Revision has eaten me these last few weeks, and will probably continue to do so for several weeks longer. However, I have been wanted to start this series of posts for months now, and I think I finally have something to say for this first one.
I won’t bore everybody by talking once again about how I became a pagan, and later a Hellenic polytheist. If you are interested, you can read the intro to this blog here. To be honest, that still dosen’t really answer the question as to ‘why paganism?’. Many people I know became pagan because of a life changing experience, or because they found information and felt like they were ‘coming home’. There were no fireworks for me. I found paganism and liked it, but that dosen’t answer the fact that I am still pagan to this day and now always will be. I wasn’t pagan all my life without realising (though there are a couple of exceptions to this), and the ‘holy shit that’s a god and it’s totally trying to get my attention’ stuff came after.
My local pagan group runs a large pagan pride even here in Nottingham. It’s a good event and entirely free to attend. Throughout the year leading up to the event they do a lot of fundraisers. One such fundraiser at the moment is a pagan quilt. Basically, you buy a little quilt square and have to decorate it to represent what paganism means to you. Then, they will all be sewn together and auctioned off.
Upon meditating over what I was going to put on my square this morning, I realised that the ideas I had are also fitting for this post. It’s not about how I practice, or who I do and do not honour. It’s WHY.
What paganism means to me:
- Paganism is life: I truly cannot separate it from how I live, and see life on a day to day basis.
- The world is teeming with gods and spirits: Polytheism and animism come as easily to me as breathing. In fact, trying to separate these things from my outlook would be about as easy as ceasing to breathe. I don’t have to stop and remind myself that the tree has a spirit, or that the river I cross everyday has a god. These things just are. Why on earth would I drop litter or carve my name into a tree when these things have sentience?
- A sense of wonder when looking at the universe: It’s no secret that I am a scientist, and have a mad geeky passion for multiple disciplines. I could never belong to a school of thought or religion that defied basic children’s logic and scientific concepts that are, for all intents and purposes; facts (evolution happened and is happening. Deal.). This physical world is amazing and statistically unlikely. How can there be nothing divine when there are supernovas? Don’t you think it is fantastic that we crawled out of the metaphorical mud like everything else, yet there is fantastic diversity? At the risk of sounding crazy, there is a joy I feel in hearing my cat breathe. I know it is an autonomous living creature just like me, and that is amazing. We are stardust. Paganism is a sense of wonder at being a part of creation, and celebrating that fact. Zeus is in the thunder. There is god in the rain.
- Everything is interconnected, and is divine: There’s some buzzwords for ‘ya. Ones that will no doubt piss some people off and get me labelled as something utterly ‘dreadful’ such as ‘neopagan’ . I believe that the universe and everything within it is part of a ‘being’ that is more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s not good or bad or perfect or imperfect, it just is. Every molecule of my being is fundamentally part of this fabric, as are you, my cat and my mobile phone. It’s not a deity to be worshipped as such, as it is everything around me including myself. Instead, it is to be celebrated and honoured by acknowledging that I am a part of it and so is life. My actions matter, they reverberate though the web of existence and have far reaching effects. Me and the cat breathe the same air. Again, we are stardust. Paganism is my celebration of that.
That, and the fact that my gods are awesome. But hey, I lack the artistic skill to portray Hermes on a quilt square. 😉