If Unitarian Universalism is so great, Why am I ‘still’ a Pagan?

In some Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations, and in some chapters of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS), Imbolc is a time for the Burning of the Greens. We symbolize our willingness to let go of the beauties of last year by burning the boughs and garlands of Yuletide. We symbolize our trust that new green, new growth, will come — even though the landscape we see may be covered in snow.

Artwork by Maggie Beaumont
Artwork by Maggie Beaumont

In some traditions, Imbolc can be a time of Initiation. In Circle, we may ask each other:

What opens now for you?

What Work do you begin at this time?

What will you call into Being in the coming year?

What do we begin, here on this blog? I think we’re beginning a public exploration of Unitarian Universalist Paganism – identifying the various entwined strands of UUism and Paganism, and perhaps an ecumenical or interfaith look at how they combine, the colors and patterns that they make.

What will we call into Being? Maybe a deeper dialog, with a more strongly UU-Pagan flavor, on topics that have long been close to our hearts – as UUs, as Pagans, and as CUUPSfolk.

Why I Am Still A Unitarian Universalist

Not long ago I was asked why I was ‘still’ a Unitarian Universalist? Leaving aside the fact that I’m much more of a ‘universalist’ than I am a ‘unitarian’ – that’s another post on a different day – it turns out that I have many answers:

Because in the “free and responsible search for meaning” I can be myself, just as I am, without fear of censure or expectation of favor.

Because I draw my own personal theology and cosmology from the same Six Sources (and maybe a few more).

Because I agree with the same Seven Principles (well, except that I truly prefer consensus process to democratic process, when it’s skillfully done. But democratic process done well is much better than consensus process done badly).

Because I love the fact that theological debate occurs right alongside caring for one another in times of grief and joy.

Because, with Freedom of the Pulpit, I can occasionally speak my own truth in a louder way. (Full disclosure: I’ve given perhaps a dozen sermons in the past 15 years, but none in the past couple.)

Because UUs organize for justice, equity, fairness – and have done so for many years – without requiring any of their allies to sign on to a particular dogma or theology.

Because UUism is a big tent – big enough to support the spiritual traditions of both sides of a mixed marriage; big enough to celebrate the holy days of religious traditions from around the globe; big enough to provide a place for dialog among secular Humanists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Pagans, Agnostics, Atheists, and many others.

Because a UU congregation can be a safe place for people who seek community while in recovery from a spiritual injury in a previous tradition. (Not that UUs are immune to spiritual injury, nor even that our congregations are always 100% safe places; only that we can recognize the damage caused by feeling spiritually or religiously betrayed, and can offer a place to heal from that.)

Because (with apologies for the theological language) for the UU tradition, revelation is not ‘closed.’ In my own experience Whatever The Divine Is speaks to me all the time, not just in books written down by people long dead; I appreciate a religious tradition that doesn’t try to muzzle That.

Because UUism offers an umbrella safe enough to protect all of us from the worst abuses of groups that would like their religion to be the only religion.

Because in my UU congregations (fifteen years in one, and then a geographic move, and not quite a year in a new one) I feel welcome, safe to be myself, integrated and whole.

Because in my UU congregations I feel led, taught, comforted when I’m afflicted, and afflicted in my comfort zone by turns … and always find something of value in the interaction.

Because UU congregations are engaged, explicitly, in building the Beloved Community: supporting, teaching, learning from, caring for one another.

Why I Am Still a Pagan

But, if UUism is so great, why am I ‘still’ a Pagan?

The Witch stands at the window, aware that every action has power. That everything she does changes something – and sometimes changes everything.
She pauses, allowing thoughts to bubble up, waiting for them to come into focus. She speaks:

Because I bring all of mySelf to Circle. Because in Circle we worship with hands, heart, song, breath, body and rhythm.

Because I honor the Five Elements. Because I honor the power in the Heart of the Witch.

Because the cycles of the natural world have important things to teach, and I would learn.

Because I choose to live fully, all the way until I die.

Because I have important relationships with some few of the thirty-three million Gods (of whatever Gender They choose to be), and in circle can speak with each of them directly, at different times.

Because my Wiccan practice feeds my soul.

And both together keep me whole.

 

The turning Wheel has brought us to this night
To honor our True Words, to dare, to dance;
In darkest night our coven’s heart shines bright.

 

Each one declares intentions through this rite,

Revealing strengths and talents we’ll enhance.
In magick’s home we raise our gifts, our might.

–Maggie Beaumont. Blessed Be.

 

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