Nearly every spiritual practice or religion is about understanding the concept of deity. Well, at least that’s what we tell ourselves. Actually, what we as humans are really after when we try to understand deity is a better understanding of who we are. The seemingly straightforward question “Is there a god?” is in fact the lifting of the lid on a Pandora’s box of questions regarding not just the existence of, but the nature of deity, and most important of all, the relationship of deity to us as humans.
Paganism is a basket term in which many spiritual paths, groups, practices and traditions find a place. One of the most frustrating and invigorating aspects of walking a modern pagan path is that if you ask 10 pagans a question, you will get 20 answers, and all of them will be equally right and equally wrong. We don’t have a Pope or other “supreme leader” to tell us what is to be embraced or rejected. If you’re someone who needs a lot of structure and thrive in situations where well-established authorities guide you on what you should and shouldn’t do, paganism will infuriate you with its lack of bright line rules. There simply is no unifying principle that is 100 percent true for 100 percent of pagans 100 percent of the time.
That said, one tenet that is fairly consistent across the pagan world view is that deity is most certainly not some omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent being separate and apart from us, who we cannot aspire to be equal to in any way, shape or form. Pagans see deity as not only approachable, but as a component of, or comprised of, or related to all things in the Universe. “There is no part of me that is not of the gods,” the OTO tradition says. Norse practitioners view themselves as kindred to their gods, and among other paths, deity is present in, or even expressed by, all living beings. Reality is not bifurcated into that which is deity and that which is not — deity, however you understand it, threads its way through everyone and everything.
The Universe, therefore, is not divided into Creator and Creation. We are, all of us, co-creators of this reality we live in.
Let that sink in for a minute. You are a Creator.
American culture fetshizes the notion of creativity. A cursory search for books on creativity in Amazon’s catalog yields over 3,000 new titles released just in the last 30 days. We have “creativity coaches” who you can hire to help you or your team be more creative. We have awards that celebrate creative arts and those who are part of the “creative class” in our society are considered desirable members of our neighborhoods and organizations. Creativity is considered a skill or a gift, something that not everyone has. If you have it, you’re special.
The names of people who are known for being “creative” are spoken in reverent tones, as being superhuman in some way: George Lucas, Walt Disney, Prince, Stephen King, J.K Rowling, Stan Lee. Feel what happens inside of you when you hear those names. Even if you are not crazy about their actual creations, there is still the tiniest bit of awe that flits in your consciousness, an acknowledgement of their status as one who has created on an epic scale.
But creativity is actually quite a mundane act. Being “creative” is merely engaging in the act of creation. Creation is nothing more than bringing something into existence that wasn’t there before. And the truth of it is, we create constantly. Every time you make a meal, even if all you do is make a sandwich, you have created something that did not exist before. When you write something — even if it’s just a text message to your friend — you have created something. Every word that comes from your lips is an act of creation, perhaps as pure as you can find. A sandwich, after all, is merely assembling parts that already exist, and writing things is merely manipulating ink and paper. But words that you speak are putting meaning into audible form where there was only silence before. (Perhaps that is why in the Bible, there’s all that bit in Genesis about the word and god.)
Looked at a certain way, nearly everything you do is an act of creation. Moment by moment, every day, you are forging relationships, doing things, talking to people, acting upon your world in one way or another in a way that is changing it. Even if all you do today is sit on a couch and binge watch “Riverdale” on Netflix, you have had some impact on the world around you (even if it amounts to nothing more than increasing the size of the dent in your couch cushions and the viewing data for the television shows you watched).
You are a Creator, and you are creating, every moment. Yes, even right now.
It’s a heady thought, if you take a minute to really let it sink in. That creative power, the power that is ascribed to gods and considered the very essence of deity in many circles, is yours. And you wield it continually, effortlessly, as a matter of course just by being. How cool is that?
And also, how scary.
Because if you are a Creator, then you are responsible for that which you create. Your issue, the things you do and say and make and cause to happen with your actions, are the product of that creative essence. You made that sandwich. You put that dent in the couch. You spoke those words. Those words that made her cry.
You did it.
You are responsible.
It’s your fault.
Sometimes what we create hurts someone. Sometimes we hurt ourselves. Sometimes our creations are not lovely or epic. Sometimes, they just suck.
We are all Creators. And we are all co-creating this world we live in. We are co-creating every community we participate in. And what that means, at bottom, is that if we don’t like the community we’re living in, it’s at least a little bit our fault. Because we are each of us Creators, with the power to make of our community something different than what it is.
That power is not unlimited, of course. But it is far greater than we imagine. And sometimes, we’ll even deliberately ignore our power. Sometimes we find it easier to focus on the works of our fellow Creators than it is to take up our own Creator’s mantle. This is called complaining, and we do an awful lot of it. Yes, we are each of us responsible for our creations, and not anyone else’s. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook.
Because the beauty of our Universe and our experience of it in linear time, is that the future is always unfolding. The creation is never complete. You. me, everyone, are constantly in a state of creating. As long as we are alive in this plane of existence, we can and are creating something new, a future that will look different than it did even a moment ago. Whatever status the co-created community or world you are living in is in right now, it will not be that way forever. Moment by moment, you and me and everyone together, we are changing it. For better or worse, we are creating something new.
You can be scared of that fact, or you can take joy in it. If you’re smart, you’ll do both.