This tradition dates back to Ancient Egypt. That celebration can be traced to the Celtics. This is the Norse Pantheon, incredibly old and the runes can be found here and there. “I am a 47th Hereditary witch that can trace my lineage to a Druid High Priest that cursed a Roman legion.” “I am the reincarnation of Cleopatra.” What do all of these statements have in common? There is history behind these statements and with history, we assume that these statements have value.
The term Paganism seems to exude ancient myths and practices but what is Paganism? Polytheism, also known as Paganism, was originally a derogatory term used for all religions that were not Christian. This included polytheism and also monotheistic religions that were not Christian. It was a term that meant that someone was rustic, unrefined and from the village. However, like the term witch, modern Pagans have taken the word and embraced it.
Christianity did its best to wipe us off the map and let’s be honest, they did a pretty good freaking job. They absorbed our gods and made them into saints. They turned our holidays into their holidays. They did all of this as a way to convert a population. These tactics worked! It is a tactic that conquering nations used for millennia to make the absorption of a culture easier. Think about it. What is easier; slaughtering an opposing tribe or absorbing them into your current culture? This article isn’t an attack on Christianity though. This article is about our path.
I know that this is a hard fact for most people to hear and even I did not want to hear it when I was younger. So put down your pitchforks and burning torches and think hard on this article. History does not automatically make something more important than something new(ish). Our current Paganism paths are a reconstruction of old pagan paths that we have pieced together as close as possible through the help of archaeological artifacts, ancient writers and field research studies. This reconstruction means that we get bits and pieces and attempt to build from there.
Perhaps some of us are so desperate to have an identity outside of where we originally came from that we grasp onto the “ancient” ways of Paganism so hard that we make false declarations of superiority. For example, Imbolc is primarily a Celtic holiday as it is Brighid’s day (You can read more about her here). Yet, there are those that do not follow the Celtic path that still celebrate Imbolc as the holiday Candlemas. Candlemas is not an ancient celebration, that would be Imbolc.
Another statement that I have seen tossed about in the Pagan community is that Valentine’s Day is a replacement for Lupercalia. There is absolutely no proof of that. Sure it is easy to say the Christian’s stole another celebration of ours, they did it enough times, but not every perceived slight is an actual slight against us. Modern commercialism is what made Valentine’s day what it is today. St. Valentine and his story had very little to do with romance.
I can understand the desire to reclaim our old ways. We lost something and we want it back. That desire is entirely human. However, I ask you to use caution. Don’t ignore newer traditions because they don’t have that “ancient” feel/word attached to them. There is a new holiday out there called Wolfnoot that was created by a seven year old a couple years ago and is now a worldwide celebration. There is nothing wrong with creating something new for yourself and your family. You have to remember that everything was new at one point of time or another and age does not always equal the “right” way.
Our ancestors used to sacrifice animals and humans alike for multiple reasons. Yet, despite this being an ancient practice of those who are labeled Pagan, it is not something that we actively do any more. In fact, it is something that we shy away from. Semantics could say that we sacrifice still, things like candle, energy, plants, etc. but, in truth, we ourselves no longer take an animal/human to be placed on an altar for sacrifice.
There is nothing wrong with also meshing things to work for you either. Let’s take a look at Wicca. Wicca was created by Gerard Butler, who was influenced by Aleister Crowley, who was influenced by The Golden Dawn, who was influenced by Solomon’s Keys, the Jewish Kabbalah and Hermes Trismegistus. That is a long list of influences that created Wicca, which is considered one of the leading paths of Paganism. (More than likely because of its commercialism but we all need a starting step). Wicca’s creation was influenced by several things and there is nothing wrong with that. So if you want to create something of your own, do it, rock that out my little witch.
So what am I trying to say? Long story short, don’t focus so heavily on the so called value of the ancient ways in Paganism. If you want to create something new, then do so. There is nothing wrong with creating your own path because let’s be honest, we are all just winging it because we truly have no idea 100% what ancient pagan ways looked like.
Until next time witches. May the brew in your cauldron never burn and your broom never splinter.
Do you have a question for Aunty Snark? Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org