Friday, January 1, 2010

Hum-bugs meet ho-cakes

In a puff of smoke, Zandria Zatara emerges from the first semester of grad school and attempts to pull a rabbit out of her hat.

Unfortunately the rabbit escaped and all that is left is a steaming pile of bunny poo.

This is actually my Christmas post. I just got sidetracked with holiday stuff so it is a little late.

Christmas morning I got up and sent out a text message wishing all of my friends a Merry Christmas. Most responded in kind but there was one notable exception. One responded with a rambling voicemail about how she thought we are "pagans and witches and shit" and thus could not fathom why we would wish her a "Merry Christmas." She wrapped up the lecture with "I would wish you a Merry Christmas but . . . well look up Lon Milo DuQuette's Christmas song for why we shouldn't say Merry Christmas."

First off, without pulling any punches, let me just say Lon's Christmas song was just fucking bigoted! It wasn't cute or funny like some Pagan anti-Christmas songs can be. It wasn't even executed well. It was a bigoted rant set to somewhat catchy music - music with which the lyrics didn't even fit. Most of all, it was just mean spirited. I say shame on Lon for setting a really poor example for Thelemites and magicians at large. But the song has been discussed to death and I don't mean to rehash that here. My post is about Christmas, and ex-Christians.

I grew up in a strict Wesleyan church so for all of those who say that their hatred of Christians and Christianity is fueled by a fundamentalist upbringing - cry me a river! It is an excuse, a poor excuse, for hatred. These people have turned to various Pagan paths, Wicca, Thelema, or whatever, to escape from those early childhood experiences and only succeeded in creating a Pagan exclusivism or elitism. So to anyone who preaches Love, Peace, and Universal Harmony and then bashes Christians as a whole people based on their beliefs or the radical actions of a few, I say: Get the fuck over it already. You are not "enlightened" and you never will be as long as you are holding on to this. Let it go. And on a side note, for those who call themselves "Gnostics" and then bash Christianity - read a history book.

Completely apart from Christian beliefs and Christian upbringing there is our cultural holiday of Christmas. We, as Americans (and I direct this at Americans only because I have never experienced any other form of Christmas), regardless of religion, have Christmas as a cultural holiday steeped in tradition and possessed of its own, secular, meaning. Sure Pagans might do their solstice rituals, Christians might hold special services, Jews celebrate Hanukkah, and some African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa but in the end the "holiday season" is more about family and friends coming together for a dinner, office parties, the giving of cheer and love (in whatever form it may manifest), and creating a spark of warmth to carry each other through the winter to sunnier times. Why would I deny my children, or even my neighbor, a spirit of joy and love in the darkest part of the year because of ideological differences? We are all human beings. We all suffer, in some way, from the darkness and the cold creeping into our homes and our lives. It is very unfortunate that we cannot embrace the secular holiday of Christmas (or more precisely the December holiday season, because it is not just one day) without all of these petty ideological spats.

Think about it for a minute. I suppose I cannot speak for everyone but to me the real magic of Christmas is not in any religion. It is the twinkling lights lining the streets that almost make you forget it was dark when you got to work that morning and it was dark long before you got off work that evening and you missed the very brief and precious moments of light in between. It is in the smell of wood smoke rising from the chimneys like oak incense. It is in the excitement of children and the charity of people. It is in Santa Claus and his jolly ho-ho-ho. While all of our religious rituals might attempt to address the reasons we come together at this time or the symbolic meaning of these traditions, it is not the ritual that meets these needs and desires that we as human beings have at this time of year. It is the whole 'spirit' of the season. It is unfortunate that there are people who want to taint that spirit of union and harmony by asserting their symbolic explanations as more legitimate than another's.

In contrast, we for the most part do have a recognized and celebrated secular and cultural holiday at Halloween. We can send our children to the door of a complete stranger and feel confident that the person who opens the door will recognize and participant in our shared cultural ritual, regardless of their personal faith or background. While there are exceptions to that expectation, this is a marvelous cultural bonding ritual that does not get mired down by the same kind ideological trivialities.

So readers . . . celebrate as you will but please take with you my wishes for a warm and cheerful winter, a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

1 comment:

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