The Green Eclectic

A contrived tag cloud

Blogging about blogs...

There are lots and lots and lots of blogs out there this week addressing the appropriateness of the term Pagan.  It’s a once-again-crescendoing debate, which has its lulls but never seems to die.  If you want to read some of the buzz, the Wild Hunt (as ever) is a good hub for linkage.  My favorite of all the essays I’ve read, I think, is this one by Resa over at Labeling is Complicated. (Talk about summing up something complex in three words!  Well done, Resa.)

This grand discussion is a macrocosm of what many Pagans go through internally at some (or many) point(s), I think.  I know I certainly have.  I call myself Pagan, but I’m not polytheistic, I don’t believe in magic(k), I don’t assign a gender or genders to the Divine and consequently avoid the words god/goddess, lord/lady, etc.  I don’t have any reconstructionist leanings, there’s no text that holds the necessary dogma, and while I definitely have mentors, I don’t see any way that anyone could be my priest or priestess.

While I use the word eclectic to describe myself, even that’s a bit misleading: it implies to some that I pull my beliefs from other religious traditions.  I don’t, for the most part.  I believe what I believe, what I’ve always believed, as arrived at through observation and experience.  There are the places and events that feel sacred, the moments when you sense things greater than yourself, the eternal patterns of how the world works, and the obvious interconnectedness — the way ecology works not only in natural ecosystems, but also in human relationships.

This of course does not mean that I don’t have a great deal in common with people of a variety of other faiths — there are threads of universal truths which are interwoven through all cultures and belief systems (but which manifest differently depending on the context).  So of course I have bits and pieces in common with people of established traditions: we’re all human, and there’s nothing new under the sun.

So why call myself Pagan?  I’ve wrestled with that, believe me.

While I don’t seemingly fit within any of the defined denominations of Paganism, the more widely agreed upon tenets resonate with me.  A belief in the interconnectedness of all things, of a sacredness in the natural world, and a respect for the eternal cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth… those are observable universal truths for me.

Paganism is also the one religion from which I have overtly adopted my religious traditions.  I observe the Wheel of the Year, though I’ve made it my own in a way that differs from the way it’s practiced by most other Pagans.  And I like that name for it — the Wheel of the Year — because it speaks to the continuity of cycles.  However, I’ve slowly been discarding a number of the other commonly used Pagan terms and definitions associated with it.  I don’t use the word sabbat, preferring instead the world holiday (defined as a day which has special significance).  I don’t generally use the Pagan names of the holidays, except for a common frame of reference when celebrating with other Pagans.  I observe the cross-quarters at the exact midpoint between each equinox and solstice, such that Mid Autumn (what most Pagans term Samhain) will fall on November 7th this year, rather than October 31st.  And I don’t think of that date as the start of the new year… for me that coincides with the Winter Solstice, when we celebrate light returning to the world.

I think I’ll close by quoting the conclusion to Resa’s guest post at Pantheos (which you should go read in its entirety), because it sums things up pretty well for me as well:

If I don’t have some easy shorthand for what I am, it makes it burdensome to try to connect with other people. For me it’s also intellectually dishonest. I would not be the religious practitioner that I am today without the experiences I have had in the neo-pagan community. Pagans welcomed me and taught me and offered love and trust. As much as I don’t want to be mistaken for a circle caster who can’t wear synthetic fabric and can’t use a timepiece, I don’t want to disenfranchise myself from the community that has been my home for many years. For now, I suppose I’ll stick with the Facebook trope: Religious Affiliation– It’s complicated!


The fiddlehead: a sign of spring in my book.

Fiddleheads come out around Mid Spring

It occurs to me that one of the things that I do differently (and that I’m curious if others out there do as well) is that I celebrate the cross-quarters of the Wheel of the Year on the exact midpoint between the quarters. Anyone else doing that? (I recognize that no one is reading this blog yet because it’s brand new, but I’ll pretend someone out there somewhere will read this at some point and possibly reply…)

To put it more simply, many Pagans celebrated mid spring (Beltane) on May 1, but I celebrated it on May 5th, the exact midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.  It’s not terribly tricky to calculate the timing, but for the past couple of years I’ve found to be very useful as a reference.

Or, to put it more truthfully, that was what was carefully marked on my calendar for the afternoon of May 5th, but I ended up celebrating it on the 7th. Why? Real Life happened to me on the 5th: I had a major meeting called by someone way up the food chain at work, and I was a key player in said meeting, and the scheduling of the meeting was non-negotiable. I rolled with it, didn’t raise a fuss, and instead marked the moment a couple of days later.

I consequently enjoyed this past Saturday evening sitting outside in our old wood-fired hot tub, having a conversation with the glowing crescent moon. We had a very good chat.

I hope mid spring went well for you as well, on whatever day you chose to mark it

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