Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

November 1st, 2017

Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times November 2017

Bright Blessings!

Many of you have already had your Sabbat celebrations, but some will wait until the weekend after the 31st of October to do so.

I tend to lean that way, myself, and I will use it to do a second Samhain article this year!

Last month’s article focused on the topic of fear, and this month will focus on the less mundane topics.

On Medicine and Healing

Before I get into the Pagany Sabbat aspect. I would like to say a small word about one of the biggest reason our ancient Pre Christian Pagan ancestors did seasonal celebrations. That was to ask the gods for good health. Sometimes, that meant healing ceremonies, sometimes it meant asking the gods to make the land and livestock produce, and sometimes, it was to give thanks for all of this. We, their ancestors who are resurrecting the Pre-Christian traditions are blessed to live in a day and age of better understanding of medicine, illness, sanitation, and disease. We have access to cures for things like flu, bubonic plague, and infections that would have killed our Pre-Christian Pagan ancestors.

A lot of people in our communities are against Western Medicine, and want to revert to faith healing only. They claim they are great spiritual beings who have transcended the physical, and furthermore, our body has everything it needs to heal, and to survive all on its own. Some claim all illness in in the mind, it is something we can think away, and people who are sick are just failing to cure themselves.

I have never assumed I had the right to decide whether somebody refuses medical care or not, but I do notice oftentimes it is the very same Pagans who claim illness is curable through thinking it away who are also bashing Christians and demanding they go to jail if they let their kids die because shunning medicine is what their religion preaches. I have heard so many Pagans decry the fact that in Old testament times, the sick were considered to have fallen from grace with their YHVH, and are thus stricken ill as punishment. However, I don’t see how it is any different to accuse sick people of being sick due to sin as it is to accuse sick people of being sick because they FAIL to think themselves well.

Some of the people in our communities who are against Western medicine state our ancestors did not use it, so we shouldn’t. I will point out that our ancestors were constantly improving technologies, and changing to modernize. They moved forwards, not backwards.

Some in our communities also point to people going to shamans for healing rituals instead of a pharmacy or MD. I point out that many Pre- Christian Pagan peoples clergy persons often lumped into the category of “shamans”, were also the ones who had the knowledge of medicinal plants, and were not only priests, and priestesses, but also physicians, and pharmacists all in one. These ancient practices in no way shunned medical knowledge in honor of just prayers and rituals for healing. Medicine and healing were considered a sacred gift from the gods, and it made sense ritual and prayers accompanied the mundane uses of physical medicines, and that holy people administered this blessing. Life was sacred, and healing continued life that would have otherwise been ended by illness causing death.

Some in our communities see medicine as sacrilege rather than understanding it to be the gift and blessing it is, and I have no clue what gods they worship, but I sometimes wonder if they are worshipping gods or goddesses that try to pull devotees to them in death.

Again, I do not assume I can criticize other’s beliefs.

Many Pagan gods were gods of healing, and some were in charge of both healing, and hygiene, and bestowed knowledge of medicinal plants to devotees. Today, we have been blessed beyond what our Pre-Christian ancestors were with much more knowledge of these things.

People try to convince me that it is not spiritual to nurture the physical body with physical things, and to only rely on prayer, meditation, and positive affirmations to keep the body healthy.

To me, this shows lack of knowledge of the fact the spiritual self is different than the physical self, and different things are needed to nurture the two.

This brings me to my next topic.

The Magic of Films

We have been blessed, because people are giving us films to review at PaganPages. However, we have been granted access to a film I refuse to review. I cannot, in good conscience advocate for the current film, because I feel it is dangerous, and irresponsible.

This new film is classed as a documentary, which it actually isn’t, and is titled Heal. It’s a sales pitch. I watched 20 minutes of it, and it was like watching a sequel of The Secret, which I also don’t agree with. I know the difference between the actual Law of Correspondence Frazier wrote about, and the twisting of it by people like Rhonda Byrne, author of the Secret, and many others before her. I am fully aware that just wishing for things won’t make them come true. I am also aware of the fact that belief and/or perception does not equal reality. I would not expect somebody who is not an actual practitioner to understand how magic actually works, and understand it’s not about having wishes granted 24/7. I also don’t expect to see people call themselves professionals, and try to convine other people that if they buy a book/movie/class/seminar, they can learn to make every wish come true.

The film Heal states the human body has all it needs to heal itself, and there are testimonials from people stating they were able to overcome things from depression to spinal injuries with zero medical intervention whatsoever. They just told themselves not to have the illness or injury anymore, and their body obeyed and made it go away.

The experts speaking in this film sell books, have classes, seminars, and retreats you can pay to go to. While I’ve not priced all of these services, it is quite possible it all costs the same or more than going to a physician, or psychiatric counselor. One practitioners class was $260 per person to attend, for example, for a two hour class.

I could list the many instances I have from both my career in health care, and as the family member of ill individuals to prove that just because you believe you are not sick does not make it so, but I am sure everybody reading this have seen or heard of the very same things.

It is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous to try and convince people that the human body needs no outside help with illnesses or injuries. It could lead to death.

I will not finish watching this film, and I will not write an official review of it to be shared on other websites. I refuse to engage the filmmakers, and I have given my editor permission to remove my type up of the film if she feels it is best. I do not want to incite a fight with the people I call quack snake oil salesmen, and this publication. I do not assume I can preach belief, and I don’t assume I can convince people of the necessity of proper medical care.

I speak only for myself, and my views are not in any way speaking for anybody else, and I am not the spokesperson for PaganPages.

Moving right along.

Samhain and Healing

One of the major things people did at Samhain time was prayers, and blessings to protect the people and livestock, as well as the food stores for the coming winter. Two blessed fires would be lit, and the people and animals lead between them for purification and blessings to be protected. Nobody wanted to get sick. Nobody wanted to die, and people were fully aware wintertime made risk of illness, death, or starvation more of a possibility.

People were closed into tighter spaces together because the weather dictated people stay indoors more. Things like flu and upper resp hit them plenty hard, and they did not have the antibiotics we have today. The flu could wipe out a significant amount of your people in ONE winter!

If damp got into your food, all of your stored food meant to last the winter could spoil, and everybody could starve to death. Unlike us, they could not just jump in the car and run to the grocery!

Illness and food shortage were major concerns, and people wanted all the help they could get to survive!

They also gave thanks for all they had. It would be disrespectful to just ask for things, and never give thanks for what you have given. Samhain is where Thanksgiving, or the final harvest, and celebration of the bounty comes from. I always say that in America, we have Thanksgiving about a month late!

One of my very favorite activities circling around Fall, Samhain, and thankfulness in general is something somebody suggested to me a long time ago when I was engaging in my very favorite activity of them all- I was complaining. I don’t know WHAT I was complaining about, but I remember distinctly that I was complaining to another complainer. I am not saying I am proud of this, but I admit that large parts of our relationship consisted of us complaining to one another. She told me somebody had told her to list 100 things she is thankful for. She said it really made her stop, focus, and pay attention to those things.

Instead of just writing the list, I am going to suggest doing so at Sabbat, and making a fun activity out of it, too!

Saoirse’s Thankfulness Samhain Activity

This will take communication with attendees before your gathering. Each person should write a thank you card and bring a gift of thanks to their god/ess who they want to thank.

Stand, or sit in a circle like we all did as kids at show-and-tell time, and take turns reading your thank you cards aloud to your deity, and give them their gift at the altar.

During your sharing time, talk about what your deity has done that you are thankful for, and what, specifically you are giving as a gift to show thanks.

The gifts should be things that can either be given away, like money to go to a cause, or something that can be burned, or given to the earth as libation.

Easy ways to do this don’t have to be limited to pouring liquid out, or burning incense!

You can do a lot of different things.

You can…

*…release flour to the wind, thanking a harvest god for food

*…bless seeds you will plant come springtime, in honor of an earth mother like Gaia, or Nerthus,

*…buy a houseplant, or even a tree that you will donate, an apple tree for Idunna, for example,

*…buy flowers in honor of your deity, and decorate the altar at your local public sanctuary with them,

*…pull the petals off of flowers your deity likes, and release the petals outdoors,

*…give food the animals that are sacred to your deity will partake of someplace you leave it, like food for ravens in honor of Set,

*…give an offering of your time to a cause sacred to your deity, like volunteering to do some free tutoring in honor of the Armenian god of schooling, Tir,

*…prepare a dish or drink sacred to your deity for the people at Sabbat to partake of, and of course, fix a plate, or cup for your deity, like wine for Dionysius, for example,

*…donate something sacred to your deity- for example, money to a wolf sanctuary for Odin,

*…promise to give up a habit or engage in a new one in honor of your deity, like cutting impulse spending to save for a new home in honor of Hestia.

This activity is nothing new. I have attended more than one Thanksgiving where each person at the table was asked to share one thing they are thankful for after the prayer of thanks we all partook of. You can further adapt this when it is time for the end of November Thanksgiving feast and give an appropriate gift to your dinner host, and tell them how thankful you are for them!

Blessed Samhain.

Blessed Be!


About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

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