A few evenings ago, I watched the revisionist film version of the King Arthur story; starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley. Interestingly, even in this remake of the life of Briton’s national hero, the theme of Freedom was paramount. Indeed, in poetry, as well as legend, the tales told about this 6th Century patriot are revealing. He seems to have been a man who wore his kingship very well. He also seems to have been a warrior who fought to defend his people, his Country and his friends against violent invaders: qualities which are too often lacking in 21st Century politics; social attributes sadly still unknown in some countries and nation states.
However, I do not wish to discuss the retelling of this ancient legend, but talk about one of the topics raised by this film; the subject of nature warship commonly called “Paganism.”
After talking to a British friend, I was surprised to learn that the “Old religion” was still practiced on the Island. This, in turn, made me undertake some personal researches into this area of belief. What I discovered, was a non dogmatic worship of Truth, Beauty and Freedom in each and every Human Being and the World around them. Pagans worship the spirits of nature, and never force anyone into thinking as they do, or coerce anybody into behaving in a particular way. They do not kill to convert, or occupy lands to spread their doctrines, because free thinking, peaceful cooperation and an educated understanding of natural powers are prized in themselves. Their spiritual emphasis is centred on a radical notion of liberty, on both a personal as well as a community level. In this sense, therefore, Paganism is not a religion at all, and profoundly disagrees with the desert faith of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. For Pagans, everyone is born free; neither Holy Book, nor Prophet holds the key to individual salvation, and the process of reincarnation liberates our human lives from the fear of hell, along with the suspicious joys of heaven.
This may be the reason why, Paganism always had close links with Humanism and Socialism. It is faith in people, by people. Moreover, it is a belief in the goodness of the World and the abundance of its gifts. For example, the Soviet five pointed star is actually a Pagan symbol, known as a pentagram. This ancient sacred design finds its origin in “Pythagoreanism”, where it is used as an instrument of meditation and magic. Perhaps, this is because it is based on the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, dominated by the fifth element of Aether. On a similar note, the socialist holiday of May Day is in fact a Pagan day of worship, wherein the summer sunshine was celebrated by singing and dancing on shared heaths. The hammer and sickle, which on the surface are the signs of working men, are also symbols of the moon as well as the lightning of the Gods. Equally, Pagans speak about the necessity of appreciating the beauties of nature and the human form. They stress that there is a Universal continuum in which every Human Being is an integral part; applauding the Humanists for upholding these virtues in the face of oppressive religious intolerance.
To conclude, the three Pagan virtues of Truth, Beauty and Freedom go missing at our peril. It is the absence of Freedom however, that causes the most damage in these modern times. Unless the human soul is free, no-one can prosper. Truth, in all of its glory, lifts up every man and woman above slavery and the dominance of a desert God who seeks to frighten or bribe his followers into submission. Lastly, it is our recognition of Beauty in both, the heart and mind of Humanity that allows us to perceive perfection in every new born child, and fosters Brotherly Love in our dealings with each other.