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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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American gods

"When that time comes remember us. We shall long to play our part wherever we may be. Give us the opportunity to do so... We shall not fight with material weapons then, but we can help you if you will let us. We shall be an unseen but mighty army. Give us the chance to pull our weight."
- Wellesely Tudor Pole, The Silent Road

One of the teachers at the Between the Worlds interfaith esoteric conference was Diana Paxson, an author and teacher in the Asatru tradition. At one of the panels, she spoke of the need for a specifically American variety of spirituality, one based on a non-denominational honoring of the Founding Fathers and other American heroes- in essence, these are our Ancestors, our Mighty Dead.

As I said in my earlier post, these are troubled times, but there is hope- and help. If we honor this nation's Mighty Dead, if we ask for their help, they can and will grant it. I have it on good authority that at least some of them are mighty peeved at the ongoing attempts to distort the principles to which they dedicated their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Sure, there have been some reassuring signs- according to recent articles, the religious right vote wasn't as important as first suggested; Ashcroft is going bye-bye; Sen. Specter has put the White House on warning that they shouldn't expect to be able to shove ultra-conservative judicial appointments down the Judicial Committee's throats.

But the religious right is acting like they won the election, and Bush is acting like he has a mandate. I expect that the continuous, steady and mostly subtle assaults on civil liberties from the last term won't abate, and will probably even step up a bit. And there's still a lot of resistance to be overcome, even when things are moving in the right direction.

Those of us in the DC area have access to a wide range of shrines to these national Ancestors. Sure, the Park Police would be leery of leaving candles and offerings at most of these places, but you can stand and pray or meditate. Then return to home or other more private place to make your offerings, light your candles. You could even build a shrine in your home...

If you are worried about religious freedom, honor and call on Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and those like him. Go to the National Archives and read the holy documents of our nation; honor and call out to the ones who wrote them, who fought and bled for the ideals they enshrine. If you think that the Republicans have strayed from their earlier ideals, go to the Lincoln Memorial and honor him; call on him to restore those ideals to his Party. While you're there, honor Martin Luther King and and call on him to support the fulfillment of his Dream.

Go to the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial (where you can leave offerings, last I heard). Honor the dead there. Ask those fallen soldiers to keep the Iraq war from becoming another futile destroyer of youth. There and at the other war memorials, honor the dead and call out for protection for the men and women in America's military.

Further afield, there are other shrines to Freedom scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and all through our nation. Perhaps it's time to make pilgrimages. Equality, justice, choice, privacy, free speech... for every right we hold dear, there is an Ancestor. Seek them out. Honor them. Ask for aid.

And there's at least one Power to invoke who's not an Ancestor or one of the Mighty Dead, but something close to a true American Goddess: Lady Liberty. Visit Her, or at least speak to and honor Her. Ask Her to shine Her lamp as much on the land that lies at Her back as on the ocean roads leading to the Old World.

As I said before, work in this world as well. "Faith without works is dead". But if we ally our work for justice with the aid that is there for the asking, we can make our efforts even more effective. This isn't worship. It's honor and remembrance, a partnership of power.

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Ancestors and Honored Dead

Thank you for sharing this. I really like the idea of appealing to the Founding Fathers. The respect and admiration I was rasied to feel for them is probably the most abiding faith I retain from growing up.

Lady Liberty is my favorite modern Goddess. I remember well that abominable bit of Anti-Pagan trash that Jesse Helms tried to amend to the postal code in the 80's. In the pamphlet calling to arms and action against it, it recommended the spiritual component of calling to LL to help us uphold Her principles.
And I do.
She's as sweet as tupelo honey.

And I love the "signature" on the incident when it was finally defeated on that October 31st.

Across the country from the Statue of Liberty, appropriately enough, there is a similar incarnation. In Chinatown in San Francisco, there is a replica of the Goddess of Liberty statue from Tianamen Square. I count myself fortunate to have paid my respects there as well. It is yet another reminder that sometimes those looking from the outside can see us better than we see ourselves.

I'll have to pay my respects when I get out there.

It's on the plaza across from the Holiday Inn Chinatown on Kearny Street, where I used to stay when I was there for work. It seemed to be permanent, so I would expect it is still there, but I can't be absolutely certain.

Thanks for the inspiration

Nice posting - very moving! You and Divalion have inspired me to renew my pursuit of the Religio Americana, which I have neglected for some time while I set other parts of my house in order.

Erik Dutton

Re: Thanks for the inspiration

Glad you found it inspiring... and thanks for the link; I'll have to check it out. I've been moving fairly slowly on this myself, partially due to time considerations, partially due to a wish to familiarize myself with some of the writings of the Founders...

Thank you for the wonerfull essay evcelt.

After 9-11, while I was preparing to move to VA at the time after losing my job in the aftermath of the attacks on my home city of New York, I stopped by the Capital.

I stood and meditated and prayed and actually cried in our little Heroons (Hero shrines) to our Mighty Dead asking for their aid in defense of our land. I wished I could leave candles and incense at the time.

But your ideas are correct.

We do need an American Paganism.

I did a little ritual while watching the Capital Fourth special, with a temporary altar in front of the bed, with a small flag, my flag pin, and a statuette of President George Washington (I found, in a flea market a set of every President to Nixon, and have used them in little rituals).

I lit candles to him and our nation, and incense to our nation, its ideals and for guidance to our leaders.

i teach college freshmen english, you know, basic english 101. and they haven't ever heard of lee harvey oswald. i'm not shitting you. at least 75% haven't. it is scary how ignorant all this internet-information is making our kids...on the other hand, they come into MY class all ignorant, makes it that much easier for me to BLOW THEIR MINDS. but still, it's too bad.

let's don't even mention the warren reports, cause they won't know. or robert kennedy how he was killed too. the murders and martyrs and patsies. like i said, it's scary.

personally, i'm starting the ball of intrigue with one's nation and history with my daughter by watching "national treasure" and then showing her how to research the web. she's six. ben franklin, ha! she knows the presidents on our money, but nothing much else about them (except washington was the 1st and lincoln freed the slaves). i'm hoping more to turn my kids onto learning than onto any particular subject; however, they mock us, as i did my folks...my father didn't even mean to turn me into a star wars fan. i was just starry eyed over everything my dad did!

my kids as in my daughter and my son and whoever else may come out of me in the (near, please lord, not when i'm 45!) future...but also my "kids" i teach, though i don't call them that because 18 year olds are especially sensitive to being patronized!

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