Thursday, 31 July 2008

BBC Radio Article on Lammas

I was skimming through the pages on religion. The 'article of the now' was about Lammas (which is a contraction of Hlaefmass or Loaf Mass. I didn't use to use it until today, because of the word Mass, but I found out it comes from the Anglo-Saxon masse meaning lump or dough. Which is apt) so I decided to read it. While short 'n sweet, it did provide a link to a radio piece on the Lammas Games in 2007.

One of the bits that caught my attention was a small interview with Paul Mitchell, (from the Anderida Gorsedd no less!) a Bard from England.

Interviewer: How does druidry affect your everyday life?
Paul Mitchell: I don't believe what I believe because I'm a Druid, I'm a Druid because of the things I believe. It's a title I give myself, I don't fool myself that I am the same as the ancient druids of times gone by.
I don't think it influences my life, I think it is simply a reflection of my beliefs, my values, my values around the environment, around people, around community, and how important they are to me and, I think, to everyone and everything.

That is possibly on the better ways of describing Paganism and how it relates to us. My deviation to Paganism didn't make me Pagan, but rather is a system that fitted comfortably with what I believed in. Granted, since the label, I've quietly sealed the box up and progressed further inside than I would have imagined but I'm quite comfortable here. I've discovered a wonderful community and I think I'm now progressing quite nicely.

Beyond that, they prominently interview Bobcat (Emma Restall-Orr). She's always good to listen to on the various radio pieces they do. Admittedly I rather prefer listening to her than reading her books. There's Living Druidry on the bookshelf but her writing style (I'm picky with the way people write) has left it sadly unread.

There have been comments that the druidry of today is getting progressively more Wiccan in style and while I don't completely agree with that, you do feel it sometimes with her rituals. OBOD have their fair share, but there you go.

She's quite refreshing to listen to with her useful description of Lammas, and the games. She's frequently on the BBC, so I think if you rummage around there you could find some more pieces with her.

Anywho! Listen to the whole radio piece. It's quite interesting.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Thoughts on Lammas

Gwyl Awst (Lammas) is the festival that is coming up - roughly the three days of the 31st to the 2nd.

It's one of those celebrations which seems to pass me by mostly unnoticed. Along with the Equinox and Nos Galan Gaeaf (Samhain), to a degree, I considered them all 'autumnal' (even though Gwyl Awst is in the Summer) and as harvest festivals - to me, harvest signified autumn.

They were the festivals with the least personal meaning to myself as harvest had little meaning to my life. I never performed a harvest and the closest I can consider to it would be the summery blackberry pickings with my late grandmother and the Harvest Festivals (where tins and goods were brought in by students and shared out among the elderly members of the community) in school during early September.

A personal decision to make Paganism a more integral part of daily and general practice, this year I hope to make that different with a closer inspection of both the external and immanent meanings.

moonroot has organised a joint (and partly public) formal celebration of Gwyl Awst in the upper Temple of Star of Venus. This I'm hoping shall help me connect with the meaning of the festival.

On the plus side, this time of year means an abundance of fresh summer fruits! I've been told that it's around this time when berry picking is best for things such as blackberries, bilberries and the like, but my parents are adamant that it's a late august thing. They are becoming more available however.

It's these fruits that are also able to help against colds and help build up the immune system (particularly red coloured fruit). Little consolation now though, as I'm nursing a cold mingled with this allergy to nature (hayfever). I'm off to make a Lemsip!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Only Human

I was listening to this song by Dave the Bard, and it made me think quite a bit.

Only Human
Isn’t it crazy, isn’t it cruel,
That a man can earn millions from kicking a ball,
While for other countries, we role a dice,
For a little clean water and a bowl of rice,
Politicians and empty promises help lessen our pain,
It’s only human

Isn’t it wonderful, isn’t it right,
There’s nothing as worthless as an animals life,
But it helps me feel better, when I feel ill,
I can’t taste the pain in this little pill,
A thousand lives given to live just a few more years,
It’s only human.

Cut down a forest for grass that won’t grow,
To help melt the ice caps, to help melt the snow,
We’ll watch the seas rise with nowhere to go,
It’s only human.

Isn’t is holy, isn’t it good,
That people kill people in the name of their God,
A bomb for a Father, a bullet for a Son,
And a smile for the child that carried the gun,
Only one God can be right when all's said and done,
It’s only human.
Damh the Bard

This song encapsulates the sickening qualities that show what makes us human. No other animal would be so cruel as to deny an infant chimpanzee love, affection, warmth to observe the affects of deprivation.

No other animal would wipe out entire species over a single warped idea.

No other animal would level a forest to rear poorly treated animals for cheap meat.

No other animal would kill for his own sky-faerie, who told him that he was that he was The One And Only Right Way™.

We've developed into an insensitively sickening race and it makes one realise why the Earth Mother is trying to purge us and begin again. If the price of sapience is the loss of natural affinity, of our integral goodness then I doubt very much that it is quite worth paying that much.

We need to regain compassionate respect and regard for one another, not just as humans, but along with every single sentient being - plants included.

I'm quite ashamed to be Homo Sapien.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Crackers and Religion

I was discussing some Matzo crackers with my auntie, who came for a visit from France, and remarked on the same that it was not to be used for Passover. I tried to explain this to her, but I couldn't quite find the right word for Passover (I eventually settled, rather embarrassingly, for 'Jewish Easter'). All the while, I described the Passover story to jog her memory, where the Angel of Death were passing over the Hebrew homes, where the blood had been painted with blood, after which the Pharaoh released them and while preparing to leave, they made unleavened bread, not having the time to allow it to rise.

And she seemed bemused by the story.

She didn't know the story, and this surprised me as she had called herself a Christian for quite some time. I pushed further and she answered that she called herself Catholic as she had been baptised as such and was culturally so. Culturally so. Hmm. Not that reminds me of an article by Richard Dawkins on how, all the while being a firm Atheist, called himself a Cultural Christian. That is to say, he enjoyed Handel's 'The Messiah' and singing Carols, and the architecture of churches and the culture created by Christians.

Following a tradition and a cultural act created perhaps from religious traditions does not make you a member of that religion. Aren't you just paying lip service, or saying so because it is more culturally acceptable? And why does religion have to do with culture?

By this I mean the architect of Westminster may have been a Christian, but that does not make it a Christian building. Handel's music may have religious themes, but I listen to it because it is beautiful and moving. Even if he was Christian, it does not make the music, by default, Christian. I see this in the same light as when Dawkins said that labelling a child by their religion is abhorrent because they do not have the capacity to chose their religion and it is equally abhorrent to have a child labelled in the same way as their parent.

I'm wondering how many, like my Aunt, have written a religion in, say, the census while not having any real knowledge/belief in that religion and put it as such because they consider it so by habit and culture.

Maybe a census should be expanded to clarify this.

71% in the UK census classed themselves as Christian but I guesstimate that perhaps 20% or more have only gone to church as children or for certain ceremonies (weddings, funerals etc.) or even personal crisis (in the example of my father. He found a resurgence in his Catholicism, went to Confession, then fell by the wayside again). Childhood baptism does not make one Christian by choice.

I'm also wondering if the 15% of the No Religion box were Atheist or those who don't believe in anything or those who don't generally care or the culturally religious.

Ho hum.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

New blog

I've had this account for quite some time, but I've decided to get rid of all my old posts. I've also decided to use this independently to my Livejournal as a portal to write read-worthy (albeit self-focused) posts.

I'll endeavour to post periodically.

I hope you enjoy.