Why I Run Into the Woods
I feel that void too. A vacuous emptiness caused by the lack of connection within our current society. Dating has been reduced from a serendipitous adventure to a swipe of a finger on a tablet. True connection has been superseded by a selfish need to prove one’s worth through vacation photos on Facebook and carefully manipulated profiles on LinkedIn. The pressures of our culture have warped our relationships and clouded our desires.
I believe such unfulfilled longing to be symptomatic of a disconnect with our own ‘humanity’ and our place within nature. In our world of big data it seems that every aspect of our life has been reduced to a statistic used to further our own unhappiness. What could be more sterile and inhuman than a number? In the undercurrent of my daily activities lies a treasure trove of data to be used by others. What I purchase, what sites I visit, all recorded to help companies decipher my ‘desires’ in order to sell me more. How Orwellian does our society need to become before we realize this does not make us happy?
Paganism is my antidote. Paganism is raw, unstructured, and unorganized. Even among other Pagans we rarely find consensus and agreement deciphering our path. There is no book of rules other than the ones we write ourselves. The pagan practice is unabashedly human. It is oftentimes illogical, holding conflicting ideas in equal reverence. It is the opposite of data, it is the opposite of sterile, and it is gloriously sublime.
Dig your hands into the dirt in glorious rebellion. Dance naked under the stars in riotous defiance. Be illogical. Be impractical. Wash off the prescriptive conventions of happiness and venture back in the woods to reconnect with our own divinity. Scream at the sky if you need to. Once you let it all out you're ready to connect with what you’ve been missing all along. Lay upon the ground and let the leaves tangle in your hair as you ground yourself and relax your mind. Whatever your individual practice might be, we are united in the sense of sublime we feel when we connect with this energy.
I feel this sublime energy throughout my rituals. I feel it when I call upon the elements and discover the rush of wind, the swell of water, the burst of flames, and the strength of earth. I feel the tingling of frisson catapult through my body when I cast a circle. I feel an almost inhuman exhilaration as I dance around the bonfire beneath the stars. At these moments I experience the height of human emotion and connectedness to the divine. It makes me glad to be alive and reminds me that our essential humanity is something that cannot simply be measured and contained.
Such transcendent acts are in wondrous opposition to our daily lives and yet I feel they are needed more now than ever. A reminder that we are not numbers, we are not statistics. We are part of this Earth and that means something, regardless of what wider society might preach.