By Peg Aloi, Being Blog….
I’ve attended Yule rites with bonfires reflecting their golden flames on the snow. I’ve rolled in the snow after climbing out of an outdoor hot dub, beneath a solstice full moon. One year I was house-sitting in a remote village in England, and spent the day alone, walking to a Neolithic site in the fading daylight, and cooking banger stew for my holiday meal. In other years I’ve performed with Pagan musical groups, staging the Abbots Bromley horn dance, singing songs in Gaelic and Welsh, and chanting about fire, trees, and snow. There is a rich tradition of music full of rustic nature imagery that lends a wonderful spirit to the traditional canon of Christmas carols and popular songs.
Scholars who study American religion have also wondered why, exactly, American history played out in ways that have emphasized a philosophy of personal religious liberty. Typically these traditions go by names such as Wicca, Paganism, Druidism, Heathenism, often grouped together under the label Neo-Pagan. Taken together, they constitute one of the fastest growing religious communities in America over the past two decades, conservatively estimated as representing at least 1% of the American population.
“Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live.” How do you like that for an opening line! In quoting Exodus 22:18, the stranger was snidely referring to the Wiccan Encyclopedia I was holding. Without missing a beat, this stranger continued his one sided dialogue—shrieking…..