Common Themes of Neo-Pagan Religious Orientation
Abstracted from meetings of the ecumenical Council of Themis Califia South Members, Summer 1970
Polytheism begins with the Female and Male principles, the Goddess and God, or Divine Lovers, from Whose love all creation is derived. The multiplicity of Goddess and God individualities are aspects of the infinite variety of creation stemming from Goddess and God. Slightly revising a saying, it may be asserted that the omnipotence of Divinity is merely another word for Its polytheistic unity. We find agreement with Star Trek’s “Vulcan Edict” that “The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity; and in the myriad ways in which our differences combine to create beauty and meaning.”
Freedom of Worship:
Through religious practice we, as individuals, strive to intensify and expand our experience of Divinity and our sense of dynamically harmonious relation with Great Nature.
Worship, as an essential part of religious practice, is both a venerating of and a communing with Divinity. Because people are unique individuals, we differ in our images, conceptions, and experience of Divinity and in our ways of worshipping this Divinity.
Therefore, freedom of worship is an indispensable condition of our development and fulfillment as human beings, so long as our worship is not seriously hurtful to others.
Full support may be asserted for Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observation.”
Pantheism & Ecology:
Nature is Divinity made manifest, the perennial Love Feast of the Divine Lovers, Goddess and God, made manifest. It is creativity, continuity, balance, beauty and truth of Life.
Everything we encounter in the biosphere is a part of Nature, and ecology reveals the pattern of that is-ness, the natural relationships among all these things and the organic unity of all of them as a biospheric whole. Thus ecology shows the pattern of humanity’s proper and creative involvement with Nature—that Nature which encompasses our own life and on proper relation to which our life and development depend.
Of all humanity’s secular studies, ecology comes closest to bringing us to the threshold of religious relationship to our world. Ecology not only confirms the wonders of form and function that other secular studies have revealed, but it brings these into organic union with each other as one dynamic, living Whole; and it points out the conditions for the well-being of both this overall Unity and the parts that compose it.
An intensive realization of these conditions, and of one’s own immediate role in their sustainment and development, brings one to the threshold of religious awe. To worship Nature, therefore, is to venerate and commune with Divinity as the dynamically organic perfection of the Whole.
The word is derived from Eros, the Greek God of Love. Love is the essence of Divinity, and is the “creative action of the universe.” Eroticism in its religious reference venerates love play and the sexual act as divine, as creative physical expression of our union with Nature as we reconcile sexual opposites. Hence, love play and sex are natural and beautiful whenever shared in mutual consent.
Sexual freedom in this comprehensive sense is a primary doctrine of most Pagan religions. It is the freedom to express love sensually, to be physically natural, to be at one with Nature in the affectional functioning of the physical being, and to be free from guilt conditioned by repressive, anti-natural life styles. To deny or denigrate sexuality in humanity is to deny or denigrate Nature, and, therefore, Divinity.
Peacefulness & Self-Defense:
If humans are creative beings, we have freedom of choice within the limits of our nature, conditioning, and vision. We can and must say both Yes and No. It is at our peril that we impair our capacity both for vigorous promotion of creative enterprise and for vigorous defense of such past achievement as continues to be of creative value.
We try to create and practice a style of living in which violence and the occasion for it are progressively reduced through both our own inner growth and our way of dealing with the outer affairs and conditions of our lives. In this sense we are wagers of peace and harmony within a context of delight in creative and sensuous living.
Since individual persons are unique in their experience and destiny, however, we expect to find considerable variation in the degree to which violence and the initiation of coercion, against both humanity and nonhuman nature, are condoned and practiced. We as Pagans deplore and censure all wanton violence and destruction, all exploitation, all murder, and all habitual coercion, including habitually punitive attitudes and practices. To Gods and men these are abominations.
Defense of home and loved ones against immediate threat of death or severe suffering is a natural reflex. When finesse fails to deflect or thwart such aggression, violence would seem to be the only recourse; save when all of those threatened can choose death as an immediately significant act in the pattern of overall harmony and freedom.
Life & After-Life:
The actualization of a person as a whole is dynamic, a continuing evolution, a vigorous and whole-hearted living in this life in this time-and-space world. Such view does not negate growth of specialization in life style or personal inclination, but it does negate the idea that this life in this world should be submitted as a matter of policy to restraint and chastisement, especially in its sensuous aspects, for the supposed benefit of a future, after-death life or condition.
Many Pagans, however, assert belief in reincarnation as a periodic flowering of the soul in sensuous flesh, in an objective body among objective surroundings. They further assert, therefore, that the quality and direction of our activity as moral beings is by no means without definite implication for the conditions of a soul’s life between bodily death and rebirth.
The sacred myths have an efficacy so subtle, comprehensive, and powerful as to preclude duplication in any other form than that of the myth itself. They are a tapestry of truths, but are not to be interpreted as reports of historical events. They are a dimension of theological reality and at the same time a subtle essence, like that of an herb, affecting the whole being of those who take them in, and especially that part of our being beyond the threshold of workaday awareness. They are a wondrous and inspired form of religious art.
GE Vol. IV, No. 43 (Samhain 1971)
Declaration of Principles of the Interstellar Alliance, Babylon 5
“The universe speaks in many languages, but only one voice. The language is not Narn or human or Gayim or Centauri or Minbari. It speaks in the language of hope. It speaks in the language of trust. It speaks in the language of strength and the language of compassion. It is the language of the heart and the language of the soul. But always it is the same voice. It is the voice of our ancestors, speaking through us. And the voice of our inheritors waiting to be born. It is the small, still voice that says, we are one. No matter the blood, no matter the skin, no matter the world, no matter the star. We are One. No matter the pain, no matter the darkness, no matter the loss, no matter the fear! We are One. Here, gathered together in common cause, we agree to recognize this singular truth, and this singular rule. That we must be kind to one another. Because each voice enriches us and ennobles us and each voice lost diminishes us. We are the voice of the universe, the soul of creation, the fire that will light the way to a better future. We are One. We Are One.”
–G’kar, the “Declaration of Principles” of the Interstellar Alliance, Babylon 5 by J. Michael Straczynski.
Church of All Worlds Position Statement
Presented at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, 1993
By Anodea Judith, High Priestess, CAW
The Church of All Worlds is an eclectic, polytheistic, Nature-oriented religious community. We worship Deity in many forms, both masculine and feminine, with special emphasis on the Goddess, seeking to restore the archetypal sacred feminine to Her rightful place among the Divine. To this end we support, train and ordain women as Priestesses, as well as male Priests. We are pantheistic in that we see Deity as immanent within every living being, within all Nature, and within the Holy Biosphere of Mother Earth, whom we regard as a living being of divine proportions, most commonly referred to as Gaea, the Earth Mother Goddess of ancient Greece. As Deity resides immanently within each one of us, we support the growth of individuals to achieve their maximum potential, serving the Divine through the evolution of their own and others’ consciousness. As our divine selves are strengthened through contact with others, we foster the growth of tribal community through shared spiritual experiences, commitment to service, and continuous self-examination. We are committed to evolving theologies that are life-affirming, that offer alternatives to war and exploitation, oppression and ignorance, racism and sexism. We value and reclaim the ancient myths of our ancestors, and seek to enliven and evolve them through group rituals and worship of the seasonal cycles in the unfolding spiral of the year. We seek to restore the lost connections between Heaven and Earth, mind and body, male and female, light and darkness, culture and planet, humans and Gods.
Science and Technology
We do not see religion as separate from science and deplore the separation of spirit from matter that has occurred in the minds of scientists over the last 330 years. We fervently support studies in biology, astronomy, cosmology, geology, paleontology, zoology, botany, physics, chemistry, anthropology, psychology and sociology. Each of these disciplines is an adventure in discovering more about the nature of immanent Deity that is the fabric of our universal Home. We are committed to helping the world awaken to an understanding of the larger planetary and universal systems of which humans are only a part. Knowledge is power against ignorance, and can lead to understanding. Reductionism and scientific materialism, however, do little to foster a spiritual understanding of the large creation, or to connect the individual with the divine nature of reality. Science has much to offer us and give us much t be thankful for, but it cannot provide the answers to the questions that arise in spiritual seeking.
Our religion seeks to regard all things in their totality, which includes being aware of both their light and their dark sides; and this applies especially well to technology. Technology can assist humanity by helping to advance consciousness and relieve human suffering. The creation of computer nets, information fields, communication networks, and faster means of travel are all useful tools in creating global communication than can help connect and awaken the neural net of our planetary Gaean intelligence. When technology is wielded by the hand of greed and domination, to the point of harming the biosphere, then it becomes a tool of deicide, and we feel it is a sacred duty to resist and expose the harm that this causes to human, animals, and the ecosystem. We do not see technology as a replacement for spiritual values, but as a tool for communicating those values to more people. It must be used in balance and with consciousness of its effects to the seventh generation and beyond.
Diverse paths of worship
As our name, Church of All Worlds, might imply, we do not require the severing of any other religious ties in order to join our church or become part of our spiritual community. We open our arms to many path, which include but are not limited to Shamanism, Witchcraft, Voudun, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, Gnosticism, and Christian Creation Spirituality. We combine these roots with other threads from transpersonal psychology, body-oriented disciplines, artistic expression, paths of service, and science fiction, which helps us to dream the future. Looking forward, and helping to create and sustain a healthy and meaningful future, is an important element of the Church of All Worlds. We are less concerned with Creation Theology than we are with “evolution Theology,” meaning we are more concerned with our current purpose on this Earth than how we got here.
Environment and population
Since the most important Deity within our theology is the living being of Mother Earth, we are deeply concerned about humanity’s threat to the health of our biosphere through population expansion, exploitation, and domination by humans of other species. We support the right of each living child to a healthy family who can responsibly provide for them financially, emotionally and spiritually. We fight for stronger reproductive rights that can prevent abortion, but should abortion e needed, we strongly support a woman’s right to choose her destiny according to the counsel she receives from the Goddess within. We feel that it is unethical to force a woman to bear an unwanted child into a world that has too many humans, and deplore the sexism of a male-dominated society that would impose such a law on other human beings, and on the already-overtaxed resources of our Beloved Mother Earth.
We affirm the interconnected nature of all life and seek to create a world of interdependent harmony, assisting the evolution of Gaean consciousness and the awakening of humanity to their true potential.
To these ends we summarize our Mission Statement as follows:
The mission of the Church of All Worlds is to evolve a network of information, mythology, and experience to awaken the Divine within and provide a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaea and reuniting Her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and the evolution of consciousness.
–September 4, 1993