Do you feel that? A lightness in the air and the smell of how things are about to change for the better or worse, but happily, they are about to change. I feel it too. I know a lot of people will blame it on the newly arrived season of Spring. And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. Even an old curmudgeon like myself has found themselves with Vivaldi’s La Primavera playing a little too often to avoid pretentiousness. A concerto which is synonymous with the current season change, obviously one of the historically valid. There are other reasons to be happy about the season change. One of my primary reasons of elation, and maybe you feel the same, is that we are now free of religious holidays for quite some time. Well, my culture is, by and large.
During my years of research into the subject, I have developed the habit (“habit” seems a stretch, but just go with me here) of keeping track of the all the religious holidays, and when I say “all”, I really mean to say all of the international and shared major religions. And while my self designed category of “international and shared major religions” seems crystal clear to me, I’ll take a moment to define what I really mean.
Shinto1, Japanese, “way of the Gods” isn’t that big of a mystery to several of you and if it is, just know that it is like most religions. There are forces in the universe, supernatural in nature and origin, but the only historical truth is that it’s had periods of peaceful civil service and different periods of torture and warfare. If you wish to know much more, I have deposited a web address in the footnote.
But were you aware that there is a Celtic Christain? Baha’i? How about Zoroastrianism or Sikh or Jain? Any of those ringing church bells for you? Where someone lives and has traveled will ultimately dictate whether or not they have heard of any given religion outside of the big four—Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, and Islam. Even in that, I imagine Hindu and Buddhism have an uphill battle in the West of getting to every mind. So what I mean by “international and shared religions” is those religions that are likely to be practiced, even at an underground level, anywhere on the planet. Also, let’s be fair. There is no reason that we shouldn’t have considerations for those religions which we deem dead (for indeed, how does one kill a fantasy?). Will not the Greek Gods be immoderately pissed off if they are left out of the party?
Of course they will.
And Zeus throws lightning bolts and performs rites of zoophilia; we do don’t want to piss that God off.
For the sake of education and discovery, I will be following and examining some of the religious holidays that are remaining in the year. There have been a lot of religions and sects of each of those religions. To think that one man could cover every holiday is daunting beyond words, but I can definitely try to cover the obscure ones to my upbringing. Those ones I don’t even know I don’t know, those are what I hope to find. I don’t want anybody to feel bad when they get left out. This is supposed to be as fun as it can be too. Oh, and something else to be said about this little proclamation of intention.
I am going to attempt to celebrate some of these religious holidays. That’s right,the anti-theist is going to spend the rest of his year, in all likelihood, having a religious “celebration” on as many days of possible for one whole year. I will miss a few days, and there maybe some days of half-assing it. There might even be a day or two that doesn’t have any holiday attached to it, those will be rare I imagine, as I am talking about world religion here, no shortcuts.
Anticipation has already released the butterflies within for this endeavor. I can’t promise that I will blog-document every single day, but I am going to use everything at my disposal to record my thoughts and hopefully this includes film and audio. This is also a call to my readership.
I will need your backup. If I am to know about all of the holidays which are forthcoming, it will make my job a ton easier if I get some input. If you know about an ancient Roman holiday coming up in few weeks let me know. If you know of a Native American holy day or Zulu festival, please let me know. There might be one I can observe, or a ritual of which I can participate. As long as I am on the North American continent I will not be participating in any ritual which illegally sacrifices animals or harms people. I don’t mind bending the law at any given time, but I will not participate in illegal animal cruelty.
This includes whipping myself. Not happening.
Outside of that, I want to at least hear about every single one of them I can. I feel like I know a bunch, but the truth will be that I know two percent or less. I fell like I may get some critics, I am skeptical myself, but I know that it needs to be done, and many will support my efforts.
Militant New Atheists have, for far too long, turned their noses up at ritual and rite. I want to get inside of the religious mind through the lens of my eyes and observed interpretation. I may not have faith, but I do have a brain. Which means I have just as much chance to feel “God(s)” as as anyone who has ever lived a day. As I come from a religious background, maybe I will have more of a shot, who knows? Maybe the religious will be laughing soon, I am open to any experience. Though a skeptics filter is likely to remain, how my mind changes, grows, and what my playback/output will produce is my principle outcome.
I am officially beginning this journey on April 1st. That gives me a few days to accumulate data and get some things lined out for reporting on all this. The anthropologist within is foaming at the mouth at the ethnographical data I will collect, excited for my readers as well. I foresee some real hardships and some emotional ups and downs, but this subject is deserving of my full attention.
Not to mention, ritual is performed by people, and because of that, I am sure to connect with lots of them. My frontal lobe tingles with daydreaming.
As per usual, I imagine I will have a harsh and insulting tone to my criticism of some of the rites and holidays of which I will be participating. I do not apologize for any of my future criticisms, if I am wrong about something, then good. Such a situation will give me an opportunity to learn, but as I walk into this with an open heart, I hope the religious of my audience will keep theirs open to my exhortations.
I am ready.