Community results when a group of people shares a set of values and goals. In our Humanistic Pagan (HP) community, we value spiritual experiences inspired by the patterns of nature and ancient myth. We create spiritual practices based in empiricism, in experiencing the world directly, as it is. We explore ways of knowing that do not rely on extracorporeal experiences. Our shared values and goals create a collective energy of nature reverence, healthy skepticism, and use of symbol with intention. We have the opportunity to develop our individual paganisms to a much deeper level than we would be able to reach alone, if we direct our collective energy into shared action.
Our HP community blog provides a deep well of inspiration. Many readers find here a unique source of hope and support for developing a spirituality that combines pagan practices with a naturalistic worldview. We continuously replenish our well of wisdom by reading and commenting on one another’s posts, by contributing content and funding, and by serving a turn on the editorial staff, as we’re able.
I think conditions are favorable not only to maintain the well, but also to deepen it, by beginning to do ritual together. Our community meets primarily online, and geography separates us, so in-person, face-to-face meetings pose a challenge, but applications such as Skype and Google Hangouts make group calls relatively easy. What about regular group meditations, perhaps on each of the solar festivals of the Wheel of the Year? To begin, we might take turns sharing a seasonal myth or poem and a guided meditation.
We can also deepen the well by applying the insights gained from HP spiritual practice to the social and environmental problems in our local communities. What if we designate a day on which HPs choose an outdoor site, such as a neighborhood park or wild space, and clean it up? What if we choose a date on which HPs volunteer at their local food pantries? Our goal is deep relationship not only with each other, but also with the world around us. Knowing that other HPs are doing the same may serve as a rich source of strength and encouragement, as we generously give time and attention to our local communities.
At our HP community well, we have the opportunity to improve our individual spiritual wellbeing and to lessen the impacts of social and geographical disconnection. Let’s keep doing what we do well and try some new things together. Here’s to gathering around the well and digging deeper in 2015!
Anna Walther lives in Austin, Texas, where she practices place-based paganism, by honoring ancestors, observing the movements of the sun and the moon, collecting local stories, visiting trees, creeks and springs, and learning about the plants, animals, and minerals with which she shares her home. Anna is a student nurse, and she attends First Unitarian Universalist Church with her husband and children.
Online guided meditations sound like a good place to start. Many Pagan groups have tried to do online ritual with mediocre results, probably because so much of it relies on the subconscious feelings evoked by the real presence of others performing formalized actions. However, guided meditations probably wouldn’t depend on that as much, because it is by nature more of an internal experience.
I especially like the idea of an HP environmental clean-up day. I think it would be a good way to show – not only to others but also to ourselves – that we take our love of the earth seriously.
Yes, my thoughts exactly about guided meditation. I think Spring Equinox or Earth Day (April 22) would be particularly good dates for an HP environmental clean-up. Glad you like these ideas!