The Gap in Pagan Practice

I’ve been attending the local Unitarian Universalist Church for the past few Sundays, and I have mixed feelings about it.

One, it dances a little too close to monotheism for me. “Oh, spirit of love and light… we pray to you…” Oh, spirit? Only one? Which one?

And two, they strive so hard for neutrality, they border on spiritual meaninglessness. Sermons are about the power of humanity, the greatness of the human spirit, the troubles we face, the things we can all strive for as individuals. That’s all lovely, but it doesn’t quite fulfill the spiritual need. We were told in parting to go with God, if we were seeking God, and to go live life, if we were striving for rounded living.

The UU Church is, in my opinion, a product of secular humanism. The focus is on the individual, on justice and ethics, and on reason. Anyone can attend, anyone can participate, without becoming a member, I was assured, as if the commitment of becoming a member might frighten me away. But what about community? What about being united, one in a group of many, lending our power to create the magic of prayer? I realize that this comes back to my ongoing dilemma of doing-versus-believing, faith-versus-action, but what holds us together if we’re only drawn together to go through the motions? Where do we draw the line between a group of individuals worshipers standing near one another and a group of worshipers standing together?

I’m a little off-topic already.

But the UU Church is one of the few where I, as a Druid, feel welcome. And how else can I fulfill that desire, born of years of attending Catholic Mass every Sunday, to join together and worship with my peers? My grove does not meet once a week, nor, I think, would they if someone suggested it. Who has the time, the energy to put together a full ritual every week? Ministers get paid for a reason: it’s their job to lead, to guide. And I realize that many people have no desire to meet a group weekly. They like solitary worship. I don’t think I’m built for a completely solitary path, though.

I guess I dream of the day when there are local groves where we can go to worship every week. (Maybe on Saturday, since Sunday worship gives many of us — including, to a degree, myself — the heebie-jeebies.) Perhaps not full rituals, but myth-studies and discussions, contemplation or guided meditation. Remembrances of our ancestors, how they fit into our religion. Devotionals to the nature spirits by communing in nature and doing our best to help the Earth Mother.

Call me a dreamer, but I like to think I’ll see that day.

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6 thoughts on “The Gap in Pagan Practice

  1. I used to be part of a “non-denominational,” open-circle in my old home town… It was a great place to be in terms of fellowship and being myself… But even in that, there was too much neutrality. Everything was very archetypal, sunshine, and happiness… I respect but don’t function well in an “all Gods are one God” environment for long. Thank goodness for my grove… Before I found that, though, my open-circle was great. I still maintain contacts with the friends I made. It’s good that you have a UU to go to. Have you thought about forming a chapter of CUUPs there? At the very least, you could have more Pagan-oriented discussion and ritual.

    • Thanks for the comment!

      It’s strange how we strive so hard for neutrality and just land on bland.

      The actually is a pagan circle within the local UU Church called Earth Kin. From what I gather from my grovemates, however, the UU group is very Wiccan and very drama-heavy. I’m not big into Wicca or drama, but I do plan to check them out. They too only celebrate the eight High Days, but I’m willing to bet there’s a small group that meets more often.

  2. I’m in ADF as well as being a member of a UU congregation. I like the fellowship of being a UU, but I consider what I practice there to be a philosophy rather than a religion. My small group ministry circle had a session recently where we talked about our UU Faith, and I had to admit that I’m not sure I have a UU Faith. I believe in the 7 Pricinples of UU, but my religious beliefs cannot be wholy defined by them. For that, I need more specific worship, which I get from my ADF grove.

    • Thanks for the comment, Dee. I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head — the UU practice DOES seem more like a philosophy than a religion. Most of the sermons at the local church deal with social or philosophical issues, without touching faith or belief or any such nebulous ideas. I like going, but it doesn’t satisfy a spiritual need for me.

  3. I’m a UU (for about two years now) and an ADF Dedicant (for about … two weeks now). UU congregations vary widely and a lot depends on the minister and the most active lay persons in shaping the feel and theological bent of the worship services.

    UU gives me a spiritual community, people who believe that whatever their underlying theologies may be (and ours includes Christians, pagans, non-specific theists and humanists), our religion shares a common shape in the 7 principles.

    I am too new to Druidry as a practictioner (I’ve been reading on it for a few years and have attended a couple of rituals at an ADF grove) to know if there will be any sense of conflict between the two … but I don’t think there will.

    http://weedbythewall.wordpress.com/

    • Thanks for the comment, Michael, and welcome — to the blog and to ADF. I’m usually a bit more active on this blog, but I’m dealing with some illnesses in the family, and have been a little preoccupied.

      I look forward to hearing more about your experiences with Druidry and UU. 🙂

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