A lot of my inspiration for blogging comes from reading other people's blogs. One of my very favourite bloggers is Nimue Brown whose excellent blog, Druid Life, can be found here.
In a recent post Nimue considered what Paganism actually is, and the temptations and dangers which come with attempting to say who is and who isn't a true Pagan. Of course, there are similar opportunities for such games within any spiritual path, tradition or religion: the Christian faith, within which I earn my living and become increasingly aware of my shortcomings, is no stranger to this.
(Rather than comment on my own experience of this, it is, perhaps, better to say very little and to consider the words of the Teacher from Nazareth in the forty-second verse of the sixth chapter of St Luke's gospel. That alone would be a lifetime's work for me!)
But Nimue's article is not negative. Rather, she encourages all who would seek to embrace the name 'Pagan' to remember that all paths are valid, and to use that as an inspiration and encouragement for their own path. Furthermore, Nimue suggests that Paganism does not have to be tied to particular affiliations, badges, memberships, rituals or teachings: it is our very humanity that causes us to respond to the sacredness of life. She says:
Paganism is a human response to the experience of being alive that finds sacredness in being alive. It’s a response to the seasons, life changes, the moon and tides, the agricultural year, the land, the weather. It’s a response to living and dying and to the constant cycles of life and death in this world. Anything that comes from a human response to life, is inherently Pagan.
And it is in the natural cycle of the seasons and the turning year that each one of us could own the name 'Pagan':
So the urge to make light and festivity at the darkest time of the year – that’s a Pagan urge. The urge to dance and party in the summer evenings, that’s a Pagan urge too. Celebrating the harvest, singing about the dear departed, honouring relationships, respecting the land we live on – no one needs telling how to do this. Every last one of us could come up with a way of being Pagan in response to life with no reference to anyone else.
I have now begun to ask the question, are all those who love the land, the seasons and the ebb and flow of relationships and emotions partly Pagan? Perhaps we are, and - if we can avoid the temptation to judge and differentiate - that is something to celebrate.