The 'supernatural' is often considered the sine qua non of religion. Certainly the Gods and Spirits must be considered supernatural, yes? Well…not necessarily.

The way we have received the word 'supernatural' in western culture is as the class of all things that defy natural explanation. We apply it to the Gods as well as ghosts and psychic phenomenon. At a certain level it means ‘out of this world’, which points us back to the Greek origins of the word. But, we also need to look at the Latin to understand it, and have to turn to Thomas Aquinas for its meaning.

Michael York introduces his book “Pagan Theology” using Aquinas’ definition, referring to “what is thought to be privileged above the agency and laws of nature”.[p. 1] This becomes the start-point of York’s theology (as I thus far understand it), but it is also where we part.

What Aquinas was doing with his definition of the supernatural was finding a way of separating the Divine, in his case meaning Yahweh, called ‘God’, from the World. The ruler must be external and above the ruled, in other words, above the world, and then Aquinas built the logic and authority of his theology on this basis.

I have to firmly reject this approach to theology as destructive. It results in a frame that alienates the Divine from us, especially typified by theologian Rudolf Otto’s concept of the Divine as ‘wholly other’. This for me is one of the most blasphemous things that could ever be taught: that we somehow could be separated from the source of Being. Or in other language, that we could ever be parted from God/ess. We might feel that way at times, but neither do I see it as necessary or even possible, and I also find the idea to be cruel. In the very least it is cruel because it makes you dependent on something else, like the Christian understanding of the mediating role of the Priest, to work out your ‘salvation’. You can imagine the abuse of power that would come, and in fact came with this.

Super- (above) and -Natural (derived from natal=born) gives us 'above the born', or as the magickians these days say, the Bornless. That which is supernatural is neither born nor dies. The laws of physics fits in this category, co-existing with the universe, changing only as it does, but we usually attribute all things physical to nature, regardless of being 'born' or dying.

The Greek term from which we get supernatural is *hupo-physus* "hyper-physical". For Iamblichus and the Neoplatonists, as well as many others immersed in the ancient cosmology, the Gods, or more precisely the highest Gods dwell above the Cosmos which is itself restricted to the physical, i.e., that which has matter. Everything above this is free of matter, meaning located in time and space.

In the emanationist cosmology of the Neoplatonists, the High Gods emanate or project themselves out of their mind-only or *noetic* realm into the Cosmos or physical realm to manifest as the Celestial Gods (generally associated with the planets) and as the Terrestrial Gods, the ones who care for the physical realm and who we are most likely to meet in a numinous place (and to be distinguished from the Chthonic Gods, another problem entirely).

The issue here is that even though the Gods are ‘outside’ the physical realm, that is only because the physical is so small. The Gods are as it were bigger, and the physical in contained in them because it is dependent on Them. Without the provident causation that the Gods supply, the physical could not arise. They are the preconditions for the physical Universe, but entirely present to the physical, as its structures, its ‘laws’, its operational principals. In scientific language we call this physics, chemistry, and biology.

From a pantheistic perspective, there is no need to separate the Gods from the world. They may be beyond the physical in origin, they are rightly called Bornless, but they permeate the All and are part and parcel of the system of the All.

So rather than being alienated from the Gods, ghosts, and what ever 'para-' phenomena is under consideration, by recognizing that the super-natural simply means the non-physical, we don't have to place the Gods out of the world but rather see Them as integral to it. Or perhaps it is simply better to drop the category of the supernatural completely as a distinction appropriate to a culture that lives in alienation to its God, in other words, not we Pagans.