I spent yesterday at a Golden Harvest Pagan event up in Wisconsin helping to prepare elderberry syrup and vapor salts for the upcoming winter. They had an initiated Oshun priestess of the Lukumi religion speaking of her spiritual tradition.
African American Hoodoo – my husband said to be careful, and another friend said that made her a bit nervous.
Words are powerful, aren’t they? But it’s up to us to hold them and examine them and then make a decision.
Voodoo/Hoodoo is a combination of original tribal religion merged with forced Christianity: a way to ‘convert’ while still honoring the spiritual followings of their culture. There has been bad and evil done in the name of every religion on Earth; isn’t it time we started looking at the person rather than the label?
The speaker was warm and funny and brought us in to these spiritual and cultural traditions that obviously brought much to her and her loved ones. I wish I could have paid more attention, but I was keeping one eye on my lively seven year old.
She was off playing hopscotch with the other children at the event. Not just any hopscotch, but an elaborate whimsical multi-tiered and layered, descending boxed, winding, dancing, spiral game of hopscotch that spanned the entire building and then turned and continued until the pavement ended.
Whew, makes me tired just writing that. I wish I had just one-tenth of her energy. Drake Spaeth, one of the founders of this group, commented at the end of the event how much he liked her sprite energy.
The comment brought me back to a time in my life over a decade ago when I had a long weekend at the Biltmore Hotel in Arizona. It was a time when I realized just how much of my life I had been spending protecting, contracting and focusing purely on survival.*
The Sprite statues that are scattered amidst the incredible gardens at the luxurious Biltmore hotel in Phoenix are Frank Llyod’s creations originally created for the Midway Gardens in Chicago in 1914. It was not yet their time, and so they took a long, winding journey, first surviving the destruction of the Gardens in the 20’s, luckily escaping to a farmer’s field in Wisconsin and then finally ending up at the Biltmore Hotel.
I remember that weekend spending a lot of time just sitting and thinking as I began my baby steps or maybe just my decision to begin a life of expansion and creation. I remember impulsively dancing in the sprinklers in the middle of the night.
I remember choosing to be open to life instead of closed.
Drake makes a lot of references to fairy and fey; he will be randomly talking about something and a reference to this Celtic underworld will pop up here and there. I love that. He and his wife Angie Buchanan went out of their way to make sure my daughter and I felt welcomed. Both events I’ve been to, I see how hard they work to give something to the people that attend. This sense of community, this tribe is oh so important in life.
Open your mind and check out an event like this. Maybe you can find one on the Divine Feminine App**.
Another member of their group wrote a post on atheism: in it, he said:
“I am NOT an atheist because I choose not to be one. The world of atheism is cold and dead and BORING. I don’t want to live there, so I don’t. It pleases me to live in a world where a hundred year old oak can have a spirit, where a rock on a hilltop can have a memory, where that noise in the treetops just MIGHT– not IS, just MIGHT– be fairies. I live in that world because I choose to live there.”
Yes, choose it. … choose it.
From Angie Buchanan:
“Drake and I, as well as others in the Earth Traditions community are very conscious of the importance of the interfaith movement as it promotes a just, peaceful and sustainable world. We are very involved with it. Dispelling myths about Paganism has been our work within the forums such as you attended today. We assist other religious that may also struggle with preconceived misunderstandings about their own practices in having a place in our community to speak so as to keep us (Pagans) from falling into those same traps.
We are also deeply committed to including our children while still maintaining a balance to insure that the adults receive some spiritual nourishment too.”
- Yes, that I could afford a weekend at the Biltmore, I consider myself lucky. But money does not mean you are thriving not merely surviving in life, does it?
- **And yes, this is a Co-Ed event that was listed on the Divine Feminine App. I sat many years in a Divinely Male church where mostly a masculine view was given while Mother Mary sat silently on the sideline. The Divine Feminine is a concept of balance. It’s about bringing our feminine ways of nurturing, cooperation, communication and protection for the Earth. It is not meant to exclude anyone; quite the opposite, its intent is to bring us all together.
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I find your remarks about achieving a deeper understand of voodoo traditions and looking beyond the label and to the person interesting, especially when you speak of atheism and choosing belief in divine over non-belief and choosing to live in world inhabited by possibilities that seem to not be afforded in atheism.
Atheism need not be the cold, dead, and boring look at the world around us. For example, secular humanists – who can be atheists – put their faith in humanity and human connections. They believe in the power of interconnectedness through arts, science, in questioning, in ethics, and in human endeavors. There is nothing boring about secular humanism, nor atheism as a whole: plant spirits can be scientifically possible as plants can communicate and exchange nutrients with each other using fungi.
Another explanation: I am quite aware of the network of electrical parts and interplay of electricity of the device beneath my fingers, yet, holding my laptop, this device has the ability to connect me to my family, to far-away friends, to like-minded people, to write this letter. That our rise of human achievement has managed – in the span of 100 years – to go from writing letters to texting, email, and speaking with our loved-ones in realtime a continent away is still awe-inspiring.
A quote from Wenton Marsalis: “I noticed that religion gave some people a way to escape dealing with the world: ‘Things will be better when you die’ the people of my grandma’s generation said as they worked themselves to death. ‘God wants you to forgive and love those who do you wrong,’ some people said to shake off the shame of being unable to respond to the abuse they endured. The holier-than-thou faction found comfort in believing, ‘The rest of y’all are lost because you don’t have a personal relationship with God—our God.’
But art engages you in the world, not just the world around you but the big world, and not just the big world of Tokyo and Sydney and Johannesburg, but the bigger world of ideas and concepts and feelings of history and humanity.”
As you have stated, “there has been bad and evil done in the name of every religion on Earth; isn’t it time we started looking at the person rather than the label?” Yes – there has also been bad and evil done in the name of NON-religion as well. Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, etc. So please do not lump atheists into the whole of those living cold and boring lives.
Finally, I wish to say that I am not an atheist myself: I have been a pagan since 1998, I believe that it isn’t so much what you are but how you are, and the best manifest of belief is showing your principles in action – whether your belief is in the divine or the secular workings of fellow humans.
Touche! Good point, perhaps Atheism is influenced by the same misinformation as Paganism, Voodoo/Hoodoo …