So recently I’ve been thinking about honouring ancestors of culture and how some pagans honour “heroes”, rather than just honouring my ancestors of blood. I have come up with a few that I think I want to honour (by lighting a candle on the date of their death to them) like King Alfred the Great who made England and King Penda who was the last Pagan king in England. I’ve also been thinking about honouring Jesus.
Why honour Jesus? Well there are many reasons. Some personal and some cultural. For 10 years as a teenager I was a Christian. As much as I try to run from the person I was at that time, Christianity still has a hold on me and that decade was still an important part of who I am. Despite the fact that I cannot believe in the god of the Bible anymore, I still admire Jesus and his teachings. In fact my political-economic philosophy of Distributism (the “small is beautiful” ideal) is based on Catholic social teaching and the Bible. And since I left Christianity, I think my ethics have become more influenced by Jesus words. Many Pagans have a past in Christianity which is difficult to escape from. Both western culture and those who have spent time in Churches have been heavily influenced by Christianity whether we like to admit it or not, but perhaps, just perhaps, there might be a way to better come to terms with our past and move on, to be healed of the emotional and mental damage caused by monotheism’s influence, to accept a past part of our identity, by embracing Jesus as cultural ancestor. At least that’s my current thinking.
There is no doubt that for anyone born in the west, Jesus is a cultural ancestor. Whether he actually said or did the things in the Bible is irrelevant. The almost certainly was a man called Jesus who’s influence has in so many ways created the world we live in today through his followers. In fact, he has probably been the single most important influence on the western world. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that he deserves respect and honour as an ancestor.
Interestingly in the ancient world, pagan cultures would often “deify” those they considered cultural heroes (such as Hercules) and honour them. Pagans who believe in literal gods probably already acknowledge that Yahweh is a god who exists, but isn’t the way the Bible portrays him and they don’t worship him (except Canaanite Reconstructionists). They might even agree that while Jesus was just a man, his spirit has now received so much praise and worship over the past two thousand years that he has been deified and turned into a real god too. But even from a naturalistic perspective, it’s quite clear that Jesus’ has as much influence, if not more, than the archetypes we honour that are part of the collective unconscious.
So basically my argument is that honouring Jesus is both something Pagans should seriously consider because of his influence and as a way to acknowledge and perhaps heal the effects of Christianity on our lives.
In terms of how to do it? Well I think Good Friday is the perfect day for this.One day a year, the date of his death, consider lighting a candle for Jesus, thinking about the influence of Christianity on our culture and lives. Consider even having a statue of Jesus on your altar for that day. And maybe even attending a Church to pray to him. What do you think?