Happy Thor’s Day!
A commenter recently asked if I would explain where I am now to help understand my journey from Christian Pastor to the present. I would and have been classifying myself as a Pagan Atheist for some time now. The Atheist part is easy to understand or so you would think so. Simply put I do not believe in gods, goddesses, or even spiritual beings or forces because I do not find the evidence for the existence of these things to be at all convincing.
The pagan part is more difficult to define outside the spiritual side of it. Paganism throws around terms like “sacred, divine, etc: but my previously stated lack of belief in such things as spirits and gods or even sacredness throws a lot of that aside. In this expression of spirituality, one does find a philosophy based on a genuine and real world. People looked at the world around them and came up with observations that still hold today but wherever they didn’t understand the why or how – they made things up like religion and gods.
Of all religions, paganism is grounded the most in real life to me. It upholds the virtues of mankind as central. For me, the Nine Noble Virtues (NNV) has become my code of life and there is really no requirement to believe in the supernatural to follow after the NNV. It could also be noted that the NNV provides a connection between most people as things like ‘courage’ ‘truth’ or ‘self-reliance’ can be discussed between people regardless of religion or philosophy.
I can easily sit down at a table with a Muslim, a Christian, and a Pagan and discuss what it means to have honor. We all would have differences in what honor is, but the basic idea would be there for all of us as a starting point. The differences would be in how ‘honor’ would be expressed. Those differences would be obvious, but what honor is would be understood. at least at a core level.
I chose paganism because of its practical truths such as the NNV. But also the viewpoints tend to be grounded in reality. That said, how the reality I interpreted can vary from pagan to pagan in very different and unique ways. There is really no right or wrong way to be a pagan. Most do have as a core three central cornerstones, but some of these cornerstones include the belief in things that are not proven, but a kernel of truth is still present that I can uphold because I think the philosophy works.
It should be noted here that I have looked at where ethics and morality come from and I don’t find that religion is the source of these things, but rather humans create ethics and philosophy as a society for the purpose of mutual benefit for all. Religion comes along and simply gets created to uphold the virtues and philosophy of life that already exist. Religion is a preserver of traditions but often has nothing to d with creating those traditions in the first place. It also has a tendency to pervert those traditions in the name of acquiring power for both the ruling and religious classes in society. Taking the good functioning element and seizing control of it and claiming divine origin is a classic religious staple.
Perhaps an example is in order. Marriage and in particular the nuclear marriage of one man and one woman. From an evolutionary standpoint, this works. You don’t need to be religious to see that. This issue is what came first. I believe people were living in nuclear arrangments for literally millions of years before religion came along and claimed the origin of marriage and the nuclear family that followed was of divine origin. It simply worked and became something valued because it worked.
But back o the cornerstones of basic pagan belief. 1) There is a belief in the importance or sacredness of nature.2) Reverence for ancestors and 3) acknowledgment of the divine within ourselves. If I were to take the spiritualized nature out of these things it becomes 1) The understanding of the importance of the natural world. 2) Respect for those who came before us and 3) recognition of the value of each human being including myself. I want to do a post on each of these things, so I will leave these cornerstones for the moment.
The point of this post is this is my interpretation of these and that is perfectly OK in paganism. Paganism is flexible and its philosophy is malleable. It can be shaped more specifically for each individual. That to me is more realistic that a philosophy that dictates terms to the individual they are forced into. Pagan philosophy is a tool for understanding the world and our role in it, not a dictator telling us what to do.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.