchburg area, are tax-paying, law-abiding citizens. They are parents and grandparents. They are in the ranks of our police officers, our firefighters, our teachers. They are hold professional positions such hospital administration, museum employees, bankers, librarians, beauticians etc. Pagans are…well, every day normal people, going about their every day normal lives.

So why don’t we hear more about them? Well Pagans do not proselytize. They do not believe in a one-size fits all religion. Pagans believe that each person has their own best way to deity and that it is a choice for the individual. Most will, however, be happy to explain their beliefs to you if you ask politely. Pagan religions are growing too, current statistics show that Wicca is doubling its numbers every thirty months and that by 2012, will be the third largest religion in the world. Our government may be helping that a little. Wicca for example is recognized as a viable religion by the United States military. Even as pagans become more numerous, however, many still keep their religion a secret for fear of being discriminated against at their jobs or in their communities. "There is a deep-seated prejudice against those who practice paganism," said Dana Eiler, author of the 2003 book "Pagans and the Law." Still, "on the whole, the legal position for pagans in this country is improving," Eiler said, though such gains take time to trickle down to other areas of culture.

So enjoy the day and, to use a common Pagan greeting/farewell,

Merry Meet, Merry Part, and Merry Meet again.


Many Thanks to Lance at PaganetNews

The Witches Voice


At 8:55 AM, Anonymous D L Ennis said...

Wicca and Druidism is misunderstood by so many. Many still believe it to be evil when in fact it is an observance and love of nature.

Great post, Jeff!


At 8:58 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...


What an interesting post. I myself did not really understand about Paganism and what it means. Thanks for the enlightenment!


At 10:26 AM, Blogger B O B said...

Interesting post Jeff, I know there is a Druid group in Lynchburg, they do street clean up on Thomas Road. The city has posted a sign there giving them recognition for their efforts.

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fabulously written post, Jeff. Thank you so much for posting, and explaining what it is that Pagans do. Perhaps there will less misunderstanding and fear of them in the future.


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