Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I'm sorry I've been away for a time as I have been a bit under the weather, but I am feeling much better now, thank you! Let's discuss this provocative subject "Giving things up for Lent". Of course witches don't observe Lent but a lot of non Christian people do follow the 'martyrdom' concept of 'giving things up'. Now, please understand that I don't condone Christian bashing and I am simply, in this discussion, discussing the differences in concepts from the Christian and Pagan points of view. I deeply respect each person's right to observe their religion as they see fit and simply because I do things, perhaps differently, does not mean others are wrong. It simply means we do things differently. I am one, that believes that two people can have opposing viewpoints and each person can be right. We must do what is right for us.
So, let's discuss this topic, from this witch's point of view. Firstly, I will step into the Christian arena and observe what I see in relation to this topic. At Lent, a period of time from Ash Wednesday, which is today, to Easter, some Christians choose to give up something from their lives. I believe this is in honor or memory of Jesus and other great teachers who practiced giving up of material and physical things in their lives. Yet, from my research and understanding Christians today don't do this as the great teachers did. Today they give up something, usually enjoyable, for a short period of time. Jesus, Mohammad, Gandhi, Buddha, Mother Theresa to name a few, gave up what no longer served them, in their lives. They did not set aside a pleasure or material thing for sacrifice, which is what is done today. For after the season of Lent has passed, those that had given something up will pick up again that which they had set aside. This makes this a sacrificial gesture, to give up of something that is still desired. The great teachers I mentioned, gave up that which they no longer had need for, no longer wanted. Never to be picked up again. This makes the gesture a totally different concept from sacrifice and martyrdom. Much more like the Pagan concept of giving something up or I like to say 'putting a thing aside'.
We, as Pagans and Witches, give up that which no longer serves us. Not just for a period of time, or at an anniversary date somewhere during the year, but I believe it can and should be done often. What do I mean? For myself, I work at getting rid of, 'giving up' that which no longer serves me on a regular basis. It would be nice to say "I give up negativity!" but let's be realistic here, shall we? Negativity is the polar opposite of positivity and as with anything dealing with polarity we must have it! Why? Good question. We can't have up without down, hot without cold, light without darkness, day without night, winter without summer etc. That is the physical reality we live in. We can have positivity and work at being positive everyday, but just like I'm almost always healthy (until this past week!) we must have our down times, our moments of weakness and negativity. It's part of the whole package.
Hopefully, we can negate some of it, but we need to be more specific rather than just giving up negativity. We can choose to give up hanging out and surrounding ourselves with negative people for instance. This may be difficult to do at work, but I often advise people that find themselves in a difficult work situation to simply "do your work". You do not need to socialize, hang out after work or be friends with these people. Really! You do not. You just need to work with them, and in the work place today there is simply too much socializing and befriending which, quite frankly, makes for a less efficient work place and more drama than most people need. If you find yourself in this place, go to work, do your work and then leave and keep your social life where it belongs, outside of work in your own personal time and space. Trust me, your employer will thank you for this!
You may choose to watch less news, which is dedicated to bringing the world's worst situations, disasters and maladies right into your living room. Do you watch everything you can regarding the latest political races, well that's bound to bring some serious negativity into your life as that's what that machine feeds off of. I find I can still be well informed by being aware of current events and the political process without consuming a large diet of it everyday. I find that I'm happier and I see the world in a better light when I limit my exposure to the news and politics.
Do you want to be healthier? Rather than giving up chocolate or fattening foods, alcohol or smoking for a short period of time for 'religious purposes' a witch would look at her overall nutritional diet and make the healthy changes that will last a lifetime. All things in moderation unless they are very unhealthy for you or dangerous such as alcohol or smoking which you might wish to banish from your life for a longer, healthier existence, or cut down drastically for improved health.
I've heard of people giving up all sorts of things they find pleasurable and fun such as sex, funny movies, red meat, dancing, chocolate and desserts all for Lent. Never will you find a witch giving up what the Goddess has given us to have and enjoy in our lives simply to be a martyr for our religion. I frankly, don't get this concept! To me, it's akin to giving up laughter, happiness, friendship and joy! Why? These are parts, valuable parts of our lives that are necessary and make our lives meaningful and worth living! I can simply imagine how bereft my life would be without the things and people I enjoy in my life, I don't need to experience it to appreciate it.
Some people fast, actually giving up food!! This is a concept that, except for medical purposes, I fail to get. I find I can emphasize with the starving and hungry without starving myself, and it's a sacrifice that one cannot do for very long without perishing. Then again others choose this time to be more charitable to others, kind of the flip side or opposite polarity to sacrifice, to give unto others. Rather than giving something up, they choose to give of themselves to others. I personally try to do this all the time, not just at a certain time, and I don't do it to benefit myself and to raise my status in the eyes of my Goddess. I try to be charitable to others because what I send out comes back to me and I would like people to be kind and charitable to me. It's simply common courtesy and why it should be wrapped up with religion is beyond me. Being a kind, generous, thoughtful and compassionate person should be the norm, not the exception, but . . . that's just this witch's opinion!
Give up what no longer serves you. Put aside that which no longer benefits your life, what no longer brings you joy, happiness or a sense of well being. But to sacrifice and be a martyr? Jesus wasn't a martyr, nor were any of the other great masters I mentioned earlier in this discussion. They were simply wise men and women that had come to a place where some things no longer worked for them, so they set them aside. They did not 'give a thing up' which is a sacrifice, they set a thing aside, which is a choice. There's a tremendous difference, if you think about it.
Peace and Happiness
© 2010-2012 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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at Wednesday, February 22, 2012