Why Paganism anyway?
When I returned to the business of seeking a spiritual path, – it was Neopaganism which provided the encouragement to look around again after many years of just keeping my nose to the grindstone and concentrating on work. It was lovely to meet groups of people who followed very different systems of beliefs, and yet, who managed to meet socially and prepare rituals and celebrations which were inclusive rather than divisive.
The sheer variety of beliefs was breath-taking, and many events took on a carnival atmosphere. Every festival was colourful and eccentric, – and every gathering would include mead, music and lots of laughter.
In many ways, the festivals seemed to carry me back in time to a less hurried age. Despite the modern materials and the overall cleanliness of the festivals, they reminded me of a medieval market. Each one would have its fair share of workshops, stalls, readers, healers, dancers and musicians.
Arrays of bright tents lined the meeting areas, where traders, who seemed more intent on social interaction than profit, sold crystals, oils, incense, wands, staffs, craft items, new-age clothing, books and Oracle cards. There was always a fire pit, where the noisier members of the milieu, – like myself and Tina, would be happily singing and banging our drums with the addition of an occasional didgeridoo and wood flute. Children and dogs could wander happily and safely and somehow, everyone seemed approachable. Conversations are struck up easily in the relaxed atmosphere that prevails at the smaller festivals.
I believe that festivals are a breeding ground for ‘synchronicity’. You have a question in your head, and next thing you know is that someone is randomly sharing an insight which answers your unasked query. This fact more than any other has convinced me that Spirit is very active amongst the neo-pagans, – where so many people are searching for answers in an open-minded and relaxed way.
It was my first festival as a would-be stallholder at Cabourne Parva where I met a lovely couple called Liz and Ian. Ian introduced me to the concept of the “Unsupportable Supposition” and I immediately became a member of that august group. In truth, everything we believe, is an unsupportable supposition and it pays to be tolerant of others beliefs.
At the same festival I met a lovely character named Graham, who gave me a fascinating past life reading for free. It was impossible to discount what he told me, as it explained many personality quirks of mine, – which he had no way of knowing about through ordinary means.
I had asked around the festival for anyone who had seen or interacted with the faeries. I wished to include some more personal stories in the forthcoming book by Bill Oliver and myself, – “The Faery realms”, which is still with Galde Press awaiting a final edit. Graham gave me an amazing account of the types of earth sprits and their ‘duties’ which I have included in the volume.
Again, at the Nottingham Pagan Pride gathering, I was given a reading by a lovely lady named Linda. It was a beautiful late Summer Sunday, and just strolling through the multi-coloured crowds of people brought a great sense of peace and relaxation. I was drawn to a stall with a large unicorn banner outside and went across to arrange a reading. There was just something about Linda which drew me to her and we made an appointment to call back.
I sat in a flimsy white nylon gazebo with the sun shining and music all around us. Tina stood beside me half way into the tiny stall. Having read tarot cards for over forty years, I realised that some of the deck was missing and it seemed a bit chewed. When I mentioned it, she explained that her dog had eaten some of the cards, but it was her favourite deck and she still preferred to use it.
Bemused, I allowed her to continue. She proceeded to give myself and Tina a reading which spanned the following three years and was later proved to be incredibly accurate. She also said much about our lives at the time which was uncannily detailed and again very accurate.
Even the hustle and bustle around us seemed to add to the magic of the experience. Just across the little path through the arboretum were two larger Marquees, where there was a workshop on shamanism being given by a lady named Firechild. The large tented area was filled to capacity and many more were gathered around outside as she took the audience on an inner journey. Under a large tree, a gentleman named Paul was telling a circle of entranced listeners about the time of Robin Hood. A little further away there was a circle of ladies teaching and demonstrating belly dancing. From the bandstand, which was near the entrance to the Arboretum, a wave of music washed over us from loudspeakers as a succession of heavy metal musicians blasted away with great enthusiasm.
Somehow, all the chaos and the noise blended together and it worked. To me it is further proof that when intentions are focused on a similar worthwhile goal, then all the different approaches blend together to give a positive outcome. The many facets of Neopaganism are an opportunity to explore new ideas and find what resonates with ourselves. We will benefit from the experience greatly or less so, – depending on what we ourselves put into it. If we leave our false sense of certainty behind us, we may learn much and make some great connections to help us on our own spiritual journey.
Like a suit of armour,
Polished gold that gleams and sparkles in the light.
That Blessed Shield that keeps our ego safe.
No niggling doubts disturb us in the night.
No second thoughts to make our conscience chafe.
The Joy of never being wrong,
Those great eternal truths that beam down from above.
Our principles that keep us different from the milling throng.
When we love Certainty,
Its charms can keep us safe from any other love.
We feel misunderstood by those who do not truly Know.
Their dreadful ignorance and anarchy surrounds us every day.
If only we could set them on the path they need to go.
If only they could understand the things we try to say,
Then we could let them bask in our enlightened glow.
How can I teach the sparrow how to fly?
They seemed to know just what to do,
Before I ever had a chance to teach them how.
I often watch in envy as they dance and weave beneath the evening sky.
The crimson setting sun, that lights their antics, lights the furrows on my brow.
Streaking red and gold across the purple hills and dark green fields,
It’s rainbow glory blinds my eyes and lets me see,
This world was doing fine before there ever was a Me.
Patrick W Kavanagh