As I look up at the crescent of the Moon slowly climbing over the sentinel pines in the Eastern sky I am reminded of what a magical place we live. Maine is not without its eyesores, something that can be observed in rapidly-deteriorating roads and suburban sprawl, yet most of what makes Maine a destination spot for vacationers is the rugged wilderness that seems almost untouched by the hand of human beings. Wide valleys give way to ranges of hills and small mountains that seem to come alive each fall with the waning fire of warmer months as the leaves change. Leaf peepers come from all over to view them, never knowing that beneath the canopy of orange, red and gold, Maine Pagans dance and sing our place on the Earth.
I have spoken to many people both from here in Maine and as far away as Australia, who admire the relative ease and comfort the Pagan community enjoys here. Maine is a place of rugged natural beauty and generally friendly people. It makes sense to me that a population of people who wish to walk gently upon the Earth and live spread out enough to have space for our own spirit to soar unhindered, would for the most part choose to get along and celebrate.
It seems long past due I believe, that we come together to create a strong tradition of Maine Pagans. A mutual framework of recognizing core values that does not impede our personal spiritual beliefs but rather celebrates the things we share in common. Such traditions clearly already exist. The Temple of the Feminine Divine in Bangor offers public ritual for each station on the Wheel of the Year. Beltane on the Beach just celebrated its 34th year and the recent establishment of The Druid College in Hollis, Maine, as well as the yearly Weaving ritual in Casco, further exemplify a desire to impart the importance of a core tradition which can celebrate the eclectic nature of our community.
I am hardly the progenitor of this thought. Being a “student” at the Druid College myself, this idea has been bandied about and it was more or less formally announced during the Gorsedd at Beltane on the Beach by Michael B. who immediately launched into a song he wrote called “I’m a Maine Pagan (and this is my place).”
For most of us it is an important aspect of our spiritual values to honor our ancestors and this is an important aspect of my Druidry as well. I can often feel the multitudes of my ancestors traveling at my shoulder, peering around over my shoulder and looking forward to see what I am observing and why. These are men and women who existed (for the most part) in a time where things were simultaneously more simple and more brutal. The stories they tell are the stories of the three invasions of Ireland, the heroes, the meddlesome gods and the feats of strength and courage that have inspired generations. When viewed in context of the stories of their homeland, they are powerful and impressive. When viewed in terms of our connection to the Earth where our feet touch the land here in Maine though, they lose the critical element of authenticity they enjoy in the place where our ancestors walked in Pagan antiquity. Certainly the lessons taught by these stories are critical to the method of our connections, however, they lose relevance if we are not actively participating in relationship with this land and instead focusing upon those stories as a way of identifying with our ancestors.
It is inherent to us that we make sacred connection to this land by forming a relationship to the land we find ourselves in now, based on the connections our ancestors formed to the lands of Europe. Also inherent is that we recognize our status as invaders, a people who have come as conquerors to the Aboriginal, First Nation peoples of this land. If we are to build a sacred relationship with this place, we must certainly consider that this land should reject us if we are unable to make relationship with the people our recent ancestors savaged in their conquest of this continent.
I am aware that the Wabanaki Confederacy has extended an invitation to all people, especially environmental activists, to join with them in an effort to preserve and protect the land. If this invitation is still open, I suggest that we organize ourselves enough to lend a hand and learn from the people of this land how best to weave our connection as people to the Earth here and live in harmony so that we may someday be able to earn forgiveness for the actions of our ancestors and together live in peace with the land.
As a Pagan, as Druid and as a human being, I firmly believe that we are in crisis mode on the long slope of decline. A future of limited resources awaits us but it is also important to remember that human beings lived without many of the resources we enjoy now for many, many more generations than our species have exploited them. Creating traditions that honor the Earth and demonstrate community through our tribe will be vital to us in the future and there is no better place I can think of to begin than right here at home.