Green Priestcraft: A ChristoPagan Pastoralia

"Pastoralia" is a somewhat archaic term denoting the spiritual, pastoral, and ritual care of a community.  "ChristoPagan" is a somewhat emergent term denoting a blend of Christian and Pagan thealogy, cosmology, and spirituality.  So, put the two together, and you have the hopefully intriguing (and, to some, infuriating) description of my own journey as a greenpriest.  I trust that folks of various and sundry spiritual persuasions will find something here to pique their interest, deepen their practice, and feed their souls.  Hear the Rune of Sophia: "God is Love, and Her body is all creation.  She is a Tree of Life, who gathers Her children in Love."  This is the conviction which guides me.  Blessed be.

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Walk with Me?

Greetings from the Canadian prairies! I feel so honoured to be here taking part in this amazing conversation. As a long-time reader of Witches and Pagans, as well as PaganSquare, it is very exciting to be invited to blog with you, and share some of my reflections on earthen spirituality at this critical juncture of our shared planetary life.

So, I'm a ChristoPagan. I know: tricky. These dual-faith identifications can be so messy, can't they? There are few religious groups in the world who have been so historically conflicted as Christians and Pagans, so to incarnate both spiritualities within one person is fraught with complexity. To make matters worse, I'm not only a Christian, I'm a priest! I serve the Anglican Church of Canada as a theological educator and a ministry mentor in my diocese. From a NeoPagan perspective, I just might be “public enemy number 1” ... but I hope not! I hope instead that we can learn from each other and share the wisdom that comes from life in the Green.

ChristoPaganism is an interesting path. There are so many different combinations and permutations of the two spiritualities that there is no single definition which fits every individual ChristoPagan. In general, there is an intentional and reflective blending of Christian and Pagan theo/thealogy, cosmology, and spiritual practice. And we generally get in hot water with both “parent” religions!

For me personally, ChristoPaganism involves a robust and orthodox christology and soteriology, combined with an animistic and magical cosmology. For others, it might look quite different.

The other thing I bring to this conversation is my life off-the-grid. My family and I live in a small farm community, nestled between forested hills and a beautiful lake. We have solar power, wood heat, no running water (I run to the lake and haul water!), and we grow most of our own food. Our little community is mult-faith, and I'm the chaplain: part priest and part druid. So the questions I like to explore can be quite practical: what is the best ritual to use before cutting down a tree for firewood? What is the best gift or blessing for the barn-wight? How should I give last rites to the chicken about to be slaughtered for supper? These are practical and magical questions, and they are also pastoral questions. My pastoral care extends beyond the human community to the land itself, and to all of the Mother's creatures.

So it's an interesting journey, this. Usually controversial. Sometimes conflicted. Always complex. But the ChristoPagan path is also filled with beauty and faith and celebration and reconciliation. I hope that, even if this path is not yours, you will walk it with me for a while. Blessed be!

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The Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck is a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, and a member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids. He is the author of Christian Animism, and the founder of the Ecumenical Companions of Sophia, an informal online community fostering Christian-Pagan dialogue and spiritual practice.  He lives with his family on an off-the-grid farm community in north-western Saskatchewan (Treaty Six Territory), where he is chaplain to the human and more-than-human wights of the community.  When not training priests, chopping wood, or practising magic, Shawn can be counted on to have his nose buried in a book. He can be contacted at greenpriest@hotmail.ca
 

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Tuesday, 21 March 2017

    Rev. Beck,

    Praise be to the Gods everlasting! I never thought I'd see an Anglican priest who's also an OBOD Druid. :o

    I have a deep and abiding fascination with Canada, and one of my buddies at work is a Christo-Pagan. I look forward to reading your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

  • Shawn Sanford Beck
    Shawn Sanford Beck Thursday, 23 March 2017

    Hi Jamie, thanks for the note!
    Any idea of how your friend configures his (her?) ChristoPagan perspective?

  • Jamie
    Jamie Friday, 24 March 2017

    Rev. Beck,

    His Christo-Paganism is influenced by the Book of Enoch and similar writings. He believes in the Goddesses and Gods. He believes that they are angels, demons and their offspring.

    Some he thinks to be good, some to be bad, and that one day the end of the world will see a battle between them.

    We have many interesting discussions. Great guy.

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