I don’t often write about spiritual or religious ideas on this blog but I was recently listening a 99 percent invisible podcast on Yokai (Japanese Folk Lore Spirits):
And the idea of personification of spirits resonates with me. This blog post is a reflection on my spiritual beliefs.
Table of Contents
What is Paganism
Paganism is a Christian made up word to mean non Christian, or a non believer of the Christian God/religion. It was used during the Roman Catholic expansion through Europe to describe many of the other spiritual beliefs they encountered. Witches and Wiccans are a small part of the broad Pagan label. The witch hunts weren’t a pleasant time of history.
Many Christian holidays are based on pagan traditions. Easter is a spring time fertility celebration and Yule (aka Christmas) is a feast during the dead of winter to help ward off things like disease and famine.
Paganism is an un organised religion. There’s not a big building that all Pagans congregate at like a church or sinigogue. It’s also a very flexible religion where you can shape it to your own beleif system.
Game of Thrones uses a lot of pagan rituals. Robb Stark and Talisa get married and there’s a handfasting ceremony where their hands are tied with cloth. Bran goes back in time and witnesses this handfasting wedding:
If God has a gender
One of the things that irked me the most about Christianity is the fatherisation of God. God is a He, Him, the Ultimate Father. Where as when I think of the magic of how life is created, the female form is generally more involved (sea horses being the exception).
If I was to give God a gender, I like to think of it as a motherly figure. God is beyond gender but many pagan traditions associate the goddess of creation with the moon. Mother nature in a way. May the goddess protect you on your journey. And all that jazz.
Anthroporfism of spirits
One of the benefits of the Yokai is the personification of things that go bump in the night. Heard a spooky noise at night? It’s a mischievous little monster. When you personify something it becomes easier to deal with.
One of the benefits of Christianity is the externalisation of life’s randomness. You don’t get as stressed about life when you can tell yourself it’s all part of God’s plan and everything happens for a reason. I prefer to think of many spirits causing these problems, not just one or two apposing forces (i.e. God vs the Devil).
Druidry resonates with me, having the ultimate respect for nature. Why not believe there’s a wise old spirit in the big old tree that you could seek guidance from. It also means I can bring in elements of the aboriginal dream time because living in Australia there are elements of respect to country.
Anyway, if you are interested in connecting with Druids Down Under, there’s this facebook group:
And there is this book on Australian Druidry that I read at the beginning of the year:
Magic is preyer
When a pagan practices a magic ritual, either solo or in a group, it’s all about putting positive energy into the cosmos. Much like how a Christian might make a preyer before going to bed, the act of putting positive energy out there is a great comfort.
It’s the same sensation when joining in a group song at a sermon. When you put enough faith into it, you can feel a part of something that’s bigger than you. It’s a really up lifting experience.
At the start of the year I gave myself the goal of doing 4 magic ceremonies and I haven’t done one yet. I should do a basic initiation ceremony, I would welcome the goddess of creation into my life and ask her to keep me safe and to watch over some of the people that I care about. I might even create an Amabi Yokai character to represent the water part of the magic circle.
Wiccan magic circles
A wiccan magic circle is often part of a ceremony, you can orient the circle with the 4 cardinal directions (North, East, South and West). Each direction can represent an element or a spirit. You evoke a spirit to help protect your magic circle before you start the ceremony.
For a basic enchantment they could be earth, air, fire, and water. However in the southern hemisphere we may swap things around and if you have a big ocean to the east of you might use that direction for water. You might use a candle for air or fire, a plant for earth, a feather for air. Something that has meaning to you and helps you focus.
I’ll put some of these ideas into practice and do an initialising magic ritual one night and I’ll let you know how I go.
What’s involved with your spiritual/religious practices?