Time to Apply the Ballard Query

I was reminded today of the Ballard Query:

“[A]in’t you people got no gods to worship? No holy days to celebrate? No Ancestors to deal with, er I mean venerate? In short — don’t you people have some sacred work to do? Justice work? Environmental work? Community weaving?”

To which I’d only add: No landbase to relate to? No wights for whom to pour blots? No foxes to know?

I was reminded of Byron’s wise words by several recent posts by Pagans whom I do admire, but, well, it can become too easy to spend a lot of time telling other Pagan that they are doing Paganism wrong.

The first post was one of a genre you see reasonably often. It warned about doing magic or asking deity for something without framing the request very, very, very, very carefully. The underlying premise seems to be that the universe is dumb, and the Goddesses and Gods aren’t too bright either, and if you’re not super careful, well, you can do a spell for prosperity and find yourself with a chunk of change — that you inherited from the parents you killed with your incautious magic.

And, of course, I’m all in favor of spending the time to think through exactly what you want. I spent my working life as a lawyer and I’m a big believer in exact language. But the universe isn’t a stupid GIGO computer and your Goddesses and Gods understand nuance. I am a fan of adding something to the end of a spell or prayer along the lines of “This, or something better, manifests for me.” That gives the universe some credit for being creative and bountiful.

The second post was complaining about the use of some terms for Sabbats; “Eostara” and “Mabon” came in for particular criticism. And, sure, like a lot of modern Paganism, we could quibble (And, oh, boy, could we! Well, there’s little enough that we CAN’T and DON’T quibble about, to be fair. ) over the provenance of those terms. But, you know, religions change, languages change, practices change and it’s OK. Unless you’re practicing a strictly reconstructionist version of one form or another of Paganism, it’s OK to let people enjoy their pumpkin-spice-cinnamon-latte Mabon.

As we move into Mabon, let’s all look for some balance. Some things need to be called out. And some things, well, they should remind us to “venerate our ancestors” or “weave our communities,” as Byron says.

(Sorry. I know I’ve used it twice, but I just love this picture. It’s me every morning setting out to walk these hills and dales. Apologies to whomever created it because I don’t know who you are or I’d credit you!)

2 responses to “Time to Apply the Ballard Query

  1. Love the picture too. 🙂

  2. Thank you – so much ‘yes’ to this!

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