I've seen a lot of people lately in various forums trying to define paganism with the apparent intent of using that definition to tell people what is and is not allowed under the pagan umbrella.
This is not one of those attempts.
Instead, I have chosen to examine my own feelings and thoughts on the matter and express them here, in my online sacred space. I am mindful that what I write may be offensive to some if they internalize it and apply it to themselves, but that is not my intent. I am sharing my worldview purely for the purpose of sharing. I do accept that other people see things differently and no one is required to live up to my personal definition of pagan, witch, wiccan, magician etc.
When I close my eyes and look at the world around me through my mind's eye, I don't see a riot of colors that can't be seen with my physical eyes. Magic doesn't work that way for me. I don't hear unearthly noises like the singing of pixies or anything. I do, however, feel things that can't be touched, seen, or heard. I feel a warm, vibrant sense of life all around me. It's like the sun on your back, or a stream rushing over your hand, but less tangible. It's actually closer to that feeling you got from the old-style televisions when you put your arm near the screen and the hairs would rise up. That feeling is what I get when I'm experiencing the flow of life.
In my perception and experience, ghosts, gods, elementals and nature spirits are just as real as you and I. Energy that is cohesive and directed by intelligence with emotional expression, but without physicality.
I perceive a spiritual plane of existence overlaid with our own that I think of as “the causal plane” where magical focus creates the change and it ripples into manifestation in our reality. In all likelihood, that idea is part experience and partly what I've read somewhere in the last 30 years. I've honestly forgotten what I've read in that period of time so I can't pin it down to a specific influence, but the concept works well for me. When I whistle up the wind, I'm focusing on the causal plane's wind moving and the physical wind moves after it (when it works). When I'm drawing down the moon into myself, it's liquid silver electricity that shifts my consciousness more into the causal than the physical reality. When I draw down the sun, it's golden healing fire that doesn't shift me quite as far, but strengthens the scope and breadth of my perceptions in the physical world to better connect to the causal and create change. I'm not sure if that's even close to explaining correctly, but when I'm needing physical strength I'll draw on the sun and charge up my chi that way. And yes, I draw both energies into myself at the same time without going insane, or exploding or causing any other damage. Because they're compatible, though different.
Being pagan, or a witch, is accepting that reality. That we live with spirits and other energy beings all around us and that magic is a real force that we can tune into and create change with.
My personal need for balance has me accepting the Goddess and our horned, virile image of God at the same time. I am both masculine and feminine, and I honor experience the creative force of the universe as both genders working in harmony. If I ignore Him in favor of Her, then I do Her a disservice by depriving her of her partner. I'm totally cool with other people sticking with one or the other, that's their path to walk. For my path, I have to honor both and I can't do it differently to accommodate someone else.
I am uncomfortable with fictional terms (like “muggle”, “guardian”, or “planeweaver”) being applied in real life. I feel like it's a line that shouldn't be blurred, even in jest. Well, ok, maybe in jest once in a while, but I've learned that if you use the same joke too often it can become an ingrained pattern. Too often, I've watched folks read or watch something fictional and immediately start equating it to real life and adopting the terms used by the author. That road leads to delusion, and away from the reality of magic I'm afraid.
I cringe when people say “Initiation doesn't mean anything”, because I've had some deeply profound spiritual experiences through initiatory life events. The titles that we humans create to go along with some of those initiatory experiences don't mean much, except inside our own carefully constructed social groups. The experience should always be honored, even if it doesn't conform to my personal idea of an initiation.
(Wow, that's really random and requires a lot of editing.)
Bottom line, being pagan to me means acknowledging the flow of Life all around us, and connecting with others of like mind in this plane and the spiritual planes.
Each of us has our song to sing, and whether it's a ballad, country & western song, heavy metal, or classical violin piece they're all valid. What doesn't work for me works for others, and it's not my place to tell someone they can't do it. I can, however, put in earplugs. I can accept it and not like it, without beating someone else up over it. And isn't that just the courteous way to interact?