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Liberation

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 1 month ago

 


Liberation can mean different things in different traditions and religions.

 

In Buddhism, it means liberation from the wheel of rebirth by achieving enlightenment; in Hinduism, it is similar but the goal is moksha, union with the Divine source.

 

Pagans are generally quite keen on reincarnating so we can continue to be in contact with the Earth and Nature, so we're not bothered about liberation from the wheel of rebirth.

 

In Christianity, liberation theology has to do with political and social justice.

 

In Paganism, it probably means different things to different people, but let's start with liberation from oppressive social structures.

 

Pagans are usually egalitarian

 

  • Most Pagan rituals happen in a circle, so that is more egalitarian to start with (than a rectilinear space with a priest at the front);
  • Ritual roles and responsibilities are shared;
  • and the symbolism of the ritual is often about creating a more egalitarian society, which of course also includes the natural world.

 

Samhain

The original Celtic symbolism of Samhain (Hallowe'en) is about liberation:

In an image reminiscent of the Poll Tax riots, the people of Danu rise up and overthrow the tyrants. ... the destruction of the gruesome children of Domnu suggests a theme of liberation, of throwing off unfair or oppressive forces. Whilst November may well be the start of winter, with all its imagery of greyness and gloom, this tale gives us an image of dynamism and freedom.

 

In the UK, Black History Month is held in October.

 

Yule

  • The Romans had Saturnalia, when the masters would be humbled and served the slaves (though unfortunately it merely served to perpetuate the status quo);
  • The story of the birth of Mithras is about the Divine Child being born in a humble place (humble originally meant 'close to the earth');
  • and in medieval times, the enthronement of boy bishops and the custom of the Lord of Misrule also emphasised the exaltation of the meek. 
  • And Yule (which means 'turning point') is about the low or turning point of the sun's journey around the horizon.

 

Imbolc

Liberation from the grip of winter?

 

In the USA, Black History Month is held in February.

 

Lupercalia

A celebration of the spirit of the wolf - a wild creature with an egalitarian social organisation.

 

Eostre

Not much is known about the feast of Eostre in ancient times beyond a brief mention by Bede.  In the Mediterranean, it was about the regeneration of vegetation after the dry season, and hence was associated with the resurrection of Tammuz, Adonis, and other dying gods.  The concept of resurrection can be seen as a form of liberation.

 

International Women's Day is celebrated on 8 March, and in the USA, March is Women's History Month.  So we could add these themes to our celebration of Eostre.

 

Beltane

Beltane / May Day was celebrated in medieval times as the festival of Robin Hood, that well-known liberator of poor people from the oppression of feudal overlords and grinding poverty:

The Robin Hood plays were often associated with the May Games, performed during Pentecost and Whitsuntide. Some historians also connect them with May Day celebrations and the Morris dances. There were Robin Hood plays and games held at various times in the year. Robin Hood became almost a mythological figure through his association with the May Games. The first record of a Robin Hood play is from Exeter, only a few years after the city's first recorded May Games . Professor Lorraine Stock notes that Exeter Cathedral is filled with "Green Man" imagery, the human head with foliage growing out of his mouth. The Green Man, like Robin, has ties to the virgin Mary. (The Exeter Cathedral is dedicated to her.) The chapter house of Southwell Minster -- once in the heart of Sherwood Forest -- also is home to numerous Green Man carvings. Stock feels that the traditions of the Green Man and the Wild Man influenced the growth of the Robin Hood legend. At the May Games, Robin did have a mythological presence as a King of the May or Summer King. And as a kingly figure, the person who plays Robin Hood would lead a procession. With a town full of followers, Robin would go to another town and collect money. Usually this money went to help the church. Holt believes that perhaps the money collected for the church was distributed to the poor. Hence, the expression that Robin Hood robs from the rich to give to the poor.

 

Contemporary Beltane is also a time for celebrating sexuality (in all its forms), which is liberating in the sense of being free from oppressive and restrictive sexual norms.

 

Midsummer

Midsummer marks a change in the farming year, specifically the break between the completion of spring sowing and the hard work of summer hay-making.  It is celebrated in many ways around Europe.  It is the point at which the days start to get shorter.  For those of us who find the heat of summer a bit oppressive, it could be seen as a liberation from that!

 

Lammas

Not really a liberative theme, more of a celebration of food and agriculture.  Some traditions celebrate the Lammas Games for charity.

 

Mabon / Autumn Equinox

In many traditions, Autumn Equinox is associated with the Celtic god Mabon or Maponos who was a prisoner for many years, but in the tale of Culhwch ac Olwen, was freed by King Arthur.

The story says that Mabon ap Modron is the best huntsman in the world, but stolen from his mother when he was three nights old; it isn't known if he is living or dead. Arthur and his knights must find Mabon, so that he can hunt Twrch Trwyth, an evil man turned into a murderous boar, and then present the boar to Yspaddaden Penkawr, father of Olwen, who refuses to allow Culhwch to marry her until the boar is caught. His prison is Caer Lowy--Gloucester, but also thought to mean "City of Light", lowy from glowy. He can only be found by consulting the Salmon of Llyn Llyw, the oldest animal in the world.2 Cei and Bedwyr ride the salmon to the prison; on being set free, Cei carries Mabon on his back to King Arthur's court. From there, they hunt the boar, Mabon gaining the comb and shears behind its ear, and then driving it off a cliff into the sea around Cornwall.

 

Lady Liberty League

Founded in 1985 by Selena Fox, Lady Liberty League (LLL) is the religious freedom support service of Circle Sanctuary, an international Wiccan church and Pagan resource center headquartered in Wisconsin. LLL provides information and networking assistance to individuals and organizations concerned with religious freedom issues pertaining to Wiccan ways, Paganism, and other forms of Nature religions.

LLL members include specialists in a variety of focus areas, including public relations, countering harassment, employment issues, child custody issues, military affairs, law enforcement relations, legal affairs, interfaith relations, scholars support, and others.

The annual networking meeting of Lady Liberty League takes place each June at Summer Solstice time during the Pagan Spirit Gathering held in Ohio.

The Lady Liberty League does referrals as well as education, networking, counseling, and publishing as part of its work.

News and updates of cases and other situations are summarized and published quarterly in the Lady Liberty League Report, a regular section of CIRCLE Magazine. LLL also sends out occasional LLL News Alerts by email to members.

 

Lady Liberty - an American Goddess

 

In early American art, Liberty is depicted as Athena or Minerva.  She is now being celebrated as an American Goddess.

On a symbolically important day such as a patriotic holiday or a seasonal Sabbat, leave an offering at (or in alignment with) the feet of a statue or picture of Liberty. The offering can be a flower, a coin, a special stone or crystal, or something that signifies "freedom" to you. Sit or stand quietly before Her image, and pray through it to the Goddess it represents. From then on, whenever you feel so moved, or whenever you pass by the image, send forth a prayer for freedom. You can pray for liberation from any unjust oppression, whether personal or collective -- "free me", or "free us".

 

 

Reclaiming

Reclaiming is a tradition largely focussed on social justice, political activism, and liberation from oppression.


 

Thanks to Ted Lumley for inspiring me to write this page, and Virginia Beach for helpful contributions.

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