An Open Letter On Paganism, For No Particular Reason

I’ve wanted to post this for some time, but had lost it somewhere along the way. I’m often asked general questions about what it’s like to be Pagan, and I never know how to answer it. That’s like asking what it’s like to be human. There is no simple reply. I’ve always thought that this piece sums it up fairly well, at least in regard to making a general impression, and I’ve long wanted to post it here, if for no other reason than that I think it needs to be preserved. Hopefully you’ll agree. ~ Claire

Pagans acknowledge that there is so much we could learn about the world and ourselves if we would just sit down and shut up occasionally.

Walk out into a forest alone, find a rock or a stump, and sit down. Clear your mind. Sit and listen. Don’t think. Don’t let your normal ingrained patterns of analysis and calculation run amok. Be silent. Sit. Listen. The wind blows softly through the trees, caressing quietly rustling leaves. Somewhere, far in the distance, a hawk calls out.

But this is only the surface. Be still. You’re still thinking. Stop it. Don’t analyze. Just be. Just sit there. And exist. You’re not a person anymore. You are a camera. You are a microphone. You observe and record. You do not analyze. The world is alive. You hear the soft rustle of leaves as a squirrel scurries across the forest floor. Crickets chirp near you. You didn’t hear them before. A lizard bolts silently from a nearby leaf and races up a tree. Your eyes follow it. Recording. And you see, stretched between two limbs, the fragile web of a spider. She busily repairs her damaged web. Near her, a captured moth struggles in its silk cocoon. Your eyes wander farther up the tree. The branches sway ever so softly in the gentle breeze. The leaves dance upon it. Thousands of them. Hundreds of thousands. The forest canopy is alive with movement. The wind reaches down and caresses you, tickles your hair. It brings to your nose the earthy scent of pine. And musk. The sweet hint of new leaves. Life. All around you are minute sounds. Movement; the frenzied life of hundreds of thousands of insects.

This is what the world is like when you are not there. This is what the real world is like. The real world, without human beings, without human intervention, without human precepts and will, without human prejudice and arrogance. The world simply is. Just as you now simply are. And the magick of this life is all around you. It’s in you. You feel it. Breathe it. Your blood pumps it. You are it. It’s a tangible thing almost. Something you could just about reach out and touch. And if you open up, listen, breathe, feel… if you can be quiet… for just a moment… the wind seems to whisper. Something deep within you belongs here. Just like this. And when you leave here, you will never be the same again. Wherever you go, the frenzied living peace of the forest will remain within your soul.

The Earth has given you something that can never be taken away. And in return, you leave a part of yourself behind. The exchange can never be reversed. You are linked. On some subconscious and spiritual level, you have become the Earth. And the Earth has become you. And perhaps for the first time in your life, you belong.

Be quiet. And just be. Be yourself. Be alive. Within your heart the wind is blowing through the trees. And this is all you ever really wanted. Now you have begun to understand what they mean by “Earth-based” religions. Once you have communicated directly with the Divine, you understand that there is no need for churches or priests or organized religions. The Divine is waiting to reach out to you if you can only be still enough for a moment to listen.

~ Claire Mulkieran

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