Onion Work

Ruby Sara has shut down Pagan Godspell and started a new blog she calls Onion Work, subtitled “layers and tears.” The first few entries on the new blog sound a lot like the old blog: deep, conversational, and mystical. But the emphasis in Ruby’s life has changed and she felt like making a clean start with a new blog.

Her most recent post (Ruby’s blog posts are, in her own words, long and infrequent) uses a visit to a Christian church and participation in their spiritual formation class as a jumping off point for a discussion of gods and God. I’m not about to try to summarize it – go read it for yourself. Just make sure you give it the attention it merits – it isn’t something you can appreciate by scanning through it.

My own experience is similar to Ruby’s. I consider myself a polytheist because I’ve experienced individual gods and goddesses – and one god in particular I’ve experienced very intimately. Yet I have also had classic mystical experiences: a brief but overwhelming feeling of Unity, that All is One. To call those experiences “feelings” does not do them justice – they were very close to certainty… and my threshold for certainty is extremely high.

When I speak of Unity, I do not mean the “soft polytheism” argument that all gods and goddesses are merely aspects of one God/dess. The one God/dess of soft polytheism isn’t all that different from the God of monotheism – s/he is a distinct being with whom we can communicate. I will occasionally use that language (“the God” and “the Goddess”) in conversations with monotheists – it is useful for emphasizing that the Divine is female as well as male. But my prayers and meditations are done with and for individual deities – I practice “hard polytheism.”

When I speak of Unity, I mean The All. Everyone and everything. You and me, plants and animals, mountains and rivers, stars and planets, ancestors and nature spirits, goddesses and gods. We are all One. We are all related in ancestry and connected in life.

And if we are connected in life, it stands to reason we will remain connected in death.

I don’t know what that looks like. I can’t explain it. It is, for me, anyway, the example of an ineffable mystery – something you can’t speak about because words can’t describe it.

I like Ruby’s metaphor of an onion. Reality has many layers. Reality isn’t just the layer of the material world. Its bounds aren’t limited to the layer immediately above and immediately below us.

Reality is the whole onion.

About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.


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