However, for Western Pagans we have just celebrated - in various ways and under various names - the holiday more commonly known as Beltane (BELL-tane). Beltane, although named for a Celtic Fire Festival, has parallels in other cultures. Suffice it to say that Western Paganism has for the most part adopted Germanic and Celtic roots for the holiday: dancing around a Maypole, the selection of a May King and May Queen, bonfires, drinking, partying and fertility. Or at the very least, what fertility represents: life, hope and a better promise for tomorrow. Though to be sure many Pagan couples will have taken the fertility concept literally. :)April showers bring May flowers
As our own Pagan group in Florida gathered together for the festivities, I was reminded that Beltane oft times signalled the end of one season and the beginning of another. For the Celts (Kelts) it was the end of the Dark Half of the Year (e.g. season of lesser sunlight in Northern and Western Europe) and the Light Half of the Year (e.g. season of greater sunlight). In Florida, May 1 signals the beginning of the Wet Season and the end of the Dry. Summer storms will be on their way, the humidity level will rise (if it hasn't already) and Hurricane Season will be preparing to commence shortly. But the greater, underlying theme is: renewal, hope and the promise of a better tomorrow.
When I read about the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster off the Gulf Coast, I grew angry. I grew angry because "fringe environmentalists" have been warning non-stop about the likelihood of an offshore tanker causing heavy damage. The politicians ignored us. They touted safety and advanced technology. Jon Stewart covered this brilliantly on the most recent "The Daily Show."
Beyond Awful: Oil Spillage and Politics
Once again we have dangerously altered our local environments for what? What kind of profit are we talking about here? The U.S. Coast Guard stated it would light the oil on fire. Oh genius. The very much sadder-than-sad lesser of two evils. But why did we have to put ourselves in this predicament anyway? What the hell is all of this about??
As a Pagan Community one of our most fundamental ethics, regardless of Traditions or path, is the value of personal accountability. You, as an individual, are empowered to make choices in your life to help you succeed or fail. Only you can answer to yourself the power of the decisions you have made in your life that have brought you to this very moment. Well, that's all fine and well for individuals. But what about leadership? How does this work?
When it comes to leadership, we as Pagans are not very trustworthy. After all the majority of us left Christianity where we were taught our spiritual leaders were either infallible or highly beyond reproach...or both. Whether Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox both notions are not that far apart if you think about it. Yet, the spiritual leadership within Christianity has failed its moralities and sacred duties time and time again: witch trials, molestations, embezzlement, fraud, sex scandals, etc. Hence, Pagans don't trust leaders that much and for good reason.
We do, however, have in our Community respected Elders and teachers whom have worked hard to earn the respect of the Pagan Community. They have fought for our rights, perhaps written a number of books as well as sacrificed their lives for the betterment of the Community's tomorrow. Often times we as a Community have both praised and criticized our leaders. We have hailed them as oratorical wonders and then slashed their writings to no end. Yet, our Elders and teachers endure...those worthy of respect.
In the American political arena our leaders are chosen by us, the people. We are a Republic after all. Unfortunately the people are out of touch with the leadership, even though we are more than capable of doing so. The American people, more accurately Pagans, are more in touch with upcoming Festivals, the latest book, spell, and Tarot Deck than anything else. Others will be more in touch with sports, Wall Street, the DOW or the latest American Idol special. We depend on a biased and entertainment-focused media to deliver our "fair and balanced news." Rather than checking out and researching what our leaders are up to, we couch potato ourselves and forget what our leaders spoke three months ago. In a short word, we are like Sheeple (a derogatory remark applied to Christians many times in Pagan Circles).
What amazes me, too, is how many books out there are on magick and yet so little of it is being performed. 90% of the books on magick available read like some New Age self-help book than anything else. Magick is, by any other definition, the Science and Art of Getting Results. This goes back to our value of personal accountability. When you perform a magickal act, you are in effect working to obtain a result that will impact your life and ripple to the lives around you. Our leaders are in powerful, magickal positions of authority. They are getting results. Are the results the results that YOU want? Are you satisifed with the mistakes, lies and selfish attitudes of our political leaders? Are you willing to watch the Religious Right and materialistic mongers steer this country towards a road that harmfully affects our environment and destroys the Land, Sea and Sky??
It's Beltane season people. Beltane reminds me that the Cycles of Life continue. It is about life, hope, renewal and the promise of a better tomorrow. The Land, Sea and Sky will continue to provide us life, health and vitality. But can we afford to make so many mistakes to our detriment? So light the balefires, dance the dance and celebrate...because, whether we know it or not, the Earth Mother has given us another opportunity as her kids to still wake up and live. I encourage our Community to take action and continue to pound on the doors of our leaders and demand them to pay attention. Hell, they're getting paid to be there! Might as well have them work for YOUR cause, before the next man-made disaster happens and destroys your home, your state and your life.