Reflections on Pagan community, Romano-Celtic Polytheism, localizing
one's path, and interfaith in the Midwest.
An Acorn for Lupa
I am supposed to be writing an introductory blog post, but I am looking at the moon instead.
It hangs there, outside my window, not quite two-thirds of its way across the sky, perfectly bisected into gleaming white and darkness. Before they put the street lamps in on my street, this would still be a moon I could see by.
When I am awestruck by the moon I pray, sometimes, to Luna. Sometimes to Juno. Sometimes just to the unknowable beauty that happens somewhere between me as an observer and the moon as a satellite, orbiting our little blue marble.
This is the essence, I think, of my Pagan experience: experiencing the world as both practical and meaningful simultaneously. The moon can be a hunk of stone and metal orbiting the Earth at about 230 miles away, but also a goddess watching me, teaching me.
It’s an uneasy balance, and it took a long time for me to get there. We compartmentalize religion, shoving it into a corner at the same time as giving it special status. Look, we say, at this thing that belongs Over There, and how it is more powerful than Everything Else, and how it is More Real. For those of us (like me) who come to Paganism from Christianity especially, there is a lot to rethink, to relearn.
So let’s get some basics out of the way. I’m 34, and I live in Missouri. I participate in a small and somewhat disorganized local Pagan community both within an ADF grove and a local meet-up group. I left Christianity in adolescence. If you ask me to define my path, I’ll tell you that I’m a Romano-Celtic devotional polytheist.
When I first became a Pagan in the early 1990s, I think I did it in the same way a lot of us did: mostly by accident, because it was exciting, and with a copy of Buckland’s Complete Guide to Witchcraft. I think I may be in a minority in that mine was a borrowed copy that I had only for a couple of days, and that I hand-copied the parts that spoke to me (as I did with a lot of things in those days), but I acknowledge the point of entry because it underlines something so critical about why I am where I am on my path now.
The exact chronology of how I got from there and traveled through eclecticism, the Western Esoteric tradition, Eastern Religion, and then back to the Pagan community is less important to this introduction than the fact that I began in isolation, without a lot of support. I started with scraps and treasured them in a small town environment where I was barely taken seriously enough to be taken as a threat. I came in with a monotheist viewset and background in fundamentalism that did me a lot of harm.
I wanted my path to explain everything, and give me all the answers the way I was taught religion is supposed to. Over time, I think I learned that whenever religion starts to do this, my best option is to run. Fast and far.
We are getting better, I think, as Pagans, at shedding those inherited views. It’s a process for us as individuals, and it’s a process for us within groups, and it’s a process for us as a movement. Rome wasn’t built in a day (literally or metaphorically), and neither will our paths or the space in our world where Pagan paths are coming to fit.
So this is who I am: a Midwestern man, queer in gender and sexuality, following a hybrid path in a church younger than me, learning to be virtuous, and trying to understand how to do that well in my life, my bioregion, and my community. I plan to talk about all of these things, and I hope it will be useful.
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