My Pagan Values: Spiritual Autonomy

Here’s one of the first things I learned when I started learning and practicing the Reclaiming tradition:

I am my own authority, rooted in community.

I’ll get to “rooted in Community” in later posts; today I’m looking at being my own spiritual authority. This doesn’t mean I’m free to run around doing whatever I want. It means that only I say how I understand the divine and how I connect to it. No one else tells me how to believe or what to do about my beliefs, not my teachers or fellow practitioners, not the tradition itself. Reclaiming, like all ecstatic Pagan traditions, values personal relationship with the sacred, which must start with a personal understanding of what the sacred is.

Lemme me tell ya: that can be terrifying. I’m a lifelong people-pleaser who struggles to decide what to have for dinner if there’s the least chance that my choice will negatively impact someone else. Believing that only I can determine my spiritual foundation is sometimes a very big ask.

On the other hand, I’ve gone the dogma route, both Christian and Pagan. I’ve been part of groups and traditions where the people in charge tried to tell the rest of us what to believe and how to practice. It doesn’t work for me. Because it’s true: only I can know how I perceive the sacred and how I best connect with it. This is why I hold spiritual autonomy as one of my central spiritual values. The ability to craft my own personal relationship with the secret, however I understand it, is a precious gift. I never want to take it for granted.

Photo by Amy Treasure via Unsplash. Image description: a person in a hooded coat walking along a dirt path through trees. Their back is to the camera, and their gaze points downward.