Well, I am finally over the bug I started feeling on Saturday. I had planned on holding a winter solstice Pagan ceremony on Sunday but I could barely get out of bed. My wife and our roommate were both in St. Louis for the holidays so it was just me and Higgins for a week. Luckily I was able to call in sick and take the time necessary to rest.
Anyway, on the 24th I decided to hold the ceremony anyway. One of my favorite things about Paganism is the level of customization for the individual. What matters is a pursuit of bettering your life and the world, the particular ceremonies and holy books are simply tools to use if they work and discard if they don’t. It even works with me being an atheist.
This was my first real spiritual move in a long time, and it is something I hope to do more of in the new year. The way Americans celebrate winter religious ceremonies is kind of interesting. While Christianity is certainly the prominent force, most Christians acknowledge (Kirk Cameron excluded) that many/most of the symbolism involved in the modern practice has come from Paganism and other faiths. But not all symbols, the pentagram has, incorrectly in my opinion, become a symbol of evil and Satanism, but a Christmas Tree or Easter Bunny are perfectly fine to embrace and the even overshadow the religious icons in a home. Even the most Biblical literalist seems okay with Pagan symbols when they are part of “tradition”.
For myself, I held a simple ceremony based on some research I did online, stuff from a book that was recommended to me, and what I could remember from the ceremony to the god Pan that I participated in a couple years ago. Because my ceremony was solo and I wanted to focus on the upcoming year much of it was geared towards self-improvement, eliminating expectations, and learning to “row with the flow”. There were candles, some chanting and prayers, meditation, and a ceremonial burning. Nothing too hardcore, but it was perfect for me.
Exploring my spirituality and uniting that with my scientific and atheist side is becoming more and more important to me. It looks like my wife and I will even be able to attend a Pagan festival in Indiana next summer. I am not sure exactly what form my spiritual path will take, or if I will just cast part of it aside because it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. All my premises should be tested often as I learn and grow, but I am excited to jump into holy texts from around the world and see what they can teach me.