Social Responsible Magic: My Pagan Values … or just my values?

Social Responsible Magic: My Pagan Values … or just my values? June 10, 2015

June is Pagan values month, or so I’ve been informed by my Patheos editor. Or, maybe it’s religion value month. I don’t know because I don’t really keep track of these kinds of things, but what the hey! I figure this gives me a topic to write about.

jill111 /
jill111 /

When I think about the values that Paganism has exposed me, to the first value that comes to mind is freedom. Way back when I got into Paganism and left born again Christianity behind, this freedom represented the ability to be myself, to ask questions, to discover my own answers, and to really just be me. When you’re a teenager, that kind of freedom is quite precious. Too much of the time you are exposed to other other people’s ideas of who you should be or how you should grow up. I took that value to heart, and still do in some ways, though with the benefit of some time and experience I’ve also come to some other values that I associate with Paganism (though in truth they can be associated with other things as well).

One of the values that has come to mean a lot to me over the last five or so years is community. I’ve created my own community, and in that process figured out a lot about what community actually means to me. For so much of my life, I hungered for a sense of community–of belonging, but I eventually realized that I needed to create my own. I’ve never been good at fitting in and have always marched to my own drum beat, so I looked at what I liked about various communities I ran into as well as what I didn’t like. Then, I created my own based on values that included freedom but also included another value I think is important.

kathe /
kathe /

I’ve always believed in being open-minded and curious. I think these qualities of mine are values in their own right, and they are ones I’ve made a part of my community. I don’t always find these values in other communities of Paganism, which is one reason I decided to create one. A lesson I’ve learned along the way is that no category of identification really embodies the values you think that category ought to have. Instead, it’s up to each person to come up with their personalized values, which I suppose leads us to another value of mine, which is personalization.

I find personalizing your spiritual practices is useful. Make it your own is what I tell other people and what I practice in my own spiritual work. Personalization is a value I associate with my Paganism as a way of just claiming my path without having to adhere to what everyone else thinks I ought to do. Yet personalization is not necessarily a value that shows up in everyone’s version of Paganism or what their values are. And this leads me to a very important realization about values and the problem that occurs when you associate them with categories of identity.

Really what it comes right down to is that any “values” you have are ultimately your own. I really don’t know if there are specific Pagan values that I could (or would) aspire to. I do know that each person has their own path to walk and while there may be similarities, there are also differences and getting too caught up in values leads to lots of talking and little of doing.

What are your values and how are you living them? Answer that question and you’re set.

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