Pagan Paths

The morning sun rising in the east calls to the Bright Youth in me, and the Bright Youth responds. The full moon calls to the Muse, and the waning and dark moon to the Dark Maiden who is a part of me. The earth I touch with my fingers calls to the Mother, in both her guises, Nurturing and Devouring. The bright green shoots rising from the earth and the green leaves on the trees on my street in the spring, these call to the Stag King, while the red leaves fallen to the earth in the autumn call to the Dying God. The spring storm that rises up suddenly in the west calls to the Storm King. The night sky, the dark space between the stars, calls to Mother Night, my death come to make peace. The gods-without call and the gods-within respond.

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Gods Within / Gods Without: A New Name and a New Focus

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I began this blog -- originally called Dreaming the Myth Onward -- with the intent of exploring what Jungian psychology had to offer to Pagan theology.  Neo-Paganism has been thoroughly permeated by an overly-simplicitic understanding of Jungian psychology -- what I have called the "de-godding of the archetypes" -- transcendent agencies reduced to mere symbols and metaphors.  And this has led to a disenchantment of the gods for many Pagans.  The growth of devotional polytheism in the last 15 years has been largely in response to this disenchantment of the gods.  I began this blog with the intent of "re-godding the archetypes" or, rather, re-enchanting the Jungian conception of gods.  


Along the way, though, my focus has shifted somewhat.  I've written here before about my journey from monotheism to archetypal polytheism and how I discovered the gods within.  Elsewhere, I've described my subsequent journey from a Self-centric Paganism to a more Earth-centered Paganism.  Along the way, I have been profoundly influenced by a kind of naturalistic animism described by social ecologist David Abram.  As a result, I have come to pay more attention to "the gods without", in addition to "the gods within".  


With the relaunch of this blog, I am shifting focus from an exclusively Self-centric perspective to include an Earth-centered perspective as well.  I intend explore the relationship between "the gods within" and "the gods without" at the intersection of archetypal polytheism and naturalistic animism.  Jung will still be a major source of wisdom for me -- he did after all inspire the eco-psychology movement, which is an attempt to restore the connection between psyche and nature. But I will intentionally be using less Jungian terminology -- both because I think the terms have been irredeemably misinterpreted by Pagans, and because I think much of Jung's terminology, which strives to be objective, has an alienating effect on the reader -- "archetype" is, after all, really an inadequate term to describe the experience of "the gods within".


Now, what do I mean by"the relationship between the gods within and the gods without"?  Consider a couple of comments I found online by people who seemed to be feeling their way around the same question:


"I have been thinking a bit lately about neo-pagan/polytheistic theology because a lot of people I read online are very literalist. I just don’t conceive of my deities as literal, tangible beings. I just don’t. As important as Morrigan or Cernunnos are to me I don’t think they’re actual people hanging out and chatting to me. Not looking to fight with people who do feel that but I don’t. The phrase gods within gods without was always one with a lot of meaning for me personally. My worship is about deities that are partially something that is within myself connecting to something much bigger than my understanding in the natural world. Deities are like metaphysical messengers created by the connection between me and the wider consciousness of the universe. They are real in that sense but not tangible."


-- The Kitchen Witch


"Consider the Hermetic proverb; 'As above, so below.' I believe in both the Archetypes, and the Gods. I believe that the Gods are there, and are real, and that they've left their imprint on our psyches. The Gods Within are a reflection of the Gods Without, and a bridge toward experiencing and understanding Them. The Gods imprinted our minds with Archetypes so that we may know them. So, it doesn't matter so much to me whether people see the Gods as Mental Constructs or Independently Conscious Entities -- they are both."


-- Fater Pan


In his later thought, Jung wrote about this relationship between the gods within (the archetypes) and the gods without (what he called the "psyched" -- another terrible Jungian term).  He intuited that there was a connection between these two -- a connection which accounted for the phenomenon he called "synchronicity" -- but his thought in this regard never really became clear. 


I have a theory that it is in fact we who are the bridge between the gods within and the gods without.  And in future posts I want to work out what that means, both in thought and in lived experience.

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John Halstead also writes at (Patheos),,,,, and The Huffington Post. He was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” (, and the editor of the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans. John is also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community ( To speak with John, contact him on Facebook.


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