Praxis: Faith – Religion or Spiritual Path? [CR33]

The next element of praxis deals with the idea of faith within Paganism and Heathenry. Faith itself is a tricky thing to define and certainty it only gets more complicated in a religious or spiritual context. Moreover, those two terms most often associated with it are in and of themselves difficult to define. A religious person doesn’t necessarily have to be spiritual and a spiritual person doesn’t necessarily have to be religious. No aiding this are present day battles (not literally) being fought to open up the idea of what is and is not a religion. For some religion only means those faiths that can be termed ‘organised religion’ whereas for others religion easily encompasses the praxes of Pagans and Heathens. Nevertheless faith is something that Pagans and Heathens have no shortage of, though whether that faith is religious or spiritual is a complicated question. What I feel makes it hard to define within the context of Paganism and Heathenry is that Pagans and Heathens have taken two terms and made them one.

 

Because of the preconceived idea that religion must be organised in order to be called religion, there has been no allowing for the fact that in one way or another Pagans and Heathens are continuing the religious practices of the past. Certainly it is being done in an imperfect way, that cannot be helped, but never the less. It has never been a cause for concern to say ‘the ancient Roman religion included…’ or ‘the ancient Greek religion was polytheist’ etc. Spirituality on the other hand is rooted in the idea of ‘knowing there is something else out there’, as I have often heard it phrased, but not having any capacity or desire to define or understand it. Nevertheless, for Pagans and Heathens our religion or religious views allow us to use that spirituality in an active way; an active way that in other situations invite derision and claims of madness when done by those who are ‘just spiritualists’. However what other way is there to describe what Pagans and Heathens do? Is there even a term that satisfactorily describes the combination of religion and spirituality in this way?

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