If one fact refutes the idea that modern Paganism in America is merely some sort of 1960s holdover full of pacifists, rebellious teens, and aging baby-boomers (though we have plenty of all three) it is that so many of our number have been, and are, active members of our military services. There are active military (and military family) Pagan groups from Aberdeen, Washington to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. There has been a Military Pagan Network since 1992, and they are joined by Circle Sanctuary’s robust military ministries, and a nascent Pagan Veterans group. So today, Memorial Day, isn’t just a day for those Christian soldiers who marched off to war, but for their Pagan brothers and sisters-in-arms who marched with them. It is a day to not only honor our coreligionists who fell in the line of duty, but to continue to work towards seeing that they are properly respected and honored in death, and given the support they need in life.
We here at The Wild Hunt honor those who gave their lives, and salute those who have served and are serving. May your gods and goddesses watch over and protect you. I leave you now with some thoughts from other Pagans on this day.
“The right for Pagans soldiers and veterans to have the pentacle inscribed on their headstones and memorials was one fought for very hard by Pagan communities throughout the country over the course of several years. Instigated by Veterans’ Affairs refusal to grant the late Sgt. Patrick Stewart a pentacle on his grave marker after he was shot down in Afghanistan, his widow, Roberta Stewart, and Circle Sanctuary’s Lady Liberty League spearheaded an anti-discrimination action against the VA. Pagan communities nationwide joined the fight, and this issue was the formative one that brought together the Upper Midwest Pagan Alliance (UMPA) here in the Twin Cities. UMPA organized a a protest action in in February 2007 in a freezing cold blizzard on the St. Paul Capitol steps at the same time other communities held marches and rallies in support … It has been a bittersweet victory; celebrating a hard-won right also brings with it the acknowledgment of the growing number of Pagan military folks and the sacrifices that they are making in order for this and other rights to be upheld. UMPA is continuing to send care packages of religious reading and supplies as well as maintaining correspondences with Pagan soldiers who are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.” – Murphy Pizza, Minneapolis Pagan Examiner
“I will be going to the Lafayette war memorial on Monday, because people are still killed in war. We will place a pentacle for Sgt. Jason Schumann, enlisted at 17 and dead at 23, father and husband. We shall also recall Sgt. Joseph Ford, a Pagan member of Nova Roma who died in Iraq last May. Memorial Day, for me, is also a day to remember the 100,000 estimated civilians killed in Iraq since 2003, the more than 2,000 dead in Afghanistan just last year, the close to 5,000 US soldiers dead in Iraq and Afghanistan and the 30,000 wounded, and countless others with psychological and emotional distress.” – T. Thorn Coyle, Peacock Dreams
“In September of last year I posted about the Order of the Pentacle, of which I am a very proud member. This Memorial Day I will have the Honor and Privilege of representing the Order in a ritual in remembrance of our fallen soldiers. This Memorial Day, Monday May 25th the Pagan Alliance and the Order of the Pentacle will assemble at the War Memorial near the Lafayette BART station we will remember our Pagan Brothers and Sisters who who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will dedicate a new Pentacle for Sergeant Jason A. Schumann of Hawley, Minnesota. Sgt. Schumann was killed by an Improvised Explosive Devise in Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. I myself have survived several trips through Diwaniyah, and will proudly carry his Pentacle.” – Joseph Merlin Nichter, WitchDoctorJoe’s RattleBone
“My monument to the cost of the recent wars will be adorned with flowers and a paper red poppy tomorrow. And today, I will walk through the beauty of early summer in the Nor’west, thinking of eyes that cannot see it and holding each image in trust for them. Oh, that we would be wiser and more careful of lives that stand in harm’s way at the order of others!” – Labrys, Walk of the Fallen
Blessings to you this Memorial Day.