Paganism Roots

I know now that I was always a pagan. The things that I thought were just childish behaviors I see now had a leaning towards nature, spiritually, and quantum physics. Little did I know that paganism goes much, much, MUCH deeper into my identity. Paganism is in my DNA.

I love Yule. There is something about the darkest night that gives me permission to touch parts of myself that I normally wouldn’t, like internal feelings and judgments and psychic patterns. This year I decided to research paganism. I was curious about the pagans of New England as I always felt a strong connection to the witches of Connecticut as that is where my body was birthed.

I knew my roots were there, I just didn’t realize how far back they went. Maybe this was common knowledge to others but I just found out myself that paganism began in Italy.

There is actually a town called Pagani in Campania, which non-ironically I am quite sure I drove past while traveling down the A3 in 2012 when I visited the motherland.

I am pumped!! So here’s the deal. The land that on which Pagani currently resides switched hands and rulership several times during the rise of the Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages around the 9th century a small group of people called the Saracens occupied the land.

Let’s hold up for a second. Saracens is a very old word dating back to the early 5th century. It was a name that Christian writers would use to label Arabs, or those who descended from Abraham’s older son Ishmael. There are some stories as to how and why people started associating with the title Saracens, but the TLDR version is that there were Christians and then there were Saracens: the ati-Christians. Hi, how are ya?

So when the city of Pagani — then Nuceria Paganorum — was founded by the family who’s name was literally Pagan, one might imagine that their surname was a lineage of pagans or Saracens.

So although I can’t in this moment prove that my DNA connects me to the Pagan family, I do know that my ancestors come from a similar area. Intuitively I feel that paganism was just a few generations back before Catholicism and Christianity converted my family to the dark side, but who knows.

Italian pride runs deep. As much as I don’t like over identifying with any one title or nation, the truth remains: I am 75% Italian and my ancestors connect me to the timeless comfort of paganism.

Anyone anywhere at any time can choose to be at peace with who they are, where they are, how they are. On this darkest night I remember the brightest light of all: a soul on fire.✨

Yule

  
I remember learning about Yule as a child, being particularly interested in the tradition of burning a Yule log. My mother read to me stories of 17th century Europeans burning a massive log in honor of winter solstice and as a symbol of hope and celebration for the return of the sun. 

This year as I center my heart and ponder what this season means to me, the celebration of burning the Yule log strikes a cord. In the midst of the darkest day of the year we find a celebration. I honor the darkness that covers the earth just as I honor the darkness that touches my heart. How perfectly aligned this tradition is with my own personal practice of burning and renewing energy. In the midst of the darkest of days I celebrate life and the return to light. 

The sun holds a special place in my heart, as I am sure is somewhat of a universal sentiment. Still I consider my relationship with the sun to be quite passionate and firey. My love for the sun and its warmth has often led me to believe that on the flip side I disdain the darkness and the cold. In fact I think this has been faulty logic on my part. When I view this season as a time to find warmth in the burning flames of a Yule log, incense, candles, flower, sage, or burning of ones choice I find hope in the light of the flames. I experience the fullness of life in both the light and the dark. 

Hope remains: the sun will return again. The days will become longer. The light will be extended and this I am anticipating with joy. While I am here, in the Yule season, I focus on gratitude for all things. I am grateful for both the light and the dark. I am grateful for the balance that Earth maintains in order to sustain life. I am grateful for the light and the dark that resides in my heart, for in embracing the yin and the yang of experience I am able to fully embrace and love myself. ❤️