Patriotism Has a Place

It is not always a popular notion within Paganism to express patriotic sentiments.  Then again, I’ve never been one to worry excessively about being popular.

Fireworks over the Statue of Liberty, photo credit: Zingerbug

I love this country.  I have a full realization of how fortunate I am to have been born here and I try not to take that for granted.  I honor Columbia, Patron Goddess of our land, and I hope She continues to bless us even though we often don’t uphold Her ideals.

When I make a statement like that around fellow Pagans I get three types of responses.   The rarest is agreement.  More common is a list of all the wrongs our country has perpetrated over the span of its existence.  The third type of response is a cautionary tale of tribalism, nationalism, and veiled insinuation that to love your country is to be racist and oppressive.

I am aware of the bad and the good my country does, yet my opinion stands.  Just as my spouse is aware of my virtues and my faults, loves me anyway, and chooses each and every day to stay with me (poor bastard) –  I love my country and prefer it to all others. I love it with my eyes and my heart wide open.

But doesn’t loving your country and admitting to feeling patriotic surges in your heart mean you are in danger of the worst excesses of nationalism?  Oppression and racism?  Just because I love my country doesn’t mean I hate other countries any more than loving my house  means I want to burn yours down.  Don’t believe me?  Invite me over for dinner.  I’ll respect your home and enjoy your company just as I appreciated the various countries I’ve visited and lived in.  I give good guest.

Statue of the Goddess Freedom on top of the US Capitol. The blending of Greek, Roman, and First Nations cultures are displayed in how we depict our Goddess.

Today I wholeheartedly celebrate the start of the current cycle of ‘rebirth’ of our land – the date when the signing of the Declaration of Independence was announced.  When the Founding Fathers of the United States looked for a model to base our government on, they looked as much to the Iroquois Confederacy (the worlds oldest continuous democracy) as they did to Pagan Greece and Rome.    Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, and Washington were all familiar with the Iroquois polity. European philosophers such as Locke, Roussea, More, and Hobbes were influenced by the societies of the First Nations.  When I celebrate the 4th of July, I honor those cultures and the profound impact they have in shaping the United States and our current form of governance.  I celebrate our place in the cycle of the land, I honor those who came before and who come after me.

Today I pour a libation and shoot off a few fireworks for the Goddess of this land – Columbia Eleutheria (Freedom), also called Libertas (Liberty).  Lady Liberty.   She has walked this land since it formed and is a guardian of freedom and a generous granter of plenty.  It is She who stands in the New York harbor welcoming those seeking a better life.   She will guard this land long after we are dust and our government falls and a new takes its place.  She always works to light the fires of justice, compassion, and liberty in the hearts of whoever resides on her shores.

Some see her as a construct, something made up similar to Uncle Sam or the Easter Bunny.  They are welcome to their opinion, but as a polytheist I see the divine as always revealing itself to us, not something we call into existence out of some pathetic need for things larger than ourselves.  The world is filled with Gods and Goddesses willing to reveal themselves if we open ourselves up.  Land spirits and other gods tied to a place abound.  Old Man Mississippi and the water nymphs at Coldwater Spring are as deserving of honor and reverence as Gods like Okeanos and Brighid.  Columbia is no less deserving of libations in the United States than Athene is in Athens.

Tonight I’ll honor Her with offerings and pray that She blesses us with Her gifts.  Guide us – our country seems to be at a crossroads and is facing difficult times.  Our nation’s identity and ethics are muddled.  Like many times before, we have lost sight of Her, and we need Her beacon to guide us back on the path to respect for the rights of the individual coupled with acknowledgment of the needs of the community.  But above all…freedom.

Freedom to practice our religion unimpeded by the government.

Freedom to say what we think without fear of imprisonment.

Freedom to keep arms.

Freedom against having the government illegally search our property and take our belongings.

Freedom to have a fair and just legal system.

I hope you enjoy a wonderful 4th of July celebration today – whether you join the increasing number of Pagans who celebrate it as a festival day in honor of Columbia Liberty or if it is a purely secular holiday for you.

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4 thoughts on “Patriotism Has a Place

  1. Christopher Blackwell says:

    Patriotism is a word, and like Pagan, it needs to be redefined as to what each of us means when we use it. I am fascinated by American history and I don’t need my history sugar coated or cleaned up. Some of our ancestors were pretty screwed up people, which makes it even more amazing that they still created some things the benefit us today. That gives more hope that we, also not plaster saints, may well do things that will benefit people generations down the line.

    My family has mostly been Southern since 1645, so yes there are black branches of the family who are just as much Blackwells as I am.

    American history begins long before Columbus, so Pagans where here long before the Christians arrived and some of their traditions are still being practiced by their direct descendants. Amazing how strong they were to survive all that has happened since. I carry a small amount of their blood as well.

  2. Nightcloud says:

    Patriotism is a part of Hellenismos, it’s one of the things that keeps me in it. I can continute my spiritual path and love my country too. Yes the US of A has done a lot of nasty things in it’s history and being half Native American a quarter Black American, (and yes I prefer as do many that term) and a quarter European American I can say with certainity that some of the past social behavior wasn’t pretty. I can also say with even more certainity that the people who lived through those behaviors are some of the strongest people on this planet and if give a chance can and will lead this planet on to bigger and better things.

    May the Deathless ones continue to bless this great nation and may they fill the hearts of those who would lead us with wisdom, compassion and courage.

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