(c)1986, by Robin

     The April meeting of the Men's Group at the home of Wayland
Smith discussed the theme of "Gods and Archetypes in Every Man".
This was partially inspired by the book, "Goddesses in Every
Woman".  As always, we got off on a number of side roads in our
conversational journey, some of them as interesting as the main
topic.  One of those side roads was the relationship between
modern Christianity and modern Paganism, a topic which has been
expounded upon in recent issues of this journal.  From the point
of view of individual Pagans, there seem to be two attitudes.
Some people came to feel, perhaps quite early in life, that the
version of Christianity in which they had been raised was
detrimental to their psychological and spiritual health and have
now rejected it totally.  Others, like myself, gradually came to
feel that while Christianity had a lot to offer them and was fine
for many people, it lacked some essential spiritual vitamins
that they themselves needed.  Some of this difference in attitude
comes from differences in the individual, but a lot seems to
come from the difference in the particular version of
Christianity involved.  I was raised as a Catholic, and came to
the Craft with an appreciation for colorful ritual and ceremony,
and an awareness of its potentialities and power.  The Catholic
reverence for the Blessed Virgin helped also.  There is quite a
contrast in these areas with mainstream Protestantism.

     In retrospect, perhaps my first step toward Paganism came
when I helped write a new Catholic ritual for small groups, to be
performed without a priest.  We submitted it for formal approval
and never got a word back.  Even excommunication would have been
preferable to being ignored.

     A few months after my First Degree initiation I went
traveling around Italy with my old friend Ron.  We visited some
catacombs near Rome and it was surprising how strong the psychic
impression left by the early Christians still was after eighteen
centuries and thousands of tourists.  Still more surprising was
the type of psychic impression.  It felt very close to what one
feels in Circle with one's fellow coven members.  That, and some
historical hints, suggest that in its first few centuries
Christianity was more similar to contemporary Paganism in what it
offered people than most of us are inclined to think.  What we
now call psychic and/or magical abilities seem to have been
commonly accepted, priests were much more a part of everyday
community life than religious leaders are now, many women had
substantial power and influence, and a lot of individual
interpretation went on.

     What happened to change all that?  I'm inclined to agree, at
least in part, with Buck Jump, our resident Heretic.
Institutionalization was and is the culprit.  Institutions have
bureaucracies, and bureaucracies by their nature stifle
individual interpretation.  They also develop rigid power
structures, and these can't tolerate people outside the
structure developing power through special abilities, psychic or
otherwise.  A contemporary example of this is what happens to a
rigidly organized corporation that suddenly computerizes its
operations.  People who formerly were inconsequential in the
power structure now have considerable power through their
special technical knowledge and access to information.  The
whole pecking order is thrown into disarray, and the resulting
turmoil is fascinating to watch  from a safe distance of course.
A friend described this happening at the Rocky Mountain News a
few years ago.  We Pagans are still a ways from large scale
institutionalization, but sooner or later we will start feeling
the pressure.  It probably won't be sudden, it took Christianity
three or four centuries to get there, but we should start
thinking about alternatives now.

     The pressure can be subtle there are a lot of nice things
you can do with institutions that are hard to do without them.
Building a college for example.  A couple of years ago I went to
a class reunion at my old school, L'Universite de Notre Dame du
Lac  The University of Our Lady of the Lake  famed for football
and the administration building's golden dome, surmounted by a
gold statue of Mary, Virgin and Mother of an Aspect of the
Christian God.  From the ground the campus seems open and meadow
like, but from the top of the library it looks like a college in
a forest; white buildings surrounded by the tops of trees, and
over it all a golden statue of the Queen of Heaven.  At the time
I thought, "What an appropriate school for a Witch to have atten
ded."  Now I'm tempted by the thought, "Wouldn't it be nice if we
Pagans had one of our own."  Be careful what you ask for, you
might get it!
.........from R.M.P.J. 8/86

This article is excerpted from the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal.
Each issue of the Rocky Mountain Pagan Journal is published by
High Plains Arts and Sciences; P.O. Box 620604, Littleton Co.,
80123, a Colorado Non-Profit Corporation, under a Public Domain
Copyright, which entitles any person or group of persons to
reproduce, in any form whatsoever, any material contained therein
without restriction, so long as articles are not condensed or
abbreviated in any fashion, and credit is given the original