Archives For Jesus

A very Pagan Christmas

Terence P Ward —  December 24, 2017 — Leave a comment

TWH –There is now an annual tradition of pointing out Pagan elements in Christmas traditions on the internet. Depending on who’s doing the posting, the tone is either accusatory (look at all those terrible Pagan elements in Christmas!) or jubilant (see, I told you Christmas was Pagan first!). In one group in particular, those online arguments are met with bemusement: Christian Pagans.

Perhaps only Jews for Jesus generates more confusion than Christian Pagans. To many Christians, the idea flies in the face of the belief that Jesus is the only god. A common Pagan attitude toward the idea is that honoring the Christ is some kind of betrayal. Christian Pagans don’t see it that way, however. One of their number, Hesta Pheonix, answered an open invitation to be interviewed on the occasion of Christmas. She was eager to participate, and offered an overview of her thoughts on Christmas before she was asked a single question.

[Darwinek, Wikimedia Commons]

Pheonix considers modern Christmas to be far too commercialized. “People of the 21st century have lost themselves in the ego-fulfilling trap of commercialism,” she wrote via email. “Christmas has become more of about, ‘I bought the best gift for you and my Christmas presents outshine yours,’ or, “Look how many Christmas presents I gave you. That proves how much I love you!’

“The human race has gotten away from the true meaning of the solstice celebration and giving thanks for the life-giving light returning to our world! If only everyone focused on the basic beliefs and similarities of beliefs we would find unity and peace. Not the division and hate stirred in the world today.”

Phoeonix says, “Simply put, Christians celebrate a birth that brings light to the world. Pagans celebrate the return of light to the world. And both are celebrated at the time the earth transitions from short days and long night[s] when nature in sleeping. Back to a time when the world comes alive and produces life-sustaining food!”

The Wild Hunt: How do you celebrate this return of light, and on what date(s)?

Hesta Pheonix: Yule {Dec. 21) to Christmas (Dec. 25), Christmas lights are left on all night. This is also the time for caroling and volunteering in the community to give back and spread joy. Every year my children and I choose a place to volunteer. We are not a financially wealthy family but we “adopt” a less fortunate family with young childern [with] whom we share the spirit of Santa.

TWH: Santa is a controversial figure in the purely Christian world. How do you see him? Is he a saint, a spirit, a god, something else again?

HP: I believe once upon a time there was a kindly old couple who loved childern but were never blessed with any of their own. This couple enjoyed making toys for village children and giving them out at the celebration on the longest night of the year. When this couple crossed over, the parents missed the joy brought to their children and began celebrating the spirit of giving and kept the couple’s memory alive by talking about them over the years. . . . today we have this image, in many countries, of a jolly, white bearded man sharing gifts as part of the winter solstice celebration.

Odin, one possible progenitor of Santa Claus [Wikimedia Commons].

TWH: As a Christian and a Pagan, do you incorporate the worship of any gods into your celebrations of Christmas and the solstice, including Jesus?

HP: My chosen pantheon is Christian: the Christian god [Yahweh], Jesus, and Mary Magdalene (Jesus’ wife) as my god & goddess. I honor my chosen pantheon as any Wiccan does, and when I call quarters I call on the archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.

TWH: Are celebrations such as a midnight mass part of your practice, or do you avoid formal Christian ritual?

HP: I don’t personally do midnight rituals, but if I have a friend that invites me to an event (i.e. Catholic midnight mass, a Protestant candlelight service or church play, or maybe a Pagan festival) I am respectful and go!

TWH: Every year there’s a lot of “keep Christ in Christmas” and “these Christmas symbols are Pagan” debates that go around on social media. What would you say to the folks having those debates?

HP: I believe before keeping Christ in Christmas, Christ should be kept in Christians! Too many people are what is referred to as Sunday Christians. These people can be seen at church every time the doors open and often hold positions in the church but the only time they act Christ-like is in church!

In my 52 years I seen a lot of infidelity, illegal activity, judgement, and gossip come from the high-profile Christian. Today’s Christian seems to forget that Jesus ministered to the people not allowed in temple. By today’s standards he was homeless, a maverick by political standards and what we refer to in today’s society as working magic; in the Bible [it] is referred to as working miracles. Yes, I am saying that Jesus performed magic.

There are posts on Facebook asking why there are mega-churches when so many people are homeless; I ask the same question. It seems like the greed that began with the church” (the organization) has not dissipated over time, but has created another division in society.

As for the symbols being Christian or Pagan my response to that argument is there is nothing new in the world, everything has evolved through time, so why argue over which came first, the chicken or the egg.

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To our readers who include Jesus in their practice, those who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, and those who find entirely different ways to honor the return of light to the world, may you find some joy in this sea