Friday, January 05, 2007

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

Throughout history humans have been afraid of what they do not understand. Rather than researching, asking questions and trying to understand another person’s viewpoint, many times we harshly judge a matter and exclude those who believe differently than we do.

Halloween has just passed and I’m reminded of people who do not celebrate the occasion because they feel it is a Pagan holiday or that it is “of the devil.” If people only knew how many Pagan traditions are hidden throughout the Bible perhaps they wouldn’t be so judgmental or afraid of Paganism. I’d like to address some of the fears and give a factual overview of Paganism.

What about witches? The wise woman or wise man of the old European village was a respected healer, midwife, or herbalist called a shaman. Today we have doctors and pharmacists who serve in these capacities. They are invokers of energy and distributors of power. They may conduct healing or worship rituals using stones, oil, candles, fire, herbs, water, incense, statues, tarot cards or other tangible objects to invoke Divine energies in an attempt to co-create a situation that betters their life, or the life of a loved one. The intent is never to harm another person. The idea that witches are evil came from the Christian myths created by political figures who violently opposed the traditions of old Rome.

Sound familiar? The Jews used stone altars, burned animals as sacrifice and used incense in the temple rituals. The priests’ robes contained divination tools (Urim and Thummin) used to predict and discern the will of God for the nation. Monotheistic religions today anoint people with oil, and use water in purification rituals such as baptism. If you have ever worn a cross pendant, or placed a picture of Jesus or Mary on your wall you understand the symbolism, comfort and power that icons and tangible objects bring to spiritual practices.

What about witchcraft and casting evil spells? There are those in both Monotheistic and Polytheistic circles who harm others with their behavior, but to say that all Polytheistic people are evil is like saying all priests are child molesters. The intent of a Wiccan witch is much the same as that of a Christian prayer warrior: to improve conditions on the planet or in the lives of others. They are both intercessors for the good of humanity. Modern witches have a strict belief in the Law of Return and Karma or sowing and reaping— what one sends out into the world will return multiplied. Therefore, only positive and loving energy is used in spells.

What about devil worship and animal sacrifice? It is really strange that people think of Polytheistic people as devil worshipers since they do not believe in Satan or the devil. They commonly love and honor animals to the point that many are vegetarians because they do not wish to kill an animal for food. Therefore, it is certain that they do not harm or sacrifice animals in religious rituals. On the other hand, the U.S. is the world’s leader in animal sacrifice as we daily slaughter animals through the poultry and cattle industries in the name of money and self-indulgence.

What about worshipping other gods? Identifying an attribute and calling it a deity doesn’t make it greater than the source from which it came. It remains a corresponding and substantial part of its Creator. Monotheistic people have personified the names, attributes and characteristics of God, i.e.: Jehovah-Jireh means God, the Provider, Jehovah-Shalom means the God of Peace, Jehovah-Rapha means God, the Healer. Monotheism recognizes Arch-Angels such as Michael, the protector, or Raphael, the healer, as angelic helpers of God.

The deities of polytheism are helpers of Mother Goddess. The worship of these deities is usually nothing more than asking for assistance with a problem or releasing worries by placing the situation in the hands of a higher power. Polytheistic people will sometimes make an offering by pouring wine on the ground, or leaving food on the altar or a coin upon the earth as a thank you gift. Monotheistic people give a tithe to the church or make charitable donations as a way of expressing gratitude.

How accepting are you of other religions? Are you willing to be led in a prayer which invokes the love of Mother Goddess as well as in a prayer with the traditional ending “in Jesus’ name”? If you ask your neighbor to attend your church, would you attend a Pagan drum circle with her in return?

Man looks on the outward appearance, but God/Goddess looks at the intention of our heart. Most of our fears and judgments are a result of ignorance or a lack of understanding possibly due to the vocabulary terms we use to define our beliefs. In the end, we are all seeking to feel closely connected with our Creator no matter what name we give him or her.

Yvonne Perry is a metaphysical freelance writer, author and keynote speaker who enjoys assisting people on a spiritual path. Her open style of writing is lovingly controversial and challenges people’s belief systems in order to help them grow spiritually. Get a complimentary copy of Yvonne’s E-book More Than Meets the Eye: True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife at http://www.yvonneperry.net/books.htm.

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