Samhain is a time to let go of the things that no longer serve us. It’s a moment when we look back on the year, perhaps even the over-arching patterns of our lives, and we reevaluate. We ask ourselves what needs to be burned in the fire in order for us to move forward with a clean conscience and a clear mind. Then, often quite literally, we write that thing down on a slip of paper and we set it ablaze. This year at Samhain I’m coming to terms with the realization that Paganism, itself, does not serve me in the way that I thought it did.
It begins like this. You arrive. You sit down in front of this stranger, and you smile. You ask them how their drive was, and whether traffic was bad. You’re likely to talk about which freeway is crammed, which route they took.
When the Sacred Harvest Festival was finished, the first thing I noticed while wandering through the airport was how strange it was that nobody was in a sarong. Or naked. Or drumming. It was a shock to my system, all these pants and suits. Pagan culture is sensory, and visceral, and delightfully messy.
When I met Cher, I was surprised at the narrowness of her face. It’s a strange observation to make, I suppose. She was tall, with a very small frame. Clearly there was something dynamic about her, but it’s difficult to discern whether or not I was observing an echo of observations I’d made about the Cher I’d seen on television, in videos, or in movies. Standing before someone who for all of my life has been a celebrity icon, I couldn’t help but notice the trace of something completely unlike what had been displayed in media; something quite ordinary. For a brief moment, peering out at me from beneath the vivacious wig and extravagant outfit, was a simple, 67 year old woman.
You Are What You Believe
You Are What You Do.
We fall somewhere on the spectrum between these two statements.
We are either driven by our beliefs, or we allow our beliefs to be informed by our practices. In this regard, there is a distinction to be made. Many Pagans have a spiritual practice that starts from the ground up (quite literally).