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Pagan Thoughts

Thinking about ethics, death and slight politics.

Lately, I’ve been hanging around with a lot of fellow Pagans. Some questions have entered my brain, and I haven’t asked them yet, mostly because I’d like to get them sorted in my head first, so here goes. I’ll start off with me.

I wear and use a lot of natural products and by-products: Leather, wood, paper, things like that. It got me wondering if it was really ethical for me as a Pagan to do so, and then I remembered one of the mantras that Pagans live by: If it is taken from the earth, it should be given back to the earth. There’s also the mantra that nothing should be wasted.

Given both those thoughts, it seems perfectly fine for me, to me, to use such products. When I wear my leather jackets, belts and fur-felt hats, I’m honouring the animal that died for it. Yes, I’ve been known in the past to thank the animal, or animals, for allowing me to use their skins. Granted, I wasn’t the one who caught and killed the animal, but I still thank them for it. Likewise, when I shave, I thank the badger whose fur went into making my shaving brush. If you use an animal product, pay it the proper respect by using it. That way it hasn’t died in vain.

I recycle as much as I can. If it says on the packaging that it can be recycled, that’s exactly what I do. We need to take care of this earth because it has allowed us to live on it.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about lately, if you haven’t noticed from my recent poems, is death. This is in no way, me complaining, but I’ve noticed that there aren’t really many ways for us Pagans to honour our dead. We can hold our private ceremonies and stuff, and in some places in the world, bury our dead where we want, as long as we seek official permission. The thing that has been bugging me, though, is that official cemeteries tend to be rather Christian in nature. As I said, I’m not complaining... Well, I am a little, but we’ll get to that soon.

I wanted to rattle a little about the means by which we honour our dead. As I’ve mentioned, we have our rituals, calling upon the various gods to take the person to the other side, give them safe passage and stuff, because we really don’t want them being stuck somewhere in between. From what I’ve heard, that can be pretty painful, emotionally, for a spirit to be stuck, if all they want is to be with their loved ones in the afterlife. It’s where poltergeists come from, I believe.

So, now on to the way we... There’s no delicate way of putting it, but... Dispose of the bodies of the dead. It sounds so horrible and naked, but that’s essentially what burial or cremation is. It is, indeed, a ritual to honour the dead and bring them to peace, too. What I’ve been thinking about is burial versus cremation. It’s like a deathmatch has been going on in my head. Yes, that was a joke, though at the same time, I’m dead serious. Humour is my way of coping with death, by the way. I tell someone that someone has died and I smile. It looks horrible, but I can’t help it.

I’m getting off topic here, so back on to burial versus cremation. You’ll recall that I said that Pagans believe that things should be returned to the earth. This includes dead folk. I’ve always liked the thought of being buried, but lately, I’ve come around to the idea of being cremated. It seems more Pagan than burial.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, Paganism is all about the earth. The earth is comprised of many elements, but the main four are earth, water, fire and air/wind. Burial only sees to earth and air. The air part is when the coffin is flying in mid-air whilst being lowered into the earth. Burial also nourishes the earth, so you’re definitely returning to the earth in a more literal way than with cremation. It allows one to give life, and a place for loved ones to focus their remembrance tributes.

Cremation seems much more Pagan, though. It takes care of earth, fire, water and air. Fire is the burning of the body. Air is the scattering of ashes. Water, again, the scattering of ashes, assuming you scatter them in or around water. Earth is the ashes sinking into the water and falling to the bottom, penetrating the earth underneath. I still don’t really like the thought of being burned, but it does seem like a way to honour the earth.

Now for the complaining part. A lot of religious groups have their cemeteries, but Pagans don’t seem to. They exist, I have no doubt, but they’re few and far between. The only one I can think of is, strangely, in The Vatican. Yeah, hotbed of Catholics, and they have a Pagan cemetery. Weird.

Pagans are adaptive (not the word I was looking for, but it’ll do) wee buggers. We make do with what we have and don’t complain much. I think most of us take the high ground, actually, because of all the Salem witch trials and other persecution through the years. It’s like we’re saying ‘yeah, I hear ya, but yer not getting through to me’. I was called a sinner because I said I didn’t believe in the Christian God. Okay, so I’m a sinner in your eyes, that’s cool, call me that, but I’m not going to your Hell. You are, though, for judging me because your book says ‘judge not, lest ye be judged yourself’. My teachings just say ‘an if it harms none, do as ye will’. That’s not me bashing Christians, most of them are pretty good people, if a little harsh with their judgements, but I’ve nothing against them.

Anyway, I think this has helped me get rid of some of the thoughts, get them ordered, so that’s a plus. I have my Pagan moot tomorrow (Thursday 23rd March 2015), and I’m really looking forward to it.

On Monday, I went to a demo. There’s a shop called Ladywell, in Glasgow, and the council are trying to shut them down. Some people say it’s because of what they are (crystals and healing), but we’ll never really know why.

The excuse is that the building is crumbling, and that it is the shop owner’s fault. It is true that the building is crumbling, but it isn’t the owner’s fault. The building belongs to the council, so they’re responsible for upkeep. The shop can’t do anything without permission from the council, and they’ve tried to do their best with it, but they just can’t. Relocating isn’t an option because it would cost too much.

For five years, they’ve been fighting to stay open. They’ve had an independent surveyor come in and they’ve said that the building is in a bad state of repair, but that it isn’t the shop owner’s fault. It’s old, obviously it isn’t going to be in a very good state! For two and a half hours, I, and a bunch of others, about thirty of us in total, hung around outside the City Chambers, so we could hand in a petition of 5000 signatures, but they wouldn’t see us. They looked down their noses at us and gave us filthy looks. We won’t back down, though.

It’s all just bureaucracy and money to the council. Anyway, before this turns into a political rant, I think I’d better end this lot of thoughts.

Andrew =^.^=
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