Monday, January 27, 2020

Everyday Pagan

January always feels a little light and wispy; it's early days confused and lacking substance. Perhaps it's because it's the beginning of a new calendar year. Perhaps it's the hangover from December's many festivals. Christmas, in particular, means less to me as the years go by and any loyalty to a Christian tradition fades. The rampant commercialism has all but killed any spiritual feeling I once had; meanwhile, Yule and Winter Solstice means more, perhaps this year in particular because my ritual partner Lois transitioned across the Veil unexpectedly in early September. We introduced several successful Winter Solstice rituals to the Raleigh, NC area while she was attending seminary and the early years of her interfaith ministry. This year felt a bit hollow and lonesome. I over decorated in my grief and over-compensated with holiday merriment that left me feeling numb and lost.

Somewhere in all of this January slid quietly into place. Everything feels a bit off. At the first Full Moon of the year, one which many Pagans revere as the strongest and most magical, I begged off with a quiet prayer to the Goddess as I drifted off to sleep. Soon it will be Imbolc and the Feast of Brigid, my main patron. I made my dedication and was initiated at Imbolc to Pagan spirituality after studying a year and a day. In reality I had been Pagan much longer, but I needed this formality to feel legitimate in my own mind.

I  know in the deepest parts of my soul that I cannot, will not ever go back to being a Christian. I have no argument with Christ's teachings: it's the overbearing arrogance of the majority of his devotees who to profess to follow him, those who create him in their own image to justify greed and animosity toward those who do not meet their standard of religious expression whom I roundly reject. I attended an education for ministry program for nearly a decade, earning several post graduate degrees in the process, and much to my chagrin am sorrily disappointed in those who claim to follow the Nazarene. I have a new understanding of the quote attributed to Gandhi: " I very much like your Christ, but not so much his followers". I still wonder how these folks can claim the love and beauty of Jesus' message and claim to worship him while disparaging the rest of humanity. This was not Jesus' way, in fact the most negative thing he had to say was to tell his Apostles to shake the dust off their feet and leave nonbelievers in peace.

That's folks like you and I. We have our own Beloved Community, no matter how loosely we are organized or how much we pick at scabs. We are a part of the vast Other that includes Buddhists, Hindi, many Asian religions, Humanists, Atheists and even in some cases a few fringe pseudo Christian sects like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. I'm sure I've forgotten to include more, but these are the ones that presently come to mind. The point is there are more of us than them, and according to polls from the Pew Foundation, even more who profess no affiliation with any religious tradition at all. I'm sure this is the driving force behind the pissy attitude of the Dominionist Christian Cult which is attempting to turn the United States into a theocracy.( But more about them in another post.)

Still, I am searching for a definitive to the question of what makes me, and maybe you, an Everyday Pagan. Perhaps the answer escapes me because I have been Pagan for so long that it is second nature and I am so attuned to looking to Nature for answers that it is my norm. I use oracles everyday to explain what is taking place in my world; I research the stories of the Goddesses and Gods of old for applications relevant to modern day life. I see occasions for creating little rituals everywhere, and live a life of gratitude ( even if I do have to remind myself what to be grateful for on some occasions!) None of this makes me feel particularly blessed or special in the scheme of things, and none, to my mind, at least, make me particularly Pagan.

I do not go about in ritual robes with pentagrams or other occult symbols hanging from my body, I do not dress in witchy black clothing a la Stevie Nicks. Nothing makes me standout physically as a Pagan. Yes, I do have a few crystals scattered around my apartment, and a bit of esoteric artwork, which has more to do with my personal taste than my spiritual leanings.

But I am still an Everyday Pagan. I hear the voices of my ancestors; I see signs in Nature; I feel the presence of the spirits of the land and spirits of place, and I follow the wisdom of the stories of the multitudes of Gods of Old; I am in awe of the Feminine Divine that exists within me, and I resonate with others who share my convictions. I connect with the Earth and am overwhelmed by the beauty of the Universe. History, Mystery and Jung's Collective Unconscious are my most important teachers. I practice my spirituality without man made dogmas or taboos, I bow to no other human, although there are a few I deeply respect. Life is simply what it is, and the beauty of it appears in the strangest of places. Magick is everywhere.

Perhaps that's the answer: being free of religious restraints and listening to the wisdom around me, and that that comes from within. I firmly believe that we create our own salvation when we need it, otherwise we are pretty okay just as we are. No one needs to forgive us unless we ask for a boon or a blessing from a particular Deity of our choosing ( or whom we feel has chosen us). Our dealings and relationship with the Divine is individual and unique and not subject to review by others. It is our responsibility to create and build upon that relationship with the Sacred.

I will still look for those things that define being an Everyday Pagan and I suspect that search will be never ending. I love this journey, even it's occasional hiccups and bumps. If you have any other feelings you'd like to share about what makes you an Everyday Pagan, I'd love to hear from you and appreciate the courage it takes to share. Leave a few words in the comments at the end of this post.

Be well and be blessed,