Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Importance of Worship

Worship, as defined in Wikipedia is "an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader."

In the Philippines, being a predominantly Christian country, expresses worship in colorful, festive and sometimes painful way. There are a lot of festivals that honors specific saints in different parts of the country and these usually include eating, dancing and merry making. Most of the festivals that we are celebrating however, hides the real history and background of the celebration. Most of the festivals we have here in the country, be it a celebration of harvest or of tribes, stemmed from a more animistic celebration that were masked by a mantle of Catholicism. These festivals are accepted religious feasts and people often forget that these are centered in nature worship and as such, are Pagan.

There are a lot of Pagans in the country that I have known, met and talked to who are religious. Most however, are practical Pagans. Now what is a practical Pagan?

For me, a practical Pagan is a person who follows Paganism, uses spells and incantations for practical, day to day use. These are people who view Paganism as a practice and would use magick to bring about changes the way they see fit. They may call on the assistance of any Divine being they see useful for a specific spell, or ritual. Most of these Pagans are Duotheistic and would view all the Gods/Goddess as the same being regardless of the Pantheon or Mythos they came from. In this kind of belief system, they would call to Aphrodite for a love spells, Ceres for bounty, Hekate for Power, etc. Most of them would worship the Goddess or the God in all Their forms and that gives an impression sometimes that they are being less religious.

The other Pagan profile that I noticed in the country are those Pagans who devote themselves to a specific God or Goddess. Some even devote themselves to a couple or more specific Gods or Goddess. Most of these types of Pagans are either Polytheistic and believe that different Gods and Goddesses are individual entities that needs worship and veneration. They would work and grow with these Divine Beings and they would devote a lot of time and effort just to be close with Them.

What is the importance of worship? Worship is an integral part of a Pagan's life. Devoting your life and time to the Divine being who calls you creates very strong connection. An intimate connection with a specific Divine being would most of the time makes working with Them easier. I always view the Divine as a member of the family (a Sister, Mother, Grandmother, brother, Father or Grandfather). Unlike working with the deity that you haven't connected with, the Goddess and God that is familiar with you would easily respond to you once you ask for help. Calling a being that you haven't worked with yet, or you're unfamiliar with is like knocking on the door of a house, asking to come in. If you have not been working with the specific God or Goddess whose door who are knocking on, what do you think will be the response?

Worship is very important in the practice of the Craft. It strengthens the connection of the witch to the Divine and it makes the rites and the rituals easier. As a Priest or Priestess of a specific Divine being, the protection of the Gods extend to you. You will become an extension of that God's power.

How is your connection with the Divine? How are you as a witch and a priest/priestess?

Religion by Charles Sprague Pearce (1896)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Veil is Parting, Samhain is coming.

In the Pagan world, this time of the year marks the coming of the new year. Samhain, the old Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season. In modern times, Pagans and Wiccans celebrate Samhain as a religious holiday. It marks as the Pagan New Year and is considered as one of the most sacred festival in the Wheel of the Year.

What is the significance of a Celtic celebration in the life of a Filipino Pagan?
As all of the celebrations on the Wheel, even though that this celebration did not originate from our country, Samhain has a similar celebration in almost all cultures in the world. In Mexico, they celebrate it as Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which also starts on October 31 and ends on November 2. In the Philippines, we observe this celebration as All Saints and All Soul's Day, which primarily centers with the veneration of the dead. As a liminal celebration, it is believed that during this time, the veil that divides the world of the living and the realm of the spirits are at its thinnest. Therefore it is believed that the spirits can easily pass through this curtain and visit the living.

As a "Paganong Pilipino", I celebrate Samhain and it is for me, the most important of the four Greater Sabbats. Though the practice that we have here in the Philippines is very different from the last harvest of the year celebration of our Western brethren, we still follow the most important thing celebrated during this feast- the honoring of our dead loved ones.

In the days prior to Samhain, people who are sensitive to the other worlds may feel a little bit different. Some might already be visited by their dead loved ones and may appear to them in dreams. The realm of the Fairy or what we call Engkantos are also nearest to the realm of the living. Similar in England, where some person who mistakenly stepped on a Fairy Ring get transported to the realm of the Shining ones, we have some similar accounts here in the country where people might see a very shiny mansion in a lonely road only to discover that it was a big tree in the morning. Some might even be successful to be invited in this lavish dinner that these folks were giving only to discover that the black rice seem to be moving or wriggling. In the English lore, when someone who successfully crossed fails to return before midnight (or in some the first rays of sun shine), they will be trapped in the realm of the faeries. In the Filipino folklore, when someone eats food in the engkantado's banquet, they wont be able to return, leaving their family see their dead body who is actually a banana trunk. In order for the body to return, the family should lift the "corpse" and let it pass through a window.

As most of the "Filipinized" celebrations that we get from Western Pagan and Wiccan practices, we included some of our cultural observances in the rites of Samhain. In our previous celebrations, we made sure that Filipino "All Souls Day" activities were also done- like the offering of kakan
in, tabako, anisado or vino. We also do the tracing of the bloodline where we honor all our relative who passed on.

In the coming days, the veil will become thinner and will culminate to its parting on the 31st of October. I want to greet all our Pagan brothers and sisters a Blessed Samhain.

- pictures from the internet-