This is less a journal of my proclamations as it is a record of my process.
I am figuring it out as I go.
If you think you’ve already got it figured out, my writing may likely rub you the wrong way.
Over the past several days I’ve been in the midst of what my husband identified as a “post-modern dilemma.” Everything is up in the air, it seems. Nothing feels grounded, or imbued with clear and certain purpose. Relevance is fuzzy. I find myself looking at the sea of ideas before me and thinking, “But what’s the point? What of all this is actually meaningful?”
My husband, who listens patiently as my heart-rate and pitch climb in tandem, suggested that I work a little to hash out my beliefs. My own beliefs.
Not the architecture of the system I’m operating in. Not the beliefs of most ADF Druids, or the beliefs of hard and soft polytheists, monists, superhero-devotees or chaos magicians.
When I recently told a new acquaintance, who has been active in the Pagan community for a long time, that Pagans were a “people of practice, more so than a people of belief,” she said,
“Are you kidding me? Really? Pagans concerned with practice? That’s not been my experience.”
Perhaps we’re not what I think we are.
I don’t talk about belief much. I dodge the questions, sometimes. My mother asked me what I believed during a conversation about me being a Pagan, and I tried to give her a general overview of the things that Pagans believe.
It was a total cop-out.
I think most of us avoid talking about belief. When we do talk about it, we run the risk of being barked at, being told we’re wrong, being alienated, or being scolded. Beliefs, Ian Corrigan once told me, are just opinions. I’m not sure I agree with him. Beliefs feel more intimate than opinions. Beliefs nudge up against the places where we’re most vulnerable.
So what do I believe?
I’m going to give it a go at explaining it here. I’ll write without stopping for three minutes and see what happens.
I believe that we’re all connected. I believe that the human heart is king, and that the focus on the divine over the human is a mistake. I believe it’s backwards to establish a religion that’s based on the gods first, because we are human, and the act of being human is all we have to reference. We cannot be certain about much of anything, and to build a religious practice around the things that we are least certain about seems foolish, and fearful in a way.
I believe that it’s easier to be dogmatic than to be honest about the things you don’t know. I believe that there are people in every religious tradition who want to assert that they know what the gods want, and that a lot of hard polytheists are the ones doing that now. I believe that the hard polytheists who are railing against the soft and fluffy Pagans are sounding a lot like the monotheists that many of them detest so much.
I believe that I’m Pagan, but sometimes I think that I’m more of a lowercase “p” pagan; that my religious life is a construct, an artifice, a choice.
I believe that if we all were more aware that what we’re doing in our religious life is a choice, we might be a little less inclined to lash out at one another when we realize they’ve made a different choice than we have.
I believe that every idea we have about the divine is a choice. I believe that hard polytheism is a choice, as is soft polytheism and all the other -isms. I believe that it’s right to acknowledge that because your religious life is a choice, there is a possibility that your views are not completely accurate.
I believe that accuracy is not the most important component of a religious life.
I believe that authenticity is more important than accuracy.
I believe that if your tradition is not fostering something authentic in you, you should leave. Or stay, if you feel that staying and working to represent yourself is authentic.
I believe that the seed of wisdom is in all of us, and if there was anything that was like the God that I knew as a child, it is this. It may not be sentient, and it may not be the creator of the universe, but there is something in my heart that is like the thing in your heart, and if this thing could be awakened in us, we might recognize it in each other.
I believe that everything we do in our life should foster the awakening of that seed of fire in our hearts.
Ok. That was more like 7 minutes.
My first question, which seems a little funny to me, is:
What does that make me?
Somehow I’m conditioned to be something, and I’m not sure that’s the point.
I am expression.
I am caught up in the flow.
That’s what I am.
And, sustaining that — being the expression of this long list of things I believe — seems like the truest task ever set before me.