The following is an interview that Silverspear gave to a PhD student a few years ago, explaining from a personal perspective, the appeal of Pagan spirituality.
Question: How would you explain Paganism to someone who isn't sure exactly what it is?
Silverspear: It depends if the questioner is seeking a sensible answer, or simply holding strong religious views that might prejudice his or her real understanding of the issue, such as the mistaken idea that paganism is “devil-worship” or merely some kind of reactionary system. To the serious enquirer, I would say that paganism originally denoted pre-Christian religious beliefs and practises and many pagans today are inspired by ancient cultures, such as Egypt, Greece and Rome, and indeed also by Norse traditions and various tribal practices such as shamanism etc. Other pagans have been inspired by what has been termed, often inaccurately, as “Celtic” traditions. One has to recognise that paganism is a generic term rather than a cohesive belief system. Feminism, ecology and the so-called New Age have also influenced paganism, which is why its modern expression is so varied. My own approach, however, is strongly focussed on Nature.
Question: What drew you to becoming a Pagan? (sorry I know it's such a broad term, but I thought it would be easier if I just use it - if you would like to define your beliefs a bit more, feel free to).
Silverspear: An increasing feeling or intuition that the Natural World is in some way sacred, or worthy of reverence; that the ground beneath our feet is not merely real estate to be exploited for human profit. Religious traditions that focus on a transcendent deity seem not to have grasped the significance of this, as far as I can see. For example, if God is said to exist outside of Nature, then it follows that Nature in contrast will be perceived to be of secondary importance, an idea implicit in the Book of Genesis where humans are instructed to have dominion over all other living things. Humans, it seems to me, are simply another form of evolved life on this planet – neither superior nor inferior to other living things, just different.
Question: Have you had past experience of another religion, and if so, was there anything in particular that made you turn away from it?
Silverspear: Yes. I grew up in an Evangelical Christian environment. However, the more objectively I delved into the matter from an academic perspective the more I learned that the bible contained numerous contradictions, errors and interpolations, and therefore could not possibly be the infallible Word of God, as I had been taught. When I further realised that the God of the Old Testament (a Jewish tribal god in essence) could not possibly be the Supreme Deity allegedly behind the creation of the universe I began to explore atheism, which appealed to my sense of rationalism. However, atheism does tend to have its own prejudices and blind spots, which is why I eventually came to follow a Nature-based “spirituality” and which does not need to introduce a creator-god per se into the equation to make it valid.
Question: What is it like for you being a Pagan in the UK today and how does it impact your lifestyle?
Silverspear: Being a pagan does increase my sense of connection to the so-called outside world. I now feel a greater sense of responsibility to other living things as a direct consequence of following a pagan path and hopefully now have a greater sense of empathy. Being a pagan today is fortunately more socially acceptable than it was a decade or so ago when the media tended to identify paganism with Satanism, an illusion exacerbated by satanic abuse allegations falsely and maliciously made by certain fundamentalist Christians. As to the impact on my lifestyle of being pagan, this is reflected in my approach to consumerism, for example. I try not to purchase frivolous or unnecessary items, though that of course is a subjective and personal judgement. I tend either to make or recycle household goods, from furniture to bee boxes for the garden. Being a pagan also provides me with the opportunity to celebrate the passing seasons within a ritual setting, which means engaging with others in a community spirit.
Question: What do you gain from it?
Silverspear: A deep sense of joy and interconnection with everything; the more one puts into it, the more one gets out of it – a cliché, perhaps, but very true.
Question: Do you have a favourite experience from being a Pagan?
Silverspear: There are so many I could choose from. But to choose only one, then I would say that having drummed with dozens of other pagans around a sacred campfire late into the night is an amazing experience.
Question: How do your family and friends feel about your beliefs?
Silverspear: Most of my friends are also pagan, and members of my non-pagan family are tolerant and respectful.
Question: Have you faced any difficulties with it or criticisms from other people?
Silverspear: I haven’t personally faced any problems or criticisms.
Question: Is there anything else you would like to say?
Silverspear: I think I’ll leave it at that before I become tedious and boring.