Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why I Love Witches, Druids, and other Neo-Pagan Types

I've taken more than a small dose of heat over being friends with Neo-Pagans. Now the small dose of heat I have taken has been nearly enough to start a decent bonfire around a stake, and I am quite glad to living in the 21st century. Nonetheless I thought it might be wise to put out an explanation for why I love Witches.

If you are uninitiated in the manner of Neo-Paganism let me define Neo-Pagan to you. Neo-Pagan tends to be an earthy religion based on ancient pre-Christian cultures. Today's Witches practicing Wicca, or doing Witchcraft on their own (called Solitary), maybe even those who have had it passed down from their parents or grandparents (Family Tradition Witchcraft) are under the Neo-Pagan umbrella. This is also true for the people called Druids of both Celtic, and Nordic persuasion. There are Ceremonial Magicians, practitioners of Strega, Asatru, and many more besides, but these are all categorized as Neo-Pagans. They like magic and often do it. They practice earthy rituals based upon the seasons of the year. They do not identify with the Christian God, except for a couple small groups which call themselves Christian Witches, or Christo-Pagans, and usually neither the Witches nor the Neo-Pagans understand them. Pagans don't believe in the Bible, or even in Satan, so they are not Satanists either.

Neo-Pagans are often tree huggers. They care for the environment more than most of our population, because they revere the earth itself. To many Neo-Pagans the trees, and rocks, the water, and the sky are filled with spirits. The earth itself is sometimes viewed as a goddess, and our careless abuse of the earth is seen as both a destruction of Creation, and an abuse to the holiness of all things.

It may be that the Neo-Pagan understands the Judeo-Christian concept of shepherding the earth better than most Christians do. For this reason I must give them the nod, and admit they are way ahead of the Christian Church on obedience to this biblical command to be shepherds of the earth.

Neo-Pagans are generally peace loving. They despise war, and encourage love and peace. Love and peace are fundamental values of the Christian life, but often we as Christians neglect to see these as powerful responses which have the potential of changing nations, stopping wars, and ending oppression. Could it be that my Neo-Pagan friends have greater faith in the power of love and peace than I do?

Having attended a number of Neo-Pagan gatherings and events, I have discovered that people are accepted almost unconditionally. No one casts the wary eye over the person who looks strange - of course, a number of people look strange at many Pagan gatherings, and the strangeness is celebrated.

Strangeness is often rejected, and most often discouraged in Christian churches. In fact, that which is different is discouraged. Pagan gatherings celebrate that which is unique, and perhaps more closely resembles the heart of the Creator God, Who gave us the strange parade of characters in creation such as the Duckbill Platypus, the Seahorse, and the Ostrich.

I have often wondered if our Christian approach to the world around us blinds our eyes to the myriad miracles which daily dance around us. The Neo-Pagan sees the magic in Creation: in the wind-blown leaf, and the trickling water coming from the hillside. Wind, wood, water, stone, and earth pulse with the heartbeat of magic for many Pagans. Yet few Christians I know revel in the miraculous wonder of nature. Could it be that my Pagan friends have seen the wonders of God more deeply than many of my Christian friends. Could it be that Christians have defined those wonders, but do not experience them, while Pagans have experienced those wonders leaving them undefined?

Because Pagans are green, peace-loving, accepting, and sense the magic of the world around them I can not help but love them. Yet, these are not the real reason I love them. I love them because God loves them, and I see them through the eyes of divine care. My Jesus loves the Witch with a deeper conviction than I can muster, and I merely attempt to follow His footsteps into the heart, and mind of every Witch, Druid, Wiccan, and Pagan I meet.

Of course, people will wonder if I have been influenced by this post-modern Neo-Paganism. I suppose the answer is yes. They have caused me to see that the church has shirked it's responsibilities in the environment, and world peace issues; and that we have lost our ability to be accepting at the cost of our passion to be orthodox in beliefs and practices. They have also taught me to be sensitive to the little miracles in each day.

If this is heretical, I am a heretic. But as to other issues of my faith, I am more fully convinced of the basic tenets of my Christian faith than I was before I met my Neo-Pagan friends, and of course I would enjoy worshiping the Jesus I know together with them, but I am not sure that the traditions of most Christian churches speak to the deepest yearnings of their hearts.

16 comments:

John Smulo said...

Phil,

I'm so glad to have found your blog for the first time today!

This is a great post. You have a lot of courage to speak so bluntly about your love and concern for Pagans, though it makes me sad that this should have to take courage in the church today.

I see Jesus in your response. Keep up the great work.

Anonymous said...

I've said it many times before Phil. I see more of the ways of Jesus in how you walk this earth than I do in the vast majority of Christian communities. There is something in the bible that suggests following Christ is not an easy path.... a narrow gate perhaps. That narrow gate may be for those who don't leap to huddling up with a whole bunch of people who create for themselves a comfort zone of their faith. True Christianity isn't about a comfort zone. True Christianity is walking the edge, loving the sinner, not just in words but in deeds too. True Christianity will have you at odds with those who do not have the courage to love those who may not love you back.

Phil, you're a true Christian.

BB

Mike

Pastor Phil said...

Mike,


You always blow my mind with the grace of your words. Grace back at you.

Matt Stone said...

Is such a love for NeoPagans in our day so different for Jesus' love for Samaratans in his day? I think not and recon he'd be doing the same thing if he found himself in Salem.

Blessings
Matt

Pastor Phil said...

Sounds like we need more Matts in Salem who would be doing like Jesus.

Agent B said...

Great post. Informative too.

I see many similarities in your walk w/ pagan friends and my agent assignment within the poverty class. They are misunderstood by christians too, like the pagans.

PS - I am in Abilene, not Austin. Huge difference.

Pastor Phil said...

Whoops - I knew that. I must have had the blues on my mind.

brodie said...

Phil,

Found your comments here very helpful. Came this way via your interview with John S. Respect to you for showing such grace in what must have been and I guess still is a very hurtful situation.

Grace and peace to you and your family.

Pastor Phil said...

Brodie - Thanks for popping by. God is moving graciously, and wonderfully in restoration, and we believe that reconciliation is still possible.

Shiloh Guy said...

Ah, Phil. You write truth. Thank you for that. Here's what burdens me: I'm not sure the church is even struggling to find ways to develop relationship with neo-pagans because I'm not sure we are struggling to find ways to build relationships with the normal, everyday, unchurched person who lives right next door! When will we learn that true religion is loving our neighbors?

Pastor Phil said...

Too true, and truly sad. You said it well on your Shilohguy blog.

Thanks for popping in David.

LOBO said...

As a Druid and Pagan community leader, I wish to give you my respects, Phil.

I found your article via Pagannews.com

We Pagans struggle for tolerance and have long asked and sought out understanding from the Christian community.

While I am saddened for your excommunication, your stand to educate yourself and your brethren inspires and gives us hope that perhaps one day there can be peace and love between ALL of Gods children...despite what name we give it.

I believe you follow the true example of Jesus and his teachings and that it is from you that today's Church should take a page from.

Know that in El Paso, Texas your efforts are appreciated and do not go unknown by the Pagan Community.

I just wish that there were more Christians with your strength, education and love to see past the veil of propaganda.

-Frank

Pastor Phil said...

Frank,

Thanks for stopping in. I am honored to have you post here. I know that you have most likely experienced prejudice, and perhaps even curses coming to you from people who say that they are Jesus followers. I am sorry for that.

There is no sensible reason that simply because we believe that Jesus is the salvation for humanity, and you do not that we should be at odds, and treating one another with disdain.

The lesson of love is long hard road, and I am convinced that there are many in life who will not learn it. That the followers of the Man who I see as history's greatest lover can not learn this lesson causes me no small degree of heartache.

Blessings be Yours
Phil

J. R. Miller said...

Hi, I am new to your site, so pardon me if I am asking a question you have answered before.

First, I think it is great you are hanging out with this group of folks. Good for you.

Can you share with me, or point m to another post, where you discuss how you share the Gospel with your neo-Pagan friends?

Pastor Phil said...

Hi JR,

You could check out the Neo-Pagan label on this blog site:
http://squarenomore.blogspot.com/search/label/Neo-Paganism

That will give you some more of my stories from Salem, and beyond.

J. R. Miller said...

I have read a few. Thanks for talking about your life and I pray the best for you.