Friday, 6 November 2009

Small Sacrifices

Recently, on a predominantly non-pagan message board, someone asked for suggestion on how to "celebrate" Samhain without spending too much money.   Many of the respondents gave a run-down of what they do, personally, at this time of year, as did I.

I generally sit out on fire festivals.  This involves staying out-of-doors from sun down to sunrise, meditating on what the time of year/festival might have meant to my ancestors, performing little rituals appropriate for the season and various other activities.   I have often considered my efforts rather tame and effortless in comparison to some; perhaps even bordering on laziness, so the responses I received to my suggestion took me rather by surprise.

"Oh no.  I couldn't do that; I'll freeze."  Fire and rugs don't seem to exist in the 21st century.

"What if it's raining?   I can't risk catching a cold."   Apparently, colds are spread by rain, not viruses.

"I can't go a whole night without sleep."  Is napping now a lost art?  Bearing in mind, Samhain fell on a weekend this year, I find this objection rather weak.  What's more meditation, when done correctly, can revive.

"Oh, I can't stay out the whole night, but I might go out after "Strictly Come Dancing" and "X-Factor"."   It seems false idols now take precedence over our gods, ancestors, and genius loci.

I have to admit the weather this year was foul, and I do camp in a place that is protected from the weather somewhat, whilst still giving a good view of the horizons.   I also have to admit that I did not sit out this past Samhain, but this was due to a (contagious and heavily medicated) illness, but that didn't stop me undertaking an all-night vigil, and doing as much as I could to mark the season.   Even so, I find it difficult to understand the attitude of some people to a little sacrifice in honour of their gods/ancestors/sacred festivals.  How is it that a small amount of time, or a bit of discomfort is too much?   It's not like I was suggesting people part with the hard-earned, and let's face it these days, precious cash.  I know people claim to be time poor these days, but is six nights a year such a strain?  Does our faith/religion/spirituality not deserve at least that much devotion?

I often hear people talk, and write about not wanting to pay for their spirituality or religion, but I always assumed they meant money.  I think I was wrong: perhaps what is sought is free spirituality, i.e. free from commitment, effort or exertion of mind, body or soul ~ free to do what you want, when you want and only if you want.


Before anyone jumps up and says:  "You're just being a grouch and what's wrong with having fun at Halloween anyway?".  

There's nothing wrong with having fun, joining in trick-or-treating, going to costume balls, and this can be combined with other, more spiritual activities effortlessly, as so many of my friends manage to do.  It's the  "can't be bothered" and "I've got more important things to do" attitudes with which I take issue.

I do wonder:
  1. If pagans find these small sacrifices too much to bear, exactly what, if anything, are they willing to do in the name of their beliefs?
  2. And, what would they honestly consider a real sacrifice?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked this post very much. I like the simplicity of your celebration. My excuse? I'm living with family who don't know I'm pagan and wouldn't approve. It is a situation which I hope to remedy eventually and then I hope to take a page from your rituals.