As I sat nursing & weary of books, I browsed the entries in my MacBook's dictionary. I came upon the following entries & found the distinction between them very meaningful:
Dictionary: having or showing creativity or inventiveness.
Thesaurus: creative, visionary, inspired, inventive, resourceful, ingenious; original, innovative, innovatory, unorthodox, unconventional.
This is what Paganism is.
Dictionary: existing only in the imagination; unreal, nonexistent, fictional, fictitious, pretend, make-believe, mythical.
Thesaurus: mythological, fabulous, fanciful, storybook, fantastic; made-up, dreamed-up, invented, concocted, fancied.
This is what Paganism is not.
Critics of modern Paganism seem to miss this distinction, but it is an important one. Pagans participate in a creative, but very real discourse with the divine. For most Pagans, our religion is not based on faith, but on our own direct communication & experiences with divinity (in whatever manner we may understand this concept). We tend to seek out these encounters, building a rich relationship over time. Most Pagans do not read a text, declare that they believe it to be the 'Truth' & then proceed to live their lives with faith in that story of the universe. Instead, we ask the universe itself. We seek portents, signals, hidden meanings. We go forth in search of opportunities to be awestruck, inspired, enlightened. We aim to commune, to be in sympathy with that which we consider sacred. The replies we receive are found in a blustery wind, under a scorching sun, between the fissures in a rock, beneath the surface of a pond, or by the call of a songbird. In this process we use creativity, invention & unorthodox methods, but I maintain that the connections & their results are far from fanciful. Ours is a religion of imaginative action, not of naïvely subscribing to the imaginary. It makes for a life of exaltation & creative engagement. It makes me proud to declare myself among the imaginative.