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Blood in the Spring

March, 2019

The
woman at the door is trying to push a pamphlet into my hand. I deftly
avoid this and politely ask her what it’s about.

‘It’s
your personal invitation to the memorial of Jesus Christ’s death.’

Genuinely,
for a brief moment, I think ‘Gosh, an anti-Christian group!’ Then
I remember Easter, and that it starts with a dead body.

I’ve
always found Easter a bit morbid. Yes, I know the main celebration is
about Jesus coming back to life, but we take a bank holiday to
celebrate a good man being mocked, spat on, tortured and crucified.
Whether you believe in Jesus or not, the story can’t help but make
you wince; the crown of thorns, the cross; dying believing his father
had forsaken him. Grim stuff.

Christians
believe that Jesus died for them, for their sins, but if you read
Matthew 27 Jesus doesn’t sound very happy about dying at all. At
the end he rails against it, and shouts that his God has abandoned
him. Of course, he still goes on to be resurrected, along with
several other holy people who are unnamed by Matthew.

I
think about the story, and wonder if there is a historical equivalent
for Pagans. Certainly for witches like myself, we don’t need to
look too far into the past at all to find persecution. As early as
the 15th century, ‘witches’ were being tortured and executed
(murdered) because of the threat to honest, god-fearing folk. Today,
the equivalent is found in Africa, with people regularly being
murdered in horrific ways for the crime of Black Magic. Compounding
this, there are witch doctors in Africa who believe they need
specific ingredients for their craft, and this has recently led to
the murder of an albino woman, as her body parts were required for
muti, a kind of traditional medicine. On the one hand we have people
who want to burn the witches; on the other we have the odd ‘witch’
making it worse for everyone through murder and mayhem.

So
many traditions and religions that purport to be peaceful and
compassionate have a history that is tainted with blood, gore and
betrayal. Many Pagans are quick to decry Christianity for this,
shouting about the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and war after
war after war. But it’s a sad truth that our own paths are not
exactly as tidy and clean as we might wish. The difference with
Paganism is we are fighting a battle against a few individuals who
are immoral. The media, of course, tends to pick up on these few who
behave appallingly and say, ‘This is Paganism’. Which of course,
turns those ‘God Fearing Christians’ (and others) right back
against us. Ok, they can’t take us to the stake like in the 15th
Century but they can make life awkward for us; no-one wants to
experience bigotry in their day to day life and it can really hurt.

In
March 2015, ‘White Witch’ Redvers Barnard was jailed for 22 years
for various acts of child abuse; a terrifying story of a monstrous
man. Not one paper reported it without highlighting the fact that he
was a Pagan or a Witch. The Pagan community being what it is, this
person was actually known to some of my friends. You may think they
would stand by him, or give him the support of his community, as we
have seen happen in the Catholic community in similar cases. But no;
as soon as it was clear he was guilty, he was condemned by all. As he
should be. He tried to use his self-made title of white witch to
prove his innocence, but by being proven guilty despite being a
‘white witch’, he not only smeared the entire Pagan community,
but the title of Witch, white or otherwise.

On
any religious or spiritual path, it’s vital to have the awareness
that there may be those walking a similar path who are not what you
would consider good people. We must be self-aware enough to realise
that whether we are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu or any
one of the myriad Pagan paths, that does not automatically make us
moral or good or even, and this is very important, correct!

It’s
up to each of us to keep our own morals in check; to ensure that we
are behaving according to our values. If our values veer away from
those of our chosen religion (think of a devout catholic who wants an
abortion), then perhaps it is time for a change. Or perhaps, we
simply accept that religion doesn’t dictate morals.

Jesus
may have died for his followers’ sins, but I think he would have
been appalled at the nature of the ‘sin’ performed in the name of
religion since his demise. To me, it seems he died for nothing, until
the day when we can all, each and every one of us, accept the
responsibilities for our own actions.

I
avoid the pamphlet the well-meaning lady is trying to force into my
hand, and I wish her a blessed Easter, but advise that I won’t be
attending the memorial of Jesus’ death. I’d much rather celebrate
my life right now, and living it as well as I know how.

*Originally published on the Moon books blog.

***

About
the Author:

Mabh
Savage
 is
a Pagan author, poet and musician, as well as a freelance journalist.

She is the author of A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors and Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways.

A Modern Celt: Seeking the Ancestors on Amazon

Pagan Portals – Celtic Witchcraft: Modern Witchcraft Meets Celtic Ways on Amazon