“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it;
let nothing stop you or turn you aside.”
~From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valliente
As I write this I am a 36 year old man, a Witch and Pagan, a gay man, and a citizen of the United States. You know, just one of your ordinary run-of-the-mill members of “We the People”?
I was born in 1972 and some of my earliest memories are tied up with the tremendous groundswell of patriotism related to the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial. I remember fireworks, and flag waving, and a certain “go USA” attitude that permeated my early childhood. I remember School House Rock and the lessons of science (elec-tri-city!) and language (conjunction, junction, what’s your function?), but most of all I remember the U.S. History (We the People) and Civics (I’m only a Bill…) lessons.
The pride and fascination I felt regarding the founding of our country and those heroes of our nations past who helped to bring it in to being, or those who helped our nation become more than it was as it groped towards its ideals, or who shepherded it through the trying times of our nations history; are deeply woven through the fabric of my personality and identity.
I also, just barely, remember the broadcast of Alex Hailey’s Roots. I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the emergence of the HIV Virus and AID’s and our Governments lack of a response, the Iran/Contra scandal, Operation Condor, and many other examples of how the U.S. has been, and, in some ways, continues to be, imperfect. Yet, even while I admit that our history as a nation features failures to live up to our own ideals, slavery and the Trail of Tears among them, I do not think that these sad historical facts invalidate the ideals set out by the Founding Fathers.
We are a nation founded upon some of the highest ideals…
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
the Declaration of Independence
~AND, let us never forget~
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for
States of America.”
~the preamble to the U.S.
The Civil War, The Labor Movement, Suffragette’s, The New Deal, WWII, The Civil Rights Movement, Gay Pride, Pagan Pride; We the People continue to strive towards a more perfect Union. As a Witch I am commanded by the Goddess to follow my highest ideals. Patriotism, is for me, a part of my ideals. Given these facts what can I do as both a Citizen and a Pagan?
As a Citizen, I can educate myself. I can read, and watch, and listen to news reports and research issues that concern me. I can register to vote in my new county, and educate myself on the local issues in my new home. I can learn the History of my Nation, and read the U.S.’s founding documents… the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I can begin to move from thought to action, supporting organizations that support and encourage Democracy, Governmental Accountability, Peace, and Justice. Writing letters and donating of my time and energy and money to causes I believe in.
As a Pagan, and Witch, as I study my nations History I can begin to honor the memories and spirits of the Founding Father’s, and Mothers, and the many Hero’s who have helped our nation in it’s strivings towards its own ideals. I can light a candle or incense, and pour libations for Jefferson and Franklin. I can call upon the Goddess Columbia or Lady Liberty, or Uncle Sam… the original ‘American Gods’.
And I can write of how my Patriotism and Paganism are intertwined, and how the ethics and values and morals of my faith impel me to be a more engaged U.S. citizen.
~~~links of interest~~~
Religio-Americana is a Yahoo Group for Pagans interested in ways of honoring our ‘American Gods’ and our Hero’s and Heroines.
Ceisiwr Serith’s Homepage is a fount of useful information and links from the author of A Pagan Book of Prayer. There are some amazing links for U.S. History amongst a lot of other wonderful information.
Charters of Freedom is a fantastic U.S. history website from the National Archives that features biographies of the Founding fathers, as well as images and transcripts of our Nations Founding Documents.