For example, I am not a techie, I am a musician, a poet, a writer of fantasy fiction, all impractical things to be in this fast- paced society of yuppies and other competetive types. Therefore an entirely modern, tech / Science / et al - oriented Neopagan system would be as irrelevant to me as an agricultural system is to most of us. What I do is a craft of past centuries, I am an artisan, not a scientist or businesswoman. There are still a few of us left!
In fact, all the members but one of my coven, Firestar, and its affiliated study group are living alternate lifestyles -- besides me we have a journalist, a graphic artist, and a professional student (living off a large inheritance and getting a degree in Magic as Religion from Cal). And as for our High Priestess and Priest -- well, they are beyond classification! So we may find such archaicisms more meaningful to us than "real-world" folks (???).
By its very (???) a Pagan Student Group at a school like (???) must have a greater preponderance of engineers and scientists -- this is no more the whole world than farming or hunting are (although one might view the "corporate jungle" as a society of hunter / gatherers...;->) -- but it creates a different sort of working group.
So, in order to satisfy everyone, must we give up on any kind of generalised system? This might not be unreasonable, as the guilds of old had their especial rites (eg, the Masons). If so, the question is: how do we build these systems from scratch?
If such seperateness seems divisive, a middle way might be to have a somewhat general system with patron deities for the occupations -- this would be no more divisive than the Catholic system of patron saints. I, for one, certainly feel better in pouring a libation for Odin and Bragi when I've made a sale, or need to (!); whether one believes in deities or not, this is still an affirmation, a cause whose effect may or may not become apparent. There are certainly enough deities to go around!
Then what general system might we construct? While some concepts, images, and archetypes may mean less to us today (though they certainly remain in the collective unconscious), there are yet those which are universal (male and female, and their ages and abilities; earth, sky, natural forces such as weather and tectonics; others?). These should be a part of any such system as we invoke the divinity in ourselves (ya can't get rid of the Goddess and God that easy!).
What tools should be used? Knives, swords, sickles, hold less charge for us, as they are not so much part of our daily life (tho many SCA folks will contradict me on the knife. I know, I wear one too...). But cups and plates stay with us, as well as pots, and hammers, gavels, even the conductor's baton. These are such ordinary things, but when elevated to chalice, paten / pentacle, cauldron, wand, become something special. So should we cease to use the other tools and instead elevate other ordinary objects to the level of ritual objects? On the other hand, there is something truly awe-inspiring in a beautiful and skillfully-handled sword. We takes our energy where we gets it, yes?
What additions might we make? We would have to pay attention to even the minor-seeming things. Would we change the elemental system? I think not, for the elements as they currently stand comprise, in one form or another, all aspects of existence. But if we did, how would we do it, and still be serious (it's very easy to make silly quarters!).
[A note on salt for those unhappy with "archaicisms": salt has been a purifying agent for ages, and still is, in many diverse systems -- British, Mediterranean, even Romany. And I think the process of Koshering meat with salt is as much a matter of purification as leeching out blood. So the symbology of salt has less to do with an obsolete technology than with its basic action, acknowledged by many peoples.]
Finally, as for the cycle of the year, whether we farm or hunt or not, the seasons are a part of our lives; weather affects us, and even though we buy food in supermarkets, seasonal changes in price, quality and availability are reminders. Nothing says "SUMMER AT LAST!" to me like a large, fragrant peach (arg! how I miss and look forward to them!). When I was a student on the quarter system at Cal, I was even more in touch with the cycle.
And if we cease to acknowledge the passing of the seasons, we lose touch with the earth, which, if we are to keep her as she should be kept, must not happen. I am not saying "Ah, for the goode olde days before the nasty Industrial Revolution alienated us from Mother Earth and promoted pollution and strip-mining and other land-rape." I am saying that if we are to live "in beauty upon the earth" as the Hopi say, we should at least acknowledge some tie with her seasonally, if at no other time. The quarters and cross-quarters are good times for this, because it is in earth's changes that she is most beautiful. Besides which, the feasts and festivals are now, as they have always bene, an opportunity for a community to gather, share, and party.
But life is surer these days -- we no longer fear the endless night of Winter Solstice, because we know we won't starve. We are more comfortable in the physical world because it is known to us now. Is there a point to ritual any more? Well, yes:
Ultimately, we must avoid mundanity. We must not become so caught up in Relevance that we lose the specialness of what we do, the sense of wonder, the knowledge that we can do marvels.
There is a special responsibility in being one's own priest, in mastery of one's own powers. We must keep this in mind, with pride. With apologies to O. Henry, we are the Magi.
by Leigh Ann "SeaHawk" Hussey