I believe in the Hellenic gods. I have personally experienced their presence and their effect on my life. I think that worshipping an honoring them in a traditional way makes sense. I pray to Zeus, to Hermes, to Ares, to Aphrodite, to Hera, Athena, Dionysus, Artemis, Hestia and the other Olympians. And I believe that I should also be finding ways to honor Pan, the nymphs, and the other immediate, present land-spirits. I think that Euripides’s The Bacchae is one of the most intense, meaningful, and wise pieces of literature ever composed. I believe that classical ethics and the Golden Mean remain–as they always have been–the best and most reliable guide for human behavior.
I have a strong pull towards personal mysticism and inner work: I have a strong desire to explore the landscape of the unconscious. I think there is immense truth to the work of Jung. Somehow, rock and roll, Dionysus, the Holy Grail, Jim Morrison, and snakes are all tied up in this. And probably tarot, too. I believe that there is something to be accomplished, some Great Work, some journey. A journey outward into the literal Wilderness that is also a journey inward into the Wilderness of the human psyche. There’s something there that wants to be discovered.
I believe that the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads, taken together, are an unsurpassed work of spiritual genius. Reading them is like drinking light and wisdom. I think that the philosophy of Vedanta comes the closest of any human philosophy to explaining the universe as we are situated in it. If there is such thing as enlightenment–and I have to believe that there is–then the path outlined in the Gita has to be the way to find it.
So what does that add up to? I don’t cast spells, or do any magic(k), or even really believe that other people who claim to are actually doing anything. I don’t celebrate the wheel of the year. I’ve tried, and it just didn’t click like I thought it was going to–it always seems like it should be relevant and emaningful and important to me but I never am able to make it be anything other than awkward and ill-fitting, like an outfit that looked great on the mannequin but just fits me terribly. I think. Or maybe I was somehow doing it wrong. I don’t believe in assembling a homemade pantheon of gods that I “work with.” I don’t think “working with” gods is a very good term at all, if nothing else because it fundamentally misunderstands our relationship to them and in a terrible act of hubris tries to convert them into tools for our use. I do divinations with tarot–and have often had uncanny insights–but sometimes I think the randomness of drawing cards causes me to miss the power and symbolism that the tarot has as a whole and in all of its parts. I believe in right and wrong, but I don’t believe that we need salvation from sin. I’m not sure if I believe in literal reincarnation, or literal life after death (I don’t deny either one: I just don’t know). I’m inclined to agree on a philosophical level with the revival Druids, but when it comes down to specifics, none of what they do really reaches out and grabs me. I’m not an ecofeminist. I’m not a pacifist. I’m not politically very liberal.
I don’t feel much in common with most people who get included in the boader umbrella of “paganism” or neo-paganism; I don’t even think that the broader umbrella is a meaningful category because it includes too many things that have nothing in common other than being-clumped-together-into-the-category. I’m not a Christian, but I have no fundamental problem with or hostility against Christianity.
So what, then? What am I? How do these pieces fit together? How do I move forward, given all of this? What’s the next step for me, spiritually? Who am I and what does this all mean? What does it mean for me as a father, a husband, a lawyer, a brother, a human being? How do I keep myself from getting pulled away into tangents and driven off-course and away from things I hold sacred by the countless diversions and slippery slopes and spectra of meaning and practice that all of these disparate threads seem to be tied to?