This is a draft of a statement of progressive socio-policy principles based on my understanding of basic Pagan religious choices and spiritual inclinations. While I have expressed it in the plural, it is my own reasoning and rhetoric, and no others’ – most notably it does not represent the opinion of ADF or any other group or whatsis with which I am associated. It is me at the end of a plank, neck stuck-out, right next to John Beckett this week.
I invite critique. I have not attempted to fine-tune for obvious exceptions to these guidelines, which are many. I do not believe that setting simple rules and sticking to them without exception is generally wise, and so all this is offered only as an example of the kind of theological and values-thinking of which our movement is yet rather short.
• We declare that individual humans contain a worthy spark of the divine flame, a pure spring of the divine waters, and that the individual mind and will embody the divine will in those sparks and springs.
• We perceive that individuals are naturally entangled in the web of both nature and society (human nature). Therefore just as we owe honor to our own divine nature we owe conscious participation to our networks and the duty to ensure to individuals full and equal participation in all aspects of civic and religious life.
• We assert especially a holy sovereignty of the body, mind and will of living humans. Barring an unarguable need, it is not the business of community or individuals to intrude on the choices of the flesh or spirit.
• We assert the divine freedom-of-action of every being as a primary Good. When such freedom is reduced the good of all is reduced, so let us be wary of responding to fear with restriction.
• Likewise we observe the interdependence of living things and systems, and acknowledge that individual will must often conform to larger need. In this we pray to wisdom for guidance.
• Because wellness and good outcomes are cumulative in a system we therefore undertake to seek wellness, wholeness and harmony in our lives and work.
• Thus we describe these principles, that we may seek that harmony for ourselves and our communities.
• We perceive that the world and its beings belong each to ourselves. All being is holy life, and all life proceeds on its path as our interactions allow.
• It seems fair that individuals should claim such resources as are needed for their own life and work. When such claims are done in the public eye and with community consent we call such claiming ‘property’ and ‘ownership’.
• We assert the spiritual right to claim a hearth on the land, and take our spiritual place among the beings of the land. In this we follow the customs of our community, but we stand, at last, on our spiritual right of claiming.
• Such claiming bestows an equal responsibility for the well-being of the beings and communities of the land, balanced with our right to use resources according to our need. In this let us seek wisdom and balance.
• Therefor we also advise against greed. To hoard resources in private is to deprive community of its life-flow, for little beyond imagined benefit. Let wisdom teach the difference between prosperity and greed.
3: Gender, Love, and Pair-Bonding
• Perceiving gender-presentation to be a social construct, we affirm every individual’s holy right to be who they are led to be, according to their will and work.
• We assert that sexual and intimacy expression and the pursuit of sexual and intimate pleasure are of equal value to the bearing of children; that they develop and deepen the human person in ways otherwise unobtainable. We assert a religious right to seek sexual and intimate pleasure for our own sake, and that of the greater good of our communities.
• Therefore we acknowledge and celebrate the joining in Love of all people who are drawn together by true and holy Eros, or by Caritas, or even by Agape.
• Specifically we feel bound by religious duty to honor all bonds of loving union made between consenting persons. In this we again may take advice from the community, but we assert our religious right to sanction unions regardless of statute.
4: Duty to the Land
• We perceive the ‘ecosystem’ of the world around us as a direct expression of holy spiritual persons and powers, present in and as the land. A major part of our spiritual work is to establish and maintain relationship with those beings and systems.
• We choose to live as participants in the ecosystem in which we reside, doing our best to do good for both ourselves and for whole systems.
• Therefore we assert that human society has a collective duty to protect and maintain local and planetary ecosystems. We see a religious duty to pursue this work in our own lives, and in public policy, as we are able.
5: Duty to our Fellow-Humans
• We assert the individual sovereignty, as equally-noble spirits, of every mortal born. While fate and strength may set us all in our several places, we find no spiritual cause to see greater merit in one human ethnic clan, lineage, gender-group, or circumstance than in another. Individuals rise and fall according to our fates, and our heritage or biology need not be our destiny.
• We assert that it is contrary to harmony and beauty to grant privilege to one sort of human, or place restriction on another, based on the fate of their birth.
• Especially we hold that the gods and spirits are unconcerned with the family, ethnic, or gender heritage of their worshipers. Those who assert such things deform the truth.
• Therefore we welcome to the Hearth of Kinship and the Fire of Worship all who come with a guest’s heart, regardless of ethnic or gender presentation. We affirm a core of relationship with all humans.
6: Duty to the Gods and Spirits
• We perceive the divine in and as the uncountable beings of myth and lore, from the Ancient First Ones to the nearest garden-spirit. These beings great and small entwine in the webs of spiritual ecosystems.
• As ‘religion’ it is our work to help establish and maintain the relationships between mortals and the spirits. Therefore it is our religious duty and right to perform ceremonies of worship and spiritual craft, as our traditions teach.
• In this we claim all the customs and ways of those traditional religions; the raising of idols as presences of the divine; the establishment of Altars and Fires of Offering and worship; the honoring of the features and wonders of nature as the presence of the divine; the keeping of the Sacred Calendar, and the words and songs and deeds of ritual. Likewise we claim as part of holy tradition the practices of divination – sortilege, mediumship, and the seeking of omens; also the work of spiritual healing, and of spiritual methods of seeking luck, prosperity and blessing, which are often called ‘magic’.
In light of these principles we claim these social and spiritual rights and duties of our religion, without disallowing any others which might reasonably follow from our premises:
• We assert the right to keep public and private rites of worship and offering without hindrance, and with the accommodation offered any religious body. This includes all the common works of religion – marriage, funeral, sacrament, and other personal-passages.
• We assert the right to make private spiritual services of the kind called divination and magic available to our folk and the community.
• We declare that every member of our society is kin, worthy of maintenance and the chance to contribute to the people’s good. We support societal effort to prevent and relieve disadvantage, hunger and want.
• We see that we, individually and collectively, owe the land the honor due a parent – to care for it as we would an aging Elder. We support careful restriction of commerce in service to those goals.
• We affirm the social equality of ‘queer’ sexual natures and gender non-conformity with the common norms. We affirm the value of personal sexual expression as greater than that of social conformity or regulation.
• We affirm reproductive autonomy and body sovereignty for all people. We support responsible reproductive planning for all people, and ready access to birth and pregnancy management for women and their doctors.
• We affirm the right to compose families and affection-groups as life and choice lead.
• Centrally we affirm both the sovereignty of individuals and the obligation of individuals toward the human collectives that sustain us, and likewise to the spiritual collectives existing in the worlds around us. Let us each keep our own flame, and come to the Fire of Sacrifice together.