I want to start here by saying that "Pagan" is not necessarily a term that I personally identify with- I identify as a Witch. But I use "Pagan" as a catch-all umbrella term to lump lots of people together who are natural allies. They are minority, non-Abrahamic religions that include many earth-centered (or not!), magick working (or not!), and polytheistic (or not!) folks. Some are animists, some are pantheists, and some (mysteriously) don't really work with gods at all. Not all categories apply to all folks falling under the umbrella- hence my ambivalence about the term as applied to me. But being a great lover of community, bridge-building, and organizing to make the world a better place, I embrace the term as one of political expedience, coalition-building, and cultural shorthand.
So given that caveat, let's get to the task at hand, shall we? What do I believe and how does that inform my values?
On Being a Neo-Pagan Fundamentalist": "The first, and most important tenet, is that a Neo-Pagan fundamentalist actually believes in the existence of every single deity that s/he worships. Deities are not merely theoretical archetypes, nor vague energy forms that can be ordered about by the human mind, nor merely parts of our own deep selves. They do not depend on human attention and worship to exist, although the lack of it may weaken their connection to the world. They have their own lives and personalities when we are not interacting with them, and yes, they are more powerful than we are." I work with many god/desses and "believe" in them all. When Christians ask me if I believe in God, I usually say, "Yes- but which one are you talking about specifically?" I believe in the god that their Bible speaks of, I just don't like that one very much and do not work with him. Which leads me to #2:
3. Magic(k) is real- so are other realms that we don't always see and so are other non-corporeal beings. The world is not a rational place, no matter how convenient a reality that would be for us. There is Mystery and Paradox and I am comfortable with that.
5. Diversity is good. Genderful, sexual, and racial diversity! Different ages, physical abilities, mental abilities, ethnicities, points of view, and religions! All these differences are fascinating, delightful, make the world interesting place and are virtues. The fact that there are political minorities left out of decision making or denied the same rights as others is unethical and anti-religious. Which leads me to #6:
As I said in an earlier post on this blog, "Simply put, a theology that preaches disconnection from others, regardless of the reason, is not a real religion- it is simply hate speech wrapped up in a corrupt theology. You heard me. Yes, I said that. I am calling recent statements by the pope and Mormon deacons unreligious.
Religion, at its core, is an idea of wholeness- from creation to destruction and everything in between. It encompasses all of humanity and indeed all of creation. A church that does not embrace all living things as equals, one that sees some people as more inherently virtuous than others is not a religious institution. When done properly, religion cannot be used as an instrument of hate. When it is, calling it religion is a misnomer."
The Buddhists, when they talk of life as suffering, are correct. (That is not to say that life is misery and woe and that there is no beauty. Far from it- that particular take on the word "suffering" is incorrect and a modern spin for our comfort-driven society.) We all suffer to live- and we cause others' suffering while we live and to continue our own lives (at the expense of others). Does this fact mean we cannot be compassionate? No. It means it is our duty to feel the others' pain and offer it up as a sacred offering.
As a Witch, I believe that when you have compassion, you suffer with others, then you offer it up (I personally offer it to my patroness- it is her favorite flavor.).
Now, many times compassion is confused with pity or allowing others to continually make mistakes. Let me make this clear- compassion for others is not what Victor Anderson called "coddling weakness", rather- it often takes the form of a swift kick in the pants (what many Buddhists call ruthless compassion or fierce compassion). But Victor also wisely added that we need to "respect one another's frailties" as well. We cannot become indifferent to others, if we do- we risk becoming disconnected from one another and God Herself. Disconnection breaks the web of life.
These are a few of the things I believe as a Witch and will teach my son. What are your "pagan values"?