In terms of practical, Pantheistic application and incorporating this philosophy into our lives, I would like to pose a most pertinent question: is there a place for Pagan sentiments, symbolism and consciousness in Pantheism? Their passion for Nature, their love for the earth and all things wild and untamed, etc. Can we not learn a lesson or two from the rituals and time-honored traditions that helped our ancestors relate to the plants and animals they so dearly depended upon for their food, sustenance and livelihood? What are we, if not romantics and eccentric rustics?
We should be filled with awe at the stunning complexity, the multitudinous diversity, the incredible forms and colors, the striking proficiency and indomitable tenacity of Life! We should seek ever to explore the deeper mysteries to be found in everything around us… in earth and air and rock and tree. I say, we need to veer away from so much intellectualizing and constant bickering and analysis/debate over semantics and definitions (as is so prevalent among so many online groups today) and really go outside, sit for awhile in the sun and “feel” what the Universe is telling us to do and be… through the most readily available medium and our greatest legacy of all- the earth and all of its wondrous Life forms.
We are a part of her and she is a part of us. Let us strive ever to draw the best from all sources and pattern our lives after the rhythms and cycles of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the tides, etc. Stop every once in awhile and consider this as you draw your next breath: we are alive, the earth is alive and if we are really manifestations of God and the divine, what shall we do with this glorious inheritance? I say, bring back that natural sense of wonder and mystery and magic, rekindle your innate spirit of curiosity, explore hidden and unknown paths, look deep into the eyes of animals and see the heart and spirit of who we really are. For we are, in every sense of the word, animals and “Earthlings.”
I bring this up because there was some debate earlier last year in one of my groups over whether or not human beings actually classify as ‘animals.’ Now I think this is surely one thing that we could all agree upon, as it is self-evident and an established scientific, biological fact that human beings are animals. Specifically, of the kingdom: Animalia, of the class: Mammalia, of the order: Primate, of the family: Hominid, of the genus: Homo, and of the species: Homo Sapien.
The reason this is an important fact to reflect upon and consider within Pantheism is because historically, the movement to think of ourselves as anything but an animal has caused immeasurable amounts of harm to our ecosystems, to other life forms and to ourselves, as it has been shown to be incredibly emotionally and psychologically damaging to the individual and to the culture, to reject, deny or distance ourselves from our own animal natures. Religions are notorious for this, in their harsh treatment of the body and denial of our natural inclinations and the rejection of human sensuality, in favor of strict, exaggerated moral codes of conduct and an imposed austerity.
Well, the consequences of this kind of unnatural imbalance of the senses is obvious- pedophilia among priests, obsessive preoccupation with ‘imagined’ purity, acted out through self-debasing rituals and the oppression of women and sexuality throughout all Judeo-Christian traditions. What has happened historically is that instead of maintaining a healthy, balanced and rational viewpoint in relation to ourselves and all of the fortitudinous Life that surrounds us (which would have kept us humble and simultaneously inspired us to progress and tap into our greatest potential), we have instead viewed ourselves as more than what we really are: above the animals, spiritual beings trapped in a corrupted physical body, strangers and sojourners on the earth, etc.
Likewise, we have been programmed to see ourselves as less than what we really are: destitute, debase, fallen, corrupted and sinful creatures, deserving only of death, hell and damnation, because of our incorrigible, ‘inherited’ wickedness; pitiful, lost and desperately in need of redemption and salvation <–this is exactly what Christianity teaches, and it has been a destructive bane on our species for over two millennia… and in our societies, particularly here in the West, a veritable roadblock to evolution and progress, for centuries.
The sooner we wholeheartedly accept that we are animals, and part of a greater community of animals, the sooner we can rid ourselves of these false teachings and embrace the beauty, wonder and potential we already intrinsically possess as humans. To be an animal is a good thing, not something to be feared, suppressed, rejected or denied. When we study and observe other animals in the wild and marvel at how intricate, complex and well-adapted they are, we do not judge their ignorance or rail at their lack of knowledge and insight when they stumble and fall. Could we not, garnish at least a small sliver of the same sympathy, love and acceptance we naturally afford them and apply it to ourselves? We, the marvelously fashioned, ‘human’ animal?