30 March 2014

pagan group

For the first time in my life, I'm part of a group.  Of Pagans.  I have gone... 14 years, now, as a solitary traveler, and now my path is converging with others.  Or, if it is not converging, it is at least running roughly parallel within shouting distance of others' paths.  The UU Church Pagans got together last Sunday, and decided to meet at Sabbats to hold ritual, celebration, and just to get together.  We'll also be meeting monthly at the First Sunday potluck, which will be nice.  Ten of us met at that first meeting to decide why we were interested in a group and what we wanted to get out of it.  Our ideas were pretty similar: do ritual, converse with like-minded peoples, learn, and accountability for our own practice (I need this so much!).

Since we aren't forming a coven, just a group of differently traditioned people, we decided to take turns leading the Sabbat rituals.  The first one we have coming up is Beltane, and I volunteered to lead it with my friend Erin (who has also always been solitary) and a woman I've met through the UU Church, who has experience working with groups.  I'm looking forward to planning and doing the ritual!  Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures (maybe I'll make my husband come just for that, hah!).

06 March 2014

pantheist? non-theist? atheist?

"But as I continue developing my spiritual practice, the feelings it evokes reminds me that I am engaging in this ritual, in this reverence, for the very reason that I am not entirely an atheist. For me, I feel the Cosmos to be divine. I feel a divinity in its mystery, its vastness, its connectedness, in the very fact of its being. But I have yet to define for myself what this concept of the divine really means for me – and if the reverence and connectedness I feel can be called theism of any kind." Áine W., The Spinning of the Wheel

For such a long time I've identified with the term pantheism.  If you don't know, pantheism is the idea that the Divine is in everything, everything is Divine.  God or Deity or Whomever can be found in rocks, trees, stars, plastics, buildings, shoes.  Everything.  So I always said I was a pantheist.  Or I thought it, at the very least.  God, for me, was never personal, which is a large part of why I didn't continue with Christopaganism, or whatever I may have been calling it at the start of this blog.  The Christian god is supposed to be personal. And even in Paganism, with polytheism abound, choosing pantheons or choosing fitting gods from one culture or another always seemed like a large part of celebrating the Divine.  Gods have personalities; it makes them personable.  

But I never felt that.  Praying to Gaia felt no different than praying to Cernunnos. So when I stumbled across this term, pantheism, I ran with it.  It was awesome.  I felt... comfortable with the Divine, although I think the word comfortable is wrong here.  It felt sensible to me, at any rate.

As the years went by and I stepped away from the Pagan path (not to any other particular path except maybe secularism), I began losing pantheism.  It became muddied in my mind.  I would laughingly joke that I was an atheist pagan because god, for me, was all and nothing at the same time.  Could I really claim to be a pagan if my view of god was so broad that I lost any sense of the divine?  

I always hated trying to define my beliefs, because it always came down to, "Well, I'm a Pagan... kinda.  Maybe I'm an atheist... but not really.  It's complicated."  And it is complicated. Like Áine, in the quote above, I am still hammering out my definition of what god is and means to me.  It's something I'll probably still be hammering away at when I am on my deathbed, if I am still lucid.  But I like what Áine says, that the divinity of existence is in its vastness and (inter)connectedness.  

So. Pantheist? Non-theist? Atheist?

I'm a Pagan, and I view god through pantheist eyes.  God is the energy that moves the universe and moves through the universe.  God is impersonal, despite the fact that I sometimes give it a face and a name for my own comfort.  I feel the Divine whether I am lighting incense and saying a prayer, cleaning a stream, or hugging a tree, because the Divine is in all there is.  The Wiccan Goddess saying "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals" describes my view of god, because the energy moving through the universe is love and acts of love bring us closer to experiencing the Divine.

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