A View of Metaphysics from a Pagan Perspective.
Physics is the study of the observed world. What we can see, observe and determine from watching the reaction or interaction of tangible things.
Metaphysics is the study of the unseen world. That which we believe exists. The word “meta” means higher and beyond. Here we’re talking about the concepts beyond physics.
Thus metaphysics is the study of the world beyond physical observation. In this definition Metaphysics is a philosophy of physics that tries to solve the questions that material science cannot. It is the study of life beyond physics, between physical and spiritual observations. Where did we come from? Who are we? Why are we here?
Over the ages Metaphysical philosophy has migrated toward Divine concepts of positive energy, white light and focusing on the good intention of spirit. It has permeated every religion practiced by mankind around the world. You can find it in common beliefs such as “doing unto others as you’d have them do to you” in Christianity. It’s in the principles of karmic debt and credit in Hindu and Buddhism. You’ll find it in the 3 fold law in various pagan practices. “What you put out, will come back to you” is a universal concept, shared by many people, from many religions and from many walks of life. It has become the basis of many new spiritual paths such as the New Age and New Thought movements. But while its basic premise is still a strong foundation to examine one’s life, it has lost one of its most important aspects. Balance in all things.
In this perspective, Pagan Metaphysics IS NOT a New Age concept. Rather it reminds us that everything in the Universe is about Balance and that this balance is required to exist fully in life.
Pagan Metaphysics tries to bring that “white light” view back into balance. It is a concept of physics through the observation of the natural world and the natural laws of nature that “good” comes in many forms. Sometimes nature can be a cruel and violent place which many label as the ‘negative’ or ‘destructive’ forces of the world. Pagan Metaphysics not only acknowledges the negative, it sees this side of nature as being required to create balance in all things. This doesn’t mean a focus on negative actions. It merely means, an acknowledgment of its existence and recognition of its value as part of the existence of Chaos and Creation. (ie: From the Chaos of the Big Bang the Universe was Created).
Our religion is a living evolving perspective of wisdom. The more we learn in the physical scientific world, the more our perspectives should and must also change. Otherwise our understanding of spirit and incarnation lose meaning. They become stagnant and no longer provide guidance, inspiration or understanding of who we are, and our place in the Divine Universe. How can you understand where you are, when your understanding of the world is flat? When you believe you’re some hypothetical creation separate from and above everything else in nature? The more we as humans learn about the universe, the more we learn about ourselves.
Many people watch a nature program and observe a pride of lions hunt down and kill a beautiful peaceful zebra. The plotting, stalking and killing seem cruel and are definitely violent. Many would label this as the “negative” side of nature, but that’s a very short sighted view. The event itself is a violent one, but it’s also a necessary one to maintain balance in the natural world. An unhealthy Zebra can spread terrible disease through a herd, leaving suffering and pain in its wake. But the lions help by targeting the weak and sick animals that can prevent such sad occurrences. Additionally the event will feed the pride and all those cute little lion cubs will survive another day in the harsh reality of the wilderness. There are always two sides to view in any situation and what one might see as “negative” or “bad”, may actually have a bigger more “positive” intent.
This is important for several reasons. First even too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Whither you’re talking about the physics of the world or the spirituality of belief. Too much of one without the balance of the other can create terrible consequences. Take for instance a simple example. Many people believe when the cold winter months come on they must start taking in more vitamin C to boost their immune system. But recent studies have shown that a daily dose of 500mg or more could actually cause more harm over the long run than good. Causing gall or kidney stones, fluctuations in blood pressure, and various intestinal ailments. Even too much of a good thing can be bad for you.
That same concept of physics applies to metaphysics. Many people believe that being a spiritual person means always showing compassion, love, positive action in every situation. Really? Even when someone is trying to beat you with a baseball bat? This is where Pagan Metaphysics holds up the time out sign and says wait a minute. If you believe in compassion, love and positive action, how can you allow the opposite action upon your own being? In other words, if you have compassion and love of self, then you have a healthy desire to keep yourself safe. So when someone is trying to kill you with a baseball bat, your spiritual love and white light isn’t going to save you. But your instinct for balance just might.
That doesn’t mean taking the step to be aggressive. In the situation of the baseball bat beating, you don’t have to find a pipe and start fighting back. It can be as simple as finding a pipe and blocking the baseball bat from crushing your bones. Protecting yourself from harm isn’t a bad thing and it doesn’t mean you’re not being compassionate. It means you’re showing compassion and love for your own being, to want to protect it and keep it alive.
This approach to balance also plays out for those who strive to live every moment in the spiritual realm. While that’s admirable it’s not practical. As an incarnated being you are also part physical and your physical presence here in the world requires attention as well.
That means taking care of yourself through nutrition, exercise, even the mundane requirements of keeping clean, paying your bills and ensuring you have a roof over your head to live under. These are all part of the practical balances of life.
Again, too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Just as someone who is always ‘out there’ in spirit needs to be grounded, the opposite is true as well. Someone who is so focused on the physical may need to rise up a little and balance their life with a little perspective of mind and spirit.
In the last 30 years or so science has made some amazing advances in understanding the whole physics of life. Several modern theories and discoveries are slowly supporting the spiritual concepts that have long been taught in Eastern and Metaphysical philosophies. One of the more prominent of these has been the study of energy from the atom to the tiniest proton or quark. It’s energy doesn’t die, it fades, changes shape and re-emerges. Many spiritual philosophers responded to this by saying “Yeah, we already knew that. Glad you caught up with us.”
We have long believed that each person contains a soul and that soul is spiritual energy. It doesn’t die. It merely changes form and returns to the physical in a new incarnation. That science is finally discovering that energy doesn’t die, is a “proof of concept” for those of us who believe in reincarnation.
Unlike some spiritual paths, Pagan Metaphysics doesn’t ignore science, it embraces it. The more we know about the physics of our Universe the more we understand the self and our place in it. It’s a connected vision that supports each other, when the perspective isn’t overshadowed by one side or the other. Science has shown us how old the world is, how evolution has occurred, how the stars in the sky are moving and even how they were created. But modern science cannot answer all questions yet as it’s still growing and learning.
An astrophysicist can tell you how the Big Bang occurred. But at some point there is a first cause principle that they cannot answer. What exploded? A big rock. Ok, where did the rock come from? From the formation of particles. Ok, where did they come from? At some point there is a moment of creation that cannot be explained by science. Yet. And that’s ok. It can be explained by metaphysics and an understanding of spiritual concepts.
But just as spiritual paths can learn a lot about our Universe from physics, perhaps the physicists can learn a lot about our existence from Metaphysics. The balance between these two approaches may yield a more complete understanding of cause and effect on both a physical and spiritual perspective. And that is the approach of Pagan Metaphysics. Not to deny the existence of the alternative/negative/chaos; but to embrace it and strive for balance with the conventional/positive/creation. To strive for balance, in all things.
The Label: “Metaphysics”
The label ‘Metaphysics’ was coined in the late 300’s B.C. by Aristotle. This advanced thinker and philosopher had written and titled a book about ‘Physics’. This work dealt with the knowledge of physical science for his time. It is the study and known theories of physical law that revolves around the “observed world”.
Almost immediately after the completion of ‘Physics’, Aristotle began his next work, ‘Metaphysics’. This one was a continuation of the first, but where physics looks at the observed world, metaphysics looks at the underlying meaning and structure of the unseen world.
While Aristotle wrote what many consider to be the first works of Metaphysics, it wasn’t an original philosophy that he established or created. He had his predecessors to thank for that. We can look to the Egyptians, Aztecs, and the cultures of the Orient and Native American Peoples as well, and see much of the same philosophical approaches. Some of which certainly existed long before Aristotle’s time. But his knowledge came from many other Greek thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato who were his teachers.
Aristotle often gets the credit for the creation of Metaphysics as a spiritual concept in the Western World. But it’s important to remember that other cultures also held these views. It’s a universal perspective and it cannot be credited to one person. But we can give him credit for establishing a label and definition of the concept for the western world.
In addition to Aristotle, Plato also made contributions to these concepts. As did the teachings of Buddha, Vishnu, Jesus and countless other spiritual teachers through out time whose names have been lost and forgotten. When we realize that all people are more alike than we are different, and those similarities should be the focus of our actions, we honor these spiritual teachers. We also honor the balance of thought, pro to con, by allowing each culture or society of humankind to hold the beliefs they have chosen with respect.
The Essence of Pagan Metaphysics:
Respect and honor is the true measure of a spiritual path. The one that can stand on its own and allows other peaceful paths to stand on their own footing without condemnation or reprisal will survive the test of time. And more importantly, the test of spirit.
This is the perspective of Pagan Metaphysics. We strive to live in balance with all things, seen and unseen, with respect and compassion throughout the Divine Universe.
For a broader understanding of Pagan Metaphysics, I suggest the following additional reading.
- What Is Paganism? A Basic Description of Paganism & Pagan Metaphysics
- What’s In A Name? And What Does It Mean? – How Pagans Define Their Religion
- “All Paths Lead to the Same Destination” – Some Thoughts
- Living In Balance – The Balance Of Life and Spirit
- Paganism vs Satanism – Learning About Tolerance
© 2012-2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Spring’s Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Updated: January 17, 2014
A must read for all the New Agers. Another work I would like to recommend is a book called Fashionable Nonsense which examines all the recent New Age pseudo-spiritual theories that are passed as scientific facts but bearing no relation to each other whatsoever.
This is great! I have been on the Pagan path myself a long while now, and have recently begun to incorporate teachings of Wayne Dyer, Michael Bernard Beckwith and other Hay House authors, as well and they speak about of much of what you speak, but we are all spiritual beings in a human existence so yes as you say there must be balance. I myself meditate daily and practice forgiveness etc but yes you must live in the human world as well, being ”spiritual” and such won’t save you in a bad situation and you must learn to live in both realms at the same time.
just wanted to mention, I loved this post. It was great. Keep on posting!