My Neopagan Beliefs

What does it mean to me to be Neopagan?  Part of it is believing certain things about the world, humanity, divinity, and life.  Here is my Neopagan credo.  This is not an attempt to define Neopaganism for anyone else.  This is just (part of) what being Neopaganism means to me.

1.  PANTHEISM: “God” is found in the world: in nature, in our selves, and in other people.  “God” is not something outside of us, but something we are a part of.  The concept of a transcendent creator is rejected.

2.  CREATION SPIRITUALITY: These things are sacred: all life, the earth, nature, our selves, our bodies.  The notion of the fallen nature of creation and humankind are rejected.

3.  POLYTHEISM: The seemingly infinite diversity of manifestations of divinity in nature and in human thought cannot be fully expressed by any single symbol or metaphor.  Thus, divinity can be experienced plural.  The human personality is also fundamentally plural, or multi-vocal.  We should not reject any aspect of the personality, but seek to find sacred time and sacred space for the expression of all aspects of our personality, including male and female, light and dark, constructive and destructive.

4.  GODDESS: While the divine transcends gender, it can manifest masculine and feminine symbols and metaphors.  To the extent that it is symbolized as male, it is can also be symbolized as female, a Goddess as well as God.  The mysteries of both sexes and all sexual orientations should be honored.  Women may exercise religious power as effectively as men.

5.  PROCESS THEOLOGY: The essential nature of the world and God is change.  Consequently, no account of the world, of God, or of any of us is ever complete.

6.  CYCLES: This changing nature of the world, of God, and our own selves often follows a pattern, one which is cyclical or spiral.  We can strive to attune our selves to these rhythms.

7.  VIOLENCE: While we can chose life-affirming values, we should recognize that life and nature are both beautiful and savage.  We should honor violence as a part of the cycle of life, but only when it is creative.

8.  CORPO-SPIRITUALITY: Embodied life is good.  The sensual aspects of life should be enjoyed.  The body is a source of wisdom to which we should listen.  No guilt or shame should be attached to sexual desire or consensual sexual activity.  On the other hand, sacred sexuality should be distinguished from vulgar commercialization of sexuality.

9.  THIS-WORLDLINESS: Life should be lived as an end in itself.  The meaning of life is not to be found in a future existence of a different metaphysical character.  We should live in the here-and-now and seek no other world and look forward to no other life.  We can seek the divine in the midst of life.  We can approach the divine, not by transcending the human, but in seeking to become more fully human.

10.  POSITIVE ETHIC: We should embrace a positive ethic of freedom to satisfy individual needs and desires and to pursue personal growth and happiness, while working to avoid harm to others and seeking harmony with the earth and human, as well as non-human, communities.  Notions of divinely prescribed law and concepts of sin or salvation are rejected.  Notions of salvation and perfection are replaced with notions of healing and wholeness.

11.  HUMANISM: Good and evil should only be defined in human terms.  Any ethical discussion should begin with humans not God, with nature not the supernatural.  Moral values should be derived from human needs and interests, rather than theological or ideological abstractions.  Ideas divorced from human experience are dangerous and can be used to justify terrible evil.

12.  RE-ENCHANTMENT: Our natural state is one of connection, not alienation: connection to divinity, to earth, and to one another.  However, we often experience alienation or “rootlessness” or “homelessness” in our own psyches and in our culture, which is the inheritance of modern humankind.  This is manifest in social injustice, patriarchalism, and neurosis.  This alienation can be healed through reconnecting with the sacred dimension of nature and our own selves.

13.  RITUAL: Rituals and myths can be used to choreograph a re-sacralization of our experience, our lives, and the world.

14.  PAGANISM: The pre- and non-Christian religions of the world can be turned to for symbolism, kinship, and inspiration.

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  • http://humanisticpaganism.wordpress.com B. T. Newberg

    Fantastic. I know this is just your own credo, but I feel like many many people could identify with this. Particularly strong in 1-11. 12-14 feel like they may need more expansion, as they provoke a lot of interesting questions. For example, the “natural state” in 14 – what’s the evidence for claiming that as a natural state? I don’t think you necessarily need to answer that if it’s meant as a personal inspirational phrase (which it seems to be), but others who might identify with it would be well to ask themselves what the evidence might be…

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      I think the response might need a separate post. Basically, I see the pre-personal state of consciousness as our “natural” state in the sense that we are born into that state — not in the sense that it is better necessarily. We quickly move into a personal state of consciousness and experience numerous forms of alienation, from the womb/breast/mother-body, from our environment, from other people, and even from our own bodies (when we are taught to identify self with mind or spirit). I believe this is usually more extreme in the case of males in our culture, who are aculturated to heighten this sense of alienation. I know I have experienced periods of rootlessness in my own life, periods when I feel like I have “lost” something (hence the “natural” state), and I have gradually come to understand these feelings as the product of a heightened sense of disconnection. I think this is why people often describe the experience of re-connection as “coming home”. There is no going back to the pre-personal state of consciousness of course, and even if we could it would not be desirable, because we not want to would lose the advantages of consciousness. I agree with Ken Wilbur that we must move to a state of trans-personal consciousness, which integrates our personal consciousness with the pre-personal in a way that does not involve a regression. I don’t have any evidence for any of this, but it is how I have made sense of my own experience and the similar experiences of others.

  • Fortuna Veritas

    If the Goddess isn’t somehow conflicting with the Pantheism and Polytheism points, then it doesn’t bear mentioning and you should instead have mentioned that Neopaganism is misogyny free in a more concise and direct manner, since you seem to merely want to contrast with other groups in terms of demographics than to make a spiritual point there.

    • http://allergicpagan.wordpress.com John Halstead

      Can you elaborate some more Fortuna?

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