Sunday, 29 May 2011

So what point paganism?

So why not merely be a naturalist atheist/agnostic? Why align oneself with the kooky views of pagans?

At present I have a number of justifications for this odd behaviour:

1. We need to find a way to relate to the rhythms of nature and the ecological if not monistic interconnection between all life
2. Nature is awesome and mysterious. A spiritual sensitivity is a sensitivity to the awesome and mysterious nature of being, life and consciousness that is manifest in nature.
3. I like the ancestral stories and I want to feel a 'depth' and 'rooted connection' to my existence by identifying my transitory existence with a long line of ancestors and ancestral tales. Telling the stories of my ancestors and reverencing how they have contributed to my existence is a form of 'immortality'. I too would like to be among the honoured ancestors.
4. I am fascinated by ancient and early medieval history viz the 'pagan' and 'pre-Christian' past including its symbols and iconography.  In particular I am fascinated by the transition from pagan to Christian culture and the thin veneer of Christian mindsets that overlays what is still basically a pagan culture right until the present day. Indeed I consider Christianity as having directly evolved from both judaism and contact with pagan mystery religions.

5. I am sold on the power of 'Archetypes' as stable, public and empirical, albeit invisible realities in the human mind and the power of the conscious and unconscious mind generally to shape how we live and behave. I think even Archetypes in the jungian sense imply fundamental patterns and principles in nature (such as unity, polarity, triads, and webs of interconnection) that though not 'sentient' in themselves, still provide an underlying structure to reality or at least our consciousness through which we 'know' that reality. Indeed reality 'in itself' in unknowable, as everything is mediated through mind. Myths provide powerful windows on the development of the human psyche and culture.

6. Paganism in its modern guise protects and preserves nature by declaring it 'sacred'

7. I remain open to possibility that other aspects of nature even what is considered inanimate may have subjective experience, i.e. a panexperientialism or panpsychism. This is my 'animistic' tendency, to see aspect of non human nature as not merely objects but as experiencing realities even if they are not 'minds' capable of thought and will as such. It follows that our own unconscious mind represents in evolutionary terms an earlier primordial state of our animal existence before we became able to think in conceptual terms.

8. Neutral monism is not incompatible with paganism, nor is process theism i.e. panentheism monism, but these are philosophical positions that I tend to hold or lean toward. On the other hand I find I cannot believe in a theistic supreme mind who has providential control over the world, which is a core doctrine of classical monotheism (the belief in one supreme deity even if other spiritual entities and powers are also admitted to exist). Paganism is usually defined as a nature centred spiritual belief that is distinct from classical monotheism and generally opposed to this hierarchical and teleological view of the world.Even while most pagans admit to a unifying ground of being or principle they consider there are a huge plurality of spiritual powers and forces working in harmony or not. For the pagan what is 'god like' is any natural power with the ability to create, preserve or destroy e.g. elements like fire, wind, water, the sun. 

9. Druidry is a spirituality inspired by the nature, landscape and ancestral stories of the pre-Christian British Isles. Druidry is concerned with the arts, with psychology and with 'natural philosophy'. It is concerned with ritual as a means to altered states of consciousness, and awareness that promote a sense of belonging and connection and a 'love for all existences'. It is also environmentally friendly and politically radical.

10. I find I am able to interpret references to the 'Great Spirit' as the triad of the  * 'is-ness' of being, *the creative power of life aka at base 'the will to be and to become', and *the 'self-reflective knowledge of the truth' and 'world creating logos'  that is our consciousness. We are, as far as we know, the only fully conscious self reflecting part of nature...indeed we are collectively the rationally thinking 'mental' aspect, the rational mind of the earth, which is our 'body' (that fully and only  sustains that mind).

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