Dangerous Baggage

Nullius addictus jurare in verba magistri

The Night Of The Ivy Moon

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The scene is one that takes little effort to imagine. An empty grassland in the dead of night lit brightly by the beautiful glowing moon beaming down, reflections shimmering on the nearby lake. Stillness tempered by a feeling of nervous anticipation as you walk through this unnerving landscape. Your eyes are wandering over the horizon while also straining to see round the next corner attempting to feel out the unknown landscape that you’re navigating.

Then in the distance a fire, that unmistakable dance of the flames shines out amongst the moonlit field, silhouetted by the occasional figure. As you approach you see other figures close by. Some moving, some as still as the night around them. As you draw closer still you see the the stationary figures remain in place, and their circular formation gives you a feeling of an ancient power or a sacred ground.

As you approach the stone circle with the people moving around the flames an eerie sense of tradition carried down through the millennia overwhelms and something innate within you surfaces. As your deeply rooted tribalism gives rise to a sense of belonging, of warmth and of protection the spiritual notion of something deeply human and animal tells you this will be a beautiful night.

Well, that’s what I both imagined and hoped for anyway as I approached the Pagan gathering beneath the full moon this evening. Alas that was not the feeling that I encountered on my approach, there was no sense of awe or deep belonging, nor a sense of a connected oneness with nature. There was certainly some lovely, warm and welcoming people, and there was a fire albeit gasping for energy and life. As for the rocks, well yes, a 25 year old stone circle.

The Order Of Proceedings
With a meeting like this and in order to keep this post short and pithy I must necessarily be summary, so please excuse my blunt tone.

The opening of the circle involved a spoken prayer to the North, East, South and West, addressing each direction and each of the four elements in turn. The open circle was quite a beautiful thing though not for any reason to do with Pagan ritual nor spiritual enlightenment. There was an introduction by each member of the circle followed by a mutual hug of everyone in the circle, not a traditional start apparently but suggested as a reminder that everyone needs a hug sometimes. A wonderful sentiment.

Thereafter some members stepped forward and told a story or spoke about whatever they felt. This included a story read by one member of the group about the love formed between an Ivy plant and an Oak tree.

Finally the meeting concluded with the sharing of cake and drinking of mead, a delightful idea and one which I could very well get used to. Then, of course, the circle needed to be closed which was simply wishing farewell to the directions and elements in reverse order.

I am sure that this is a much misunderstood faith, one to which there is more than meets the eye and, though it may be one without dogma or specific life rules, one that can help enhance a person’s spirituality nonetheless. The trouble is I have no idea if that’s true, I have no more a clue about Paganism now than in the hours before the meeting or on the walk through the moonlit field on my approach.

To be sure, the people at the meeting were extremely sincere, jovial and loving people, each and every one of them it seems to me was a testament to the diverse breadth of human kindness and solidarity. Though there were serious conversations about magic – actual magic – and people that believed in clairevoyance, reincarnation, reiki and real Gods. I at least don’t doubt on one hand the integrity nor the candor of those present.

The way the meeting progressed and flowed was indeed indicative that there was no pre-defined order of proceedings. It was held by an obviously nervous young lady, who despite being inexperienced in conducting these meetings took up the mantle well. While the meeting lacked structure the overall feeling was one of great positivity. Though I felt nothing of the spiritual nor the transcendent that I was hoping for, I certainly gained subjective, empirical evidence of the kindness of human nature, and in this case I am quite sure that it is not the indoctrination of an organised religion that was bringing out the love in these people.

I do hope that any Pagans reading this are not offended. It may be the case that the best thing I have to say about Paganism after tonight’s brief encounter is that the people are nice, but in fact that really is a great thing and I do hope at least with this religion that they give themselves the credit they deserve as positive and caring human beings.


Written by matthaughton

October 12, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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