How to Measure Success – As a Pagan!

Samhain is one time when we may explore our own mortality. What a person does in life can have a major influence on those they leave behind. If we are to weigh our actions throughout our lifetimes, how might we measure success?

Success, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary is as follows:

1: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame

2: the correct or desired result of an attempt

3: someone or something that is successful 

If you’re looking at the overall definition of success society has laid out for us, you might not feel like it’s enough – especially when you consider the differences between the more modern “American Dream” and old-world metrics of early Pagans. What is the measure of success for a Pagan? Is it wealth? Fame? Or is it more than a fancy car in the driveway and a big house? Does not having these things somehow mean we’re less of a person because of what we put away in a bank account? 

What the Pagan version of Success may look like:

Self awareness. I think the most valuable aspect of becoming a Pagan is being self aware. I think self awareness is possibly the foundation of everything we do as spiritual folks. Our words & actions have meaning whether we practice Magick or not. If we do practice Magick, I think this amplifies the intention of our daily practices. 

I have learned there is not a single thing we do that is without consequence.  We have power, and the only thing we need to unlock our Magick is to be aware of ourselves. It’s no small feat to be aware of yourself.  We may fail at our endeavor, however, I think the principle concept we should consider is that each failure is a learning experience. Once we untap the power we have inside, we become an unstoppable force. 

Personal salvation.  In Paganism, there is no mystical force from above who is going to save us. We do not “give our problems over to Christ.” We are the ones who are our own salvation. This does not mean we can’t achieve better results through group interactions such as friends, covens, or churches – however, we are the ones who ultimately make the decisions which impact the course of our lives. 

Knowing our value and worth. Knowing our own worth and place in the universe can be a life-long pursuit – however I think it is one of the most worthy ventures any person can embark upon. If we know we’re good at something, we should do it! If we know our triggers, we can guide ourselves towards healthy decisions. If we know our worth, we can release ourselves from toxic interactions because we understand that our time on this planet is too precious to waste on people who can not appreciate our value.

Social support groups. Even solitary Pagans need personal connections and support. I think human beings are designed to be social in some sense. We grow faster and communicate our own needs better when we relate with others. Our perception of self, our growth, and our value is measured equally, whether it be a handful of trustworthy friends or an entire Pagan church. When we interact with others, we have something to learn about ourselves through the mirror of humanity.

Our spiritual footprint. What are we doing to promote or support Pagan culture? Supporting and promoting our culture does not mean conversion rates or anything you might find in more evangelical practices. How you may interpret supporting Pagan culture can be seen as what kind of person you are to other Pagans, for example. Do you lift up others or do you start gossip wars? Do you recycle your garbage or do you dump it into the woods? How do you treat the earth and the inhabitants of the planet?

I don’t think success is driving fancy cars, being a social influencer with 1k views a minute, or living in a mansion. Those metrics are outdated and unrealistic for most of us. Our heritage, the ancient Roman word, Paganus, means people who come from the countryside. Our success can be quantified by so much more than the cheap plastic garbage we accumulate or advertisements which promote an unattainable self-image.

As always, thank you for reading. The concepts I’ve explored here are only one portion of the whole view. The ideas presented here are meant to be challenged. If you have any questions, constructive criticism, or you want to weigh in on a discussion, please don’t hesitate to comment here or on social media. Please follow me on Instagram @curiouscurioconjurations! – Shining Quill the Unicorn

3 Comments

  1. Do you ever think about the difference, if there is to be any, between Pagan and Heathen? Paganus being as you said a term approximating villager while Heathen from heath seems to carry a tone of wilderness as opposed to mere rusticity.

    That being said, if I had to add anything it might be that Paganism and/or Heathenry ought to concern itself with creating living, intentional legacies. Family oriented, with an understanding of one’s familial mythology and so forth. Otherwise, I think you bring up some great points. I can especially see how a solitary practitioner might position themselves to be the recipient of their own magnified negativity without a carefully selected in-group as a pressure release valve. Or at least, that’s what I remember from trying to go it alone.

  2. I really like your points regarding success. It is something I’ve struggled with. Great post.

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