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Is There Such a Thing as a “Fair Weather” Pagan?

Author: Trey Justice
Posted: April 8th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,779

Is there such a thing as an indoor or “fair weather” pagan?

Two pagans and I were leaving Roan Mountain, TN around noon on 27 Dec 2006. There had been a witches’ meet-up in nearby Johnson City, TN the night before and the idea of a pagan hiking trip in the snow on the mountaintop for the next day had popped up.

We met at one pagan’s home around 7:40am that morning and then spent almost an hour driving up into the mountains, through ice and snow covered roads that had yet to be serviced by the highway department, for our destination. We reached the summit of Roan Mountain, TN shortly before 9am and shortly thereafter, in below freezing weather, went hiking.

In four to six inches of snow and ice with strong gusts of wind, three pagans went on a short hiking trip in order to be with nature, to celebrate the Goddess, and to commune with Her and the world as pagans do when “out and about” in the country.

I don’t have to describe the beautiful country to you all. Everyone here should know what mountains, woods, trails, wood rail fences, and snow covered fields look like. I will bet that everyone on Witchvox has been outside at some point or another. Most of us have gone hiking, fishing, hunting, or went on a camping trip in our lives. We tend to increase the frequency of that once we embrace paganism and Wicca.

Many of us hold rituals or other sacred activities and mundane meetings in the outdoors. I’d bet almost all of us have lovingly gazed upon pictures of snow-covered mountains and ice covered fences in the past and we still do. I doubt, however, most have deliberately gone deep into the wilderness, wild areas, or remote spots that grace our land in terrible weather or when the circumstances weren’t comfortable or convenient.

Going back to the title and the discussion that broke out amongst us as we were driving back from our trip, we were all glowing and happy with our experience of the hiking, communing, and simply being outdoors and with The Goddess. We were happy and ecstatic, despite hunger, fatigue and exposure to several hours of below freezing temperatures.

My friend John said, “Man, how can you be a pagan and not love the outdoors?”

We all agreed. And without really thinking about it I said, “Yeah, you can’t stay indoors all the time and really be a pagan or a Wiccan.”

“Right”, John agreed, “to be a pagan or a Wiccan you have to get outside; you have to be in the world and see Her and smell Her and feel Her.”

“Yeah”, I said, “you can’t be an indoor pagan. If you think about it, there’s no such thing.”

We three began a discussion. As pagans and Wiccans, we are members of a religion that worships Nature. We worship Nature. We don’t merely admire it or give lip service to it; we don’t merely nod our heads when the topic comes up or talks of outdoor adventuring in “the old days”. We worship The Goddess and Nature.

We love and worship Nature, the Goddess, and the God. We worship the Gods of our ancestors and give respect to the elements of this world and to all the living creatures that live on this planet. It is with religious reverence, it is with planned, deliberate thought, state of mind, and action that we go outdoors and deliberately look for, see, and be with The Goddess.

Given our reverence for the world and nature and The Goddess, it would seem natural to spend time outdoors, whether it be a ritual, a “regular” moot, outdoor activities (hiking, camping, etc.), or other events like simple meditation or simple meanderings (what I like to do, and call, “Goddess walks”).

Now, I know that many reading this article do this. I know that most pagans, at the very least, give the outdoors lip service. I doubt, however, that most of us do this on a regular basis, that is, to actually get outside. It has been my experience that many pagans talk about getting outside, but when it comes to actually doing it as an opportunity becomes available, it’s another story.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know there are constraints on our time and our ability to get out into the country. I live in a small metropolitan area. I wasn’t born into the Kennedy, Bush, Dole, or Gore families so I have to work for a living. I know what it’s like to have to wake up, go to work, come home, take care of chores and other personal business, and finally go to bed only to wake up and do it all over again day after day.

I don’t have the luxury of living on a beautiful stretch of unspoiled land away from the city. I don’t have the fortune of having so much money and free time on my hands that I can spend as much time outdoors as much as I like. I work and live in the real world like everyone else.

This makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to get out in the country, the woods and mountains and to spend time with Her. I can’t do it everyday or every weekend. I cant’ do it at the drop of a hat; I have to schedule it out like everything else. But I do it.

I make a concerted effort TO spend time outdoors, to walk in the woods, to look across mountains. I do this for myself AND as an expression/continuation of my religion. It’s not as much as I would like but it’s what I can do given the circumstances.

Now, how many of you do, or more honestly don’t, do that? I write this because I have met too many pagans in my life who have never been on a camping trip (this is true). I have met too many pagans that talk about how they love hiking but when you ask them the last time they did it, you get a blank stare or a humbled admission of never having hiked.

I’ve asked Pagans if they want to go hiking or on some other outdoor activity and the response was….yeah, you get it.

And in regards to actual ritual, how many pagans have actually been in a circle or other ritual outside?

Here’s the focus of my article: how can you honestly describe yourself as a member of an earth-centered, earth-focused, earth-based, or whatever term you want to use, religion when you yourself don’t actually get out that much, if at all?

How can you be a Wiccan if you’ve never spent a night under Her stars, watched the sun rise, or breathed in the early morning mist? How can you say that you revere the Mother and all of her blessings if you never go out among them and open yourself up to the larger world?

Can you be dedicated to a spiritual path that incorporates the outdoors as a central tenet while you never walk the paths of the forests yourself? Can you be true to your faith AND yourself if you choose, out of convenience or laziness, to not do any of the above activities?

Let’s be honest with ourselves. There are some pagans who don’t spend much, if any, time outside.

How many pagans choose to stay inside and watch TV or get on the internet on a beautiful, sunny day? How many pagans shirk away from being outside when it’s cold or wet? How many pagans only have “cool” outdoor experiences because they only go out in fair weather?

When nature turns ugly, or not as nice, how many pagans look (if they do that) out the window and say, “Man, I’d hate to be out in that!” Ask yourself, and hey- I’m guilty of the above as well- how often do you attempt to get out there with The Goddess on a regular basis, good weather or not?

I don’t see how someone can proclaim to be a member of a nature-worshipping religion when they themselves have never been, or really don’t (or want to) go, outside. People talk about their love for nature. It’s easy to talk (or chat/email). It’s easy to look at pictures online or on the TV or picture books and say, “Yeah, I love the woods. I really feel at one with Her when I’m outside”.

But how many people actually go outside to connect and be one with Her? How many pagans and Wiccans put off going outside because it’s more convenient or comfortable to spend time in the snugness of your home than going out on a hiking trip? I’d be willing to bet that it’s more than a few.

Be honest with yourself. You love the Goddess, right? You love nature and all that She holds, right? When was the last time you went camping?

When was the last time you laid down on the ground, felt the grass, smelt the earth, and gazed into the sky? When was the last time you slept under the stars? Did you avoid going outside to hike or explore or simply meditate because it was raining or gloomy or snowing or too cold or too hot?

Or, some more mundane questions: how many hours a day or week do you spend watching cable or dish TV? How many hours do you spend on the Internet? How many hours do you talk on the phone?

Now, how many hours this last week or month were spent outside, even in a backyard or something, reading a book on the Craft or just meditating? See my point?

It’s one thing to admire nature and the works and gifts of the Goddess and openly talk about your reverence for nature. It’s quite another step though to actually DO what you say, that is to LIVE your religion.

Anyone can say, “I love the Goddess and the outdoors.” It’s another to actually get out there, see the trees, smell the flowers, slip in the mud, hear the bubbling creek, caress moss, and to feel the Goddess in her beautiful manifestations. And I’m not taking about fair weather excursions only!

If you’ve avoided the outdoors for bad weather, you’re really missing out on life and lessons for your declared “path”. Nature can be both beautiful and horrific. Nature both heals and destroys. Nature both provides and takes. You can’t just have Her the way you like it. This world is not another version of Burger King’s “Have it your way”. To love and embrace nature, to love and embrace The Goddess, you have to accept and love her in ALL her manifestations, not just the sunny, warm feeling, and happy ones.

You can learn from the foul weather as well as the fair. My favorite Imbolc was a sunrise in 1999 on the side of a mountain ridge in the middle of an ice storm. I was being pelted with snow and small bits of ice and assaulted with huge gusts of wind. The Goddess and all that She had to provide that day surrounded me. I learned and opened myself up to Her.

I know I took more from that Imbolc that morning because of the foul weather that what I would have had I stayed inside. Imagine what I would have gotten out of it had I stayed home inside my nice, warm, dry home? Not the same lessons for sure and nowhere near the amount of love and understanding (much less the spiritual re-charging of my heart and soul’s batteries).

Ultimately, in my mind, there is no such thing as an indoor or “fair weather” pagan.

Really. Honestly. By necessity, we all can’t have every single Sabbat, Esbat, and ritual outdoors in your “ideal” terrain. We can’t spend every waking moment out in the woods observing, learning, and meditating. Most of us have to work and take care of real, “daily life” issues.

What we can do is to deliberately make the time in our lives to go outside in an effort to be with Her, to learn from Her, and to love Her. We can’t forget that there’s a larger world outside of our comfortable homes. We can’t forget that there are lessons in the wind, on the bubbling creeks, in the creak of the trees. The Goddess is out there as much as inside of us.

I think and feel that our modern and convenient lifestyles in this century have led to a certain level of personal laziness or idleness in all us. This is for everyone, not just pagans and Wiccans, who profess that Nature is a sacred part of our lives. It’s effortless and convenient to entertain ourselves with TV, cable, phone calls, the internet, and the “daily grind”. It comes too easy. And too often.

And I admit, I’m guilty of the above as well. More than I would like to be.

As pagans and Wiccans, we have an even greater obligation to ourselves in terms of spiritual growth and personal development when it comes to getting outside and involving ourselves in the world and countryside. We have chosen a religion that incorporates the real world outside as well as the world inside of all of us. In our religion, we can learn from the real world and seek and find wisdom in the mundane. And of course, we can enjoy all that She has to offer by just being ourselves and being “out there”.

The question is, do we get carried away with the banal, mundane circumstances of our lives and neglect our spiritual selves? I think we do often enough, and not getting outside in the world only reinforces previous laxity.

You can’t just give the Goddess or Her manifestations mere lip service. You can’t daydream, wish or think of worshipping Her and giving reverence to Nature. You have to get out there and do it.

You have to live the path you’ve chosen; you have to (quite literally) walk it.

When it comes to Her and nature, it’s all or nothing.


Trey Justice

Location: Johnson City, Tennessee

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