On Philosophical Paganism
I coined the term “Philosophical Paganism” a while ago, but never really defined what I meant by this. By “Philosophical Paganism” I have always meant intellectual discourse within a Pagan framework, the application of those ideas, and the development of new ideas and methods (whether reapplications/re-adaptations or wholly original) within this framework. “Philosophical Paganism” is NOT anachronistic, in that it does not attempt to recreate an old reality or pretend reality is different so that Paganism of a different time can be seen as relevant. It deals with the Pagan mindset here and now, as a necessary part of our current reality, and therefore has a focus on practicality. (Mental exercises which one may take into the past are seen as unrelated to this point.)
On the term specifically, it is “philosophical” because it is both “the love of wisdom” (which is the direct translation of “philosophy”) and it can be seen as similar to the ancient Greek philosophers’ techniques (and I think they had the same objectives in mind). It is “Pagan” because it is foremost wholly European-rooted (biologically) and uses a hunter-gatherer mindset or viewpoint (as a method of relation to the natural world, which is our reality). In my view, these are both necessary aspects of European Philosophical Paganism.
I consider myself a Philosophical Pagan, and you should as well. Philosophical Paganism can be applied to any people. The ideas and methods may vary widely across different types of peoples, but the simple principles I list here are general enough that it does not matter the context. The only requirement is that you are human and have the ability to view the world as a hunter-gatherer would.
The reason I use “Philosophical Paganism” instead of just “Paganism” is because the latter is a loaded term. I want to be more specific in what I am aiming for. I don’t intend to trick myself into believing in physical deities. I don’t intend to reject real scientific understanding and principles. I don’t intend to create a dogmatic set of information that all must follow to think like me. I just intend to live in the most logical way with my place in nature (i.e. reality).
When I say to think like a hunter-gatherer, it is a simple statement, but it’s implications are many. How do you view nature? Do you find meaning in a sunrise? Do you feel the calmness of rain? Do you feel the rush of the sun? Do you feel the seriousness of the cold? You could very well describe the firmament as Zeus and the humus as Gaia. Or you could think in more abstract terms, where the universe fills the expanse of the mind and dominates our vision. Where the roots of our beings enter the soil and continue forever. It is only the way you wish to see it. Our ancestors had many different methods, but they are all rooted from this hunter-gatherer mentality. They just had to re-adapt to their reality, as we should today.
When our technological level advanced beyond hunter-gatherer (for whatever the reason), we continued to develop and re-develop our methods and ideas. But they are all based on this hunter-gatherer framework, keeping us in line with reality. I don’t propose we go backwards in time. I propose we continue to develop. But we must do so with these techniques.