O is for Omniverse

As Naturalistic Pantheists we see the universe as “god”. But we are also completely supportive of science and must adapt our spirituality to scientific advances. With more and more scientists becoming open to the idea that there might be more than one universe, where does that leave us? “Pan” means all…but what if the universe isn’t all?

The idea of parallel universes is both awe inspiring and scary. It destroys yet more of our self importance about living in the “only universe” but it also opens up many new and exciting possibilities. It answers the very puzzling question of why our particular universe seems so fine tuned for life. If we look at the insights of string theory and other cutting edge scientific theories, which suggest there are more than one universe, we need to be updating our spirituality to meet this need.

This is where the concept of the “Omniverse” comes in. Omni means “all of existence.” It’s encompasses not just this universe but any others that might exist and anything outside of them. As Pantheists, it is not difficult to simply change from saying “the universe is divine” to “the Omniverse is divine”. This is one of the greatest advantages of Naturalistic Pantheist Spirituality, we can adapt as science does. For more information on the Omniverse, check out the Pantheism Today blog.

A few other interesting points – some scientists are hypothesising that the universe could even “give birth” to child universes through black holes. Perhaps universes evolve. None if this is proven but its an intriguing concept.

The other issue I’d like to raise is the issue of the Otherworld. Making a wild assumption that perhaps religions are right about some kind of otherworldly beings existing and somehow interacting with this universe, it would not be far-fetched to believe they were part of some alternative dimension/ universe that somehow is entwined with our own. Just a thought.

Celebrating Samhain

Happy Samhain everyone. Also known as Halloween or All Hallows Eve, this is the festival on which the ancient Celts celebrated the end of the harvest season and the beginning of Winter. It also marks the Celtic new year. For the ancient Irish, days always began at sunset and Samhain (pronouned Sow-een) celebrations would therefore start on the eve of 31st October.

At this time the earth has appeared to die, laying dormant through the dark cold times ahead. The leaves have fallen from the trees and the harvests have been collected from the fields. Summer is over (Samhain means “Summers end”) and winter begins. The days are getting much shorter and colder and animals are busy making final preparations for winter. Traditionally it was believed to be bad luck to harvest anything after this date and therefore any remaining harvest is left as an offering to deities.

Jack-o-lantern

Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the ancient Celts who split the year into two halves, Samhain marks the transition from the summer half of the year to the winter half, from life to death. They believed that any time or place of transition was sacred. At this time, the veil between this world and the Otherworld was at its thinnest and therefore the spirit world and the human world could interact. Many of the modern practices of Halloween have roots in this belief – whether putting lights in carved pumpkins (originally turnips) to scare off evil spirits or giving out treats to those dressed as devils and ghosts to bribe them not to cause trouble to the family. It was also a time for divination and for honouring the dead.

With the revival of Paganism, the practice of venerating ancestors, a practice of the ancient Celts once dead in the western world, has begun to grow in popularity again. As Naturalistic Pantheists, this practice should also be a part of our lives. Samhain is a time of remembrance. It is a time to honour those who have died, whether friends, family or ancestors. It is a time to remember them and to be thankful for the role they have played in influencing our lives. They are not gone, they live on within us through our memories and genes, and within the earth as their atoms are reincarnated into a thousand different creations. Samhain reminds us that one day, we too must die. It is a time take stock of our lives and to meditate on the cycle of life and death, confronting a topic we too often do our best to avoid. 

It is traditional to celebrate this festival by eating a large feast of late harvest foods e.g. pumpkins, apples, root vegetables and barmbrack bread. It is also the traditional time for remembering our ancestors and those we have loved and lost e.g. by visiting their graves and putting fresh flowers there. Personally, I build an altar and put photos and mementos of those I have lost recently on it. This year I have spent much of the past month researching my family history in order to create a family tree and know more about the ancestors I wish to honour. On Samhain eve I perform a ritual of remembrance, lighting a candle for each person I am remembering and holding a minutes silence in respect. This year that will include both my grandmother and her dog. I am also having a party with friends, decorating the house and eating traditional foods.

Hope you have a wonderful Samhain and a happy Celtic New Year to you,