KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Members of the Wiccan religion celebrated the arrival of spring outside the Christian fellowship centre at the NATO military base here. Canadian Maj. Malcolm Berry smiles as he recalls being approached a few weeks ago by a group of soldiers of the Wiccan faith – a neo-pagan religion strongly tied to nature.
"They wanted to welcome the spring in a ceremony where they are very thankful to Mother Earth and the new moon with pagan prayers," said Berry, the senior chaplain for Task Force Afghanistan. "We had no difficulty with that. We just didn't want them to do it `sky-clad' (naked) in this environment because it would be too dangerous."
The six Wiccans – a Canadian and five Americans – were invited to hold their service outside the Christian fellowship centre. They were given water, candles and food that they were welcomed to eat inside the centre after the ceremony. The Wiccans were treated with the same respect as any Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist.
"We are way ahead of the curve in terms of adaptability, understanding others, being sensitive to the needs of all Canadians," said Berry, a friendly, talkative Anglican minister from Oromocto, N.B.
Three thoughts off the top of my head. The most common adjective used to describe Canadians is boring but really I think boring doesn’t quite cut it. The human capacity for delusion is practically bottomless, and thirdly, untreated mental illness is a terrible thing to behold.
I really hope this doesn’t get out among the locals. Can you imagine what a disaster it would be if the Afghans started to believe NATO forces employ witches as soldiers? And if that thought doesn’t drive them back to the Taliban/Al Qaeda it will be only sheer dumb luck on our part.
I can’t help but wonder at this rate how long before some enlisted men attempt to revive the military worship of Mithras and demand to be allowed to sacrifice a bull before patrol or battle. And if that happens, Veterans Day in this country will never look the same again.