Thursday, June 4, 2009
I Dream of Unity
Recently I have been mulling over the divisiveness in pagan spiritual/religious terminology. Several podcasts I've heard have explored theologies. What do we believe? How do we reconcile the blanket term of "pagan" with the myriad of belief systems that we label ourselves with? And are they mutually exclusive? In my paganism they are not.
Previously I have written of my Atheism. This is what I wrote concerning my path:
"I believe in a universal spark, the essence of a life force, but I don't believe in a God in any of the interpretations that religions offer. This was a pivotal moment in my spiritual path for many reasons but the most important one was that I ceased to look outside of myself for answers."
My path involves a reverence for nature. The elements, our source of life on this planet are sacred to me. This earth, all its creatures, every molecule functions in a pattern that I could never hope to understand. I do not consider myself a teacher, leader or mystic in terms of my path. Some would ask why...and my answer is because its mine. The older I get the more I feel that spirituality is personal. In fact I consider it the most personal and subjective part of a human being. A successful teacher or leader is, in my opinion, able to help an individual connect to their most personal sense of self. To go deep, recognize and attempt to understand what is in there. That work is hard and requires a lot of devotion and honesty. I only feel capable of doing that for myself. As a friend I am able to help...but not as a leader. Nor do I seek out leaders to help me. I have many things to learn and will always quest knowledge. Someday that may manifest in the physical presence of a teacher, right now it does not.
When I mentioned divisiveness earlier I was trying to get at the root of what I feel is damaging to a spiritual path. When we start picking apart someone else and their path what is the goal? How can I be a pagan and an atheist? How can she be a Wiccan and a Christian? How can he be a pagan and not an environmentalist? Hey, I'm not throwing stones from my glass house here...I say these things all the time too. But what are we accomplishing by focusing on difference? Certainly not the unified community that many pagans are calling for. Unity is relative to many things. In my heart of hearts I do not believe unity is dependant upon sharing dogmas. We don't need unity to be defined through outside labels. We are united. Humans are one.
I can debate ideas with you, challenge your thoughts and you can challenge mine. We can agree to disagree. We can downright detest the others ideas but we are still a part of this human family. And I apply that same logic to the pagan community.
Whether you are a traditionalist, solitary, shaman or asatru. Whether you read Cunningham, Starhawk or Ravenwolf. Whether you practice skyclad, hone your craft or only celebrate Sabbats, if you define your path as pagan then you are. I can't judge you, saying because you wear certain clothes or haven't read Gardner that you aren't pagan. There should be no pagan police trying to weed out the fluffy bunnies. Because while you are so busy searching out bunnies who is looking after you? I was once assumed to be a fluffy bunny and it was so insulting to me that I stopped my foray out into the pagan community for a while. I felt no need to "prove" my spiritual path to anyone. I was being judged on my outward appearance and my way of being. No one attempted to talk to me about it or consider that I may just be a different kind of pagan from the ones they were used to. I have moved on from this now. I want to make a second attempt at branching out into my local community. Despite the fact that I am a solitary, I care about participating and being a visible member here. I love the earth, love my fellow human family and love to connect through the wonderfulness that is the pagan path. The online community has helped me to move past the initial impulse to withdraw that that judgement brought out in me.
There is lots of misinformation out there, questionable teachers, flawed leaders and love spells galore. Pagans are often cynical in nature, sarcastic and opinionated to boot. But that doesn't mean that we have to be separated by our differences or judgemental of each other. Unity is dialogue, unity is sharing, unity is support and connection. We can be this, we are this. And the pagan community in our petty squabbles are only reflecting the larger community of humans who for some reason decide to focus on what divides us instead of what we have in common. And though this may sound too much like a dreamer in her lala land....I choose to think positively and put out that energy instead of negative energy.
And as John Lennon said: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."
Dreams can come true.