Every now and then, I look at what most Pagans want to read about and what I want to write about, and I wonder how many of my readers are left scratching their heads about what makes me even think I am a Pagan. Or a Quaker friend will ask me to explain my Pagan practices, and their sense of disappointment when I do is almost palpable.
I don’t talk about spells. My rituals are simple in the extreme. I rarely wear fancy robes and jewelry, and while my gods are very important to me, they’re somehow… personal. I don’t talk about them for something the same reason I don’t talk about my sex life; it would just feel… awkward, for lack of a better word.
So what is there to show that I’m a Pagan?
Yes, I revere the Old Gods (and no, I’m not going to tell you which ones, and I’m not going to show you nudie pics of my sweetie, either). And yes, I do the odd bit of magic here and there. Some of it, like my prayer stones for friends, is really rather pretty, if I do say so myself… but again, not really suitable for sharing; it has their names written on the stones, and they deserve their privacy.
And I keep up an altar, and light candles to the moon, and make offerings in the stream behind my house–at least when it’s running. But it’s all quite simple, and if you feel drawn to these practices, you can certainly find your own version of them without my help.
What I want to write about is nothing so concrete as any of these things. I’ve been Pagan for almost thirty years now. I’ve internalized a lot of what Paganism has to teach about how to live, and I wish I could, somehow show you what that looks like: Fourth Degree Wicca, or whatever it is that comes after you’ve run a coven and led big rituals and studied and taught and heard the gods and listened to them, followed their directions, and lived the life that unfolds with that.
I’m not the only way that Pagans grow into our religion. But I am one of the ways. And it’s so hard to put into words. How has being a Pagan for so long changed who I am as a person? How does my Paganism show, on the outside, in a way worth sharing with you?
I wish I could share with you… summer. I wish I could share with you summer, as an aging Pagan priestess, barefoot in the grass.
Barefoot in the dry, drought-crisp grass, barefoot on the hot stones of the path behind my house, or in the lush, green grass of the garden as I pick beans and cucumbers.
Barefoot for practical reasons, sure: I have fallen arches now, and it’s good for my feet to be bare. And barefoot for the simple, sensual joy of it, of course: who doesn’t know how good it feels to be barefoot in cool grass on a summer morning?
But I’m also barefoot because I’m present with the earth, with the summer, with the world, connecting to it directly through the soles of my feet.
I could get all pseudo-Eastern and talk about the importance of the chakras in the soles of the feet. I could talk about them using fancy names. But that’s all beside the point, in truth. The simple truth is, the culminating fruit of my years of being Pagan is that I am able to stand here, on a hot day in July, with my bare feet firmly planted on the earth, and I know in a way much deeper than my thoughts that I am connected with all the life around me. Around me, under me, above me: I stand in this world, part of it.
That’s my Paganism. It’s a common thing. No esoteric study is required to receive it.
Only practice, practice loving and being in the world, a little more, a little deeper, every day I am alive.