How can I find a spiritual archetype that inspires me when I don’t have a religion to point the way for me?
Organized religions have a multitude of characters a faithful person can draw inspiration from. Christians have Christ, Buddhist have the Buddha, Muslims have Muhammad. There are gods, saints, prophets, holy men, characters from mythology and scripture. Organized religions also tends to codify the characteristics of a devote follower. They set out guidelines for daily and weekly religious practice, and observance of holy days and rites of passage.
In the Neo-Pagan movement, Wicca is founded on the archetype of the witch, a powerful person who can harness supernatural or magical powers. Many of the ideas and practices that have become a part of modern Wicca come from European folk-magic practices, and from the witch trials of early modern Europe.
Druidry is inspired by the priestly class of the Celts. Very little is known about the ancient Druids, except for a few descriptions from Greek and Roman authors, and references in stories written down by medieval Irish monks. This lack of information has not prevented a number of ‘revivals’ of Druidry beginning in the 18th century. These have been focused on a number of different things – Welsh nationalism, fraternal societies, romanticism, celebration of Celtic culture, indigenous British spirituality, etc.
Germanic Neopaganism (Heathenry, Ásatrú, Odinism, etc) is inspired by historical Germanic paganism. Many other neo-pagan groups are similarly focused on the revival of an older pre-Christian spirituality rooted in a particular culture, whether that be Celtic, Finnish, Hellenic, Roman, Slavic, Italian, Egyptian, etc.
There are many ideas in the Neo-Pagan movement that I relate to, but none of the above archetypes speak to me in such a way that I would want to use them as a basis for my religion or spirituality. I don’t want to be a Witch or a Druid. I don’t want to revive or reconstruct an ancient culture.
So what do I want? Who am I? What is my religion?
Maybe I am just a spiritual seeker, a mystic, a SBNR (Spiritual But Not Religious). I am inspired by mystic poets (Kahlil Gibran, Lao Tzu, Rumi, Tagore), and by genuine spiritual seekers of many different faiths. I am inspired by the Neo-Pagan moment’s emphasis on the Earth and focus on practice rather than belief. I am inspired by the focus on ‘right relationships’ between a wide variety of beings that exists in some Native American spiritualities. I am inspired by characters in a variety of mythologies. Maybe I need to explore the ‘pioneer’ archetype and blaze my own trail rather than follow an existing one.
What are the archetypes upon which you pattern your religion and spirituality? What inspires you? What do you model your behaviour on? What would Jesus do?