Paganism or simply country life? Or could it possibly be both....
I'm as out of the broom closet as I'm ever going to be. Those who know me well, know my religious affiliations and know why. As my daddy would put it, I've been to hell and back, yes I am Very sure there is a God. My personal interpretation of that God and how I connect with said Deity is my business.
That being said, it hit me tonight what was flying around in my head recently. I was raised deep in the woods in a small community. We are in the bible belt and in my particular case, my family was one of very few Catholic families there. Our way of life out there was and still is to a point, a simple country way. I don't know many who are not superstitious or who don't use a Farmer's Almanac...well, religiously. My grandmother would not do the following: rock a rocking chair with no one in it, it brought bad luck down on the whole house; walk under a ladder, bad luck; put a hat on any bed, bad luck; lay an open book on it's face, disrespect for the book. Also she did do/say the following: if a fork fell to the floor, a man and his family were coming to dinner; if a broom fell for no reason, company was coming/something was going to occur; horseshoes hung over doors as readily as crucifixes; she loved and revered male black cats (couldn't stand any others)....I could go on and on.
She could grow ANYTHING, I mean anything, she could start a fire with a single match, a bit of newspaper and a generous helping of kerosene, and she kept chickens. Now my grandmother was not fond of housekeeping or domestic type things, she was a child of the earth. She loved to be outside tending her flowers and her garden. These things were what I was raised with. How to use the most organic things around me to mend, mold, clean, or root something out. Things like vinegar, baking soda, honey, salt, and even a little whiskey were staples. When I read or hear someone refer to a spell they need to work up or the tools they use to cast or meditate, these are those tools. The plants that grow wild or not, the tea that is steeped, the salt that is revered for purification.....
It is no wonder the word "pagan", literally means "country dweller". I have never feared living as far out of town as my parents still do. I know well how to patch up everything from a person to a hole in insulation. Many times I have wondered how many folks don't realize, that woman down the street they bring the colicky baby to, she's really just a common kitchen witch. In her own way, she is using gifts and knowledge given to her by the divine. That funny feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you just know your little one isn't ok...that's magic too.
I put all this down on screen because I've been struggling with my own personal practice and what it all is. I don't cast because I'm not sure how to properly and I believe something like that is to volatile to screw around with. I do however, pray or sing or chant in my head when I need to. Whether I'm cleaning, helping or just trying to make it through my day. What I practice here at home is no different, cooking with intent, cleaning with love and reverence, encouraging the body to heal and take care of itself. Those were all things I learned to do living deep in the country where you have to make do. There is no store around the corner with everything you need. Need to clean the surface rust off your knife blade? Rub in in clean dirt. Need to knock out that flu? Cold compresses, quilts and comfrey tea.
One of the biggest lessons country people will share is to respect what the earth provides and don't take more than you need. If you hunt, hunt with intent to kill cleanly, utilize as much of the animal as possible and don't kill more than you will use or that can reproduce for next year. The same can be said for planting and harvesting. Regardless of what your ultimate use is for something, be it a ritual or just dinner, the respect for the organism you live and thrive on is the key.
I do appreciate where I come from and that's why I am proud to say I am a keeper of old ways.