I share many of your beliefs. I embrace the gods even if they live only in our hearts. I love ceremony for what it does and not what it could do, and I find spirituality in the virtues and struggles of human hands.
Our style of religion will grow. It´s the religion of our century, it is nourishment for a questioning generation that wanders with a sense of meaning. A generation that feels the Infinite in quiet churches and bustling temples, yet does not submit to the teachings of those places. A people who wonder.
What path is this? Is there something to found, create, or nurture here?
I don´t think it´s fair to call it Paganism. That is the path that brought both of us to where we are, as well as luminaries like B.T. Newberg and Brendan Myers; but is that still the path you follow today?
There´s something precious in the word ¨pagan,¨ something guttural and full of meaning. There´s no historic reason we the faithless should be excluded from paganism. It was never a religion of faith—it birthed Western philosophy and the first known doubters. But today, Paganism has been thoroughly reclaimed by faithful theosophists and mediums. The word has changed. It irreversibly communicates certain beliefs: a soul, some gods, invisible powers.
I divorced ¨Pagan¨ because that word made communication harder, not easier.
Is there some other word we both should use?
We have many beliefs in common. Above all, we revel in the world as-is. The world is majestic and beautiful yet uncaring and destructive. It is at once the source of every joy and every misery we will ever experience. To love the joys and suffer the miseries is one thing, but to savor the joy and race the misery, loving the whole in honor of its perfectness, that is sacred awe. I believe we share this sacred awe.
We also share a certain deism. I hear you talk about gods; I do the same. It´s human to call out to these gods. They wear faces for us. But we don´t expect deities to change the face of the world. They are our silent tutors, we carry them in our blood. ¨Revere the gods but do not count on their help.¨
We also have differences. I adore the practice of magic. Within limits I believe it works, and I suspect it works primarily by psychological means. I wouldn´t be embarrassed by a ceremony that gives out protection charms, because people act differently if they possess and believe in such charms.
And I maintain some hope that the gods are external, real. I remain on the line between theism and atheism.
So I wonder: is there enough common ground here that we are effectively practicing the same spiritual path?
Can formalizing it help others? Is this a path that can even be organized, or is it too individualistic? Are there practices that can help people reach and make peace with their doubt, and does it require crisis?
Our guiding light is a certain inner honesty: about the value of our experience, about what we know and what we don´t. If this is the future of religion, what can we do to be on the leading edge?
And dammit John—what is it called?
Who else has thoughts on these questions? What do you think? I hope John will have a response of his own and I´m happy to share it here.
I’m writing my first novella. The end of summer, a failing crop, the desperate touch of temporary lovers—and magic. Lúnasa Days.