Friday, 24 July 2015

Choosing Paganism.

Waxing moon with Venus and Jupiter
19 July, 2015

Sometimes I think it would be easier for me to have followed almost any other religion than Paganism. Surely converting to Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism must be simpler than Paganism. I know that if I’d returned to the faith I was born into, Catholicism, my spiritual beliefs would have been guided by the teachings of the Church and the Bible. If I was unclear on any beliefs I could have talked to a priest or a spiritual director to have my doubts set straight.

Exactly what modern day Pagans believe is really hard to pin down. I’ve written before about the three principles of the Pagan Federation, and how they resonated with me when I first read them. Beyond those three principles, things can get pretty murky.

You would struggle to identify what Pagans believe about God because Pagans choose their own gods and/or goddesses {or, the gods and goddesses choose them}. Paganism seems to be dominated by Wiccans who follow the Goddess and the God – but even that isn't simple. Then there are those who follow Asatru / Heathenism, and worship the Norse pantheon of gods and goddesses. Other Pagans worship the Celtic deities. Or the Greek. Or the Roman. Or the ancient Egyptian. Some, with indigenous roots, honour the gods of their culture. Others honour their ancestors. Yet other Pagans are actively atheist or non-theist. Some Pagans do spellwork, read cards, work with crystals, use shaman practices, meditate … and some don’t.

As you can imagine, for a new Pagan it can be a truly dizzying array of gods and goddesses, beliefs, and spiritual practices to get your head around. Because Paganism is more of a religious movement than an organised religion, new Pagans often have little real-life guidance unless they join a coven. I felt overwhelmed when I began to ponder the question, just what do I believe in?

But the flip side of this is the ability to choose whatever is right for you. When you become a Pagan you are not confined to a set of beliefs. God is not a prescribed being.

The first thing I discovered is that even though it's a long time since I called myself a Christian, some of the beliefs I had as a Christian were still entrenched. For example, I was very determinedly monotheistic, and expected that wouldn't change once I became a Pagan. But I thought about it a lot, tried out many different devotions, and wrote about it in my journal. I discovered I am - surprise, surprise! - mostly non-theist.

You'll notice I said mostly non-theist. That's because a certain Celtic goddess keeps appearing in my devotions and I feel I have no choice but to follow that. For the most part, however, my Pagan prayers are to the dawn, the sky, the moon, the ancestors, and are expressions of what is in my heart.

I expect this process of working out my own personal theology to take a long time, maybe the rest of my life. It's early days yet ... so expect more theological ramblings from me another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment