It flows through everything.

Everything is made from it.

Energy.

But how do you say that in Pagan?

“Energy” is a word from the vocabulary of science, which is no bad thing in and of itself.

But I would contend that for so primal a concept, we need a primal word.

Well, we could borrow one from someone else. Isaac Bonewits, for instance, uses (in his later writings) the Polynesian word mana.

Mana is a good, strong word, but it is clearly (and always will be) a borrow. Other issues aside, when you have to borrow something from someone else, it says that you don't already have any of your own. And that's not good enough here. This is too basic a concept for that.

Brian Bates in his handbook of Anglo-Saxon “shamanism,” calls it life-force.

Well: primal it's not.

We need a word that tastes good on the tongue.

What tastes best to me right now is a usage that I learned from my friend Jason the Heathen. You'll already know the term from the fossilized expression might and main.

As with so many of those alliterating pairs in English (bed and board, field and fold, kith and kin), it's something that we've been saying for a long time—in this case, for more than 1400 years—and that preserves an ancient way of thinking.

The phrase might and main (in Old English, miht and mægen) pairs together the names for the two kinds of power: physical and non-physical.

Main: spiritual power. Life-force. Energy. It evens sounds a little like mana.

But it's our word. And it's got that raw, primal flavor to it.

Well, I'm not the arbiter here. Try it out for yourself. Where you'd say energy, try main instead.

And see how it tastes to you.

 

Photo: Magda Kieler