I’ve been watching an incredible program on the BBC called Extreme Pilgrim. It’s a documentary about a Christian Vicar who spends about a month with devotees of three major religions to try and experience their way of connecting with God. Last week he was with Buddhist Monks who connected with the devine through Kung Fu, and this week he spent a month learning the ways of the Saddhu, the mystic Hindu holy men.
What struck me was the way in which religion was a part of everyday life in India. The passion of their beliefs really came across in the program. When he arrived in a small mountain village to spend time meditating in a nearby cave, the villagers gave him gifts and food – they treated him as a special holy man, someone with honour. They believed that his presence would bring good fortune to the village. And he pondered that only a few centuries ago, he, as a Christian priest might well have been offered the same within villages in Britain, before our society became so secular.
It got me wondering about Paganism, and Holyness. How would local Pagans react if, say, a Wiccan Priest set up camp in the woods near Wilmington, living simply, with daily meditations – spending time with the land, connecting with the Spirits of Place. Would they visit him with gifts, and honour his Journey? Or would they view his actions with suspicion, thinking that somehow he was being ego-driven, and wanted to ‘be someone important’. I’m sure some would see the honesty in his personal Path, but sadly, because of some of the posts I’ve read on some Pagan message boards, I think many would also respond with the latter.
What does this say of the way some Pagans value their our own spiritual path? If someone is naturally inclined to view a spiritual practice with suspicion, where is the foundation of their own beliefs? I would love to live in a place and time where this kind of practice was encouraged, not viewed with cynicism, wouldn’t you?