Sunday, August 1, 2010
Pagans honour the Divine in all its aspects, whether male or female, as parts of the sacred whole. To a Pagan every man and woman is a beautiful and unique being. Children are loved and honoured and there is a strong sense of community. The woods and open spaces of the land, home to wild animals and birds, are cherished. Paganism stresses personal spiritual experience, and Pagans often find that experience through their relationship with the natural world that they love. We seek spiritual union with Divinity by attuning with the tides of Nature and by exploring our inner selves, seeing each reflected in the other.
We believe that we should meet the Divine face to face, within our own experience, rather than through an intermediary. Although some paths do have leaders and teachers, these people act as facilitators, using their own wisdom and experience to help guide those in their care towards discovering their own sense and interpretation of the Divine. Our rites help us harmonise with the natural cycles, and so they are often held at the turning points of the seasons, at the phases of the moon and sun, and at times of transition in our lives.
From other faiths and from society generally, we ask only tolerance. A Pagan is a person who believes that everything has a soul or spirit. This is called Animism, and all Pagan religions share this belief. Rivers, animals, rocks, trees, land are all filled with their own unique spirits for people who are Pagans. Christians believe that only humans have souls or spirits, Pagans see the divine spirit in all life. Pagans try to live in harmony with the Earth and raise their children to honour the ways of Nature.
Pagans strive to strengthen their understanding of this miracle called Life. Pagans go to school, go to work, pay taxes, clean house, garden, raise kids, make art, watch TV, do not watch TV, eat at McDonalds, do not eat at McDonalds and love or hate computers, just like everyone else. Pagans are just people who have a different religion, a Nature Religion that teaches them to honour all life. Pagans honour their Goddesses and Gods with the same faith that non-pagans have their own religions.
Pagans do not worship the Devil or Satan. Pagans do not believe in the Devil, he is part of the Judeo-Christian Religions and mythology. Most Devil worshipping groups are not Pagan, because they are centred on a Judeo-Christian supernatural being, namely Satan. These Devil Worshippers are a sect of Christianity, even though Christianity does not want to claim them.
The recognition of the divine in nature is at the heart of Pagan belief. Pagans are deeply aware of the natural world and see the power of the divine in the ongoing cycle of life and death. Most Pagans are eco-friendly, seeking to live in a way that minimises harm to the natural environment.
Pagans worship the divine in many different forms, through feminine as well as masculine imagery and also as without gender. The most important and widely recognised of these are the God and Goddess (or pantheons of God and Goddesses) whose annual cycle of procreation, giving birth and dying defines the Pagan year. Paganism strongly emphasises equality of the sexes. Women play a prominent role in the modern Pagan movement, and Goddess worship features in most Pagan ceremonies.
Paganism is not based on doctrine or liturgy. Many pagans believe 'if it harms none, do what you will'. Following this code, Pagan theology is based primarily on experience, with the aim of Pagan ritual being to make contact with the divine in the world that surrounds them.
Lastly you may be asking yourself “How do I become a Pagan”. My answer would be:
Don't be so desperate for a label. Educate yourself about the things that interest you and follow your heart, it will take you where you need to be. Education will serve you better than putting yourself in a "pagan" box. Sit outside in woodland or on a riverbank, somewhere you can listen to nature. Close your eyes and relax, listen, feel, smell.
Listen to your inner spirit, the answer will come. When you feel ready find someone who can act as a guide. There are many paths to choose from. Your path will become visible to you when the time is right.