Christians, Jews and Muslims can get religious-based relationship help. Why not pagans?
Although my couples mediation practice is first and foremost a secular one, since publishing my New Vesta book series I have also been providing Vesta and pagan-based relationship help to those who have specifically sought me out for that service (it bugs me when a practitioner sneakily slips their own beliefs into what is assumed to be a secular appointment).
At first, I was concerned that "coming out" pagan might hurt business; however, quite the opposite has been true. Business has never been better and I've received wonderful feedback from friends, clients and even the media.
Yet we live in a world where some people feel compelled to criticize without contemplation, and I recently read a comment by a woman who made the sweeping assertion that pagan-based relationship help was not a proven approach.
The truth is, different forms of religious-based counselling and mediation are widespread and common. Professional counselors, psychologists and mediators regularly advertise services that include Christian, Jewish or Islamic-based relationship help. The success rate of these approaches versus a purely secular approach has not been definitively proven, at least not to my knowledge. They simply satisfy a person’s preference to include a spiritual element. Fair enough.
So my question is this: Why should contemporary pagan-based relationship help, Vesta in my case, not also be an option for those who actively seek it out? After all, I – and many other pagans – am fully trained, qualified and experienced in our fields of expertise.
There is no reason that we cannot professionally and responsibly blend our secular training with our spirituality in the same way that Christian, Jewish or Muslim practitioners do, again providing that our clients have specifically requested this type of service.
After all, paganism is nothing new. Vesta, the goddess of the home and hearth, served as the “focus of the family” a thousand years before Christ was even born. This tradition’s simple, sweet ritual of meal-time offerings was practiced by wives, husbands and children for centuries before the first Christian man absorbed this practice and said grace before a meal.
Implying that this spiritual system (or any ancient pagan or polytheistic tradition) is less proven than today’s androcentric monotheistic Abrahamic religions isn’t just self-righteous and hypocritical, it’s uninformed. It also makes the rather insulting presumption that pagan clients – unlike other religious clients – are incapable of choosing the type of help that is right for them.
So why does this hypocrisy exist? Why do some people continue to assume that pagan-based relationship help isn’t as legit as other forms of religious-based relationship help?
In a word, propaganda. It has for centuries been the position of the Catholic church in particular to engage in a smear campaign against the Vesta tradition and other polytheistic worldviews, largely by making fun of them or spreading fear about them. It’s an effective way to discredit the competition.
It’s a smear campaign that continues today. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo killings, Pope Francis said that people should not ridicule the faith of others; however, he (and many popes before him) have continuously engaged in anti-pagan rhetoric that ridicules the faith of millions of people worldwide.
There is also the fabrication that Vesta and other pagan traditions naturally “died out” as people voluntarily turned to Christianity. That is untrue. Vesta worship was brutally banished through a policy of forced Christianization carried out by the first Christian Roman emperors.
The truth is, there is absolutely no compelling reason – other than personal choice – to favour Christian-based relationship help over pagan-based help.
Frankly, the type of Vesta-based service that I offer has a much longer history of being associated with marital and family solidarity than any of the Abrahamic religions, all of which prioritize individual devotion to their male god over devotion to the family unit, and all of which consider the man to be the spiritual head of the household.
In contrast, the dynamic, socially progressive spirituality of New Vesta emphasizes gender equality and extols the family unit above anyone and anything else. It rejects such things as homophobia, religious intolerance and the indoctrination of children into supernatural belief, and embraces such things as environmentalism and the advancement of science and medicine.
When we lay it all out like this, it takes very little to dissolve the pretentious notion that the Abrahamic religions have more to offer couples and modern families than Vesta or other spiritual systems do.
Indeed, Vesta and other pagan worldviews are making a real comeback – everything old is new again – and I am happy to see that pagan-based relationship help is gaining a strong foothold not just in North America, but in many parts of the world. As a result, more and more mainstream practitioners like myself are respecting and incorporating it into their practice.
Considering the resurgence of Vesta, other forms of modern paganism and an ever-increasing number of people who identify as spiritual but not religious, I expect this trend to continue. As long as practitioners a) provide skilled secular services, b) include a spiritual element only when requested, and c) do not push their views on others (most pagans do not aggressively proselytize), I think this trend can only be to the benefit of our clients and their families.
To learn more, visit NewVesta.com