So, in a very recent question, I was asked how I go about being a Pagan 24x7x365…in other words, how can I do all the things that being a Pagan entails throughout the course of everyday living? The following was my response….
…this is going to sound kinda trite, but I just breathe. Seriously. Being Pagan isn’t something I do, its something I am. I’m not a Priest, and not about to become one – so I don’t have any religious duties associated with my being a Pagan. I make offerings to my Gods (and to Others as well). That takes about five minutes or so out of my day (sometimes longer depending on what the offering is in reference to). The rest of my time is spent how I feel needs to be done or how I am directed to do so by my Gods (very rarely). I’m not covered by some mystical cloud, and I’m not on some Gods-given quest every moment of the day. Being a Pagan means being you…
Now, this can seem like a rather weird question to some, but its actually quite a fair point to bring up. There are Pagans out there that live their lives like monks or even like a Catholic Priest. Those folks tend to have religious duties associated with what they do in their devotions to their Gods. They have decided to take on the role of being a Priest, and all that comes with that. They have sworn to perform rituals, weddings/handfastings, and take on the wide ranging roles and duties that being a Priest demands. Most of these folks are very public figures, and may be the first contact that some folks have with Paganism. Its hardly a stretch that some folks can see this as what every Pagan does.
Now, as I noted, being a Pagan is what I am. There are some aspects of being a Pagan that are things that I do, none of which are hard, set-in-stone rules to being a Pagan. I do a daily devotional to Crow. Its nothing fancy, and super simple. I can even do it while I am walking from my car to the building that I work in, without anyone being aware of what I am doing. They see me pouring out part of a water bottle. What I am doing is pouring water as an offering to the land, along with my morning prayers for the day. I don’t even have to say anything out loud. Sure, its not something absolutely sacred in the eyes of quite a few. But it works for me. I don’t need a fancy robe, I don’t need candles and incense. Honestly, I don’t even need the water – though its something that has emotional feeling for me, since “Water is Life” – I just need to set my intention in my prayers. I don’t have to vocalize anything. I need the intention, and a momentary focus. That’s it. Nothing over-the-top. Simple, easy, and carried within a motion that looks like an everyday, routine moment for my day.
My guess is that many people think that personal ritual has to contain the dramatic. We certainly see enough of that in the Southern Baptist and Evangelical settings, with members of the congregation getting caught up in the Holy Spirit. The shouting, the arm-waving, the spontaneous “hallelujahs” and the much-too-often “occasional” speaking in tongues. Add to all of that, the folks who come forward for healing, convulsing like their sins were leaking directly from their bodies…there’s a lot of dramatics going on there. Now, I am not saying that none of that is valid, merely that it is dramatic in nature. And that dramatic addition emphasizes the “holiness” and “spiritual” nature of what is taking place. And that type of symbology becomes deeply embedded and ingrained into the thought processes of people. They associate those gestures with “spirituality” and expect to see it in every faith. And they bring that expectation to Paganism, if they happen to seek this direction. And are disappointed when they don’t see as much of it…
Don’t get me wrong here. I have seen and participated in some VERY dramatic rituals within Paganism. The dramatic effects emphasized perspectives, and in some cases even brought forward a stronger feeling of the Gods that were being invoked. There is a time, place and reason for those dramatic moments in ritual. Over-done, and those moments lose the strong punch of emphasis, as participants expect those moments to always take place – particularly when the dramatic effect is not used for specific moments in ritual.
Pulling this back on-track, much of that can also be placed into personal, spiritual practice – in my opinion. I do my devotions and rituals alone, I desire a much quieter approach, where the emphasis is on my focus. But let me point back to the daily aspect of just being a Pagan. The Gods are not with me every single day, every single hour, every single minute. They have Their own existence to handle. I don’t do my devotionals to draw Their attention to me. I do my devotionals because I want to honor Them, thank Them for Their presence, and appreciate the times that They are directly in my life. Whether They hear me or see me or not…that doesn’t matter. The point is to provide a moment of my day to honor what we have together. To me, that moment, even done in the manner of just pouring water from a water bottle into the grass on the campus where I work, as I walk towards the building I work in – and silently state my thanks and appreciation for Their presence….that is sacred. Not because of where it happens or how it looks when it happens. Its sacred because it is THAT moment.
I believe in the sacred aspect of Nature. I see the sacred in what has been built, how the grounds on the campus have been manicured to look sculpted. How the birds find their food in the clippings of the grass. The little kittens living out their existence in the crawl space under one of the older buildings. For me, as a Pagan, all of that has sacredness to it. How do I add that to my day? I breathe. I see the beauty and the sacred and silently acknowledge it. Being a Pagan doesn’t get turned off by a spigot. Its on everyday with me, because I breathe, I see, I hear, I feel, I connect. Being a Pagan means that I just be me…I experience it all through the connections I have with the world around. I am aware of how all of that connects directly and indirectly with me. being a Pagan means that I AM.