Introduction to Pagan Ethics
This Category, *Pagan Ethics, contains a series of posts that are a commentary on a book – Living with Honour – written by Emma Restall Orr. My interest in Pagan ethics emerges out of a need to capture in words the attitudes and behaviour that might manifest out of a person’s love of Gaia and dedication to an Earthen Spirituality. Emma’s beautiful book, which I at first eagerly skimmed, then read slowly and carefully and now enjoy re-reading has stimulated my thinking and inspired the comments in these posts. I obviously highly recommend the book and hope that my commentary serves the spirit of *Pagan Ethics and challenges the reader to examine their attitudes and world view toward a greater reverence for our place within and among the life of Gaia. As my one-time friend Wolf says, may Gaia bless.
Introduction to Pagan Ethics
One word sums it up – Honour. Pagan ethics are based on reverence for Nature. The practice involves all our interactions with nature. Pagans have no belief in a supernatural Deity nor a God or Gods that exist outside of Nature. Emma does not wish to speak for all Pagans, thus in her book “Living with Honour” she refers to *Paganism – the Paganism she is describing as she sees it.
Starting with an umbrella concept: The word Honour has been chosen as the best representation of the foundation cornerstone. Honour can then be explicated with three supporting stones forming a balanced triangle: a strong, stable and self-supporting structure consisting of Courage, Generosity and Loyalty.
All remaining aspects and details of *Pagan ethics rest on this platform.
Emma translates the three upper layer words into alternatives that hold the essence of our 21st Century culture. They are: Honesty, Respect and Responsibility.
Thoughts of evil spirits, evil acts, the devil’s work do not exist in *Pagan ethics. There is no force of Nature that is evil. There is no fear in *Paganism of satanic or supernatural beings for “nothing exists beyond the natural.”
I am in full agreement with the *Pagan attitude toward evil. Without a God up there to judge us, we have to hold ourselves responsible for our actions. We do what is right because it feels right and feels good to do what’s right; we do what is right because of respect for ourselves and others, not to keep ourselves out of Hell down below somewhere. We do have the ability to sense the rightness and wrongness of alternatives. Of course, right and wrong are culturally derived and this must be kept in mind. However, I would like to speak to the belief that nothing exists beyond the natural in a later post.
Emma explains that we are free to make our choices and reminds us that we are all connected.
I like to think that we are connected through the body of the Earth – we and every being are all Earthlings.
Attitude towards Death
“Death then, to the *Pagan, is a gateway of release, exquisitely transformative, yet also simply just another step or two along a much longer road. I offer the question: Who dies? More on this subject in the next post.
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