On a (primarily) cross stitch related message board that I frequent, there is a handful of Pagans and we started a Daily Pagan thread. It’s marked as OT (Off Topic) and as REL(igious) in nature. All are welcome to come and read and ask questions, etc, but they need to expect that some things will be from a Pagan perspective. (Mostly we just talk about our day to day lives.)
One of our many lurkers posted that Summer Solstice always seemed to come too soon and then we begin to lose daylight. That got me started thinking…
One of my favorite things about Paganism is the Wheel of the Year, and the lessons that it teaches. Pagans know that just as the light doesn’t last forever, neither does the darkness.
And that led to the realization that the balance between dark and light is achieved not on the points of equality, but in the flow from one to another.
May we all find balance as the wheel turns.
I was beginning to think it would never come.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the changing of the seasons, and I think that winter has a special beauty that you don’t see in other seasons, but this one’s “special beauty” passed its prime long ago. We had over 20 inches of snow more than normal, and long streaks of abnormally cold (sub-zero) temperatures, unusual for Western Pennsylvania.
I am ready for spring.
Well, okay – spring started at Imbolc, according to the way that I see the Wheel, but it sure hasn’t been looking much like it around here.
We could still get some snow, even up into April isn’t unusual, but now the hours of daylight are going to outlast the hours of darkness. The earth is awakening and soon there will be flowers. And green!
But on the equinox itself, for a moment, day and night, lightness and darkness, will be equal, will hover briefly in balance.
That is, in part, what the equinox is about: balance, about finding it within ourselves so that we can live in and celebrate each moment, even as we remember and acknowledge that the wheel continues to turn, and that the only constant is change.
Meh… Enough with the philosophical stuff.
My plans are to maybe go out to the state park and walk along one of the trails, looking for signs of spring. (Depends on the weather and my knee.)
I’m also planning to cook ham and make deviled eggs. (Any excuse for deviled eggs!)
And I will spend some time meditating on balance, as I always do on equinoxes.
And this year I am feeling called to be more active, although I am not yet sure in what way.
Last Thursday I read a blog post about “Fluffy Bunny” Pagans, asserting that it was a derogatory term now used for people who preferred to focus on love and light. (The author of the blog states that it originally was used to refer to someone who read one book on Wicca and called themselves a witch. I had never heard that definition, but I do see how it could fit.)
Anyhow, that’s not the issue here. The issue is what it means today, or, more importantly, a different take on it.
See, to me, “fluffy bunny” doesn’t so much refer to someone who focuses on the “love and light” part, but who refuses to acknowledge the darker side.
Yes, the Rede states to “Harm None.” But the Rede also qualifies that with “Lest in thine own defense it be.” (And, then, of course, there is the fact that not all Pagans or Witches are Wiccan, and therefore do not adhere to the Rede.)
So, Rede aside, let’s look at the love and light thing…
Is it balanced to just embrace the light? To only acknowledge it and not the darkness? And is it true to the spiritual roots of Paganism?
My answer is “no.”
Take a look at mythology. Our sacred stories are not all about love and light. Our gods and goddesses have dark sides.
And read The Bible. It’s not all love and light, either – there are some terrifying stories of wrath and vengeance in it. And then look at the Christians – they choose to focus on the love and light. And where does that get them? It gets them afraid of the dark, afraid of their own darker impulses and desires, and that fear led to the creation of Satan, a personification of evil.
(“If evil is, then it lies in the hearts of man.” From “Green and Grey” by Damh the Bard.)
This concept is also reflected in The Devil card in Tarot – being bound by your “lower” nature, letting it pull the strings while you dance to its tune, unaware of the control it has over you.
So, our myths and the Christian ones both have their share of darkness. What, then, is the difference?
To me, it’s that we embrace the darkness and the power it gives. If we stop fighting our lower nature we can use it to empower ourselves and our creativity – use it, not be used by it.
Also, Pagans realize – or should realize – that out of destruction comes creation and new life. Birth, life, death, rebirth… The cycle continues and the darkness overtakes the light which overtakes the darkness which overtakes…
I am Pagan. And I am not afraid of the dark.
The fall equinox is this weekend, the second of the three harvest festivals of the Wheel of the Year. It is a time to look at what we have harvested in our lives, to give thanks for abundance, to celebrate the fruits of our labors.
But it’s more than just a harvest festival: it is also the equinox, a time when day and night are equal. To me it almost feels as if the Wheel pauses for a moment, giving us a chance to catch our breath before rolling us into the dark part of the year.
The equinoxes always lead me to think about balance, and how to achieve it in my daily life.
It isn’t easy. I always seem to be juggling too many things: work (or the search for it, currently), my spiritual life, home and housework, my creativity (writing and counted cross stitch). Inevitably it seems that one or more of these ends up taking a back seat to the others.
Lately I have been able to devote more attention to my spirituality, thanks in part to this blog: posting every week does wonders for focusing on a subject.
And not working helps: it’s a lot easier to focus on spiritual matters when the mundane isn’t dragging you here and there and everywhere in a mad rush to get somewhere. (My challenge is to maintain that focus when I go back to work.)
There is also the ever-present challenge of my creative pursuits, primarily writing and counted cross stitch. I need to learn to type with my toes so I can do both at once, but since that isn’t likely to happen, I would ideally love to find a way to feel like I am making progress on both crafts. (We won’t discuss the other crafts that I also never seem to have enough time for: scrapbooking, dollhouses/miniatures, jewelry making, etc.)
And, of course, the guilt that there are so many other things that need to be done, that I should be doing instead…
I could, I suppose, make a schedule of sorts, but that feels too regimented and forced and compartmentalized. And not balanced.
For me, true balance means that all aspects of my life are united, that I’m not feeling pulled in different directions, guilted into doing this or that or the other.
But I’m not even sure if true balance is obtainable. After all, the Wheel only pauses: it doesn’t remain poised on border between light and dark, and that’s not the lesson that it teaches.
No, the lesson of the Wheel is that there is always movement – but we always return to balance.