For me, what matters most is action. While action comes from will and intention, those aren’t always knowable. Action can be seen, judged, responded to. Action has a tangible reality in the world, far more significant than the interesting, ephemeral nature of belief and ideas.
It is not enough to believe. It is not enough to hold nature sacred, or reverence the old gods as a personal, emotional thing. Being a pagan, is an act of dedication. It is a willingness to sacrifice. Not blood, but time, energy, and the comfort of not knowing.
Every choice I make is a conscious one. That’s hard work, and even so I get things wrong, speak with insufficient care, fail to hear properly, and make bad choices. Sometimes a shortage of cash wins out over ethics, or personal need seems more important than environmental awareness. In April I flew to America and back. That does not sit easily, but the man I love is on the wrong side of the ocean. There are seldom many easy choices, and in being consciously, actively pagan, we sacrifice comfortable disinterest in favour of being uncomfortably aware. Choosing, consciously, when not to care and when to give up and walk away is one of the most painful things to have to do. Conscious choice means becoming aware of inaction as well.
Moment to moment we make choices about how we live and who we are. In every communication, every act of consumption, every waste, every sharing of inspiration. To live with that kind of awareness is sometimes to court misery and hopelessness. With so much wrong in the world, it can be overwhelming. However, we can also choose to embrace the beauty around us, to notice more, interact with our world as we encounter it. Conscious living is not just about opening yourself to the wrongs of the world, it’s about seeing nature as it exists around you, and being able to appreciate it. There are many rewards to be had this way. Every good conscious choice is a small triumph, and a way of improving things.
To be pagan is to know what you are doing, and why, moment to moment. Expressing belief through action, and recognising that the small details are important too. It is easy to go blindly, ricocheting from one experience to the next with no feeling of control or purpose. In choosing awareness, we take control of our lives, our actions, we become more fully ourselves and life becomes a lot more real and meaningful as a consequence.