Living in the ‘Land of Saints and Scholars’ as a pagan provides some interesting insights. After my recent blog entry on St. Senan I was encouraged to look further into what defines a saint precisely. I mean that within Irish Christianity sainthood seems more regionally based. In the modern Roman Catholic Church this is encapsulated as patron saints nationally recognised but not being awarded sainthood by the church itself or worship universally by all Catholics.
I should first explain that both as a practitioner of modern Craft and as a Golden Dawn initiate (-to-be) my view on magic is that it functions in deepening our understanding of the Divine and work towards the Monad. Like many pagans out there I do see the gods as possessing some of the divine essence of the Monad and therefore providing aid to achieving a greater understanding of the universe. Within the Golden Dawn a not so literal stance on the godforms is taken (bare in mind I’ve done no work with the assuming the godforms yet) in that they are more practical than anything else. The G:.D:. doesn’t discriminate in spiritual beliefs so I can view the Gods as ‘real’ or I can view them as Divine Names of Power. That is my choice.
When comes to Catholicism there is the belief in intercession of the Saints on behalf of the petitioner. Basically any prayer to God is heard by the appropriate saint (one assumes knowing the most appropriate saint would lend to swifter motion external factors permitting of course) and directed to God the Father. Ireland reputedly has over 200 patron saints thus assuming a hierarchy of person – [patron saint] – Saint proper – God, should one pray to the local saints. Personally I never did so my understanding could be rather askew on this.
The Apostles, in their letters to the Christians in Rome, Corinth or Ephesus, addressed the faithful followers of Christ as ‘saints’. The apostles properly considered as saints those who followed faithfully the teaching and example of Jesus Christ: for all Christians have been effectively called to become saints since they have been sanctified in baptism, and thus become members of Christ’s mystical body, the Church. In this way the truly faithful Christian who continues in the union with God in charity is truly sanctified and a saint in the literal sense of that title.
This to my mind lends itself to the argument that the true temple of Christ is within the person forging a relationship to the Divine. We have the same principle in modern Craft and paganism in the axiom that it is best to forge a personal relationship to the Divine through repeated ritual practice. Many Gnostic priests (who I’m assured do have apostolic descent) would argue the similar if not the same with me. I know there is a great deal of suspect in the term Christian-witch as being an oxymoron by certain pagan movers-and-shakers but perhaps not? Usually my question for those pagans that react so strongly to Christian seekers is what is it that makes you so insecure in another’s search?
Many of the Irish Saints have been attributed with phenomenal feats of burning fires and bells appearing and following them around. They also show a gift for prophecy and influence over the weather. The list goes on matching the renowned powers of a Witch in every way imaginable. Some also match a lot of other Christian mystics as well. Its my own view that no culture or subculture should “own” spirituality that said labels are useful resources for verbal dialogue and I’m not against them being used full stop but perhaps there’s room for diversity of observance.