Modern Paganism book notes: Chapters 2 & 3

Chapter 2 is entitled “All-Natural Ingredients.”  It’s basically about connecting with the Earth Mother, since She is Who unites us.

  • “…pagans regard nature as a manifestation of Spirit.”  Key point.
  • “Many followers of the old ways understand Spirit as having both a physical and a spiritual dimension, just as human beings have both a body and a soul.”  Another key point.
  • There’s a statement about most spiritual revelations taking place outdoors, which is something I never realized.  Whether it was Mohammed in a cave or Jesus preaching from the side of a mountain, Nature plays an important role in the “revealed” religions.
  • Mention of the fact that experiencing Nature is not just for physical enjoyment, it is also for spiritual nourishment.
  • “We live in a society heavily slanted toward seeing the spiritual world in terms of just one male God. All of our money says ‘In God We Trust,’ and even our swear words get their wallop from the idea of a single God whose name can be used in vain.”  A good point.
  • There is a statement about archaeology showing that “ancient religions often put more effort into worshipping a mother Goddess than a father God.”  This is an inaccurate statement.
  • Later there is a mention of the Earth Mother and Sky Father, which does have an ADF ring to it.
  • We still have concepts of Mother Earth and Mother Nature.
  • Never heard of “matrifocal” spirituality before.  It’s basically one that honors the Goddess primarily as a mother (not as a queen).
  • The rest of the chapter is just some tips on connecting to the Earth Mother, along with ideas on learning more about one’s area from an ecological perspective.

Chapter 3. “Please Don’t Squeeze the Shaman,” is about shamanism.  I hate the cheesy chapter titles in this book.

  • Key point:  “We human beings are part of the physical world. We do not exist “above” or “outside” of nature but are an integral part of the earth’s ecology.”
  • Definition of shamanism:  “it has become a catch-all term for just about any kind of spiritual practice from a culture without modern technology—in other words, a culture that lives closer to the rhythms of nature than the people of modern urban societies do.”
  • “[T]he word ‘shaman,’ technically speaking, only refers to a specific kind of spiritual figure from an indigenous culture in Siberia.”  This is not true.  Anthropologists themselves have broadened the definition of the term “shaman.”
  • “The first important quality [of shamanism] is that most shaman traditions are animistic. In other words, shamanism recognizes the universe we live in not as some mechanistic world devoid of spiritual consciousness but as a cosmos teeming with spirits, both large and small.”  Good point to remember.
  • Minor quibble with calling the realm of spirits “the otherworld, the underworld, or simply the spirit realm.”  In ADF tradition, the Underworld is part of the Otherworld.  Only the Ancestors dwell in the Underworld, but the Otherworld contains all the Kindreds.
  • The author describes a bit about shamanic initiation and explains how they heal.
  • “The common elements of the shamanic experience usually involve some form of journeying to the realm of spirits to subdue unfriendly spirits and to appeal to helpful ones for guidance and aid.”
  • Shamanic drumming to enter trance is described.
  • The chapter gives ideas on incorporating elements of shamanism into your own spirituality, and also states that Paganism has shamanic aspects.
  • The chapter ends with a note on honoring Ancestors.

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