Hello, everyone. I am still not really in a position answer any correspondence, which includes comments for this post, but I find myself temporarily with internet service during this tumultuous time, so I thought I would type up a little something that has been brewing in my mind for a while. I will be back less sporadically after a few more days, I hope. :)
It is March, and during this month, in addition to the many purification festivals I’ll be trying to observe, of which there are more now due to consolidation of the Treasury’s calendar, I will also be celebrating the lives and deaths of persons who have become very important to me and my spiritual practice. The first to be recognized in March, at least this year, was Saint Katherine Drexel, whose feast day in the Catholic tradition was yesterday, March 3rd.
Saint Drexel was the second American born Saint to the canonized, which was completed October 1st, in the year 2000, by Pope John Paul II. I do not have much love for most in the Catholic tradition, however Saint Drexel is a important exception for me. This is the first year she’ll have been talked about and celebrated by my family, but certainly will not be the last.
As a socialite in 1800’s Philadelphia, no one expected her to enter a religious order, but she did not allow those opinions to sway her from her mission to better the lives and conditions of the indigenous American, and Black American populations. Her entire life was spent for the betterment of these disenfranchised peoples, while using her considerable inheritance to build schools, missions and churches for the least cared for peoples in the country. From her, I’ve learned that it is possible to devote oneself to the unceasing calling of one’s God, and that it is possible to make a difference in the lives of the poor and dispossessed. I do not have to be a Catholic to understand and appreciate the impact of Saint Drexel’s legacy on American society.
The second person to be honored in March will be the philosopher and mathematician, Hypatia of Alexandria, who was murdered by a Christian mob on March 8th, 415 A.D., in Alexandria, Egypt, after much civil unrest and bloody attacks by feuding Jewish and Christian citizens of Alexandria.
Hypatia’s only crime was to be a learned woman of Pagan leanings in a city where the Jewish and Christian peoples were at each other’s throats. After much back and forth between the two warring sects, and after being accused of influencing one of the leaders of this feud, Hypatia was kidnapped, beaten, stripped naked, flayed with oyster shells while still alive, dismembered, and finally burned. And though her death was brutal and unforgivable, Hypatia’s legacy of philosophy, astronomy and higher mathematics lives on today in those who remember and honor her, as well as those who follow in her footsteps, especially women.
What I have learned from her personally, is that no matter what one does or doesn’t do, knowing and being oneself is most important, simply because we can not always sway the minds of others. The world is a dangerous place, and sometimes we will be targeted for our beliefs, or for political reasons, but we must not allow fear to silence us, not even the fear of pain or death.
Near the end of March, I will celebrate the life and death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I, of England, whose date of death was March 24th, 1603. Queen Elizabeth is widely regarded as one of the most successful monarchs in English history, having presided over what is often now called the Golden Age.
After much contention and religious strife in the country during the reigns of her half-siblings, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I, the succession of Elizabeth was a welcome opportunity for change. Through her moderate rule, Elizabeth was able to quiet the civil unrest that had long plagued her people, though these reforms were not without risk to her life and person. She was targeted several times by plots to return England to the control of the Roman Catholic Church, especially after Pope Pius V’s papal bull in the year 1570, which released all Catholic citizens of England from allegiance to their Sovereign.
But, as history tells us, Queen Elizabeth was ultimately victorious in winning the hearts and minds of her people. The lessons I take from this, are that striving for the middle way is oftentimes the most desirable course, when in fact one’s goal is to reconcile disparate factions. Compromise can lead not only to the coming together of things once thought irreconcilable, but also to the growth and maturation of newborn respect for one another’s differences.
So, there you have it; all those whom I will have celebrated, or will be celebrating, during this month of March, 2015. May the many Gods and spirits, especially those of our honored dead be remembered, and may they continue to observe our trials and accomplishments for the betterment of our world and societies.
Hail to the Deathless Gods! Hail to the Beloved Dead, and may they, and we, never be silent!