What you are now, we used to be. What we are now, you will be.
Misbehaved woman said: Could I, as a Pagan, live peacefully and happily in either the Libertarian Christian Republic or a Christian Libertarian Republic? Yes. I could and would live in either form of such a society. The structures of our beliefs & faith may not be 100% in line with each other but the overall ‘goals’..living freely, living responsibly, causing no harm and spreading light, truth, love DO seem compatible.
Well the Holy Father has called us to a “year of evangelization” which I am not very good at, but I try. I already have my first two souls to save, from a lapse Catholic who’s older children have not been baptized. Perhaps I can add you, a Solitary Eclectic to my score. As man I tend to make every thing competitive. Any way.
Ok, I tell this story (that is why I call myself the Bard, I like to tell stories) much better verbally, but I will try and do the best I can here in print.
The Catholic Church is actually made up of many different “churches” which we call Orders. Each one approaches the worship of the Trinity God in its own unique way. We have ex-Anglicans, ex-Calvinist, etc. However all respect the ultimate decider in Rome, which is how we gain strength from a united front. The Catholic church is the only Christian group that has also ran a world-wide government. First an Empire for hundreds of years, and then nations-states for even longer. When you combine any religion and politics for long enough you get …. “inconsistencies.” Well one of them is we liked to covert by the sword. We Catholics for the most part are reformed now, but in our hey day, we spread the Word of Christ through blood and fire. Side Note: It now takes forever to put Catholics back on the warpath (as it should), but once you do, they become a terrible foes, i.e. the Irish Republic Army (IRA) or the Cristeros. Any way, back in the day the Catholic Roman Empire was spreading through North Europe, and as normal, they brought civilization and the “civilized” religion by force if necessary. Eventually they reached the depths of Germania and Northern English isles where they met the Celtic People. Now the Celts were basically had a “druidic” based religion of pagans. The Roman Imperial Catholics study the druid Pagan culture and decided they were simply mis-guided and in need of saving and not inherently evil and need of destruction. Thus they call the druids to a meeting and proposed solution.
Catholic Imperial Rome: Now look druids, we can keep burning down your forest and putting you to the sword or you can covert to the True Faith.
Pagan Druids: Well we kinds of like our faith, we like understanding deeply the Earth, and living among our natural order we are Solitary Eclectics.
Catholic Imperial Rome: Well, see we have orders here to burn down your forest and put you to the sword if you don’t convert, so this is a problem, for you mostly, but it gets messy and a lot of work for us, so we try to avoid it if at all possible.
Pagan Druids: So what is your big idea Cross boy
Catholic Imperial Rome: Ok, no need for insults there man (and women) who don’t know what a razor is. Any way, here is our proposal; you see your “circle of life” you have here, that is neat, but you see the true fountain of life is Christ, so we have a proposal. Put a Christian Cross across your Circle of Life and we will call it … a Celtic Cross, yeah that sounds good and will not burn down your forest and put you to the sword.
Pagan Druids: Really, you would leave us alone if we put a Cross on our Circle of Life, and understand that Cross (ahem and circle) is a symbol of God ok, that sounds fair.
Catholic Imperial Rome: And here, you like running around in the woods in your brown robes and such calling yourself shamans and druids and such. Well that will not do, we have to have civilization, but you make good beer, so that is a plus. See here is what we will propose, you can keep running around the woods in your brown robes, as long as you keep making for us The Beer, but we cannot call you shamans or what-not, we will call you something more Roman and civilized …. Monks, yeah, that is it, Monks. You can run around the woods in simple brown robes, and make us The Beer, and occasionally we will build small remote secret weapon and knowledge caches to store our Imperial knowledge and equipment and you will keep these places safe for us until we need them.
Pagan Druids: Ok, we can keep running around the woods by ourselves, but we have to call ourselves Monks not Druids and we will keep the hidden Monasteries full of Imperial knowledge and stuff safe for you until you return, as long as we make for you The Beer? That sounds fine as long as we can keep worshiping the Earth.
Catholic Imperial Rome: Wait, one minute here. We cannot have you “worshiping” the Earth, because only the trinity God is worthy of worship. So here is our proposal. You cannot worship the Earth and the Natural world, but you can venerate the Earth and Natural World. Side Note: “…to venerate derives from the Latin verb, venerare, meaning to regard with reverence and respect.” Remember, worship the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and you can venerate the Earth. That or we will burn down your forest and put you all to death.
Pagan Druids: Ok, ok, what a sales pitch. Worship the God of the bible, venerate the Earth as … a reflection of God! That is kool. We got it, Cross on Circle of Life, call ourselves Monks not druids, keep safe the hidden knowledge and stuff of the Empire, and you will leave us alone.
Catholic Imperial Rome: Yes and remember, give us a steady supply of The Beer.
And thus was born a new Catholic Order of solitary eclectics.
And you neo-Druids think I am joking. Only partly, that is what makes a great Bardic story its has grains of truth. We have an order of Catholics that are more are primarily solitary in nature and very eclectic. The Catholic druids have always kept pretty close to themselves, however they are Catholic. And with that they are under the protection of the 1 Billion strong Monarchy established by Christ himself. In addition they can (most times) make the His Holy Inquisition go away. They have only been excommunicated twice! This Order of Christians who also pay respect to their druidic past are called Franciscans the words after than Priest’s name to indicate he is a Franciscan is OFM for Ordo Fratrum Minorum or in english Order of Friars Minor. I don’t worship with the Franciscans for all the reasons that you may want too. They tend to be a bit “accepting” for my taste, and they are focus strongly on back to the earth. However the reason I keep aware of them and friendly relations is for the same reason, they are so focused on the Earth, each Priest still to this day has his own garden and spends a part of nearly every day working with his hands in the Earth. You want help with a garden, go find a Franciscan. They are such strict adherence to poverty, that they have (in the ancient past) come into other Catholic churches, take the gold items from the alter, melt them down and fed the poor. This is one of the reasons they got “excommunicated” (twice!) was their open warfare with the royal loving Jesuits. I just like the “outside the main” groups I guess, the eclectic. That is why it is a Celtic Cross over the American Redoubt in my logo. I really like the minority fighters and these Priest are seriously about respecting God’s Earth and form a minority in the overall Catholic faith. They are always talking about “He said cultivated, not exploit it.” The Capucinian order of Franciscans are the “real” back to earth types. They felt the Franciscans had lost their way. They also have been excommunicated a few times (oops sorry about that). The letters after than name that indicate they are a Capucinian is O.F.M.Cap. There English website is here. The Capucinian are very committed Franciscans, they are forbidden to even touch money, out come the trade blankets!
The Franciscans are still very powerful and popular group of Catholics and have their own slightly eclectic approach to worshiping God and venerating his creation the Earth (and the Universe) as a “reflection” of his Perfect self. Here is a story of the Franciscans by David Lindholm.
In 1997 I embarked on a pilgrimage. Together with three friends we were to walk from Lubeck in northern Germany, to Rome and then onwards to Jerusalem. It was a momentous journey for us all and it changed us all in several ways. On our pilgrimage we made a point of begging our board and lodgings for the night and not bringing too much in terms of supplies. Even so, we were still loaded like mules once we set off.
When we had walked for three days and stayed the night at the church of a friendly Catholic priest, we sent half the stuff back home in a large box. What a relief! Things went well and we progressed down through Germany – wonderful but nothing that would change a life! That is until we came upon the ancient city of Augsburg, built by the Romans and a cultural metropolis ever since. We flipped though the telephone book until we found the Franziskanerzentrum (Franciscan Centre). We gave them a ring and got a positive reply – they said we could stay. At the address we found out that it was actually a monastery for the Capucinian order. The order strives to get back to the basics of the Franciscan rule as laid down by St.Francis, and was established as a part of the early counterreformation against the protestant reformation (and also against the corrupted medieval church).
We were invited in by a kind woman who worked in the kitchens, and were shown to two spartan but very homely rooms on the second floor where we stacked our backpacks. Earlier we had been invited to come down to the refectory for something to eat as it was late in the day. Once there, we sat down in a spacious room with wooden panels along the walls, and sturdy tables and benches. I guess we had been munching for some twenty minutes when the door at the far end opened, and father Heinz Naab stepped in. I could not help but stare – he was a tall man in his fifties, with long backswept hair reaching well below the shoulders and by nature cut off in an almost perfect line from ear to ear over the forehead. To complete the picture a golden earring and eyes that literally bubbled with laughter. Father Heinz strolled over and we all greeted him in turn. He was very warm and kind, and sat down with us and asked about our little venture.
It turned out that he had also done pilgrimages in his youth with his father, and was very fond of the practice. His advice on pilgrimages was very simple: you must travel in a simple and humble way. Do not bring a lot of stuff, beg for food and shelter. By doing that you will travel back to both yourself and to God by moving with and through the land. ‘Being’ more than ‘Doing’ was his prescription, giving God both a time and a place in the journey.
Father Heinz had some things to attend to, so Peter and I went out into the garden. As soon as we had entered the monastery we had discovered that this garden was the pet project of Father Heinz, built entirely by him over many years. We stepped out into a small yard set with small round stones, and after a second I said: “Peter, isn’t there a pattern here?” And there was: a spiral maze set in stone. ‘Very odd for a catholic priest!’ we thought. But we walked on and hummed and I lit a cigarette, and nearly dropped it into my shorts. I was looking out over a large area of green grass, and in the centre of it, a true maze cut into the turf and set with stones. It must have been more than 10m across.
Father Heinz later told me that he used it for sacred dances. Slightly out of balance, I sat down on the rim of an old well that stood very nicely under a large Rowan tree. As I looked down I saw another pattern: the well was set at the very centre of a pentagram, set in stones. By this time, I had a feeling that reality was slipping slowly away as the twilight began to set. I saw Peter walking around further away and wobbled over to join him. “This is no ordinary priest; we are not in Kansas anymore!” I remember saying. “No shit, Sherlock!” came the reply.
We rounded a bush with a small stone bench and had our next surprise. Staring at us was the mask of the Green Man set into the trunk of a large oak. Both of us stopped dead in our tracks and just stared. I will not bore you with all the other things we saw there in that garden and in the house, and the wonderful masses we went to. But when I asked Father Heinz about these things, he just laughed out loud and said, “A Christian must be esoteric!”
Father Heinz combined all the best elements of both worlds; he was a Druid without any doubt. But he was also a priest and a believer in Jesus Christ, and he showed me that not only is there no conflict here, but on the contrary there could be mutual support, help and respect. If only we have the courage to let it happen and drop all the old grudges that both sides hold so dear, but that are of no value or importance today. But this garden, oh the sights, the smells and the peace! It was unbelievable in the very center of a large modern city. The tranquility held you and in that place I was convinced that Christ is very much in love with nature as well as with humanity. How could it be otherwise?
David Lindholm Stockholm, Sweden April 2005