I recently attended my first Solstice ritual this past December 21st -- The Winter Solstice. I went to Laguna Beach on the shore of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California where I was invited by a fellow care2 member. Needless to say, the setting was perfect for the celebration which beckons the light (sun) to return for the New Year. It is the shortest day of the year when Mother Earth is at an angle in its rotation with the sun and the sun’s light is seen less this day than any other day of the year. There were drums, a Didgeridoo, Native Shakers, etc. There were people from at least five different cultures present.
The ceremony involved a group prayer and a key word announced from each in attendance from the spirit and soul. When the native instruments were playing and people dancing as if guided by their spirit and soul dictating the rhythm I could see that everyone in the group was in unity with each other. They were feeling the passion of the moment. It did not matter, the color skin or culture. Everyone was feeling peace and harmony. In the end was the burning of Yule Log. Suddenly I felt we went back in time, long before organized religions enveloped our psyche with belief systems that strolled away from the elements of the Earth and the universe. I suddenly felt native. I felt closer to the indigenous people of Mother Earth whose church was and is Mother Earth.
In today’s social and religious structure this ceremony has been labeled as “Pagan” or even “Heathen”. Regardless, the connotation is more negative than positive. The Latin definition for Paganism is &ldquoaganus” which means rustic or village dweller. This has a far less negative connotation. Both in Judaism and Christianity, Pagans are considered “non-believers”. Pagans were and are still are in most social structures considered Polytheists, believing in multiple Gods.
For a moment let's consider that the "ancient" and indigenes people who believe in the natural cycle of Mother Earth and the unity of all things has influenced greatly the religions of the “New Era”. Please consider the following:
What does the Easter Bunny have to do with the resurrection of Jesus which is commonly known as Easter?
What does the Christmas tree in your living room have to do with the birth of Jesus, along with Santa Claus and reindeer?
I can name many more traditions from “Paganism” which are part of Christianity and most religions in the world. After all, People who walked Mother Earth from the beginning of time believed in the good of all things on this planet that was the creed of their religion. Unity and peace with all was the basis of their belief system. It always has boiled down to good vs. evil. Yes, the majority of all religions believe that you can be good to all living creatures on Earth! Ah Ha! So there is something in common with the Ancients and today’s belief systems beyond Holi-days.
I do have a degree in Theology and I was once an ordained priest in the Greek Orthodox Church. I am here as a witness to organized religions in general which have been infiltrated with rules and regulations. With rituals and dogma that has taken the naked soul and dressed it with so much structure that the believer does not have to feel anything as long as he follows the rules. Even Jesus turned over tables in the temple warning people to believe in the spirit of the law instead of simply following the law. In a sense, Theology replaced Astrology. The ancients were incredible astronomers. They built temples around the stars of the heavens, the cycles of Mother Earth and they believed that if you treated the Earth well, you will be treated well by the positive energy you send to the universe.
Allow me to be so bold to say that many organized religions have become political just by the way the community of the church is organized. It has become a business and as you know, TV Evangelists have been and still are making millions every year. In the Native American communities the chief, story teller, medicine man or any other elders of the tribe was compensated by the riches of Mother Earth. Would those same Evangelists be as passionate if paid with corn and a place to sleep?
For me, sharing of the spirit with native music, chants, group prayers, amongst the elements of Mother Earth with all people, regardless of race, color or background is more satisfactory then being surrounded by parishioners who are there for the social gathering, and fulfilling a requirement to be “saved” from damnation. I am sorry; I witnessed too often people not coming to church to communicate with God, but to be seen.
The Ancients lived their religion on a daily basis. Their creed is simple. BE GOOD.
I am not against any belief system which makes a connection between you and the higher source, God, Allah, Jehovah etc. as long as you treat the Earth and her people and all life forces with love and respect. Whatever inspires you to accomplish that end is correct. For now, I may be considered an Ancient.