November 8th, 2011


Voting today, and prayers for it

I describe Paganism a lot of ways, but one of the primary ways I describe it is as a civic religion. By this I mean that our religion is suited to the public arena in ways that other religions are not, because polytheism is naturally open, accepting, and concerned with the well-being of people and communities rather than deities. It is a religion where, ideally, the sacrifices and the prayers of the folk will focus on our community, not the person praying or sacrificing. Paganism is about doing things that benefit everyone, not about doing things that benefit the self.

I consider it a religious imperative (and we have very, very few of those in Paganism) to vote in our elections, because participation in the process of voting is the most important civil action that we can take that will benefit us and our futures. It benefits everyone when everyone votes.

A key difference, though, between what we do as Pagans and what others who go to the polls to do with their religion is that I don't ask others to vote "my way," and the outcome of elections is less important than the action of voting. I just want people to vote. The prayer I use is as follows:

May the gods of my people hear my prayers;
as we go to the polls to choose our leaders,
may it be with wisdom.

     -Ceisiwr Serith, A Book of Pagan Prayer

In 2005, I posted on what I felt "gods of my people" meant in the above prayer. To sum it up, today I pray to the goddesses Liberty and Columbia, as well as Democracy and the Vedic Vac (Vac being the goddess of words, and voting is nothing but the most powerful set of words you can voice). I will also pray to Teutates, though not in the normal way I do. Instead, I pray to him as the god of the broader tribe of Americans.

But you'll notice, I do not pray for any outcome, nor do I pray for candidates or even the gods. I merely pray for wisdom for the folk. I will pray quietly (though out loud) as I stand in the booth to vote, speaking only to myself, but speaking for more than myself.

The polls are open. Go vote.