freedom to religion

August 24, 2008

The Wild Hunt featured an article today concerning the death of Tom K. aka Phoenix, past priest of the first Gardnerian Wiccan coven in America. I am not familiar with the name, nor am I really an adherent to that path. However, it sparked some thoughts in me that I thought I should share, if not for anyone more than myself.

The movement that Tom K. was involved in was the beginning of a movement that got me to where I am, and opened a door to so many people who were unsatisfied by their current religion or lifestyle. Learning how to live in accordance with the world around you and take divinity into yourself, as well as basic morals about interacting with other people, is hardly a bad thing.

Despite my recent string of bashing new age and pagan ideas and practices, I still hold a very Voltairean view of religious practices, especially non-mainstream ones: I may not think that what you are doing with your life is the most ethical or a good place to rest in your spiritual progress, but I will defend your right to figure out your life for yourself. Translation, there has only ever been one thing I could gather out of organized religion being good for a person, and that is the social bit, where you are allowed to share ideas and time with people who have a similar bent as you, and it helps you learn more about yourself and helps you thrive.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the friends I have. They help me get my silly out, and that’s very important to me. At the same time, I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t gone through all the years I did learning about paganism and learning about magick and all that. It shapes who I am, and though I don’t exactly hang onto that part of my life with terrible fervor, I realize that the community I found is something I cannot give up. This very weekend, I had a great conversation with my “old lady friends” about all sorts of political and social topics, and we ranged the gamut of ultra-liberal to libertarian, and it was a good time! We agreed on so many things, but disagreed just enough to learn about ourselves. That, and we were such good friends that it was all good-natured arguing. It’s hard to beat that. Not the mention that I get together with them every two weeks, and sometimes every weekend, just to sit and chit chat in a pagan setting. That’s community. It’s also that “it takes a village” concept.

So when a person blindly stumbles in paganism, starts dawning the big heavy robes and starts becoming fascinated with the process of magic or the new age concepts that dominate that sphere more and more, I may grumble, but they have the right to figure these things out for themselves. That is what freedom of religion is all about.


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