Pantheism

TREE-INCARNATION-ssp

“Tree Incarnation” by Mark Henson

When holy water was rare at best
It barely wet my fingertips
But now I have to hold my breath
Like I’m swimming in a sea of it
It used to be a world half there
Heaven’s second rate hand-me-down
But I walk it with a reverent air
‘Cause everything is holy now

— Peter Mayer, “Holy Now” (song)

Pantheism means “All (pan-) is God (theos)”. Pantheism is the belief that the divine is not remote or separate from nature, but immanent within it. Pantheism is closely related to panentheism. According to David Waldron, pantheism, the perception of divinity as manifest or immanent in the physical world, is the quintessential component of Neo-Pagan identity.

Many Pagans call this immanent divinity “Goddess”.  She is “everywhere and in everything,” writes Karen Clark:

“She is the burning ember of light interwoven with matter that shines forth in all living things. She is the unending, outrageous beauty of the wild world. She is the driving force that calls us to strive and struggle, and to grow and blossom. Her cupped hands hold us in the shifting seasons of our joys and sorrows, and life and death moments.”

Neo-Pagan activist and author of The Spiral Dance, Starhawk, writes that the concept of immanence

“names our primary understanding that the Earth is alive, part of a living cosmos. What that means is that spirit, sacred, Goddess, God–whatever you want to call it–is not found outside the world somewhere–it’s in the world: it is the world, and it is us. Our goal is not to get off the wheel of birth nor to be saved from something. Our deepest experiences are experiences of connection with the Earth and with the world.”

Starhawk explains how belief in a pantheistic god is unnecessary:

“People often ask me if I believe in the Goddess. I reply ‘Do you believe in rocks?’ It is extremely difficult for most Westerners to grasp the concept of a manifest deity. The phrase ‘believe in’ itself implies that we cannot know the Goddess, that She is somehow intangible, incomprehensible. But we do not believe in rocks we may see them, touch them, dig them out of our gardens, or stop small children from throwing them at each other. We know them; we connect with them. In the Craft, we do not believe in the Goddess we connect with Her; through the moon, the stars, the ocean, the earth, through trees, animals, through other human beings, through ourselves. She is here. She is within us all. She is the full circle: earth, air, fire, water, and essence — body, mind, spirit, emotions, change.”

Pantheism may be understood in contrast with transcendental theism which posits a God who is not a part of the world or creation, a God who is radically “other” or transcendent. Monotheism is an example of transcendental theism. The logical outcome of transcendental theism is either a fundamental dualism, in which God and the world are radically separate and humankind is alienated from God, or a monism which conceives of the world as unreality or illusion. Most forms of Christianity fall into the former category, while some forms of Buddhism and Hinduism are examples for the latter. Both of these propositions are unacceptable to Neo-Pagans, who view the world as neither fallen nor illusory.

Related Pages:

Panentheism

Nature Religion
Pantheism
Mother Earth Goddess
Interconnectedness
Re-enchantment
Connecting with Nature
The Gnostic Temptation

Updated 8/16/14

2 thoughts on “Pantheism

  1. This all sounds as though you are, as I am, wrestling with the same search for meaning, and base for action, to bring my own life in synchronicity with my beliefs. My beliefs are still a bit of a mix of Christian (Church of England) Eastern from my studies as a Yoga Teacher and my scientific training at technician level . As a geographer I am interested in Chaos theory which to me implies that we should strive to live in harmony with the World, rather than control or ‘have dominion over’, which ties some Christians to science and some scientists to growth , rather than zero growth, economies. Your site is a good antidote to those of Peter Keeft who I came across by chance. Not a nice experience on Boxing Day, an important day for a Brit !Thanks

  2. Pingback: Pantheism | Neo-Paganism.com | Prometheism.net

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