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Paganism, Just Another Religion

By SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN

If personal tradition holds, just before sundown Saturday, Michael York will stand before a colonial-style wooden cabinet in his bayside town house here and light a candle. As night falls, it will illuminate the surrounding objects: tarot cards, Tibetan silver bowls, a bell and statues or icons of deities like the Greek earth-mother, Gaia, and the Lithuanian thunder god, Perkunas.

While facing the altar, if past practice holds, Mr. York will invoke the names of the ancestors and loved ones who have died. He will often write down their names, too, and keep that piece of paper in the cabinet. One can mourn on any day, as Mr. York put it recently, but on this occasion, “the veil between the worlds is understood to be thinnest.” The day that most Americans know as Halloween, a commercial bonanza and secular holiday with only the faintest remnants of its pantheistic origins, Mr. York celebrates as Samhain, the autumnal new year for Pagans. And for Mr. York, Paganism is indeed a proper noun, connoting a specific religion that he has observed for decades.

Read the original article at: New York Times

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