It is important that we not lose track of our past while we adapt 
to the present.   There is an inclination to put aside that which 
is simple and/or archaic, and then forget about it; much of value 
can  be lost thereby.   Certainly we should strive for relevancy, 
but  we  shouldn't overcompensate and become  imbalanced  in  the 
other direction.  While *we* may not be farmers or hunters, there 
still are such people; not all old technology is obsolete.

For example, I am not a techie, I am a musician, a poet, a writer 
of  fantasy fiction,  all impractical things to be in this  fast-
paced society of yuppies and other competetive types.   Therefore 
an entirely modern, tech/science/et al - oriented Neopagan system 
would be as irrelevant to me as an agricultural system is to most 
of us.   What I do is a craft of past centuries, I am an artisan, 
not  a scientist or businesswoman.   There are still a few of  us 

In fact,  all the members but one of my coven,  Firestar, and its 
affiliated study group are living alternate lifestyles -- besides 
me  we have a journalist,  a graphic artist,  and a  professional 
student  (living off a large inheritance and getting a degree  in 
Magic  as Religion from Cal).   And as for our High Priestess and 
Priest -- well,  they are beyond classification!   So we may find 
such  archaicisms more meaningful to us than  "real-world"  folks 

By  its very (???)  a Pagan Student Group at a school like (???)
must  have a greater preponderance of engineers and scientists -- 
this  is  no  more the whole world than farming  or  hunting  are 
(although  one might view the "corporate jungle" as a society  of 
hunter/gatherers...;->)  -- but  it creates a different  sort  of 
working group.

So,  in order to satisfy everyone, must we give up on any kind of 
generalised  system?   This  might not be  unreasonable,  as  the 
guilds of old had their especial rites (eg,  the Masons).  If so, 
the question is: how do we build these systems from scratch?

If  such seperateness seems divisive,  a middle way might  be  to 
have  a  somewhat  general  system with patron  deities  for  the 
occupations  -- this would be no more divisive than the  Catholic 
system of patron saints.   I,  for one,  certainly feel better in 
pouring a libation for Odin and Bragi when I've made a  sale,  or 
need  to  (!);  whether one believes in deities or not,  this  is 
still an affirmation,  a cause whose effect may or may not become 
apparent.  There are certainly enough deities to go around!

Then  what  general  system  might  we  construct?    While  some 
concepts,  images,  and  archetypes  may mean less  to  us  today 
(though  they  certainly remain in the  collective  unconscious), 
there  are  yet those which are universal (male and  female,  and 
their  ages and abilities;  earth,  sky,  natural forces such  as 
weather and tectonics;  others?).  These should be a part of  any 
such  system as we invoke the divinity in ourselves (ya can't get 
rid of the Goddess and God that easy!).

What tools should be used?   Knives,  swords,  sickles, hold less 
charge  for us,  as they are not so much part of our  daily  life 
(tho many SCA folks will contradict me on the knife.   I know,  I 
wear one too...).   But cups and plates stay with us,  as well as 
pots, and hammers, gavels, even the conductor's baton.  These are 
such   ordinary   things,   but   when   elevated   to   chalice, 
paten/pentacle,  cauldron,  wand,  become something special.   So 
should  we cease to use the other tools and instead elevate other 
ordinary  objects to the level of ritual objects?   On the  other 
hand,  there is something truly awe-inspiring in a beautiful  and 
skillfully-handled sword.   We takes our energy where we gets it, 

What additions might we make?   We would have to pay attention to 
even  the  minor-seeming things.   Would we change the  elemental 
system?   I think not,  for the elements as they currently  stand 
comprise,  in one form or another, all aspects of existence.  But 
if  we did,  how would we do it,  and still be serious (it's very 
easy to make silly quarters!).

[A  note on salt for those unhappy with "archaicisms":  salt  has 
been a purifying agent for ages,  and still is,  in many  diverse 
systems -- British,  Mediterranean, even Romany.  And I think the 
process  of  Koshering  meat  with salt is as much  a  matter  of 
purification as leeching out blood.  So the symbology of salt has 
less  to  do  with an obsolete technology  than  with  its  basic 
action, acknowledged by many peoples.]

Finally, as for the cycle of the year, whether we farm or hunt or 
not, the seasons are a part of our lives; weather affects us, and 
even  though  we buy food in supermarkets,  seasonal  changes  in 
price,  quality  and  availability are reminders.   Nothing  says 
"SUMMER AT LAST!" to me like a large, fragrant peach (arg!  how I 
miss  and look forward to them!).   When I was a student  on  the 
quarter  system at Cal,  I was even more in touch with the cycle.  

And  if we cease to acknowledge the passing of  the  seasons,  we 
lose  touch with the earth,  which,  if we are to keep her as she 
should be kept,  must not happen.   I am not saying "Ah,  for the 
goode olde days before the nasty Industrial Revolution  alienated 
us  from Mother Earth and promoted pollution and strip-mining and 
other land-rape."  I am saying that if we are to live "in  beauty 
upon  the earth" as the Hopi say,  we should at least acknowledge 
some tie with her seasonally,  if at no other time.  The quarters 
and  cross-quarters  are good times for this,  because it  is  in 
earth's changes that she is most beautiful.   Besides which,  the 
feasts  and  festivals are now,  as they  have  always  bene,  an 
opportunity for a community to gather, share, and party.

But  life  is surer these days -- we no longer fear  the  endless 
night  of Winter Solstice,  because we know we won't starve.   We 
are more comfortable in the physical world because it is known to 
us now.  Is there a point to ritual any more?  Well, yes:

Ultimately,  we  must  avoid mundanity.   We must not  become  so 
caught  up in Relevance that we lose the specialness of  what  we 
do,  the  sense of wonder,  the knowledge that we can do marvels.  

There is a special responsibility in being one's own  priest,  in 
mastery  of one's own powers.   We must keep this in  mind,  with 
pride.  With apologies to O. Henry, we are the Magi. 

by     Leigh Ann "SeaHawk" Hussey