<i>1569, from Fr. inauguration "installation, consecration," from L. inaugurationem (nom. inauguratio) "consecration, installment under good omens," from inaugurare "take omens from the flight of birds, consecrate or install when such omens are favorable," from in- "on, in" + augurare "to act as an augur, predict" (see augur).</i> (From <a href="http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/inauguration">Dictionary.com</a>)
It's been said, someone said it, not sure who, but I'm sure I read it in some Pagan book that Paganism doesn't lend itself well to politics. I remember this particularly because I was so surprised that someone would say such a thing. Surely politics is as ancient as Pagan religion itself. Surely politics and Paganism go hand in hand! Especially in a Democracy where we have many leaders as we have many Gods. Indeed the very word comes from <i>ta politika</i> or "affairs of the state" which is the name of a book on the subject by Aristotle, a man submerged in Pagan culture in the 3rd century BCE who is credited with the wise saying: <i>"He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a God." </i>
At any rate, I have been thinking about this inauguration. I am feeling called by Spirit to prepare a ritual of blessing for our country and for our President and Vice-President elects and their families. I have never felt so moved. I've even dropped some pretty heavy hints to people who own televisions that they should invite me over for the evening so I can watch.
Maybe it's because nobody I voted for ever got elected before. Maybe it's because I have felt a great energetic pall hanging over our country for the past several years and lately I've felt it lifting, but that could be imagination. Maybe it's because I'm a little bit enamored with our President elect and I'm terrified of an assassination attempt. Whatever it is, I will mark the occasion with magic, ritual, prayer and blessing. And it would seem that I'm not the only one!
<b>Ritual In Washington</b>
It is perhaps not surprising that the Pagan spiritual community of Washington DC is making its own preparations for the upcoming inauguration. Three Washington area witches, <a href="http://www.mythkenner.com/">Caroline Kenner</a> of the <a href="http://www.sacredspacefoundation.org/">Sacred Space Foundation</a>, <a href="http://www.katrinamessenger.com/">Katrina Messenger</a> of <a href="http://www.connectdc.org/node">Connect DC</a> and the <a href="http://www.reflectionsmyst.org/">Reflections Mystery School</a> and Caroline Casey of <a href="http://www.coyotenetworknews.com/">Coyote Network News</a> and The Visionary Activist are joining forces to provide anyone who can get out there an outlet for the sorts of longings that have descended upon me.
Their Ritual of Unity and Blessing, to take place at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza on the day before the inauguration will begin with a Witches Broom Dance followed by ritual for Unity and Protection for our government and the world and wrapping up with a drum circle. The public are invited to this important ritual. More information can be found at http://www.paganreligiousrights.org/
I wish I could go, but alas. I would love to hear some feedback from anyone who does though.
<b>Religious Uproars in Washington</b>
But all is not love and light as spirituality relates to this inauguration. Several groups are up in arms over religious issues. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Newdow">Michael Newdow</a>, a California Doctor who has made it his mission to protect us from everything slightly religious in nature has once again <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/31/inauguration.lawsuit/index.html">filed a lawsuit</a> demanding that "so help me God" be removed from the Oath and objecting to planned invocations and benedictions from clergy at the ceremony. He is not alone.
My opinion, if anyone wants to know. If Mr. Obama wishes to say "So help me <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27522679/">Grandma</a>" or "So help me <a href="http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread268257/pg1">Columbia</a>" instead of "So help me God" then he should certainly be permitted. However, Mr. Obama is a Christian man. It is my suspicion that he would like to say "So help me God" and I am not sure that it's very nice to deny him that right. Furthermore, his inauguration is, well, his inauguration. It's a major ritual, a rite of passage. I think he should have whatever spiritual support he deems necessary there.
Dan Brown of the <a href="http://www.ffrf.org/">Freedom From Religion Foundation</a> does not agree with that sentiment. In an <a href="http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=84962">article from WorldNetDaily</a>, he states: <i>"The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers."</i> and suggests that Mr. Obama have his own private religious observance if he feels the need.
There's also been <a href="http://www.kplctv.com/global/story.asp?s=9617486">somewhat of an uproar</a> over Mr. Obama's choice of pastor to oversee the spiritual aspects of the ceremony. <a href="http://www.kplctv.com/global/story.asp?s=9617486">Rick Warren</a> of the conservative, evangelical <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddleback_Church">Saddleback Church</a> in California actively supported California's Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage in the state, though he denies hard feelings toward the gay community saying: <i>"I happen to love gays and straights. Who ever came up with the idea that you have to agree with everybody on everything in order to love them?"</i>. Though he has equated gay marriage with incest, polygamy and pederasty, he has also stated that divorce is more of a threat to families than gay marriage. What can I say, here's a man with deep convictions who thinks deeply about them. Do I agree with him? No. But I don't hate him for it either. I also think that he was perhaps not the best choice.
I'd be interested in hearing thoughts from other members of the Pagan community on these topics.