I considered whether I should put spoiler warnings on this post or not. After all, every show I am going to discuss ended more than a decade ago. The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, closer to 20 years. But I decided that just in case there are people out there who haven’t watched Star Trek in depth but still plan to one day, I’ll include one. So consider this your SPOILER WARNING. I’ll be discussing the themes of Star Trek and some of the specifics, not just in this post, but in the following series that this post is inaugurating.
Like many people who inhabit the internet, I proudly consider myself a geek. I indulge in many geeky fandoms and past-times, but the one that goes back the farthest is most definitely Star Trek. For reasons I won’t get into, I had a somewhat difficult childhood. Star Trek was always my happy place, my retreat from a world that seemed, at times, unbearably cruel. In many ways, Star Trek is responsible for raising me. Captain Jean-Luc Picard was more than a role model to me; he was a father figure when my own parents fell woefully short of the role. I think I may have first started exploring archaeology because it was a passion of Picard’s, but I have honestly watched Star Trek for as far back as I can remember, so it’s hard to actually pinpoint when some of my interests really began.
Star Trek was how I first began to form a moral code. Star Trek shaped my worldview in many ways, from my love of science and science fiction, to my ethics, to my love and wonder of the natural world. I saw the wonder I felt at the beauty of the universe reflected in the characters on Star Trek, without irony or bitterness or embarrassment. At the time I didn’t realize how rare this was to see portrayed on TV. I’m glad that I didn’t realize that when I was young. I’m glad that the awe at the universe is part of my personality now, too deeply embedded to be ripped out.
Although Gene Roddenberry saw the future of humanity as a humanist, atheistic, and non-religious, I can now see Pagan and animist themes running through it. Most of the time, these stories are told through the non-human characters, with the exception of Benjamin Sisko in Deep Space Nine. The symbolism of Star Trek speaks to me, and I’m sure it always will. While I am not a Pop Culture Pagan (::shudder:: PLEASE stop worshiping Kylo Ren!), and I do not believe that sci-fi characters have incorporeal spirits on the level of our Gods and spirits, I do believe there are things to be learned here. These characters are written from subconscious archetypes, from what Tolkien would call the “cauldron of story”. When every writer creates a story, they both take from the cauldron and add to it. Even if Roddenberry saw humanity’s future as atheistic, religious themes couldn’t help but sneak in through the show’s non-human characters. This is because without these themes, the universe would be incomplete, no matter how many species you populate it with.
So, I have decided to start a new series, Star Trek for Pagans, focusing on the spiritual aspects of my favorite sci-fi show. Because the Gods will always be the main focus of this blog, there will most likely be only one Star Trek post a month, but it could very well be much less often. It might well be whenever I damn feel like it. Fair warning! I know I won’t be writing for this series as often as for others I work on. Look for the first post, coming in about a week or so, about Klingon religion. That post I have been working on off and on since November, and its about 7 pages already, so I’m eager to finish it and get it out.