There are times when I am somewhat ashamed that I feel I need to ‘play catch-up’ in a great many facets of my life, including my praxis. I don’t really have any reason for feeling that way other than feeling some kind of awkward regret for not discovering things at the same age as other have, not working that extra bit harder to achieve something and so forth. There is perhaps more baggage than I would like to admit. Despite that feeling of mine though, I’ve never regretted the manner in which I have gone about being a Pagan and a Heathen. I do admit that there have been, and probably will be in the future, times when I wish that I had become aware of such things earlier in my life. Ironically, it doesn’t matter how long I think about those two statements nor how long I twist or fold the logic both of them cannot be true at the same time. The reason for being that there are so many things that have shaped the manner in which I go about my praxis and my being a Pagan and a Heathen that I have experienced only in my later life.
Much of the life experience that has directly affected my being a Pagan and a Heathen are things that have, really, only happened in my twenties. The travel, the tertiary study, the study of languages and history and literature; these and more are all things that have played a part in my being a Pagan and a Heathen. The truth be told I wouldn’t have ever even become aware of Paganism and Heathenry if it hadn’t been for the travelling that I did just prior to my starting University at 18. That was when I came face to face, literally, with the reality of witches and magic and polytheism and being something other than those religions I’d studied in high school. That was really when the possibility of Paganism and Heathenry, though I didn’t know such terms back then, really moved out of the realms of fantasy and ancient history into the realm of possibility. Even just going to University has had an affect on my praxis; being a University student matured my mind and really gave me the tools to properly seek my spirituality. Which is not to say that there always exists a perfect fusion.
There is a constant struggle, for me at least, between my intellect and my spirit. Of late they have been working together far more regularly and closely the last while, but before now there really was this constant struggle between the two. Intellect would always be trying to use its tools of analysis, evaluation, thorough research, fact checking etc while Spirit would be trying to do the same with it’s tools of intuition, belief, experiential knowledge, esoteric formulae etc. I couldn’t really say if it is something that all Pagans and Heathens have problems with or just Pagans or just Heathens or simply individuals. Certainly for myself much of the conflict in the past stemmed from being unable to reconcile an intellectual approach to something that is fundamentally spiritual. I have found however that the two are not mutually incompatible – because I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am if they were. The trick, if it can even be called such, was to understand those things that my intellect was best equipped for and simply let my spirit use that as a map. There is a common sense style of logic to it, and also logic to why it works the way it does.
To consider the current state of the human soul, a rather poetic way of putting it, there is a clear battle underway between those things that are pure Intellect and those things that are pure Spirit. One such way of expressing this is the conflict between Science and Religion. My views on ‘pure’ anything should be fairly obvious by now, I’ve certainly done sufficient articles on the subject, but this is another example of why I don’t think that ‘pure’ anything can work. Where I feel Paganism and Heathenry fit into this view is as the synthesis of Intellect and Spirit; each of us has combined in one way or another our Intellect and our Spirit, which then takes form in the shape of our praxis. This holds true too to an equation or formula that I encountered in University: Thesis, Anti-Thesis, Analysis and Synthesis. We start with one idea, thesis, then we arrive at a disparity, anti-thesis, try to solve the conflict between the two, analysis, until finally we bring the two together to create a new and stronger idea, synthesis. This really represents for me, the reason why Intellect and Spirit are not mutually exclusive and why they work so ideally together.