This term is used alot, especially by Wiccans. SOme use it out of fear for what was and what could be, and some out of respect for those who perished during those times. The earliest was at Ynys Mons, when the stronghold fell to the Romans. Then, years, later, with those who were burned to the stake by the Church.
Even today, the Burning Times are no longer over. Each one of us who embarks on this path will face our own Burning Time... when we reveal to the world who we are and what we believe. And many of us are cast out to the dark and cold world, friendless and alone.
These are my fears. My Burning Time is coming. And soon, I'm afraid.
In order to understand why I am the way I am right now, you need to know a few things about me.
I was born to an Irish-Catholic family and raised as such. Now, by comparison, the Catholics are not as die-hard as many other Christian groups, though they do follow a very strict doctrine. I was always the alterboy up at the alter helping the priest with mass, I was the perfect CCD student, I looked away from anything that might be a sin, and I said my prayers every night. I was young, so very young.
There was one thing that captivated me even more that my faith. I began reading at a very young age. And to put it in the mildest of terms, I was enchanted. The old tales and legends were my absolute favorite. Tales of knights, and dragons. And magic. Magic was always a close favorite. I read of Arthur and his knights as they founded Camelot, of fair Nimue and Merlin locked in their towers. I sailed with the Geats to Hrothgar's halls where Beowulf slew Grendel. I laughed under the forests of Sherwood as one of Robin's Merry-Men, and I was on the field of battle against the Moors as Roland blew his horn. I was there at Troy when Paris pierced Achille's with his arrow, and with Odysseus as he sailed for home. I watched as Hercules burned himself on his funeral parlor, and as Perseus turned his uncle to stone. I helped Odin remove his eye for the Well or Mirmir and heard the howl of Fenrir the wolf. I devoured the Arabian Nights tale by tale and felt the creaking of the wooden ship beneath me as Sinbad sailed to distant lands.
I was at a tender age where anything was real for me. And I believed it all whole heartedly. I wanted to believe it. For me, Magic existed everywhere. I talked to trees, in an attempt to coax out their spirits, the dryads. I spent warm summer nights sitting by the edges of fairy rings, hoping that the Fae would come. Every rainbow I chased for it's end, hoping to see one of the little folk, and I sat for hours on the edge of the sea rocks of my home, hoping to spy a selkie, a kelpie, or a sea monster. And I loved every second of it.
But alas… nothing stays the same forever. The arrow of time points in only one direction. Like all things, I grew, and as I grew older, the innocence and the joys of the past fell away faster than they would for a normal child. While other children had spent playing and joining their "clicks", I had spent my time alone, reading and dreaming. I was a lonely child, but it manageable. But as I grew older, I grew more and more bitter and lonely. My reading continued, but now it extended to the Arts, Sciences, History, and Math. I continued to read and absorb everything I could. My desire for knowledge was unsatiable.
As I grew older and left my world of Magic… I became a bit of a "fanatic" as to my faith. I was never as fanatical as some nutjobs out there, but I did grow less tolerable. I cast a dark eye upon all faiths other than my own, believing mine to be the only true one. I secretly wished for another Holy War, so that I might prove myself to my God, and even fancied a time when my enemies would burn in the fires of Hell. I was filled with so much hate and anger; at myself and at those who mocked and taunted me, making me feel like less of a human being.
Looking back on him... that person now terrifies me...
Then… about a year and a half ago, my "corruption" began. My Psychology teacher, whom I much admired and had many thought provoking and philosophical discussions with, made mention of a book to me. It was a novel by the title of "Island". The author was Huxely, the same man who wrote "Brave New World". Infact, Island was the companion book to Brave New World. I have read many books of such nature countless times and had them committed to heart. 1984, Animal farm, and all of them. But I had never heard of Island before. I saw that it was apart of my teacher's personal collection in his closet. I stole it when he wasn't looking, and I finished it in one night. "Island" was perhaps the most influential book of my life. In the sense that BNW showed a flawed, negative Utopia, but a Utopia in every sense of the world, Island portrayed a perfect, desirable Utopia. it covered so many issues. I returned it the next day to my teacher, with my own observations and comments. He was okay with it, knowing how fast I read, and was surprised that I was so troubled by it. Because I was, the book had rocked how I thought of things. I began to doubt both what I believed in, and why I was believing it.
Like everything, at last I decided my own information was insufficient, and to form my own opinions. I tackled every religious book I could find. And when I mean every, I meant everything. East, West, old, new. It didn't matter. I read unorthodox pieces, and as many things about my faith and others that I could. I also dwelt upon the history of each religion, and its actions. I also focused on Philosophy. Nothing was spared in my search, and I read as many things as I could get my hands on. By the end of it, I was an emotional and mental wreck. So many beliefs, concepts, theories, and ideas were running around in my head. I was doing what no man should ever do. I was looking for the Truth of the world and how it worked. And I had millennia of human mistakes and alteration working against me. Some nights I spent weeping, others my body burned with rage.
After awhile, I decided to strip away the myths from my faith and focus on what I believed. I did a lot of soul searching. Here's what I decided:
Is there a God-like figure who is behind the motions of the world and mankind?
Was there, at one point, a man named Jesus who preached the word of God, and was thus executed for it?
Was this man the Son of God, and did he come back from the Dead?
I have no idea. I'll admit it.
Do I believe the creator of the infinite multi-verse revealed himself solely to some desert dwelling people ONLY?
Was Jesus a man of foresight and someone way ahead of his time, just like Buddha, Socrates, and Confucius?
Has the original message and meaning of this man's teaching twisted and convulsed for the personal gain of those in power?
Have wars been waged, innocent people slaughtered, lands turned barren, and atrocities committed in the name of this man, who, according to his teachings, would have condemned such actions?
By now, I was beyond bothered. I had stripped away everything and examined the facts. I didn't know what to believe. My faith was being bent in hundred of directions, and I didn't know the right path. Buddhism appealed strong to me, however I wasn't comfortable with some aspects.
Its kinda interesting how a song can lead you to the answer. I found this one piece... and... out of respect for him, I'm going to keep him anonymous. He is one of the OBOD, but thats it. I consider him my teacher. But anyway, being the literature buff that I am. At first, I thought he was just another medieval musician like a few other guys out there, but then I began to explore alot of his other songs. I was intrigued by them, they spoke of something I had never heard of. I was at ease when listening to them, and excited, for I delved deeper into his lyrics.
What I found was a religion and philosophy older than I could have imagined. I found the Old Ways once more, and this path was just as rocky as my Island journey. There was so unbelievably much to uncover and research and understand; to separate the true from the false, the real from the imposter. But I based my work around the man whom I consider my teacher and what he believed in and what he saw in the world. Because... thats what I believe, or rather, want to believe. I've never performed any of the rituals or gatherings or celebrations. But... there was a moment that I actually knew that I believed in what he... what all of you do.... It was several months ago, last summer infact, and the moon was out and full. I saw it, and made a small prayer to the Goddess to help me and give me the strength to continue to the path I set myself on.
My eyes are open, for before they were shut. For the first time in who knows how many years, I am happy. I feel at peace with what I believe it, and believe it to be true. More importantly, I feel at peace with myself for I think... the first time ever. And if others don't understand why, I am okay with that as well. I'm happy now. I wish to remain so. Blessed be, for I have found something worth believing in. For me, there is still just a little bit of Magic left in this world of ours.
My Burning Time is coming very soon Im not sure how much more I can keep this a secret.
Should I tell my parents what I now choose to believe? They're catholic as well, and they're much more moderate Catholics than what I was. Its just, Im afraid that if I do, I won't have a roof to sleep under, or a bed to sleep in the following night. Please don't get the wrong idea, they're absolutely wonderful parents, and I am blessed in so many different ways to have them. I couldn't ask of anything more from them, they've given me a wonderful life and have raised me properly and with a strong set of morals and ethics. I love them both, and I know they love me. But... I was showing my mother a "Coexist" sign with all the different signs of faith incorporated into it, and I pointed out our symbol. She called it, and I quote the "the pagan-devil-evil-witchcraft thing". Needless to say, the blood drained from my face. I know its from ignorance of the whole situation and the background, because thats what they've been brought up with. I just... I need help. I don't know how to go about this, or what to do, or even if I should.
I have already contacted my "teacher" about this, and to my surprise, he actually contacted me back, and with very useful words of advice.
But... from a young Druid to those of the Order... what were your Burning Times? What happened? How did people react? And what advice can you share with me?
Blessed Be, everyone.