Numinous and Concrete
Can We Share a Common Fire?
I'm all for self-definition. I'm also, as I've stated before, suspicious of too much clinging to solid identity. There is also a sense, though, that a larger umbrella of association can be of help to us. There are commonalities of worship and belief and practice, even while there are stark differences among us. I'm with Drew in that I've attended Druid rituals that were a lot more in line with other neo-Pagan rituals than I had hoped or expected. There is a homogeneity that has crept in that feels problematic, but I don't feel there has to be.
I would far prefer that Heathen and Druid rituals look almost nothing like Wiccan rituals and that we could all learn something from this cross pollination, and still sit around the same fire, sharing the beverages of our choice. Why? Only ever sitting in our separate enclaves feels like we are missing out on some opportunities for growth and self-examination. Why do we do ritual in the way we do? Why not? How do we interact with our Goddesses and Gods? What is our theology and why?
Sitting around the fire with people we don't agree with pushes us to become better, to think more deeply, to practice more concretely, to stretch our muscles. When we only live in association with like-minded folk, we are the lesser for it. There is nothing that says we cannot associate with a wide variety of groups without all coming under a common rubric. But the reality is, mostly we don't and won't. Mostly, we will drift further and further apart, coming back to the sense of, "We are not like those people over there. They are of a different tribe. We have our own." The thought of that saddens me.
Diversity fosters health, whether in a bioregion, human society, or what I call the cosmosphere. Monoculture is a long road to obsolescence. Factory farms are unsustainable and have made us unhealthy as a nation. Small farms with a variety of crops and animals tend to grow healthy food from healthy soil, resulting in a healthy biosphere and healthier people. Yes, there are farmers who specialize, but they do so still, in a climate and culture that fosters multiplicity.
I want us to have healthy religions, filled with discourse, learning, and practice. For me, using Pagan as an overarching word can help us to stay in touch, to grow together, to struggle, to learn, and to feed each other well.
T. Thorn Coyle is an internationally respected visionary and teacher of the magical and esoteric arts. The author of Make Magic of Your Life, Kissing the Limitless, and Evolutionary Witchcraft, she hosts the Elemental Castings podcast series, writes the blog Know Thyself, and has produced several CDs of sacred music. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook!