Every apologist must eventually cover this topic, and I thought it might be good for me to discuss my beliefs on this issue.

Given the large number of Pagan belief systems and their numerous variations, do not assume that my personal beliefs are at all representative of the larger community; only that they reflect my personal observations and what has worked for me to believe in.

Consciousness is not merely an individual trait.  To a large degree, it is shared among all things that attain some degree of life.  Any living being, if properly focused, can sense the presence, emotions, and conscious intent of any other being.  Humans have a special gift in that the human brain is extremely well-adapted not only to sensing this information when the right state of mind is achieved, but to processing this information and making good use of it.

Consciousness, I think, is apart from individual beings.  The appearance of individual consciousness is at once an illusion, and yet very real.  It is a quality that is omnipresent, and tends to cluster in nodes.

You can think of consciousness like the mycelia of a species of fungus.  It is invisible, not readily apparent, and fairly well hidden from view if you aren’t looking for it.  And yet, it is there, and it manifests in the form of fruiting bodies.

Individual beings, then, are like those fruiting bodies, the mushrooms of a particular patch of mycelia.  Some are older and larger, and more developed.  These are the spirits of the earth and the Lord and Lady.  Some are younger and less developed; these are the humans, animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and the like.

Looking at the mushrooms in one particular patch, you could be forgiven for thinking that they were all distinct individuals with no connection to each other except a common lineage, or that the larger and more developed ones were somehow the superiors of the lesser, smaller ones.  And yet, if you dig beneath the surface, you find that they are all sprung from the very same source.

Matter is everywhere, and when matter became conscious, its first nodes were the nodes of divinity and spirit; nodes of flesh and blood came much later.  Not one is inferior or superior, not one is subservient to the other.  Each is part of the same common source, infinitely related, and capable of forming bonds beyond all reasonable expectations.

This is why we do not bow before our gods; they are not separate, superior beings to be appeased, but elder brothers and sisters to be honored and welcomed, from whom we may learn great things.  We are all sprung from the same source, the source of matter and consciousness called The All; and we will all some day return to that source when all possibilities of existence are exhausted.