We are the authors of Memory... We are the ENGINEERS of TRADITION
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. a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
. a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism

==Don't forget to check out the DRUID'S ALMANAC for 2014 ==============LUGNASA RESOURCES are HERE....

Neopaganism and BELIEF

So, you or someone you know, is a "pagan"?

Other people who refer to themselves as pagans share some of your beliefs but oddly not all, maybe not even "most". Perhaps you consider your "paganism" largely unique and unlike that of the others using the term?

Outside of the sociological umbrella-term Neopaganism, the rest of the world seems to define religion using terms like "faith", "doctrine", and most fundamentally so, "belief".

Where exactly do your views fall in the spectrum of "belief"?
Why is it that Neopagans are so hard to pin-down on such issues?

Back around 2005 I started pulling together a series of articles and point-sheets I had published in my grove's newsletter exploring these questions. This grew eventually into a booklet...

A printable PDF file of the following collection of essays,
"Neopaganism and Belief" is availble HERE... ,
although its full text is also found on this page,
beginning immediately after this next section...

------------- First though,
SOME QUICK POINTS 
ABOUT "BELIEF" in ADF DRUIDRY:

1.) ADF has no "system of belief".
Your beliefs are, and remain, a matter of personal choice and it is not ADF's business to establish standards for members' personal spiritual constructs or "faith". ADF is a system of -practice- and the public and collective aspects of that practice and its members are expected to follow a polytheistic framework (only) in its public liturgies and other collective expressions of Neopagan spirituality when representing them as "ADF" functions.

2.) It has always been my understanding of ADF that, among our ranks are individuals who hold personal belief systems which could be defined variously as polytheistic, monist, mystically monotheistic, mythopoeic humanist, mystically agnostic and even mystically atheistic - - or WHATEVER term any one individual chooses to use to define their personal "belief". Still, none of these constitute a system of personal belief formally "expected" of ADF members.

3.) What IS expected of ADF members is the allowance for a variety of personal belief systems among its membership and the requirement  for the respectful treatment of said members relating to their personal spiritual views. On the other hand though: collectively-publicly, we all are expected by long standing ADF policy that we agree to agree that our public liturgical pattern of practice consistently reflect a polytheistic expression. This is so as to not 1.) represent ancient cultures as monotheistic as some NewAge or other ill-informed groups do, nor 2.) to invalidate the (assumed majority of) polytheists in our organization and the general Neopagan communities they serve.

- Earrach
------------------------- and now... THE TEXT:


NEOPAGANISM
and BELIEF
Gods, Ghosts & Spirits
---------------------------------------
Introductory Essays
on
Neopagan Theology
© 2005/2010 Earrach of Pittsburgh

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GLOSSARY

Theism
The Theist asserts a personal faith* in the existence of a deity.

Atheism
The Atheist asserts a personal faith* in the non-existence of a deity.

Agnosticism
The Agnostic’s position asserts a lack of knowledge, an inability to know, or
even a tacit disinterest concerning the existence of a deity.

Animism
All things have spirits in them: mountains, trees, chairs, gum-wrappers

Pantheism
The Universe and Life Force as god-manifest; all things are a part of God.

Monotheist
A scheme in which there is only one deity.

Polytheist
A scheme which describes or allows for a multitude of individual deities.

Duotheist
A scheme which describes the godhead being comprised of a dyad of two
independently existent yet complementary deities, usually a male and female
(see “The Goddess” and “The God” central to Wiccan theology )

Dualism
A philosophic principle limiting systems of thought into “either-or” sets of two
principles assumed to be mutually-exclusive: True vs. False; Good vs. Evil;
Love vs. Hate; Matter vs. Spirit; Mind vs. Body; Man vs. Nature

Pluralism
A system of thought which allows for more than one seemingly contradictory
view to be held at once. Challenges the notions of “absolutes” upon which
systems like Dualism are founded.

Eclectic
Comprised of the best or desirable elements from many differing yet complementary sources.

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* Neither being able to prove their suposition.

I.
“Gods and Goddesses”…What are they? 
Suggestions for the sympathetic skeptic


Do you "believe" in the gods and goddesses?

Do you believe in them to the extent that Christians would have us think they believe in their own deities? Is there a scale or a spectrum of belief, from mild to extreme on which we could pin the different conceptions of how deity manifests? Just how important is "belief" in Neopaganism? I have been involved with Neopaganism since the 1970’s and have at length come to feel that, in Neopaganism, the criteria for belief is diverse to the point of it not always being a critical factor in its own definition. In ADF we have a word addressing that issue. The word is "orthopraxy" – an obscure term we use in explaining that in our druidism, and much of Neopaganism in general, our religious practice is based on the commonalties in what we "do" and how we do it, rather than defining us by what specifically we "believe" (orthodoxy). Yes, it's all about what we do rather than what we believe. That doesn’t mean that belief doesn’t enter into it; what one believes is, or should be, one's own business.

One of the cornerstones of Neopagan thought is the high regard given to pluralism and its necessity for people of different belief structures to co-exist respectfully. As self proclaimed holders of the "One True Way", most religions throughout history have been based wholly on the opposite rationale.

God or Gods?

ADF has decided, at least at the public level, to dispense with the notion of a single, universal godhead and defines its approach as polytheistic. We operate on the assumption that we as moderns know so little of the various gods and goddesses that to continue to geld their individualities to being simply a variety of different masks on the same old Mr.(or Ms.)Big is to relinquish our opportunity to explore true polytheism as a valid model for a modern spirituality. It is just too easy for us to slide back into the old dualistic paradigm. Monotheism has been so thoroughly bound to the notion of basic virtue for us that few if any of us bred as Westerners can truly think reflexively outside the ever-present effects of it's conditioning:

"One God  =  good...   More than one god  =  bad"

Are there ways of describing the Pagan gods and goddesses that brings the world-models of the believer and the sympathetic non-believer close enough together to allow for the skeptic to see their value as being more than simply poetic metaphors? The gods and goddesses may be conceived of as being distinct entities with personalities consistent in some degree with the ancient stories related to us in the historical record. There may be much for us to discover about them that was well known in ancient times but has been lost. As well, there may be even more yet to discover about them that is new and only available to us through their interaction with our modern consciousness. To a friendly but skeptical outsider looking in on our work it may seem nice to be able to relate to our gods and goddesses as being “archetypes” or poetic metaphors for aspects of the world and human experience. I'd almost want to say to them "As a matter of fact, so do we!" (excuse my inclusionary phrasing). But for most of us there is a bit more to it, right? So then... what's the difference? Is this all just a big game of Let's Pretend ?

The factors wherein we differ from poetically inclined Humanists are not always so clearly defined. Let's dig in a bit and see what differences we can find….

Belief, Theism and A-Theism

I'd first want to suggest that not everybody is a candidate for this discussion. When we hear "I'm a Christian" or "I'm an Atheist"- we're best to allow for the fact that at some point in their lives, many of these folks elected to start calling themselves Atheist, or Christian simply because of the comfort or vague sense of self-definition it gave them. Some things are just not that terribly relevant or important to some people. There are more important things; like football, or shopping, or dieting. And beer; don't forget beer. Did I mention football?...

Of course, there are many folks who have labored long and passionately over their religious and philosophical choices. Here are the traditional basic criteria for their choices (and a few surprises):

Theist: (-although unable to prove their own supposition...)
One who proclaims belief (i.e. a faith) in a "god"

Atheist: (-also unable to prove their own supposition,)
One who proclaims a belief (i.e. a faith) in the non-existence of a "god".
So, as I'm always telling my atheist friends, herein we see that the phrase "You faithless atheist..." is actually a oxymoron!

Agnostic: (Gnosis: knowledge: a-gnosis: without knowledge)
One claiming insufficient knowledge with which to judge;
one who doesn't know; one who claims we can't know; even those who don't care...

Bear in mind these definitions, although still useful to our discussion, are faulty in their basic premise. If the question is "god or not-god", the question takes for granted that we are in agreement on a definition of what "god" should mean. What is assumed for us is that the question would be only used for discussing something much like the omniscient, omnipotent Creator-God / The God of Abraham, i.e. Jehovah / Allah...

Ordinary arguments on God's existence invariably take an immediate left-turn into "Creator or no creator?" debates, abandoning all other topics treated then as hopelessly secondary to this perennial Chicken or Egg cul du sac. The problem this poses for us is that these reasons are largely irrelevant to our discussions, since the gods and goddesses we're talking about do not bear much similarity to That-God at all. Here again we're being bludgeoned with the little-recognized but overarching chauvinism of the western mind's assumption that "God" = singular = Creator. It seems to me that the correct response to the often too-sharply asked question "What? You don't believe in God ?!?" - should rightly be: “ God? - Why I'm sorry, you'll have to be more specific - - To which 'god' do you refer? " 
( See the chart of the same name at the end of this series of essays…)

Polytheism and Henotheism

Most of us know that majority of the world's religions have been polytheistic; that is, they are systems recognizing groups, hierarchies and/or families of individual deities. Sometimes it is very hard to see a significant difference between this and common allegedly monotheistic Christian models like the Roman Catholic, with its Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; accompanied by Mother Mary, Archangels, Angels and Devils, Satan and all the hundreds of Saints... – Oooh yes, but that's MONO-theism, right? (?) Well, somehow. For well over a thousand years we've been told that there is one "God" and "He" is a divine mystery of three parts, a "Trinity." He is attended by all those other exalted immortal spirits, yet somehow we are expected to unquestioningly avoid calling them deities or demigods as we would in any other world religion.

More curious yet, when Jehovah comes down into the burning bush / pillar of fire and delivers what later becomes the official policy-statement from which all the Monotheistic assumptions proceed: "I am the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have any gods above Me." it doesn't translate as an actual aspersion on polytheism but is delivered in a form that asserts another system, known as Henotheism. Henotheism is any system which worships a god without denying the existence of other gods. As Jehovah said,"(none) above me." Somehow, I can't imagine Him being vague... Really, I'm sure if He meant "I am the only god, there are no others" - He would have said so...

Non-Corporeal beings: Gods, Ghosts and Spirits

Spirits can be conceived of as being very simple to very complex forms that seem to be able to exist to some degree or other, independent of our own consciousness. On the simpler end of this spectrum are the Genius Locii or Spirits-of-Place. These can be very simple, yet self-sustaining informational fields which become manifest largely through a catalytic interaction with human consciousness. They are initially fields of potential that can become enlivened through their effect on human sensitivities to the point that a location, an environment, or a "place" can impart something verging on the qualities of an actual "personality". How a place can become imbued with its own personality is perhaps less important than what it is we can learn from interacting with that personality. I believe that many "ghosts" are much more actually characteristics of a place, than they are artifacts of a person. These ghost-spirits have just become more likely to manifest as a human-wraith because a location has been "loaded" with the impression that such a thing may or somehow "can" happen in that location. Here we see that the expectations, particularly the fearful-expectations of the humans entering into these locations plays a primary role in the "manifestation" of these spirits. This is also true of powerfully "sacred" locations and their ability to evoke a sense of awe or reverence in persons of even modest sensitivity.

Where do these gods "live"?

Most of us involved in Neopagan Druidism grant that the classical gods we deal with are actual entities, existing largely or at least to some degree, “independent” from our own consciousnesses. They may abide in a realm that in some degree overlaps with our world yet remain only sensible to us in the domains of our minds and souls, very little of their substance otherwise being relevant or demonstrable in outward, physical manifestations. That they have so little does not mean that they do not "exist" any more than one would say that a mother's love for her child does not exist, simply because it is not empirically provable or quantifiable.  

The Function of the Soul...

The "soul" then, that intersection of one's heart and mind at the center of our personhood, is the radio-receiver by which we "tune-into" them... and it becomes the portal through which these  beings still most regularly emerge, visit, and interact with our world. The territory we encounter them in is of course a largely internal landscape, and yet, we do at times find that another important dimension in which we are influenced by them, certainly one not to be overlooked, is the interpersonal realm. Their lore and effects are shared and live and are passed-on to future generations through those who have tuned-into them as well.

How much do the gods and spirits "interact" with our world? Their powers are not necessarily boundless yet it seems they are not limited by the apparent "laws" of the Ordinary, which we work within ( why, even ol' Jehovah still can't make a rock so heavy that He can't pick it up, right?  ;-p  ). As a matter of fact there may be things which we can do that they can't - and thereby, in ways, we are of value to them. Such themes have been outlined by the anthropologists of religion and further developed by the fantasy writers but it is up to us to make practical use of any such potential to the benefit of our lives and our relationships with the Old Ones.

“GAIA” ?
There have arisen over the last thirty years inspiring models like James Lovelace's Gaia Hypothesis (1) that lend themselves well to a view of the Earth as a goddess or even as "The Goddess." Lovelace himself posits a highly scientific assessment of the relationship of life-systems on the Earth to the resources and environmental systems on which they depend. That series of grand reciprocal ecological relationships is then likened to a living meta-organism, meeting most of the criteria as a huge yet self-sustaining network of systems, very much like a single living creature. Lovelace as a scientist is clearly a visionary yet he stridently maintains he's not a mystic and that his theories are not meant to have religious implications. This of course comes much to the dismay of the throngs of wishful-thinking New-Agers who are forever appropriating his ideas for their own ends.


Nonetheless, I must count myself among them. One my own favorite ideas along these lines is that now, well into the Information Age with our various telecommunications media and the Internet every day bringing the knowledge and experience of all the rest us together into one, global, group mind, could it be that a new, global consciousness may just be about to dawn upon the Earth Herself? We, as several billion individual nodes or "neurons" of relational information, could be enabling Gaia to at last become self-aware... She may be just about to waken in a form which humans could recognize as a thinking being; perhaps even one with which we could communicate. The implications of such an idea are staggering. Of course, if and when she does awaken and assess the situation at hand, as they say,
- "Man, is She gonna' be pissed!"
Earrach (c) 2003
(1) Lovelock, James (2000) [1979]. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-286218-9.
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II.
Belief and
Neopagan
Spirituality
Part II of : 
"Do You Believe in the Gods and Goddesses ?"

Earlier we discussed the various models for the nature of spirits and the Deities; how they may relate to us and to our world and the challenge of the three traditional criteria for "belief": Theism, Atheism, and Agnosticism. Key to this discussion is an element that I believe is one of the defining factors in Neopagan thought: intentional Pluralism. I'm defining pluralism as the alleged ability to sustain multiple points of view on a topic, some of which may appear to be mutually exclusive or even contradictory.

The western mind rejects such constructs as nonsense, mainly on the grounds that pluralism seems, if not patently hypocritical, at least basically "illogical." The pluralist begs a sustained suspension of judgement for a number of reasons, suggesting that because we cannot be in command of all the factors and possible perspectives available on a topic that truths are best described as being relative. Ordinary “logic" is not always the most appropriate tool for the job. The pinnacle of western logical systems, Newtonian Physics, is quite suitable for modeling the trajectory of a cannonball but it has been proven clearly inadequate for explaining the orbit of the planet Mercury. Einstein's Relativistic mechanics had to be developed for that. Gravity and acceleration as generally equivalent? Mass and energy intimately related? Old Sir Isaac never allowed for such possibilities. And it shows.

Usually held as the conservative camp, skepticism is not as “safe” as it seems. There are limits to disbelief. Surprisingly practical limits. We don't understand-enough at any given time to assume empirically that we hold the Absolute Truth. Science is not about truth, it is about prediction based on our best assumptions based on appearances. But, is Schroedinger's Cat (1.) dead, or is it alive? Alogical constructs (a-logical: outside-of ordinary logic) are not necessarily the same as "illogical" constructs...

Pluralism vs. Dualism

Pluralism, as expressed through Neopagan spirituality can be seen as a result of the rejection of Western Culture's long held dualistic paradigm. Dualism posits the world as being a collection of black and white, "either-or" propositions:
     Right -or- Wrong;
     Good -or- Evil;
     God -or- Man;
     Spirit -or- Matter;
     Love –or- Hate
     Verity -or- Error
     Man -or- Nature... (etc.)
Neopagans largely dispense with this thinking as presenting a distorted and severely limiting approach to the world. Either as an overt rejection, or as simply the residual effect of operating so much, so largely "outside of the rules," the effects of pluralism and its rejection of the prevailing dualistic mindset remain to be accounted for in understanding this rapidly growing sector of modern spirituality.

" Ok, ok, but what do you REALLLY believe?? "

In case you've read this far and aren't aware, like most of my essays, this is an opinion-piece. I just wanted to check-in with you on that before I proceed to my next point. For a start, I shall hereby submit an admission of my general SKEPTICISM toward most persons' ( all persons' ?) statements-of-belief as not being truly representative of their personal "reality-constructs." I suppose that makes me somewhat of a cynic, but I believe that this is a terribly important idea, no matter how bitter a pill it seems.

Perhaps a logician could show us an equation illustrating the "reasoning" behind each of the various contemporary "faiths"... yet even if these people have achieved logically-valid systems of "belief" –in my opinion, the fact remains that most people internally sustain numerous conjectural models, sorting them and finally grooming a current "preferred" model to "bind" themselves-to (re-ligio: "to bind").

Initially an intellectual choice and later an obligation to one's personal history and self esteem, they do NOT always (or even "often") represent the basic reality-construct that the person employs reflexively to apprehend the world from moment to moment. No, I do not have a lot of facts to support this notion; just a very strong intuitive conclusion based on careful observation of others and as objective of an analysis of my own behavior as I can muster.

The ordinary "statement of belief" springs from the reflective realm, not from the reflexive. More a matter of politics, they all too clearly resemble press-releases: public statements to others, and to ourselves, of
     (a) how we'd like to think of ourselves… -and-
     (b) how we'd like to be thought-of by our peers.

This is why, in the Glossary, instead of saying "the theist believes in god" I've chosen to use the phrase "the theist asserts a personal faith in the existence of a deity."

Don't get me wrong, I think statements of belief are wonderful things; I think everyone should sit down and write one out right now. And then write another one tomorrow. And another one the next day... So yes, I'm taking the position that it's more useful to discuss statements of belief as being simply what people choose to say about themselves, today, and that we should always reserve judgment on knowing what it is they actually "believe", regardless of what they say.

To be Correct, Virtuous, and Accepted...

I believe religion and people's need for a sense of personal virtue are closely related. This is why people become so very dismayed when forced to reconcile the fact that someone they like and respect does not share their religious (or political) viewpoints... "But they seem so nice...and intelligent too!". We tend to carefully seek out the most correct and virtuous religious position possible to bind*(2.) ourselves to, both, to feel assured by the moral safeness of that correctness, and for the security and sense of validation available to us from acceptance among others of like mind. Sometimes we may even prefer the company of those who "believe" in constructs diverging significantly from own because we, well, prefer their company. The alternate choices confronting us can lead one to the abysmal loneliness and alienation suffered by some existentialists.

We are a "different" kind of folk. Although sometimes misunderstood as such, we are not fantasists, nor are we role-players. Yet as Neopagans, we pose a significant challenge to the contemporary definition of Religion. We are pioneers, our work is experimental and in many ways essentially akin to an artform. There is spiritual art, and there is artistic religion, yet Neopaganism steps forward and unabashedly lifts the veil and reveals that:  
"Religion IS an artform."(1.)

Magic and the Transcendental

Our skeptical friends, as aesthetically inclined as they may be in other respects, still draw a line in the sand when it comes to things “magical”. To them, magic requires a belief in the “impossible”. So then, shall we limit the bounds of "what is possible"? Are we now at the end of discovery? Very well then; our work is done! - - And this "transcendental", if it is shown to somehow -be- possible, does it any longer qualify then as being "transcendental"?

Magic is always experimental. Whether magic works or not depends on the analysis of the "results". Magical world views, by definition, function with a different "syntax" - a different logic. Analyzing this data by using Western Dualistic logical systems can be like parachuting into central China and asking the farmer you met on the road "Are you a republican or a democrat?" Do we dispose of Van Gough or the Ballet as "illogical"?

Neopaganism and the Transcendental

Perhaps it is that we as Neopagans are insisting that not all of the rules are apparent to ordinary logic... We assume that adding up that which is logically possible and that which is not logically possible does not account for the whole realm of possibilities in a system. We are in fact suggesting that one must allow for the Paradoxical to have arrived at a "holistic" view.

Yet once more we find ourselves asking if are the Spirits and Deities truly discarnate and transcendental entities, separate from us? I believe that within our Neopagan and NeoDruidic systems it is essential to our objectives to treat them as such, regardless. Whether or not the Gods or Spirits really are separate from our own consciousness is, I believe, of little relevance in the long run. It's simply most important that we conduct ourselves as if they are. This is where the experimental nature of our pursuit surfaces: as it was in the cornfield in the movie “Field of Dreams” - - if They are there...
They will show themselves.

Many of us come to our personal sense of "belief" through this very process of revelation. We thereby apprehend the miraculous in our lives, as do some in other religious paths, through "the personal experience of the Divine."
- (c) 2003, Earrach of Pittsburgh
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(1.)
Schroedinger's Cat: an allegory from the arcane lore of Quantum Physics, wherein it can be mathematically "proven" that a cat inside a closed un-monitored box containing a poised lethal device set to fire randomly, is both dead AND alive simultaneously at any given moment. Quantum Physics is rife with seemingly alogical paradoxes, yet it is the best and most successful system for modeling the physical world ever established.
-----------------------
(2.)
RELIGIO – from legare “to bind”.  (Look it up!)

III.
" You're
Worshipping - WHAT- ? "

More of the ins and outs of that uncomfortable W-word...

What? You say the Faery-Folk do not qualify as "deities"? That statement in itself is debatable, but in answer may I just submit that the characters on the following list have far less of a substantive indication of deity-ness, yet they are commonly accepted as worthy of worship in Neopagan traditions:
     Cerridwen
     Rhiannon
     Arawn
     Arianrod
     Manawyddan
     Math
     Gwydion
     Blodeuwedd
     Llew Llah Gyffes
     Mabon and the Modron...
Those are characters from the Mabinogion, a delightful book of Welsh wonder-tales from the 11th century. In the text, none of those characters are referred-to as "gods". At best, Arawn and Rhiannon are described as coming from Annfwn ("not-world") and generally wield less magic than the worldy magicians met elsewhere throughout the text. Other than mentions of Arthur and his men in one or two of the stories, not one character in the Mabinogion is met elsewhere in the folklore, writings or archaeology of the British Isles.

It seems to me that, with plenty of encouragement from some less-than-conservative celticists in the last two hundred years, Neopaganism has ehumerized (elevated from hero to god-hood) the cast of the Mabinogion, and also many of the personages from the Irish corpus - and done so on pretty shaky ground as far as scholarship is concerned. We have virtually no proof they were gods.

Not that I'm really being all that picky myself... I suppose I am after all, a tree-hugging dirt worshiper. Me? Heck, I feel proud to say that I'll worship just about anything that doesn't tell me I have to!

Hmmm... perhaps that's a salient point about understanding the motives defining the psychological roots of Neopaganism! We reeeallly don't like being collared by some brutish cultural imperative and told that we have-to worship such and such... (“or else”). The inevitable outcome of enough of that is - poof ! - a Neopagan is created who boldly declares:
"Oh yeah? - Welll... I'll show them: I'll worship dirt!"

“Oh come on you're just getting silly..."

No. not really; I really do think people are way too squeamish about the w-word. Most of that comes from growing up in a Fundamentalist culture where we are programmed with the notion of "worship" as being something only licensed to those with "the One True Way." In that model, if you're foolish enough to get caught worshiping the Wrong Thing, you will be (a): excommunicated; and possibly even (b): executed. Either way, you will certainly end up in (c): Hell; where the atheists on either side of you will think you're really quite (d): stupid.

Yep, worshiping something other than the God of Abraham may feel to some degree risky. Also, it implies (somehow or other) that you are assuming an inferior-status to that which you worship. So, must it follow that if you worship dirt, you are less than dirt?

To me the implied syllogism isn't really there at all. I don't worship things just like me, I worship things wonderfully different from me. ("Apple-damn-it, he's right!" said the orange.) When, as I do, I worship the Sun by offering It daily prayer, I summon-up my amazement and gratitude and launch it out into the All-That-Is-Not-Me and, in the shadow of my own actions, my externalization of the internal, I have setup a feedback loop that helps rectify my relationship to that which I have elected to worship.

The Sanctity / Veneration feedback-loop

The veneration of holy things not only makes them holier to us but it can have a profoundly healing effect on us as well. We do not belittle ourselves by worshiping something, we elevate ourselves in the process… To a Pagan the world is full of things worthy of veneration, not solely the ghosts wrought from a grossly misunderstood book and forced upon them by red-faced men in bespittled pulpits spouting brimstone, politics, and fear.

So, RELAX,  really,  it's all up to you...
Only you define what “worship” means... Just don’t sell yourself short.
Here's a few models for the W-word, ranging from the mild to the extreme:

"Worship" defined as
willful remembrance and acknowledgement...
or,
"Worship" defined as
tribute and respectful salutation...
or,
"Worship" defined as
acts of veneration of the sacred...
or,
"Worship" defined as
a willful act of submission to the sublime
spiritual aspect(s) of a deity, spirit or thing.
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Religious Devotion

There is an exquisite quality of worshipful action that is optional, and perhaps it is well that it is, for it's certainly not for everyone. I am speaking of what may be called acts of spiritual submission. The anarchist in us may reel in horror at the sound of such a suggestion and certainly there's a myriad of deities and spiritual agencies one would be an utter fool to offer submission-to, but then, there are those to whom one may... Here words begin to fail me as much of this territory borders on the ineffable.

Devotional activity is only truly devotional activity when it comes about through an absolute degree of self-motivation. Therefore, the notion that religious devotion requires the subjugation of one’s personhood and as such that it is an activity for sheep-like fools is basically nonsense and reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of the topic. No individual can induce another into the “surrender” involved in religious devotion, nor can any other person induce another into a state of authentic religious devotion. This is because actual religious devotion is an activity that arises naturally in the person treading these paths, the individual being progressively more likely to arrive at such an outcome through a gradual process of religious discovery.
-Earrach. (c) 2003


“God”? 

- To which “God”  do you refer ?
I’m sorry, you’ll have to be more specific...

In order of the popularity or perceived importance of the argument,
here is a list of the basic assumptions in The Term as used by most Judeo-Christian cultures:

WELL ?
Do you “believe” in:
“The Creator”?
The uncreated, eternally existing Supreme Being; Author of All Things.
“The Reason”?
The answer to the perceived need for a Universe with meaning.
“The Guarantor of Eternal Life”?
Directs the scheme in which the soul transcends death; offers immortality.
"The Beloved"?
All-loving, All-forgiving, watcher-over our lives; worthy of all our love.
“The Omniscient / Omnipotent One”?
All-seeing, all knowing, all powerful, ever present Landlord of the Universe.
“The Ultimate Judge”?
The final measurer of a soul’s worthiness to enter Paradise.
---------------------------------------------
      Then come some common yet more esoteric descriptions,
      NOT necessarily assumed in the above:
The Saviour
Christ as God Incarnate: (found in most Christian sects, yet not all.)
The Source
The Soul of the Universe from which we come and to which we return.
The All-Pervading Life Force
Notion of God as “The Force”; the animating principle in all living things.
The Living Mind of the Universe
A common Pantheistic view of God as sum of all being. God in all things.
The You-Name-it,-if-its-Nice-its-God
God is Love, God is Light, God is Truth, God is Peace, God is Unity, God is Life…
Earrach ©1992
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SO,  is what you SAY about
what you believe, 
really WHAT you believe…
?

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- Earrach (c) 2012
-------------------NOTES:
1.) "Religion is an artform!" is an original phrase that originally occurred to me and I have been using on explanatory handbills about Neopaganisim since 1989 or so.

For a Neopagan perspective on the "SOUL", see my essay:










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- EARRACH