(This is just a list of some of the main reasons (in no particular order) that I am glad that I found my way home to Paganism. Some of these will be discussed more fully in future blog posts. And I have little doubt that I’ll think of 10 more reasons as soon as this posts.)
1) Paganism honors the feminine: I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being female. Nor do I have to feel that I am in some way “less” because I am a woman.
2) There is no “One True Right Way.” I never believed in proselytizing, even when I was a Christian. I always felt that missionaries going out and trying to force people to believe the same things they did was wrong. After all, their own beliefs had worked well for them for thousands of years – what hubris!
3) It gives me a sense of connection with the natural world. The endless turning of the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of the seasons, of the moon, of my life: they are all connected, and they are part of me and I am part of them
4) It gives me a sense of connection with Deity: The God and Goddess are here. They are in the world (They are the world) not outside of it somewhere. And because of that, because They are part of the world and so am I, I have a sense of connection with Them – everywhere and all the time – not just in church on Sundays.
5) Immediacy. Our God wasn’t born, didn’t live among us, didn’t die, didn’t disappear from Earth to dwell in Heaven. No, our God is born every year, He does live among us, He (as the vegetation god) does die/sacrifice himself, and He is born again to repeat the cycle. It’s not a one time thing and then gone: our God, like our religion, lives.
6) Paganism is not static or carved in stone. It’s a living religion, one that grows and evolves and adapts to a changing knowledge-base. I don’t need someone else to interpret “God’s Word” for me.
7) Paganism is not based in fear. I’m not going to burn in a fiery pit and cry and gnash my teeth for eternity. I don’t have to be perfect in this lifetime: I can – and will – come back again to learn new lessons. I’m not being judged for my actions and I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being human. I don’t “fall short of the glory of God.”
8) Responsibility. I am responsible for my own actions and their consequences. And I have the power to create change in my life. Yes, there is the Law of Return, that what you send out comes back to you, but there is no one leading me astray: Satan is not part of Paganism, not part of our pantheons – he strictly belongs to the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition.
9) I don’t have to follow a set of rule written by men thousands of years ago. All I have to do to understand the laws of my religion is go out into the world and observe.
10) I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for having sexual thoughts or fantasies: sex is also natural, and part of the natural world. “Sex” seemed like a taboo word to me growing up, but The God and Goddess are not celibate.
It started on my birthday (and ends on my mother’s — how’s that for weird?) and it has been miserable this time around.
Usually, a retrograde Mercury doesn’t bother me all that much. It’s more of a minor annoyance. But this time…
I have had nothing but trouble with electronic devices.
My cell phone wouldn’t pick up a signal the other day, yet someone else was having no trouble at all.
My computer has been lagging and temperamental. (Okay, it’s old and cranky but it’s not normally this cranky.)
The computers in at work really hate me. I’ve been rebooting them seven times a shift or more.
There was some sort of a glitch and a scheduled payment didn’t happen. (The money was in the account but somehow it just never happened.)
And let’s not talk about transportation issues.
But all that aside, a couple people have asked me about Mercury retrogrades, and at some point in explaining them the following came out:
Mercury retrogrades are not a good time for communication. Messages are missed, misdirected, and misunderstood. Communication is disrupted in one way or another.
But retrograde Mercury is a good time to meditate on communication: on how you communicate, on how you fail to communicate (remembering that communication is a two-way street — you not only have to speak, but listen), on what you do and do not say, on what blocks your own personal communication — with others, with the gods, with yourself.
There are always lessons — even from things like a retrograde Mercury.
In fact, the best lessons come from adversity.
And, I just realized that Mercury is the Roman version of Hermes, who is one of my primary deities, and I do believe He has been trying to get my attention.
So if you will all excuse me, I have a couple more days of retrograde to use to use to improve my communication with Him…
Be blessed, and blessed be.
I had originally planned a post about reasons that I’m glad I’m Pagan, but that was before I realized that this is the day before Thanksgiving.
(Yeah, sometimes days get away from me…)
So instead I thought I would take this post to do the traditional listing of things I’m thankful for.
1) Friends: both online and in person. They keep me sane – most of the time.
2) Family: they may be a little a little hard to explain and things might be a little strained at times, but they are still there, and they are important.
3) Freedom: I live in a country where I am free to practice the religion I choose and to walk down the street unescorted, without having to answer to anyone – not all people are that lucky.
4) Paganism: I feel so much more at home on this path than I ever did as a Christian, and I am grateful to the forces that guided me home.
5) My deities: the way They impact my life, the way They have guided and protected and taught me, and simply for being so that I could find Them and know Them.
6) Internet: it makes job-hunting so much easier. Plus, without it, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful people who are a part of my life.
7) Creativity: writing, stitching, scrapbooking, all of the other hundred and one things I want to learn and do – they all help keep me sane. I really don’t understand people who have no hobbies other than television, who never feel the urge to create something. (I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand them.) (I don’t understand people who have totally spotless houses, either, but I sure wish I could be one of them!)
8) Home: I have a place to live, warm and dry and sheltered from the elements. And I love it here – this apartment felt like home the first time I walked in the door to look at it.
9) Health: overall, I’m healthy. Well, other than the fact that it’s bronchitis season. (Oh, and that pesky weight thing, a.k.a. “the perpetual New Year’s Resolution.”)
10) Food: I love food (a little too much – see above) and I am grateful that I have enough to eat and the ability to cook it.
11) Clutter: yes, clutter. It means that I have more than I need, which means that I can help those who have less. I have probably cut my wardrobe in half by donating clothes to charities, and I’m currently doing the same with books. (I have more clothes to go through too, but that’s going to wait until the next change of seasons.) (It also means that I probably don’t need to spend money on craft supplies for the rest of my life.)
12) Sense of humor: yes, it’s warped and people don’t always understand it, but it allows me to revel in the ludicrousness of human behavior without being insulted (most of the time).
13) Imagination: without it I… The one thing I can’t seem to imagine is what it would be like to have no imagination. It enriches my life in so many ways.
There are other things of course – those were just the first 13 things that popped into my head. And just about each one of the above could be broken down into individual items, but that would leave me feeling a little overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with gratitude.
Do you respect the gods of your religion — your pantheon? Do you respect the gods (pantheon) of other religions?
I think that most Pagans would answer yes to both of those questions. (At least, I would hope that they would!)
Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive, but when I see people using the names of the Pagan deities for their pets, or characters in a novel, it gets under my skin. My gods and goddesses are just as real to me as their god is to them, and I just have to wonder how they would feel if I named my cat Yahweh, or made Jehovah the name of a character in a novel.
And don’t think I’m not tempted: I regularly vent to friends and say that I’m going to use those names for characters in a novel.
But I know I won’t.
They may not be names of any of the deities that I personally follow, but they are the names of a deity. And if I want others to come to respect my path and my deities, then I have to respect theirs as well. (Law of return, folks: it’s not just for magic anymore.)
And yet, I don’t want to just let it slide, either. People won’t learn about our path, our deities, unless we educate them, unless we have the courage to say, “Hey, Apollo is as alive and real to me as Jesus is to you. Would you like it if I named my cat Jesus?”
Sure, some are going sneer and dismiss you as a flake, but maybe, just maybe, some will stop and think and realize that it is not okay to denigrate the gods of other religions. (By “other religions” I mean Pagan religions: I’m relatively certain that none of them would use Allah for the name their pet.)
So why do they think that it is all right to profane* Pagan deities by using their names in such a way?
Part of it is because schools are still teaching classes on mythology in such a way that people don’t even realize that this was their religion, let alone that it still is a religion.
And there is still a belief among many of those who follow the “mainstream” religions that there is only one true right way – a belief, thankfully, that is not shared by any of the Pagans that I have met. We realize that there is no one true right way: just because a path doesn’t work for you doesn’t meant that it isn’t the right one for someone else.
Someday, maybe, all deities will be treated with equal respect. Until then all we can do is try to educate those around us.
And respect them.
1: to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt
2: to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use
In my search for a topic for today’s post I turned to a friend of mine for suggestions. (We were talking via chat in gmail.)
She asked “Well, what’s going on in your spiritual life lately?”
“Trust, but I already wrote about that.”
So I did, and she sent back a quote from my “My Path to My Path” page:
College served to introduce me to Tarot and a few other things that would not have been approved of at home. (No, nothing illegal!) It also opened me up to the vague awareness of the “supernatural.” (In quotes, because I now believe that nothing is supernatural, but that’s a topic for another day. Paranormal is perhaps a better word.)
And then she asked “why not write about how nothing is supernatural?”
And since we are just one week away from Samhain (Halloween to the non-Pagan readers) I figured that that would be as good of a topic as any.
Except it’s kind of a short answer.
First let’s define “supernatural.”
The word comes from medieval Latin supernātūrālis: supra “above” + naturalis “nature” and was first used around 1520–30 AD. It refers to that which is said to exist above and beyond nature.
“above and beyond nature.” Remember that line, it will be important shortly.
A few more definitions:
1: of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Things to remember from this: “beyond the observable universe, of or relating to a god” and “transcend the laws of nature.”
And, finally, from dictionary.reference.com:
1. of, pertaining to, or being above or beyond what is natural; unexplainable by natural law or phenomena; abnormal.
2. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to God or a deity.
7. direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs.
From this we get: “being above or beyond what is natural” “of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or attributed to a deity” and “direct influence or action of a deity on earthly affairs”
So, what do the definitions tell us?
They tell us that something is “above and beyond nature,” that something “transcends the laws of nature.”
Furthermore, they tell us that the “something” that is above and beyond nature and transcends the laws of nature is… deity.
For Pagans, our deities are not above or beyond the laws of nature: They are the laws of nature. The God and Goddess are not separate from our world, are not outside of it – They are it.* Nothing is outside of our deities: They are all that is, and all that is is Them. How can They transcend Themselves?
With that as our given, how can anything be outside of Them, outside of nature?
There are things that we do not yet understand, but that doesn’t make them any more unnatural than the fact that we flip a switch and light appears.
So, no. I don’t believe in the supernatural. It simply cannot exist in my worldview.
*(This concept, that our deities are not separate from the world is a hard thing for people to grasp and will be subject of its own post sometime in the future.)