Swimming Upstream

Written by Kathryn A. Graham

Continued from page 1

But that isn't all that I am. I am also Homo sapiens, proud descendant of thousands of generations of hunter-gatherer tribesmen.

We need to remind ourselves that Wicca wasrepparttar religion of an extremely robust hunter-gatherer culture. Humans have been hunter-gathers for 99.9% of our history, and many ofrepparttar 127014 world's ills today can be traced to our efforts to change that.

As an animal lover, I have always abhorred hunting, but much of that feeling comes from being a city girl. The hunters I knew for most of my life, including one unlamented ex-husband, bought six or eight cases of beer every year, drove out to a deer lease where they got drunk out of their minds and shot uprepparttar 127015 woods, and a very, very few stayed sober enough to hit something besides each other and came home with a grisly trophy to hang onrepparttar 127016 wall. The vast majority didn't even know what venison tasted like, and would be honestly horrified atrepparttar 127017 idea of trying to cook it. City hunters, and their lack of respect for life, appalled me – and they still do.

Hunting horrified me so much as a teenager that I even tried earnestly to become a vegetarian, and damned nearly killed myself with malnutrition inrepparttar 127018 process. I held a sneaking suspicion that vegetarianism wasrepparttar 127019 only truly decent way to live, and eating meat fromrepparttar 127020 supermarket was a dirty little secret addiction.

I don't have that luxury anymore. Wicca is about observation, and my body dropped some pretty major observations on me – withrepparttar 127021 weight of a good-sized anvil – about four years ago. Chief among them was that if I kept eating agricultural products – namely sugars and starches – I was going to die. Cut and dried. Eating meat was no longer a matter of choice.

Wicca is about observation. My only choice to restore my health was to accept some pretty unpalatable observations, beginning withrepparttar 127022 fact that I am a carnivore. And so are you, if you are Homo sapiens. You cannot escape it, and you have not evolved beyond it. The very worst thing that ever happened to your health wasrepparttar 127023 development of agriculture. Unless you were actually engaged inrepparttar 127024 back-breaking labors of planting and/or harvest, you became sedentary, because crops tie you to one place. And if you are honest enough to hold your diet to your beliefs, you almost certainly eat foods that range fromrepparttar 127025 merely very bad for you torepparttar 127026 outright poisonous. And no, I am not joking. Most legumes are quite dangerous if not handled properly, yet they are touted by medical science as beingrepparttar 127027 most "healthy" source of protein!

In addition, higher brain development requiresrepparttar 127028 longer chain proteins available only from a meat diet. ADHD was almost unknown to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

You say you do eat meat? Really? Abhorring hunting while going torepparttar 127029 store to buy your steaks is just aboutrepparttar 127030 ultimate in self-deception.

I no longer haverepparttar 127031 luxury of self-deception.

I couldn't resolve this conflict for myself and achieve any personal comfort level at all until I moved torepparttar 127032 country and met a different kind of hunter –repparttar 127033 hunter who hunts for meat, and prunesrepparttar 127034 cherished herd with care. A real hunter kills quickly and cleanly. His enjoys testing his abilities inrepparttar 127035 woods and pitting his intelligence against that of his prey, but he takes no pleasure in cruelty. Naturally, he enjoysrepparttar 127036 fruits ofrepparttar 127037 hunt, often feeding his family for weeks or months onrepparttar 127038 meat. If he takes a trophy, it is secondary in importance torepparttar 127039 meat unlessrepparttar 127040 prey was at least as dangerous as man.

Such a hunter often has more respect forrepparttar 127041 life he harvests than many who claim to have never harmed a housefly or a spider, and I count several such as my close and respected friends today.

Still doubtful? Are you Wiccan? Have you ever listened – really listened – torepparttar 127042 drums? Can you honestly tell me that your heart does not pound, that you cannot feelrepparttar 127043 rush of blood in your veins echoingrepparttar 127044 running ofrepparttar 127045 King Stag withrepparttar 127046 Horned Hunter close on his heels?

If you are a man, do you knowrepparttar 127047 wild joy of testing yourself againstrepparttar 127048 most difficult thing you can imagine – and winning?

If you are a woman, have you never tastedrepparttar 127049 tenderness and violence of a man who wore his antlers with pride?

Have any of you, man or woman, held that big, heavy rifle in your hands and taken astonished pride in actually hitting that little bitty target that seemed so many miles away?

Whenrepparttar 127050 God stretches out His hand to you, do you join inrepparttar 127051 dance?

The God has as much place in our lives asrepparttar 127052 Goddess. The wild woods,repparttar 127053 rampant sexuality,repparttar 127054 playfulness andrepparttar 127055 courage are all woven into His dance. We dance with Him when we fly, when we skydive or scuba dive, when we race cars and boats – and yes, when we hunt. If we leaverepparttar 127056 dance behind, we also leave behind that which makes us human. To do it, we must give up courage, and we must give up joy. If we do that, we might as well be dead.

Wicca is about attuning oneself torepparttar 127057 rhythms of nature. Wicca is about reaching way down deep in our genetic heritage and findingrepparttar 127058 courage to become what we truly are, what our loving Creators always meant for us to be. Wicca is about tastingrepparttar 127059 full measure of what life has to offer. There can be no compromise here. Anything less is swimming upstream against Nature, back-breaking, heartbreaking and ultimately doomed to failure.

My decision to tasterepparttar 127060 hunt was not an easy one, but it is made. I am eagerly waiting forrepparttar 127061 first freeze this year. Two of my most trusted friends have promised to take me on a wild pig hunt (I hate venison, and I love pork). I know I am a good shot, but I have never killed anything more sentient than a paper target. I honestly don't know if I will haverepparttar 127062 strength or courage to pull that trigger, which is why I am grateful for their backup – as I do know that wild pig is very, very dangerous. But if I can work up my courage enough to do it, that pork will taste better than any other meat I have ever eaten. I will have earned it with my own skill and my own courage.

My mouth is already watering, just thinking about it.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

"When we get there we'll discover All ofrepparttar 127063 gifts we've been given to share Have been with us since life's beginning And we never noticed they were there We can balance atrepparttar 127064 brink of wisdom Never recognizing that we've arrived Loving spirits will live together We're all swimming torepparttar 127065 other side . . ."

From "Swimming torepparttar 127066 Other Side" by Pat Humphries © 1992 Moving Forward Music May be heard onrepparttar 127067 Faerie Goddess CD, Elaine Silver vocals Used with permission.

At a tiny 5'1", Kathryn A. Graham is a licensed private investigator, pilot, aircraft mechanic and handgun instructor in Texas. Also a prolific author, she has written numerous articles, short stories and a science fiction novel. http://www.kathrynagraham.com/

Witchcraft & Christianity

Written by Kathryn A. Graham

Continued from page 1

In terms of our current century, Hollywood hasn't helped us much, either. Sick, twisted individuals who worship evil have always existed, and sadly, I'm afraid they will for a very long time to come. They pervertrepparttar Christian cross by inverting it, and sometimes, they invert our sacred symbol,repparttar 127013 pentagram, as well. Hollywood directors just can't seem to get it right, though. They consistently show evil ceremonies prominently displayingrepparttar 127014 pentagram right side up.

Whenrepparttar 127015 pentagram is displayed properly,repparttar 127016 symbolism is that of a man standing upright within a circle, meaning uprightness and spirit over flesh. In other traditions,repparttar 127017 five points representrepparttar 127018 four elements (fire, air, earth, water) surmounted by aether – or spirit. In any case, spirit is on top. Needless to say,repparttar 127019 symbolism of an inverted pentagram is obscene to us, just asrepparttar 127020 symbolism of an inverted cross is obscene to you if you are a Christian. Because most Christians have seen movies in which evil ceremonies were presided over by an upright pentagram, they are upset and frightened when they meet a Wiccan wearing one. That's understandable enough, but it should be corrected by education.

Other reasons for fear again date back to medieval times. The reasons have mostly been forgotten, butrepparttar 127021 fear remains. During medieval times, life was unpleasant. In fact, it was downright horrible forrepparttar 127022 peasants. Christianity taughtrepparttar 127023 peasants that it didn't matter, thatrepparttar 127024 material world was to be shunned in favor of a reward inrepparttar 127025 Christian Heaven. Wiccans did not, and do not, agree. I can still remember my first teacher telling me that it would be difficult to cultivate my spiritual nature until at least my basic physical needs - as in food, shelter, warmth - were met. We are taught that achieving success at another's expense is wrong (remember we are permitted to harm none!), but success in itself is actually a virtue. In medieval times, daring to hope and work for success was dangerous thinking. It might even have led to a collapse of feudalism. Sorepparttar 127026 Christian hatred of that tenet of Wicca was one part envy, one part fear.

Another envy/fear combination had to do withrepparttar 127027 fact that Wicca is fun. The Old Religion is filled with laughter and playfulness. Our ceremonies are wonderful parties, full of happy tipsiness and flirtation. By comparison, medieval Christian practices were rather grim. Somehow,repparttar 127028 Christians who were trying to convert us had to convince us that slipping off intorepparttar 127029 woods for a bonfire and a roaring good time wasn't such a good idea. Do what they would, though, they couldn't get us to give up our fun. Quite logically underrepparttar 127030 circumstances, they "borrowed" from us. The use of song and chants in ritual (although whyrepparttar 127031 church couldn’t manage happy song, I can’t say), incense (borrowed from Mithraic ritual)– even some actual elements of ritual itself. You can hear echoes of our cakes and ale ceremony in Christian Communion. Oh, I don't doubt that Jesus of Nazareth had bread and wine during his Last Supper! That's as may be, but I don't thinkrepparttar 127032 contents of his last meal became a central part of Christian ceremonies until Christianity clashed withrepparttar 127033 Old Religion in Europe.

Where did Jesus getrepparttar 127034 idea inrepparttar 127035 first place? Mithras, who died following a ritual meal of bread and wine? Orrepparttar 127036 cakes and ale ofrepparttar 127037 Old Religion? Scary question, isn't it? Forrepparttar 127038 record, I believe it was Mithras, as he wasrepparttar 127039 secret god of many ofrepparttar 127040 Roman troops occupying Palestine atrepparttar 127041 time of Jesus of Nazareth. Nevertheless, enough Roman troops were European “barbarians” that it is just possible that some elements of our faith were known to Jesus himself.

20th Century Christian practices never struck me as being a barrel of laughs, either. Wiccans are still having fun. So there is bound to be some ongoing envy, if not outright fear.

Please do not misunderstand. I am not bashing Christians! Those who practice their faith honestly have no part in this hatred and fanaticism. Most are decent men and women, and I am proud to call many of them my friends. Whenrepparttar 127042 Rev. Jack Harvey called for a Christian boycott ofrepparttar 127043 Armed Forces over this pagan worship controversy, Rev. Pat Robertson hadrepparttar 127044 courage to publicly withdraw fromrepparttar 127045 boycott and state it was wrong. I refer only torepparttar 127046 dignified lack of humor inrepparttar 127047 Christian faith as it has been practiced down throughrepparttar 127048 centuries. It does not speak to my heart at all.

Also, if I am to be completely honest, I must admit that pagans aren’t completely innocent inrepparttar 127049 dirty tricks department. The so-called Cult of Mary, which existed within Roman Catholicism for so many centuries, was actually a secret form of “safe” Goddess worship.

I wonder how many Christians know how many of their holidays were originally ours?

Samhain, our New Year celebration, whenrepparttar 127050 walls betweenrepparttar 127051 worlds are at their thinnest and our beloved dead walk and feast among us, became Christian All Hallows or Halloween. One ceremony used by pagans to encourage a rich crop (although not at Samhain, which is afterrepparttar 127052 harvest) wasrepparttar 127053 sweeping of brooms overrepparttar 127054 planted fields. To early Christians watching from a distance, it must have looked likerepparttar 127055 witches were riding onrepparttar 127056 brooms or trying to do so. Since Samhain was known to berepparttar 127057 witches’ most important holiday, witches riding on broomsticks becamerepparttar 127058 symbol of Halloween. Not so surprising at all.

Yule, orrepparttar 127059 winter solstice, when we celebraterepparttar 127060 birth ofrepparttar 127061 Sun God to Mother Earth and Father Time, was borrowed forrepparttar 127062 birthday ofrepparttar 127063 Christian Jesus. Most Christian scholars agree that Jesus was actually born inrepparttar 127064 spring. The Yule log,repparttar 127065 tree, and evenrepparttar 127066 Nativity Crèche were originally pagan customs. If you have Wiccan friends, and you thought they were only protecting themselves by displaying a Nativity Crèche at Christmas, you were wrong. We had Nativity Crèches long before you came along to convert us!

Imbolc, our festival of light, when we celebraterepparttar 127067 start ofrepparttar 127068 Mother's return to us, along withrepparttar 127069 birth of new lambs and flowers awakening underrepparttar 127070 snow, became Christian Candlemas.

Beltane, our famous (and infamous) fertility celebration when we leaprepparttar 127071 bonfires in joy atrepparttar 127072 arrival of summer, became May Day, famous for playful fertility celebrations throughoutrepparttar 127073 Christian world.

Lammas, or August 1st, when we celebraterepparttar 127074 fruitfulness ofrepparttar 127075 land - well, how many Christians have celebratedrepparttar 127076 rich harvest to come down throughrepparttar 127077 centuries?

There are many, many more examples of "borrowing."

And therein liesrepparttar 127078 real root ofrepparttar 127079 problem.

The thing a few fanatical Christians fear most of all is being forced to admit our kinship, because after nearly 2,000 years of borrowing, we aren’t so very different anymore.

At a tiny 5'1", Kathryn A. Graham is a licensed private investigator, pilot, aircraft mechanic and handgun instructor in Texas. Also a prolific author, she has written numerous articles, short stories and a science fiction novel. http://www.kathrynagraham.com/

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