Originally posted on July 22, 2011 by John Halstead
I have identified as Neopagan for about 8 years now. And I have found that I have a tendency to intellectualize everything, which interferes with my experiencing life. And, as I understand it, Neopaganism is all about experiencing life. I have maintained a website at www.americanneopaganism.com for several years, and that is where I publish my evolving understanding of Neopaganism.
However, a periodically return to the feeling that I have been depriving myself of the experience of Neopaganism. This is due in part to being a solitary practitioner, and not being a part of any Neopagan tradition. It is also due in part to the difficulty experienced by anyone who tries to maintain a spiritual practice while also working, raising children, and so on.
It occurred to me that blogging is more conducive to writing about experience, rather than ideas or beliefs. It also occurs to me that having a blog and needing to write about something periodically could be a way of helping me maintain my spiritual practice. That is why I am blogging. I want to record here my experiments in Neopagan practice.
There will be some theorizing, because that is where my practice often comes from. Increasingly, however, I am coming to understand that my practice, in order to be effective, must arise from somewhere else. Rilke wrote that “A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity.” I am slowly discovering that my practice, if it is to be authentic, should not arise out of my theology, but out of a deeper felt need. As M. J. Weaver writes in her essay, “Who is the Goddess and Where Does She Get Us?”:
“The formula ‘first the appearance, then the dance, then the story’ specifies the proper relationship among theophany, ritual and theology.”
I feel a yearning to connect with something I call the divine, within me and and outside of me. That yearning is itself divine. My intentional acting on that yearning will be my ritual or my dance. And here is where I will write my story.