Comments on the blog are always a mixed bag. Many of them I appreciate, some make me roll my eyes, and then a few just leave me scratching my head. Sometimes they inspire blog posts too, like this one:
“Does Paganism shape you into a more honest, moral, more productive, better socialized person?”
Yes, Paganism does do all of those things. Let’s look at them.
I believe our actions have consequences, and that dishonest behavior has negative consequences. No matter how good of a liar you are, it will catch up with you eventually, so the best course of action is to simply be honest. Honesty is not always easy. Sometimes the truth gets one into trouble, and sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth, but the consequences of truth-telling generally outweigh any negative consequences.
As a magickal person I know that magick works, but it generally only gives you what your will truly desires. In other words, you have to be honest with yourself about your true wants and needs or you are going to end up with something unwanted. Effective use of magick means knowing your true self, which is something we often don’t really want to look at.
One’s “morals” can be good or bad depending (the definition of moral is: “of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior”) but I like to hope mine are mostly good. I’m certainly not perfect. I get angry sometimes, I say stupid things, I can most certainly be selfish, but I try to do the right thing.
I like to think some of that is the result of my Pagan practice. I’m not sure karma always comes back to us “threefold” but most certainly are actions have consequences, and negative reactions have negative consequences. I certainly believe in energy, and surrounding one’s self with bad energy isn’t a good idea.
In a bigger sense though, Paganism has completely changed how I see and interact with other people. I love people for who they are and support their write to be whoever they wish. Trans-rights have become extremely important to me as a result of conversations in the Pagan Community. The Pagan Community has also helped me look at how my actions affect others, both those close by and those further afield.
Unlike a lot of other spiritual traditions I believe that most of us Pagan-types really think about what we are doing spiritually, and the words used to describe those practices. I don’t think these types of discussions come up in Christian groups.
Speaking of Christianity, being “saved by Jesus” often feels like a cop-out for refusing to take responsibility for one’s actions. Ultimately my path is not determined by whether or not I seek out a deity for forgiveness, it’s determined by my actions with others and to myself.
By December I’ll have released two books of over 120,000 words in eleven months. That’s a shit-ton of writing, it certainly makes me feel productive. When my wife I moved to California eight and a half years ago it was so she could take a new job. I joked at the time that I’d be her “gentleman of leisure” as an unemployed house-husband. How I miss all that leisure time!
Not only do I write books, and this blog, but I’m also the channel manager of Patheos Pagan where it feels like I put out 100 little fires every week. It’s not the most difficult job in the world, but it has deadlines and responsibilities I mostly meet.
But spiritually Paganism has made me productive too. I help organize two covens, write a plethora of rituals, and dedicate time to the deities I hold most dear. To the devout Witch, Paganism is not a spectator sport! My relationships with the gods are reciprocal, I have to do work in order to receive their gifts.
Paganism has also spurred me into action when dealign with local, national, and global problems. I can’t solve all of those things of course, but I can pick up litter in my neighborhood and I can take the time to stay informed about the consequences of my actions.
I’m naturally an introvert (which is why a few people have thought of me as “stuck up” over the years), and that can be hard to overcome. Much of my “job” today centers around leading workshops and rituals, and perhaps most importantly, being social when I’m at a Pagan event or gathering. I’ve mostly learned to do this over the past fifteen years, but it can still be a challenge.
But there’s another part to socialization, I’ve learned to work better in groups. My coven-mates are an extended family, and have taught me to be more caring and empathetic. I’ve also learned when to shut my mouth over the years in order to let much smarter and better informed individuals control the conversation. I want to hear the about experiences other people have had, even when they might make me uncomfortable.
Looking Outward . . . ..
If your Paganism only encourages you to look inward I’m of the opinion that you are probably doing it wrong. This doesn’t mean you have to run and join your local circle, coven, or grove, only that most Pagan traditions teach some sort of connection between practitioners and the greater world. Much of my magickal work is directed at improving myself but the consequences of such magick have repercussions outside of my existance.
My rituals are often about looking outside my front door and seeing something much bigger than myself. We connect with the natural world and the Wheel of the Year through ritual. That connection makes us (or at least should make us) evaluate our place on the Earth and what we can do to become better stewards of the planet (or at least not actively work to screw it up even more).
Because we aren’t all self-absorbed assholes Paganism has made many of its practitioners better people, and will continue to do so into the future.
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