Yesterday Jayne opened the way to this line of thought by asking how television watching would possibly be a pagan issue. I’ve put my cards on the table at the outset here, because I’m going to argue that everything is a pagan issue.
For me, religion is not something we roll out for festivals and rites of passage. It’s a dedication to a way of understanding the world and moving through it. Religion is not something we do, it becomes part of who we are – this is a process we can all continually deepen, develop and explore. I’ve always considered paganism to be an active path, where those involved take personal responsibility for their own spiritual development rather than relying in the guidance of a book or a priest. Recognising that everything we do is, or can be, an expression of our beliefs, is a vital part of that process.
It’s easy to be consciously pagan when you’re at a ritual, walking in the woods, dancing around a fire or otherwise in an explicitly pagan setting. It’s much harder to be a pagan in a supermarket, or during the day job, or after the day job when you’re tired and just need to chill. But I ask the counter question, how can you be a pagan, and not still be a pagan whilst doing all of these things? Every choice we make has the potential to be an expression of our pagan selves. One of the most important choices we all make, on a daily basis, is how to use our time.
Now, that’s not just an issue about overt expression of paganism. It doesn’t mean we have to draw mystical symbols on everything we own and dance naked around the washing machine. It does mean we need to think carefully about how we use our time and resources. This is about how we treat ourselves, how we recognise the sacred within ourselves and use the time available to us to nurture our souls.
It is, pretty much by definition, easy and tempting to do what is normal. To go along with the mainstream and not think too much. As I see it, to be pagan is very precisely to reject the mainstream, the conventional and habitual. To be in relationship with the planet, the ancestors, gods, spirits, is to be adopting a way of viewing the world radically out of kilter with ‘normal’.
Are we fair weather pagans, honouring nature when it’s a nice sunny day and we feel like it, forgetting about issues of spirit and soul the rest of the time? That’s lip service. That’s religion as hobby, and it is not what it takes to make a profound commitment to a spiritual life. To be fully, truly, entirely pagan, is to be pagan full time. It’s to be pagan at work, and pagan doing the housework. It means bringing that paganism to everything we do and think, and nothing, nothing at all is outside of that.
In practice, doing that in one go is overwhelming to the point of being impossible. It’s more than most minds can handle, and daunting in the extreme. No one goes from liking the idea of paganism to living in an entirely committed way over night. It is a journey, and like all good quests, has no true end. There is always further we can take this.
So to anyone who is at the early stages along their path I would offer this. Everything is fair game, but there is no necessity to make all of your life consciously pagan in one go. Pick a small, manageable thing to change – it might be going greener with the cleaning products, recycling more, cutting down on power use. It might be taking ten minutes every day for meditation. Start manageable, and when you’ve adjusted, look around for the next thing. It’s not a race or a competition, there’s no one right way of doing this, except for ‘consciously’. By degrees, bring your pagan consciousness to all parts of your life, and let it guide you. This is not a process of self negation or denial either, this is a route to enrichment, to happier, more fulfilled and rewarding living. There is nowhere your paganism can’t go, and nothing your paganism cannot help you to do in more soulful ways.