Fear – Are You A God Fearing Person?

The following article on fear was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on June 27th, 2014.

If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven't paid attention to who I am. Fear.
If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven’t paid attention to who I am.

I was visiting my friend Camie at Texas Snow Store in Watauga as I sometimes do on my way home from work and a couple of guys walk up carrying a big box of banana nut bread for sale. She says, “Oh, you have to try this banana bread! It’s the best ever!” So, she goes running up to meet them and buys a few loaves for herself and one for us to share. She offers them a snow cone each to cool them off from walking in the afternoon heat and humidity and they come over and join us in the shade of Dave’s gazebo close to his Philly Shack restaurant.

These two guys are from a Christian based rehabilitation house nearby which helps drug addicts turn their lives around and change their habits. The banana nut bread they sell helps fund the program and helps the people going through the program get accustomed to the trials of everyday productive work and interacting with people. They tell us about how some of the people who are doing what they are doing don’t want to change their ways and instead steal the money made from selling the bread to go buy drugs.

But if the program can help 1 in 10 people pull themselves out of the gutter of addiction then it’s worth it right? I am happy to see people improving their lives through whatever means work for them. Now cynical me has thought on occasion about how these programs latch on to people when they are at the lowest points in their lives and most vulnerable and susceptible to persuasion in order to brainwash them into a manner of thinking which benefits the people running the program. Like, I said, that’s cynical me talking and indeed such programs do usually come with a stipulation that one needs to submit to and turn over their faculties to the particular organizations interpretation of what their “one true god” wishes. Essentially using it as an avenue to recruit more members. The very thing those of us from minority religions like Wicca and Druidry are often accused of.

But still, if this organization helps those people to make a better life for themselves then some loyalty in return is probably not too much to ask is it? Perhaps some of the Pagan organizations should take note if they ever become large enough and organized enough to fund such programs. 😉

But anyway, at one point one of the guys pipes up and asks us if we are “God fearing people.” I answered as I often do such queries. “I have no need to fear my god because I know my god loves me.” He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that answer based on the look on his face but it was no matter because Camie piped in with “Well, he’s spiritual but not religious.” So the guy says, well, the important thing is that we believe there is something bigger than just us out there. Which I agree with regardless of what form that something bigger might take on from one individual or another.

That phrase and others like it have always bothered me though. It’s a popular one in Bible Belt Christianity. “God fearing.” It smacks of being in an abusive relationship to me. Why should I have to fear my god(dess) if (s)he loves me? Perhaps fear letting my god(dess) down if my actions are not worthy of his or her approval or that I am not living my life up to the fullest potential the gods have laid before me. But to fear my gods themselves? That concept just seems odd to me. What do you think?


Multiple Gods? Everyone Loses Their Minds

Multiple gods as a mainstream view of the divine fell out of favor twenty centuries ago or so throughout most of the western world but for a long, long time our ancestors saw the ethereal realms of the gods as a place populated by families of divine beings with light and dark, struggle, strife, plots and twists. In other words, pretty much like the world we live in.

Say you believe in multiple gods and everyone loses their minds.
Say you believe in multiple gods and everyone loses their minds.

Polytheism makes more sense to me than a single entity that is supposed to be omniscient and omnipotent because the world is just not an orderly place where things can easily be categorized as totally good, totally evil, purely black, purely white or even sensible. Questions such as, “Why do children die of cancer?” or other variations don’t add up in a universe created and totally controlled by a single being who is all knowing, all wise and all powerful. But the chaos of struggle and strife between multiple competing forces? That makes more sense to me when I observe the world around me.

It might not be fashionable these days but some other folks I know, and myself are re-adopting the notion of multiple gods.

My Own…Personal…Deities – Yours Too

Deities are a funny subject. Different people perceive them in different ways. Who’s to say which is right and wrong? Certainly not I.

Others. even your deities, may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.
Others. even your deities, may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

And yes, that title should be sung to the tune of Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’

My personal approach to Paganism is through the eyes of an animist. I guess you could call it Animistic Paganism. My concept of Animism is that nature itself (not just here on Earth but throughout the universe) has a soul. Plants, mountains, animals, the sky, entire planets, entire galaxies even have and are made up of the same divine, creative energy at their very basic level. I believe in the saying “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…” Hermes Trismegistus. So, I look to nature and the universe when I seek answers to life’s great mysteries. There are certain patterns and interactions of energies that occur at every level throughout the universe. The macrocosm and the microcosm. In pondering these things I believe it is possible to grasp a better understanding of the nature of deity.

How does animism relate to monotheism, duotheism, and polytheism? Some believe it is the great grandaddy of all of these concepts. Long ago, in the tribal antiquity of all of our ancestors from all cultures the world over, some form of animism was the spiritual root of the beliefs which they adhered to. Long before gods were given names and religions were founded people believed that the wind was a spirit, the fire was a spirit, that mountain was a spirit and the life giving water from the river was a spirit. All later concepts of how the divine might be constructed came about after each tribe or culture first grasped the concept we now call animism.

Because we are Pagans living in a modern day world, my sisters and brothers and I at Temple Of the Standing Stones adopt many of the ritual elements and god/goddess names and concepts into our practice that a great number of today’s Pagans are familiar with. I’ll talk more about our practices in another article but ultimately my beliefs about deity stem from this core concept. Some of our temple members may speak of the divine as ‘The Lord and Lady’, some may refer to them as ‘The gods’, some may use more encompassing terms such as ‘The Kindred'(meaning gods, ancestors and nature spirits). That is all okay. Those are reflections of each individual’s perception of and relationship with the divine at this point on their spiritual journey. But ultimately, I believe all of these concepts lead back to animism.

To me, within this concept are the elements by which we may explain gods, goddesses and other forms of divine beings which we may perceive of. In Hinduism, for example, there is the expression Namasté which is often interpreted to mean “I bow to the divine in you.” I too believe the divine resides not only outside of ourselves but also within each and every one of us. From ancient Celtic sources I get the concept of ghosti which relates to not only the guest/host relationship between ourselves and other people but also between ourselves and our deities. So, taking this into consideration, my concept basically is that as conscious parts of the divine fabric ourselves, and having been descended from our ancestors who also believed, we are all essentially co-creators of the world we live in. The guest/host relationship between ourselves and our deities boils down to this to me. The gods have always been and always will be because the divine energy of their creation is eternal and lives within us. We need them and they need us for our mutual growth and manifestation. So, if several million people throughout the world believe the goddess Brighid exists and have a concept and perception of her then that is a lot of collective energy and intent. With that much energy and intent, how could that goddess help but to manifest and exist? That is my personal take on it but some may have another take. Pondering these great mysteries of the divine and sharing our perceptions with one another is what makes getting together with other Pagans such a great thing I think.

The field of quantum physics has taught us that by merely observing something we change it. The interaction between one consciousness within the fabric of creation and another is unmistakable. Not to mention inherited memory and self organization of systems as put forth by Rupert Sheldrake when he speaks of morphic resonance (a fascinating scientific theory by the way). What I’m getting at here is that if our ancestors believed in these gods and through inherited memory these deities live on and are self organized or manifested from the creative energy of the universe, then we in turn believe in these same deities, then they just, simply are. Your perception may be different and I would like to invite you to come share yours with us on our Temple Forum so that perhaps together we may all grow and learn.