Monday, 22 August 2016

Pagan Pride?

In a Pagan online group someone asked about the [American] 'Pagan Pride' and whether we feel this is of relevance for UK Pagans. Funnily enough, I only recently talked about this with my hubby.
So here's my "twist" and what I replied: I -am- actually rather proud to be Heathen - to follow the native pagan Sitte of my cultural heritage and family ancestors. And while I do not "parade" it, (sorry, couldn't resist the pun!), I am neither shy nor secretive about following the Alte Sitte and my family being a Heathen family.
As a side-note and interestingly - for me anyway - I do not feel the same 'pride' towards being [Hindu] Shakta (i.e. non-dual Goddess devotee, which is a loose if somewhat in-accurate English label) ... which is strange as this aspect of me is -absolutely- paramount in terms of spirituality / world-view / way of life for me ... I simply wouldn't say I am 'proud' about it; (words like 'content', 'fulfilled', 'happy' fit better). But then again, I'm not a -cultural- [observing] Hindu.
It's a strange thing about 'pride' thinking about it: for me, I feel pride to belong to certain social groups that either I am happy to belong to or that I deeply identify with or which I simply deem to be great in some way. For example, I am deeply proud of my family; my Heathen Kindred; at [most] times I am proud of my native country (Germany) or my adopted home-country (England/Britain); etc.
Then there's pride about personal and collective achievements - and achievements by individual members of the 'pride-group'.

As to parades (of any kind really) - I just find them weird! Even watching them makes me cringe and feel uncomfortable. (Having said that, I don't need to like them to acknowledge that other people might like and need them and it's no skin of my back when they do and do hold them.)

However, living in a country which is in part governed by the Church of England (House of Lords!) with the head of state being the head of the state church, and a Christian bias and privileges in schools and everywhere really, we will have to continue to show flag if we want to retain and build on social acceptance to having freedom to openly live as pagan.

I just don't think Pride Parades are the way - at least not the best or only way.

Another issue I have with 'Pagan Pride' parades, is that they give the impression [to outsiders] that 'Paganism' is a thing – even a unified thing … Which it simply isn't. Not meaning any offence, I do not feel represented by Wiccans, or Druids, or Eclectics, or whatever. Heck, I don't even feel represented by any given Heathen (or Shakta for that matter) group or organisation.

Even the lines for who's in or out in the LGBT – and even Black – community are blurred!

People can rarely be labelled and put into neat boxes – which in my book is a good thing! I strongly support diversity!

So bottom line for me is that in our society/world we need to continue to fight for personal liberty, so that anybody and everybody is treated with the respect which should be accorded -purely- on the basis of being a [human] living being. I don't want to be respected for sexual orientation, religion, skin-colour what have you – that is a personal thing which should be -kept out(!)- of politics.

I believe we need a change of paradigm: it's not the 'attributes' that need supporting – like being pagan, gay, black etc. - it's people who need supporting in being accepted and respected -regardless- of personal individual attributes.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Gayatri Mantra - The Hymn to Mahadevi Vak

By my advaita Shaktam teacher C. D. Johnson - shared with kind permission:
The Gayatri Mantra is one of the most important parts of the Rig Veda. It is believed to be essential in imparting knowledge to devotees. It is also depicted as being in the form of Devi who is the source of all Knowledge, all Wealth, all Life, and all Power.
As Vak Devi explains about the Goddess in the Rig Veda...
ॐ अहं रुद्रेभिर्वसुभिश्चराम्यहमादित्यैरुत विश्वदेवै:।
अहं मित्रावरुणोभा बिभ‌र्म्यहमिन्द्राग्नी अहमश्रि्वनोभा॥१॥
Om ! I move along with the Rudras, Vasus, Adithas and all other Devas. I bear the Mithra, Varuna, Indra, Agni and the two Ashwini Devas.
अहं सोममाहनसं बिभ‌र्म्यहं त्वष्टारमुत पूषणं भगम्।
अहं दधामि द्रविणं हविष्मते सुप्राव्ये यजमानाय सुन्वते॥२॥
I bear the Soman who is the destroyer of enemies and the Twashta, Bushan and Bagan. I give wealth to the performer of the Yajna or Sacrifice who submits sacrificial things in the Yajna, who pours the Soma rasa, and who makes the Devas receive the Havis or their due of the Sacrifice.
अहं राष्ट्री संगमनी वसूनां चिकितुषी प्रथमा यज्ञियानाम्।
तां मा देवा व्यदधु: पुरुत्रा भूरिस्थात्रां भूय्र्यावेशयन्तीम्॥३॥
I am the Queen of the Universe; I give wealth to those who worship me. I am the all-knowing one and the prime one among the worshippable deities. I enter many bodies as the Atma, taking various forms and with different manifestations, in various ways. Hence, the Devas have incorporated me in various places.
मया सो अन्नमत्ति यो विपश्यति य: प्राणिति य ई श्रृणोत्युक्त म्।
अमन्तवो मां त उप क्षियन्ति श्रुधि श्रुत श्रद्धिवं ते वदामि॥४॥
That one who eats food, who sees, breathes, and hears whatever is said, he does all that only through me (my powers). Those who do not understand me, die. O dear one ! (to the worshipper or devotee), hear this singing of mine with concentration.
अहमेव स्वयमिदं वदामि जुष्टं देवेभिरुत मानुषेभि:।
यं कामये तं तमुग्रं कृणोमि तं ब्रह्माणं तमृषिं तं सुमेधाम्॥५॥
"All these are me (and various manifestations of mine). I am the one worshipped by the Devas and the earthly beings. If I like someone (for his meditation towards me), I make him the greatest, the most intelligent as a Sage, and as a Self-Realised soul.
अहं रुद्राय धनुरा तनोमि ब्रह्मद्विषे शरवे हन्तवा उ।
अहं जनाय समदं कृणोम्यहंद्यावापृथिवीआविवेश॥६॥
I bend the bow of the Rudra to kill all those enemies who detest all good things. I fight these bad elements / enemies only for the people. I enter, pervade and persist throughout the earth and the sky.
अहं सुवे पितरमस्य मूर्धन्मम योनिरप्स्वन्त: समुद्रे ।
ततो वि तिष्ठे भुवनानु विश्वोतामूं द्यां व‌र्ष्मणोप स्पशमि॥७॥
I created the sky, which is (as a shelter) above the earth and which is fatherly for all beings. My creativity (power) is within the Ocean and waters. By that, I am present in all the worlds. And I touch the sky with my body.
अहमेव वात इव प्रवाम्यारभमाणा भुवनानि विश्वा।
परो दिवा पर एना पृथिव्यैतावती महिना संबभूव॥८॥
When I start creating all the worlds, I function like the air (so fast in the function). I am taller and higher than the Sky. I am greater than this earth. Such is my valor, might, prowess and greatness.

She was called Bright One

Heiði hana héto,
hvars er til húsa kom,
völo velspá,
vitti hon ganda;
seið hon, hvars hon kunni,
seið hon hug leikinn,
æ var hón angan
illrar brúðar.

She was called Bright One
when she came to the settlements (of people)
The well-divining witch
she could cast spells
she did seidr wherever she could
she did seidr with a playful intent
She was always loved by unconventional women.

– Völuspá stanza 22, translation - shared with kind permission - by Maria Kvilhaug