HP Pride is a new monthly column where we interview members of the Humanistic Paganism community and other like-minded friends. One or more interviews will be published every month. If you are not a “Big Name Pagan”, or if you have never written online before, all the better! We want to hear from everyone! If you’d like to be interviewed, just click this link and follow the instructions.
Today we are interviewing C.F. Cooper, author of Songs of the Metamythos.
What do you call the religion you practice?
Tree-hugging paganism (because it’s way more fun saying it that way than “nature-based”).
If you call yourself “Pagan”, what about your religion is “Pagan”? Why do you choose to call yourself “Pagan”? If you don’t call yourself “Pagan”, why not?
Since the technical definition of paganism is any non-Abrahamic religion (i.e., not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim), the term certainly fits. Plus it harks back to the old polytheistic traditions that my spirituality parallels and draws from.
What other words (i.e., humanistic, naturalistic, atheistic, pantheistic, witch, druid, shaman, etc.) do you use to describe your religion and why?
There are so many descriptive modifiers I could tag on (many of the above apply) that it would become a confusing word salad, so these days I stick to “tree-hugging” — to identify my spirituality as nature-based, like Wicca and most (but not all) neopagan religions — and leave it at that.
What is your religion of origin? What religion were you raised with?
I was raised without any organized religion, for which I’m eternally grateful. (Thanks, Dad!) That made it much easier to find my own way when I was ready.
How did you transition to your current religion? Tell us a little about your faith journey.
It started 30 years ago. I’d been practicing a nature-based paganism for a few years—observing the solstices, communing with wild places–without having a name for it, and knowing nothing about modern paganism. Then things got interesting: I’m a writer—comic books, sci-fi, fantastical stuff—and as the back story for a planned novel, I tried to imagine what an alternate religion for humanity might look like. That novel fell by the wayside, but I kept returning to its myths, those newfound gods, as if they were calling to me to explore their undiscovered territory. I eventually realized I’d inadvertently tapped into my own subconscious to map the metaphysical reality those gods inhabit. That’s when I wrote Songs of the Metamythos (see also SongsOfTheMetamythos.com), which tells their story. It’s a mythology for today–not for some fantasy world, but for the reality around us, here and now; maybe the first new, complete myth cycle in who knows how long. That’s the lens through which I see the world.
What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I can’t help but be in sync with my religion, since it sprang from somewhere inside me. (Or from divine inspiration. Who can say?)
How do you practice your religion?
I have very few hard-and-fast rules. I try to meditate daily, sometimes on one of the Metamythos gods and what that deity means to me. And I’m outdoors paying attention to nature as much as possible, esp. when I’m birding (“birdwatching” to the uninitiated), which is a sort of “gateway drug” for me; birding draws me into communion with nature like nothing else.
Do you observe the Wheel of the Year? If so, how?
Yes, but not in the usual way. Since I’m not a farmer and don’t live in an agrarian society, the cross-quarter days aren’t that important to me. But since I’m very aware of the change in seasons and the amount of daylight each day, the equinoxes and esp. the solstices are very important to me. I celebrate the winter solstice, longest night of the year, by staying up all night, and the summer solstice, longest day of the year, by staying outdoors all day, from sunrise to sunset (with only the briefest indoor bathroom breaks allowed).
Do you believe in or work with “gods” or “deities” or “spirits” in any sense of those words? Why or why not? If so, how?
Yes, in a metaphorical sense. There are forces that flow through this universe and through us that defy comprehension. By personifying them and telling myths about them, we give our limited human minds a means to understand them, even if only a little. Myth is the poetic way of grasping what the world is about and our place in it. It’s not meant to be taken literally.
Do you believe in or work with “magic” in any sense of the word? Why or why not? If so, how?
No. I’m way too science-oriented for that to work for me.
How does your religion affect your daily life or your state of mind?
It grounds me. It gives me the tools to navigate the confusing cacophony of experience that the world throws at us every day.
Do you interact with theistic Pagans in religious community? Do you share ritual with theistic Pagans? What has been your experience in this regard?
Most of my interactions with my fellow pagans are online.
How do you engage other Pagans online?
Mostly through the Cauldron (http://ecauldron.com), a wonderful community of smart, savvy, well-informed pagans and others (though the focus is on various forms of paganism, it’s an interfaith forum)
Are you “out of the closet” about your Paganism? To what degree? Why?
Yes, though where I come from, it’s gauche to wear one’s religion on one’s sleeve, even if it’s the most vanilla form of Christianity. So some people may not know simply because I don’t talk about it much.
What is the thing you love the most about Paganism?
The diversity of belief! And I love how we’re reinventing religion all the time.
What is one thing you would like to change about Paganism or the Pagan community?
I’d like to see more ethnic diversity.