Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pagan Enough

I'm very proud to be adding the Project Pagan Enough badge to my sidebar - I am comfortable calling myself Pagan - from the Latin, "country dweller". True.  Also often meaning those of having an Earth-centered spiritual perspective, generally polytheistic, but very open about what exactly that means - also true.  At least one definition online, tongue in cheek, I hope, defines 'pagan' as 'anyone who doesn't share your religious views'... and that is also undoubtedly true, as I rather doubt I share point by point anyone religious views other than my own - and sometimes not those, either!

The point here being... I am not Wiccan, although I love much of the way in which they practice their spirituality.  I am not Druid, although their love of the Bardic path speaks to me deep in my core.  I am not Heathen, although I spent several years in Germany and have a sentimental attachment to the history of the place.  I'm not New Age (too old) nor Native American in my spirituality, even though I am a quarter Cherokee... it was never my culture and I don't feel comfortable taking it on.  The other three quarters are Irish - and I dearly love much of the Celtic path, but I can't pronounce the myths so I tend to avoid them.
But I am Pagan... just.. not so much a joiner, maybe.  I engage in spirit through the changing of the seasons, try to live an intentional life and am very far from perfect in practicing what I know is most closely aligned with my heart, but I am trying.

I'm also likely to sign the membership book at the UU congregation I've been attending for the past year - a group of people who are not all pagan..but some are... not all Christian, but some are... not all Buddhist, but some are, not all atheists but some are.  And for the life of me, I am not sure which are which - and that is what I love best. The labels, and the definitions for the labels, don't matter - the point is not to find just the right box to squash each person into.

And this is why I'm proud to post that logo - because I know my lack of specificity makes me 'not pagan enough' in the eyes of some.   And because my willingness and desire to share my religious observations with those of a diversity of spiritual perspections make me not ____ enough, either.  I've been on the receiving end of those judgements - and I know I've been on the transmitting end of them too, especially when it comes to Christian views (I carried a heavy burden of hurt and anger as have many, and it came out in hot accusations that were much broader than they should have been) and it's time to grow up and get over that.  Which I have for the most part - but it's always a good thing to announce your intention publicly to 'seal the deal'.

The Project Pagan Enough principles are:
  1. You are pagan enough, despite how you look, act, smell, dress, believe, or are.
  2. You recognize that others are pagan enough despite their appearance, smell, manner of dress, belief, practice, or other aspect.
  3. You recognize that you can have an academic debate on the finer points of belief or practice, but that it does not take away from someone else's level of being pagan.
  4. You welcome, befriend, and encourage others in the pagan community despite their appearance, dress, or other physical or superficial characteristic.
  5. You promise to treat members of other faiths, despite the faith, with honest-to-goodness fairness, equality, and grace, not judging them or their faith based on the actions of fringe members of their same faith.
And here are the UU Principles:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
They sound similar, don't they?

Universal Unitarianism tends to be a religion of practice rather than belief - and while I can quickly get hung up twelve ways to Sunday on what my beliefs are, I can boldly affirm what principles I wish to model my life after - what principles I hope to pass to my children.

They may never follow my religious path, but these principles do speak nicely to my spiritual path which can cross religious lines with ease.

Currently, of my four daughters, two are Christian (one currently nonactive), and two are atheists.  And they've all learned not to argue with me when I'm setting out altar space to welcome Autumn, or arranging colored eggs weeks before Easter to commemorate Spring - because the easy answer is "You don't have to believe in the turn of the year. It happens whether you notice or not - so let's notice it and be grateful."

I don't need them to share my beliefs.  If they smile at the first hint of leaves turning, or pause to look up at the full moon, that's pagan enough.

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