My Fivefold Path

Over at Humanistic Paganism, “NaturalPantheist” recently shared his fourfold path for naturalists, summarized below:

Path of Earth:  Connection

Path of Fire:  Celebration

Path of Air:  Mysticism

Path of Water:  Education

He includes specific suggestions for practices that fall into each category.  I have always enjoyed these kinds of systematizations of spiritual practices.

Early on in my pagan path, I articulated my own Five-Fold Path that was modeled on Matthew Fox’s Four-Fold Path of Creation Spirituality.  Fox’s path includes the following:

Via Positiva: delight, awe, wonder, revelry

Via Negativa: darkness, silence, suffering, letting go

Via Creativa: birthing, creativity

Via Transformativia: compassion, justice, healing, celebration

I tweaked Fox’s system and added on more path.  My own system is as follows:

Path of Appreciation (Pathos/Fire):  Appreciation of the beauty of life.  Reverence and revelry.  Experience of awe and wonder at nature and life (including other people).

Path of Introspection (Mythos/Water):  Exploration of the unconscious psyche.  Study of myth, ancient and contemporary.  Ritual enactment of mythological motifs.

Path of Creation (Logos/Air):  This includes the arts.  It might include some scholarly work in so far as it is creative.  It also includes raising children or tending a garden or building community.

Path of Enjoyment (Eros/Earth):  Bodily pleasure and sensual enjoyment.  Living life to the fullest.  Sucking the marrow out of life.

Path of Resistance (Ethos):  SocialResponsibility for the injustice in the world.  Seeking social justice.  Also called the “Path of Challenge”.

I have previously related each of these five paths to one of the five forms of yoga: bhakti (devotion), raja (meditation), jnana (knowledge), hatha (body), karma (action).  But the relationship is admittedly pretty superficial.

As interesting as these systems are, they are probably least useful when they give the illusion of completeness (lulling me into a sense of self-satisfaction and complacency), and most useful when they help me see what I am missing.  The last of the five paths, The Path of Resistance, is the one that I have given the least attention to.


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