Religion

There is only ONE absolute truth in the universe: that is the truth of how YOU are feeling RIGHT NOW. Whoops! RIGHT NOW has moved! NOW how are you feeling? Perhaps it has changed..perhaps it has not but now has changed. Each of us lives each moment of our precious short lives and the only thing we truly can know is how we feel each moment. If you and I are together, it is also very useful for us both to know how eachother feels.

Here is a typical explanation for Paganism which fits me fairly well: Pagans practice an earth-centered spirituality which is characterized by Animism, Pantheism and Magic. Each of these will now be explained.

Animism

Animism means, "to animate". To bring alive. Or, at least, to treat everyone and everything (to the degree that it is appropriate) as alive.

The difference between treating a person or a thing as alive or treating her or it as an object is that with an object, you do not consider it's nature (or feelings, if applicable) when you interact with it. You pick up a rock and throw it. You do not ask its permission to look at it. With a person who is alive, you push and feel if they push back. As you look at her, she looks back at you and perhaps you both connect. Perhaps not. The point is interaction. If you are treating all people in your life as though they are alive, you are not just experiencing them, but changing your behavior and yourself constantly as a result of those experiences. If you are changed -however slightly- by everyone you meet then you are practicing animism.

To treat an object with aliveness is similar. If I look at that rock in it's setting where it is -without disturbing it- what can I learn about this area? It's history and perhaps it's future? Or is it just a rock and I have no experiences to tell me otherwise? If I pick it up, what's underneath? Something friendly? Nothing? If I throw it, where will it land? On something? Will I start an avalanche? Erosion? No?

Even if it makes no difference, it is useful to be in the habit of treating all the world as a living being because each tiny part of it has the potential to teach us useful things and because it is our home and we live here and you wouldn't want to treat your home with disrespect.

Pantheism

Pantheism is the acknowledgement that there are many gods, many goddesses, many beliefs, many ideals and they are all valid and RIGHT- at least for that person in that part of their lives. If I come to your house, I must be respectful of your gods, respectful of your beliefs and considerate of your feelings. Pantheism teaches us that we are all as gods and goddesses and we each deserve the worship of eachother.

Naturally, as such divine beings, we each have responsibilities as well, including to ourselves. Even as the divine beings that we are, we still have limits and boundaries, we must respect them and do the best we can to be good to ourselves as well as eachother.

Magic

Magic is the art of using your concious will to create change either in yourself or the world. While this can also include others, it is not ethical to perform magic on others without their informed consent- just like any other human interaction. Magic is a short word to use to describe all the ways we influence eachother and ourseslves, many of which can also be explained with physics, psychology and nero-chemistry, but many of which cannot.

The simplest magic is simple physics. For example, when two things are similar, they influence eachother -- never mind how small. A small influence over a long period of time is enough to create the Grand Canyon.

The magics I practice are subtle and quiet. A feeling wrapped in a small token. A gesture with my own meaning, performed regularly so that it embodies the meaning -to me, anyway. A few words -spoken silently- as a mantra for who I wish to become today, this moment: Am I witty and intellectual? Technically knowledgeable? Powerful and virile? Soft and Receptive? Defender of my Friends? Whatever is appropriate in the moment.

In community, we work magic together. Many people with like understanding and awareness that we each believe different things but sometimes, we all believe the same way about something can get together and all work magic together twards some end. Shall we send healing to someone who is sick? Try to spread understanding and acceptance to derisive groups? Give strength to those who are experiencing some trial? Or just generally promote fun and pleasure in the world?

If you would like to learn more about paganism, the national Covenant of the Goddess is a fine organization and has a web page of useful information and resources.


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