Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pagans don't BOTHER celebrating Sabbaths...

 At least some of the mystery has been revealed. I just read Pagan Soccer Mom's post on why she doesn't celebrate the Sabbaths.

"I thought that the sabbats just had to be celebrated in full regalia - circles and calling all the quarters, rituals galore!  Buuuut, as I mellowed out and really got to the core of my beliefs, I figured out that it's not necessary."

Of course it's not necessary. But do you really think it's a great message to send your children and other Pagans that the world turns around and seasons follow each other, and that's nothing to bother about for a Pagan? That the miracle of Equinoxes is not a miracle. It's just a date like any other. Who cares? Not Pagan Soccer Mom.

Of course it's not NECESSARY, but it's PART OF BEING A PAGAN. If WE don't celebrate our Sabbaths, who does? Leave it to Christians, so that they can steal them and infuse the old traditions with their horrible anti-life messages?

Of course it's not necessary, but I have noticed that I feel better, spiritually, when I do honor the Holidays. Celebrating "in a big way", lifting these 8 days apart from the rest of the year, doing more than "cooking a really nice, season appropriate dinner", "doing a simple candle ceremony" and "TRYING to do some sort of activity".

Frankly, if one cooks ONLY for Sabbaths a "really nice, season appropriate dinner", it's no wonder we don't even KNOW what is eating season appropriately nor know how to cook simple and quick, yet "really nice and season appropriate" dinners.
Cooking is not rocket science nor brain surgery. Not everyone might be a GREAT cook, but everyone can be a good cook.
As we MUST eat, why not make eating and preparing of the food into a Holy Sacrament. Our Mother gives Her BODY to us to feed us, She has made this lovely, beautiful, fertile world just to feed us - physically and spiritually. Every morcel you put in your food should be laced with gratitude and prayer.

After the long and cold wintertime it's finally time for the snow to melt and new growth replace it. It's like the liberation of the Jews from Egypt! Everyone who gardens waits eagerly for the Spring to arrive to be able to get back to their garden. In just a couple of months all this we are living in will be gone. Is that not something to celebrate "in a big way"?

Even though it was lovely that it snowed, the scarce light reflecting from the icy surface doesn't replace the wonderful sunlight streaming in through the windows. Have a day when you wash the windows and decorate them and the windowsills in a ceremonious way, and enjoy the returning light.
It's only now you can SEE how the light returns, faster every day that goes, the sun rises earlier and earlier...
Can you smell the melting snow in the air? Take a walk in the forest until you can smell it.
Listen to the birds. Soon there will be the First Butterfly of the Summer. One day you'll find a winter bug buzzing on your window. Welcome these signs of returning life and celebrate it.

"Something that has always frustrated me... ...[is] when someone thinks that if they miss celebrating on the actual sabbat day, that they've just missed out."

Frankly, they just did. Do you know that you can balance an egg on the ground on the exact moment of Equinox? Not a minute earlier or later. (Perhaps this is just a myth, I haven't tried it out yet, but there are some witches who say they have actually done this and it's not a myth.) If there is such magic in the air on that specific day, what other magic is in the air?

Frankly, give it a decade and see the difference in keeping the specific days and just randomly waving in that general direction. And do it properly. It's not enough to repeat the correspondences and symbolism like a parrot, THINK about what the day really means. Tune into Mother's breathing and FEEL how she gets up and starts moving... how Her heartbeat gets quicker and stronger...

"The sabbat marks the start of the season."

That depends totally on the Sabbath. Four of them mark the start AND the end of a season, but four, Ostara included, mark the height of the season.

Also, all the preparation work before and landing after are not part of the actual ceremony, but PREPARING FOR IT or LANDING FROM IT. Sure, life sometimes makes it harder to celebrate, and sometimes we have to celebrate a day or two earlier or later, but that doesn't mean the actual Sabbath day isn't important. Celebrating Ostara "sometime in March, or perhaps April" is stealing some of the importance of the day. It is saying that you put all kinds of other things before the Holy Day you are to keep.

Of course we should see Ostara and all the other Sabbaths as Great Holidays, and treat them as we treat every other Holiday. We should take everything we love from other holidays, and adjust them to every holiday, so that Pagans answer the question: "what's your favorite holiday" with "all of them!"
Of course we should be planning for a big family feast, making holiday cookies "days, if not weeks" before Ostara, decorating the house and doing things with the children,your friends or alone, like preparing the Holiday cards and making simple, cheap ornaments, and I agree with her in that this happens so sadly seldom among Pagans today. This is why I'm trying to chance this fact.

I want "12 days of Ostara", a feast for "carrying out the Ostara" on 13th day;
I want Ostara movies and Ostara carols;
I want Ostara food and scents that take you instantly back at your childhood Ostaras;
I want Ostara traditions that your children and grand-children will carry on to generations come;
I want us Pagans to honor Ostara and other Sabbaths as they should be honored.

Goddess marked the days and She keeps Her part of the deal. Is it too much to ask that we FIND time to do ours?


Dragonfly said...

Hi, I'm really enjoying your posts on the 30 days of Ostara. I would in fact have joined in, as Ostara / Eostre is one festival I can share with you as another pagan but sadly can't give that time commitment at the moment.

I have to say though there are a few points in your above post I need to take issue with. Firstly though your passion for the sabbaths shines through I think you are wrong to say it's every pagan duty to celebrate them. The simple fact is that many pagans don't celeberate the sabbaths as part of their choosen path, I don't. I do know of them and may give a nod of respect to them but as a heathen they do not form the core of my festivals. Two or three festivals we share, Yule and Eostre being the main ones but even then I think we often see them differently. The sabbaths cover mainly the wicca, celtic and some neo pagan paths but they are NOT part of being a pagan for everyone.

The second issue I have is your insitance about the timing. We can not say for certain how or when our ancestors celebrated their festivals, but they are unlikely to have been accurate to a calendar date. Though many of us choose to celebrate with the modern convience of calendar dates, our ancestors are more likely to have followed a lunar calendar and if they did celebrate ostara it would more likely have been at the full moon following the spring equinox.

The sabbats do lend themselves to calendar dates and is convnient in our modern world but to follow them slavishly I think is wrong, it takes away our connection to the earth. Take your sabbath Imbolc and my festival of Charming of the plough / Ewemeolc which happen around the same time, to me they are both the celebration of the start of spring and new life. Now I know that different area's will celebrate charming of the plough anytime between end of Jan to the end of Feb. simply because spring comes to different areas at differnt times, the seasons don't conform to our calendar. I always go with the time when the snowdrops first start to show which is normally the first week of Feb in my area of England. Imbolc takes its name from the lactation of sheep and sheep don't follow calendar dates so again it will vary from area to area.

Many of the holy tides are sesonal and I think that is an aspect that should be respected. As a pagan I don't want to conform to the christian tradition of applying a firm date to everything.

I continue to look forward to your Ostara posts and I'll put something up myself sometime around the spring equinox.

blessings of frith x

Ketutar said...

I'm glad you are enjoying my 30 Days of Ostara, and I am glad you chose to comment. I just wish you had commented on the posts you read, and not just the one you disagree with. Never mind, though. I'm glad to meet my readers :-) It makes it worth while to continue.


"you are wrong to say it's every pagan duty to celebrate them"

Where do I say that?

I say that the Sabbaths are important. Be a secular Pagan as much as you want to, but don't tell me being secular is being observant. The fact remains that if you want to take your Paganity seriously, you ARE observant, and IF you are an observant Pagan, you WILL observe, honor and keep your Sabbaths (which ever they are. I'm not saying they have to be the ones I observe, or everyone must call them the same).

Ketutar said...

You say we share "2-3 festivals". Quarter Days are shared by almost every Pagan tradition, and most have even some sort of holiday in between them, like Beltane or Samhain. The names differ but the traditions and times don't differ much. One can rather easily draw parallels with the different feasts, like all the different Lady's Days being celebrated around Spring Equinox, or Lord's Days celebrated around Autumn Equinox.

We, just as our Pagan ancestors, know exactly when Spring Equinox happens.
Also, if you were tuned into Mother, you'd know without any tools of measuring time, without even seeing the changes in nature.
Most people now-a-days don't have that possibility, and therefore you cannot really refer to how "our ancestors" kept time and holidays. Most modern people depend on clocks and calendars, and it is because of this I insist on celebrating the Quarter Days on the actual days of equinoxes and solstices, and the Big Four in between, on a set date. It gives people a possibility to plan and take time off from work, and do what ever is needed - IF the Holidays are important to them.
Also, in the old rural society the fields were plowed when it was possible, the crops were gathered when they were ready, and after that it was time for the Harvest festival and Thanksgiving. Of course there had to be some flexibility to the date of the holidays, but you couldn't move the feasts weeks and months - as said, there was a reason to why these feasts were celebrated.
We are not rural anymore. Most people don't know when sheep starts to lactate, but if you manage to keep the ram away from the ewes, you can calculate pretty closely when they will start ;-) Most people know when February 2nd is though, and that is close enough to both snowdrops and lactating ewes.

I think "our ancestors" followed both sun and moon in their reckoning. Are you aware of the Persian feast of Nowruz? It's a thousands of years old festival that has clear Pagan origins, so much so that Observant Muslims shouldn't celebrate it. It is celebrated AT THE DATE OF SPRING EQUINOX. Not at the closest full moon, or new moon, but at the Spring Equinox.

The thing is that because we cannot say for certain when "our ancestors" celebrated their festivals, it's also rather uninteresting. I am not after recreating the way "our ancestors" worshiped, but to live Pagan the best I can. I believe Goddess speaks to me, and She says the Quarter Days are important. You celebrate Spring Equinox two weeks after it happens, "at the following Full Moon" (it's full moon the 19th and equinox the 20th...), I celebrate it on the day it happens.

"to follow them slavishly I think is wrong, it takes away our connection to the earth"
I am not following calendar dates, Dragonfly, but Goddess' Sun and Earth, and Goddess herself.
I don't see a mention of duty in what I wrote, but I do see several mentions of actual happenings in the nature and actually tuning in to Mother Earth and feeling her, and seeing how different it is to make it real and just winding it.

The Quarter Days are something totally different than Imbolc and Samhain. I live so high up North that there will be no snowdrops in sight for a good while yet. Imbolc is a pure calendar feast for me. I celebrate it on the old Candlemas, 2.2. It happens to be in the middle of Winter solstice and Spring equinox, 1 1/2 moons from both. That's synchronisity enough for me, and as I can feel the Mother's Heartbeats under my feet at Midsummer, and how the worlds merge together at Samhain, I don't think I'm loosing my connection to Earth... so following the calendar cannot be that bad.

Ketutar said...

"As a pagan I don't want to conform to the christian tradition of applying a firm date to everything."

And that's the way you do things, and it's fine.

BTW, it's not a "Christian tradition". The Chinese had a calendar before Christianity was even invented, the Hindus had a calendar, they had calendars with fixed dates in Persia and America, and in Egypt, with Summer Solstice as the New Year.
To sum it up, I can be very strict, hard and relentless, and in my mind there are things that need to be done in a certain way to "earn" the label. The label itself isn't worth much, an observant, orthodox Pagan isn't a BETTER Pagan or MORE Pagan than a secular Pagan, and one tradition is not BETTER than other. BUT I expect people do live as they preach, and I am very disappointed by the lack of interest - as far as I know. When I get practically no reaction from the audience, I'm speaking for myself, and it's not very rewarding :-) I was expecting more interest, more engagement, more activity from my fellow Pagans. I was also expecting more input... I don't want to be a community leader or rolemodel, the one telling how to do, the one coming up with the ideas and inspiration... and I feel I must be, for there to be anything happening I would like to happen. It's very disheartening, so I burst out into bitter rants like this one. From my point of view most Pagans don't bother celebrating holidays, any holidays, not the same I celebrate nor different.

But thank you for commenting :-)