Dr. Eric Steinhart draws on his philosophical background to create a naturalistic foundation for the Pagan Wheel of the Year. To better understand axiarchism, the philosophy on which Dr. Steinhart draws to create a Naturalistic Pagan theology, see Part 1 and Part 2 of his essay “Axiarchism and Paganism”.
During Imbolc, the sun is gaining strength, so that holy creative power concentrates itself ever more intensely. Imbolc represents early growth. After the Big Bang, particles evolve into simple atoms (hydrogen, helium, lithium). Simple atoms coalesce into the first stars, and these stars, running through their cycles, produce more complex atoms. Atoms join to make molecules; clouds of gas condense into planets. Astronomers have discovered hundreds of planets in our Milky Way galaxy, and have estimated that there may be billions of habitable earthlike planets in the Milky Way alone.
As our universe evolves, it perpetually generates many possibilities, which it perpetually reduces to one possibility, namely, the possibility it actualizes. At any juncture, many options are always available. Many things can be, although only one actually will be. And, after every event, many other events could have been. Our universe is surrounded by other possible universes, potentialities which resemble it, except that every one of them includes some possibility which our universe excludes. Simpler things generate fewer possibilities than complex things. Atoms have very few possibilities; molecules have more possibilities; and living things inhabit immensely rich trees of potentiality, in which enormously many branches fork off at every instant. Our universe is surrounded, in purely logical space, by a cloud of potential universes. However, relative to the wheel of evolution, whose rolling makes our universe, these potentialities lie in darkness.
Eric Steinhart is a professor of philosophy at William Paterson University. He is the author of four books, including Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death. He is currently working on naturalistic foundations for Paganism, linking Paganism to traditional Western philosophy. He grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. He loves New England and the American West, and enjoys all types of hiking and biking, chess, microscopy, and photography.