Contemporary Paganism: The Soul

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R. Eugene Laughlin
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Contemporary Paganism: The Soul

Post#1 » Sun May 06, 2018 12:24 pm

The term "Pagan Community" came up in another thread here recently, reminding me of a series of posts on my ideas about modern paganism that originally appeared on another discussion website in 2015. I reviewed some of those posts and chose this one to to carry here. The central theme expressed below proved to be controversial there and then. I'm interested in how people here and now feel about it.

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I've been pondering my spiritual orientation a lot lately. I have for many years embarrassed the Pagan label, but the term makes for such a large umbrella... I think the percentage of shared attitude and practice among my Pagan fellows is probably fairly small, and even where terminology seems to align, the underlying semantics may yet be deeply divided. While I don't think any of my ideas are completely novel, the collection of ideas I hold may be somewhat unique, especially when digging into the implications that stem from them.

I consider my brand of Paganism to be an Earth-based/Nature-based spiritual orientation. While that's a common report among modern Pagans, after years of socializing and conversing with people online and off, it's clear to me that some of the implications I draw from that phrase are quite in the minority. Specifically, my thinking is that we (humans certainly but all living things on Earth) are of the Earth, each category of thing a type of byproduct resulting from the ongoing activity of the biosphere. So far so good.

Where I seem to differ from the mean is that for me, it's lock, stock, and barrel. I embrace the idea that all that I am is of the Earth: body, mind, personality and/or person-hood in all respects. The most immediate implication is that the sense of self I enjoy now is impermanent, and will die when my body inevitably dies. It seems the more mainstream Pagan view is that the body is of the Earth and that the Earth sustains the body, but there's a presumed extra-body component that is personal but more essential, something that endures beyond death of the body and therefore does not depend on the Earth to exist. By extension, this non-Earth-bound component is assumed by many to be eternal: a durable soul, to put a name to it.

My position, stated as the compliment of the above, is that there is nothing of me that is not of the Earth. That makes the idea of a durable soul inconsistent with my Pagan view.

If you claim a Pagan spiritual orientation, what's your take on the durable soul idea?

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