I’m a Pagan because of connection, and continuity and change

I’ve spent all day today in transit: walking, bus, tube, aeroplane. I’m currently sitting in the International terminal at Atlanta airport. “What’s that got to do with why I’m a Pagan?” I hear you ask. Well, nothing, except that it’s its opposite.

Atlanta airport. Image by Chris Yunker, used under Creative Commons License.

Vehicular transport is a peculiarly human experience. No other animal, that I am aware of, creates systems for transport which involve mechanical, social and economic engineering the way that we humans do. If we accept, just for a moment, the idea that ‘nature’ means ‘not human’, then car, bus, train, plane, and even bicycle transport are the opposite of natural.

Now, that’s not a definition of ‘nature’ that I normally accept, but it is one that has a lot of emotional resonance. Sitting in a metal tube for nine hours is one of the most specifically human, unnatural experiences I’ve had; it’s also an experience which, while I voluntarily repeat it, I find very, very difficult to cope with.

My reaction to being in these environments is an extremely concentrated version of that I have to being in an urban environment – even more so than being in a large shopping mall. Everything is new, shiny, ‘modern’ in these places. They are inward-facing spaces, hiding their links to other places and times.

My coping strategies for urban living included not only spending time with non-human beings – both animal and plant – but also visiting museums, and even more nourishing for me, cemeteries. These experiences, spaces and places bring attention to connection and to continuity: how our lives touch and are touched by other lives; how life itself occurs over time, by way of small and large changes which – however dramatic they may be – yet still have their roots in what has gone before.

And this is why I am Pagan. I need that sense of connection, that sense of continuity, and of change as part of a broader continuity. I need to know, not only intellectually, but as a lived experience, that I am part of something greater not only than myself, but also greater than my species, greater than this place, greater than this time.

For me, that knowledge is what makes life in these hyper-human environments we have created bearable.

 

About Elinor Prędota

Elinor Predota was born in London in 1970, and was raised in England’s second city. Her hippy parents took her on endless, wonderful visits to birdwatching hides, Iron Age hill forts, Medieval Castles and ancient stone circles across Britain, which kindled her longing for green hills. She finally moved to the country in the year 2000, where the land has taught her more magic than any book or human being ever could. She is a priestess, a poet, a scholar, an accidental comedian, and lives in southern Scotland with her partner, a very big dog, and a vast range of more-than-human neighbours. She can also be found online at elinopredota.com.

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  • http://summerisle.dreamwidth.org/ Ashley Yakeley

    These environments do lack a certain authenticity, don’t they? I find I can appreciate even hypermodern buildings, spaces, art etc. provided they have some kind of depth to them. But spending a lot of time in an environment that’s pervasively lying and misrepresenting and deceiving in tiny ways, that’s very wearing.

    Also you touch on a key distinction between paganism (in its broadest lower-case sense) and Christianity. There’s no clear split between the pagan sacred and the mundane: instead, the sacred grows organically out of the mundane as it acquires depth. It’s as if we become pagan in the process of becoming more truly human.

    • http://www.anewadventureeveryday.com/ Elinor Predota

      It’s interesting that you talk about those environments as deceiving. I’d never thought of it that way, but yes, it’s true – all hyper-human environments are creations of artifice. Wonderful because of it, in some ways, but also so jarring and tiring.

      It’s as if we become pagan in the process of becoming more truly human.

      I love that! Yes!

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