I just finished reading this article and I think it is freaking awesome. Many of the things that Dagulf discusses in this article I find I whole heartily agree with him.
What are your thoughts?
I just finished reading this article and I think it is freaking awesome. Many of the things that Dagulf discusses in this article I find I whole heartily agree with him.
What are your thoughts?
Many times when I do readings I get the message to tell someone not to be so hard on themselves; to give themselves time to heal from the wounds that the world has given them. And inevitably, the client (especially my deeply pagan clients) look at me with surprise. They then proceed to tell me that their God is not the type to allow someone to wallow in pity. Instead, they tell me their Gods and Goddesses are the type to push someone to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it.
I fully agree, to an extent. As someone who feels very honored to have a relationship with Odin, I know first hand that there are Gods out there that want us to ‘get on with it’. They want us to accept our shortcomings and grow up.
But that request to ‘grow up’ or ‘get over it’ isn’t the same as giving ourselves time to heal from the deep wounds that the world gives us. And in that aspect, I think that we are missing an important factor in the relationship with our Gods. Although they want us to grow, Gods and Goddesses can also can be compassionate and supportive of us being compassionate for ourselves and for our fellow human beings.
Now before you start getting weirded out by images of Odin sitting around a camp fire holding hands and singing, hear me out.
We know that during early periods of civilization the Gods moved around within pantheons a lot. We know that at times one God usurped another when civilization changed. Gods of the wildlands were replaced or altered to represent the fertile fields and of agriculture. And in time, those Gods were also altered or replaced to represent war and protection from other civilizations thirsting for conquest. I’m not going to get into all the specifics, but they are all there in the history books for anyone to see. And this happened in many different civilizations.
The point that I’m trying to make is that the Gods changed when humanity needed them to. And for thousands of years, humanity was OK with that. In fact, in our current time, we have been known to modify our own practices to mold to our own needs. And even from a reconstructionist pagan standpoint, we see that modification today.
For an example, let’s look at Beltane, the fertility festival celebrated by many pagans around the world. This festival was originally a fertility rite, both for the fields and for fertility of our species. We still see this holiday as a perfect time for couples to do fertility rites to get pregnant, but we recognize that the survival of the species because of lack of fertility is not as serious of an issue today as it was two thousand years ago. We don’t need to utilize that rite to secure survival of our species. In fact, I think we all can agree that there is an overabundance of humans now on the planet.
So what do we do with this fertility rite? Do we stop celebrating it, or do we reframe it to our needs today? What we find is that many pagans do a very good job of reframing it. We still honor and remember those of long ago and why they celebrated Beltane, but instead of fertility for the fields and for our species, pagans might celebrate the rites to work towards the fertility of money, the fertility of ideas that would allow them to further their careers or the fertility of wisdom and aid with the goal of bettering themselves in some way in order to continue to honor the Gods on this plane of existence. And I think we can all agree that the Gods worshiped during the height of Beltane haven’t abandoned us because we modified the rites to more clearly represent what our needs are in this day and age.
I’ve pointed out that we have modified rites to reflect our current culture, and I’ve also pointed out that the Gods have changed based on the needs of the population at the time. Now what does all of this have to do with the Gods having compassion?
One of the biggest needs of the day in my mind is compassion. Open your favorite social media site and I can guarantee you will find something in your feed that is argumentative. You may also find something that will get you frustrated or even angry. It’s a very easy example because it happens on a regular basis. Want another? Drive your daily commute, or just drive anywhere on a highway in fact. We are human, we are going to get angry at the person who just jumped in front of us and slammed on their brakes, or who decided to drive in the faster lane of the road yet is going under the speed limit for some reason.
All of this anger has slowly built up over the years to the point where we are today. For years we have let the anger fester in our minds and souls, causing us finally to lash out at ‘those’ type of people. Those that don’t think like us, those that don’t act like us, or those that believe differently than us. We have become a polarized world that praises ‘sticking it’ to the other person over trying to come up with a compromise.
It didn’t happen overnight. And there are more root causes of the problem than anger, but built up anger is absolutely a part of the problem. We hold anger for ourselves, hold anger for our lot in life, hold anger and jealousy at others for having more, or for getting more assistance than us. The anger bubbles up at our politicians (who may deserve it from time to time) and causes us to lash out at others who disagree. And to battle we go.
For many of us, we feel like we either have limited options. We could either take a side and fight for it, get the heck out of the way of the arguing forces or be run over; a casualty of the environment that has been slowly forming over many years.
Any one of those stances is going to cause anyone to have battle damage. And this isn’t even the worst of the battle damage we carry around.
Our upbringings aren’t always rosy. Our relationships with others can become abusive. Life has its traumas, and we endure each and every one of them, but they don’t leave us exactly how we were prior to the situation. Sometimes the changes are physical; a scar appears where a wound once was. Sometimes the wounds are emotional, and we end up hardening some to those around us. But no matter if the wounds were physical or emotional, there is a spiritual component to the wound as well. Hardened hearts change the outlook on our spirituality. Perhaps we stop caring as much about helping those in need because we are bitter about our own circumstances. Perhaps we end up angry at our Gods for allowing things to be the way they are.
The world is changing, it’s getting more rough edges, and because of it we are hardening more than we realize. I’ve seen even the most compassionate of Shamans make critical comments against another in the current hardened climate. And I know I’ve done it myself numerous times.
Yes, there are times when we must be hard. Perhaps we must defend ourselves from those abusers or from those that would do us ill will. That is important too.
But what do we do with all the pain, anger and battle damage that has struck at our core and dimmed our spirit?
Why not give it to the Gods as an offering of endurance?
Why not ask for their aid to heal properly so that our souls can shine again?
Why not ask for their strength to see situations with compassion in an effort to make the outcome less hardened?
This is different than just ‘getting on with it’. There will be times in everyone’s life that the hardened edge they encounter is small enough that it does little damage. That is when it is perfectly acceptable to hear from our Gods that we must just ‘get on with it’.
But what about when the hurts are so great that they affect our daily lives? What about those who have suffered any form of abuse for any period of time? What about the traumas of life that shake you to the very core? I don’t believe the Gods want to just look at us and say, ‘get on with it’. Sure, we may THINK that is what they want us to do, but perhaps that is how we are conditioned to believe. We’ve had almost 2000 years of a religion that has given us the group mentality that we are scum and not worthy of taking time for ourselves. This religion has told us for years that we are unworthy of healing or compassion, and that we have to grovel and beg for healing and forgiveness.
Christianity has provided us with a group mind and culture that says we are weak and lacking. Advertising agencies have already picked up on this and used it to sell us products to make us feel better. Many people start waking up, and reach to Pagan Gods and Goddesses, (the very ones we think tell us to ‘get over it’) in order to get out of that mindset, and that is fantastic. But are we allowing our personal beliefs to also make us feel better, or make us worse in other places?
At the very least, consider that the Gods and Goddesses that you are willing to fight for, the Divinity that you know will fight by your side, is also a Divinity that would be willing to tend to the wounds that you received from the fight you fought together. That isn’t an unreasonable request, and one that could easily happen on the battlefields of old.
And if you are willing to go that far, also consider that sometimes the wounds that you receive may put you out of the fight for a while, and perhaps your God or Goddess understands that better than you realize. Recognize too that if you could no longer fight, the Gods and Goddesses were compassionate enough to give you a place to go after you passed this plane of existence.
In my own personal journeys with Odin and Loki, I’ve come to realize that they are accepting of me when I am at my best, but they also are accepting of me when I am at my weakest. Loki especially encourages me to look at my areas of weakness and learn to make them strong, and he has shown me that brute strength is not enough to do that. In order to become stronger, you also have to have compassion, you have to have the courage to allow yourself to be weak, and perhaps even show that weakness to others in order to allow them to help you find your strength. Compassion allows us to accept who it is we are without the glamour or lies that we tell ourselves. Compassion allows us to look at the wounds we have received in battle and honestly evaluate them to understand how we need to heal. And compassion is what we need to recognize the true amount of time we need to do that.
If we can expect our Gods and Goddesses to accept our feats of strength as appropriate offerings, why not also allow our feats of courage and compassion to be offerings to them as well? Especially in today’s world, it’s going to take a significantly larger amount of effort to show compassion than to follow the status quo. In those times when compassion is most needed, wouldn’t it be a better offering to show that compassion since it does take so much more effort?
And if you were one of the millions in this world who has emotional, physical and spiritual wounds, don’t you think your Gods would want you to heal as well as you can from those wounds? And in order to heal fully, don’t you think that you have to have compassion for yourself? So why wouldn’t a God or Goddess not have compassion for you? Wouldn’t they be proud of you, because they know you realize that fighting isn’t something that is going to allow you to heal properly?
Perhaps it’s time for us to shift our thinking. Perhaps it’s time we honor our Gods and Goddesses with different offerings; acts of compassion and beauty. Maybe we need to recognize that even though they may not seem like a form of divinity that would react with compassion, perhaps they at least have understanding of the compassion that we need to have for ourselves and each other. And perhaps they already are ready to adapt to that compassion to help de-escalate the polarization of the world.
Pandora really pisses me off sometimes.
I started building a new radio station to listen to at work based on one of my favorite bands, Breaking Benjamin. I’ve been in a bit of a melancholy mood for a while now so it fit to create a station around them. (For those that don’t know, the lead singer of Breaking Benjamin has been pretty public about his personal issues with anxiety and phobias, and to me you can feel that in his music. You can also feel the strength he uses to fight those illnesses, and that is what appeals right now. Times are tough, and we can be upset, but we also have strength in spades to get through).
So everything is going pretty well, and of course, as Pandora is designed to do, new music pops up. And it’s from the band Skillet. This is a band I wrote about awhile back. They are Christian, and don’t shy away from speaking about that. In fact, the reason they are still together is because one of their pastors counseled them to keep pushing forward and continue to speak about the “Glory of God”. In other words, keep that recruiting up! We need the revenue! (Yes, I’m aware my bias is showing here).
So that song got the Pandora thumbs down.
Then Ashes Remain came on. Again, another Christian Rock band. I looked them up, and they are too much like Skillet for my tastes. So another thumbs down logged. After the third Christian band popped up, I just decided to start looking up a list of “Christian” rock bands. I found out there are quite a few. The Color Morale, Red, Beartooth, Thousand Foot Krutch and many others I listen to identify as Christian. And that really bothers me.
So my choices now were that I’m going to have to either keep logging thumbs down on songs a lot more than I thought, or I’m just going to have to accept that there are a lot of Christian bands out there and pick and choose what I like. And if I just listen to them anyway, I get to do this despite the fact that I feel like most of these bands are out there specifically to recruit people to a religion broken by the people who identify with it.
Believe it or not, this is a pretty hard decision for me. I’ve done my best to steer clear of Christianity for many years. Christians can go live over there, and I’m here in my own belief system that suits me just fine. And occasionally, on my own terms, I’ll seek out those that I know don’t ‘recruit’ and see what they have to say. Speak to me about learning to become a better person, helping the planet or helping others gain their basic human rights and we will have things in common. Talk to me about how my religion is somehow wrong or beneath yours, and the conversation will very quickly be over.
However, times are changing, and perhaps the mix that Pandora chose for me is just a catalyst for the realization that I have more lessons to learn. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to accept that those of the Christian faith who look at me differently are integrated around me more than I feel comfortable about. Right now I just keep that out of my mind. However, perhaps that habit is a negative response, especially because of the amount of anger that comes up when I think about it. And sooner or later, I’m going to have to deal with that anger; the real reason my bias exists.
So here is the crux of the matter: I have more issues with the Christian religion than I thought. And now, I’m going to have to get off my gluteus maximus and figure out what those issues are and deal with them.
I talked about the fear of God syndrome once before. And I thought that once I wrote that post, that I had dealt with my issues regarding Christianity, and that was that. I thought I was doing a good job separating the religion from the people. Because honestly, the religion itself isn’t THAT bad. Love one another. Judge not lest ye be judged. Be still and know that I am God. Let him without sin cast the first stone. All of these things have profound meanings. And they are meanings that transcend the Christian religion. To me, it’s the PEOPLE who claim to be Christian that cause 90% of the problems with that religion, maybe even more.
I don’t need to go far to come up with excellent examples. Look at those who are against abortion. Sure, they are pro-life while the child is in the womb, but the minute the child is born there will be very little support it if the child was born outside of a strong family unit. Look at the prosperity gospel and how many people who have given up their entire life savings hoping for a miracle. Finally, and what angers me the most, is the issues in the current situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘Christians’, in the current political climate argue against verses from the book that they claim to follow. “Oh, that verse is just hyperbole. Verses like that are throughout the entire bible.” Or, “Sure, it says turn the other cheek, but at the same time, Jesus wouldn’t want me to stand by and watch as my family gets robbed and killed.” Plainly put, these people will twist things to match what they want to believe, and they don’t give a shit about the true meaning of that religious text.
Perhaps I’m tired of seeing how people twist religion to make it fit what it is they want to do. It’s the same with the racism in Heathenism. There are interpretations of many religions that inflict more harm than they do good, and when that happens, there is something seriously wrong with the people that profess to be following that religion. Perhaps it wasn’t the case in older times, but in the current age I firmly believe that religion is meant to help us understand the world around us and how we fit in with that world. I firmly believe that the times where religion divided us should be over. We have evolved further than that.
But unfortunately, power over people is still something that is strived for by many. And religion is a tool that has been used for thousands of years to do just that; get power over people. And for the most part, people are programmed to accept that when it comes to religion, you are expected to relinquish your power to get anywhere. And thus you have the strife and conflict that we see today. And that leads me back to my current dilemma.
But at least now I can speak to the issue more clearly.
I am pretty damn angry at people within the Christian churches. I’m angry at how they failed me in my upbringing, how they didn’t answer my questions and how they forced me to follow along in a religion even though I felt so very different in my soul. I’m angry at the strife they caused me and so many other people like me that felt different. I’m angry that they made us feel like outsiders unless we conformed. I’m very angry they caused us to be afraid of the very Gods that were there to help us the entire time. And I am mad as hell that I have to deal with all of the leftovers of this upbringing. I get to deal with all of the confusion and pain as to why I can’t understand or fit with the people who call themselves Christian. I get to deal with them time and time again telling me that I still am wrong and that I need to ‘get with the program’ in order to save my soul. I get to deal with the embedded ‘fear of God’s wrath’ if I dare try to be myself. I get to deal with how I felt back then because I dared ask questions that people couldn’t answer. And last but not least, I get to learn over and over again how to be a survivor in a country that claims to be Christian, yet refuses to treat people the way their own Jesus said to.
And I’m allowed to be mad. I’m allowed to be mad as hell. I’m allowed to be so mad that I can spit nails anytime anyone asks me if “I’ve found Jesus” yet. Yeah, I found him, and he’s over in the Middle East doing what he can for the refugees that are dying. And now that you mention it, I saw him the other day in your church, bent over the altar weeping at those using his house for their own personal gain.
Obviously I’m showing my anger. I’m trying to get it out; to get a name to it. I need to identify and deal with it. I need to deal with it because of people like John Pavlovitz, Rob Bell, Michael Beckwith, Revered Ed Bacon and many others. Although these people are only a few of the vast number of Christians out there, they believe differently. They believe like me; that God is large enough to be involved in many different religions. They believe we are stronger if we support and take care of each other, no matter what religion you profess. And their beliefs contain the possibilities of what Christianity could become. So there is hope. Further, and thanks to the current political climate, I’m reminded that I, someone who is in a religion in the minority, needs to learn to work with others who are in the minority. Get enough of us together and we will become the majority, forcing change throughout the country.
Even if it is for that last reason alone, I need to deal with this anger.
I’m not sure where this thinking is going to lead me. I hope it’s someplace positive. I don’t want to dismiss good people trying to do what is right. And I know the people I mentioned above are trying to do just that. But the tenant of my faith says that I must work on myself; that I must overcome my own shortcomings and strive to be a better person. This is what it means to me when I say I stand with my Gods.
So I guess because of my faith, my religion, I need to figure out a way to be more accepting to those that truly profess theirs. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to feel bad for not listening to Skillet and bands like them that profess the current status quo of this currently broken religion.
Photo from Deviant Art
Last night I found out that the white men who took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge were found not guilty.
Then I found out about all of the horrible atrocities the peaceful protesters of Standing Rock were receiving about the same time. Horses being shot, protesters being pepper sprayed and given broken bones from the militarized clearing of the 1851 camp made me feel like there was no hope left.
Pipe ceremonies have been done, prayers have been said over and over again. Support has been given, and the stakes for this standoff are so high they are going to affect the world. And the past several days events have just been so horrible, I didn’t see a way they could win.
Feeling so much despair, I reached out to the spirit in the pipe that I hold. I asked the spirit, “How could things keep getting so bad? Was the standoff always expected to go the way of the big oil companies because of some big grand scheme that we were all a part of, yet could not know all of the details?”
And then I see this on my Facebook feed:
I damn near cried at my desk at work.
Grandfather might not want to immediately intercede, but he’s letting us know his presence is there through the spirit of the bison.
As long as the bison run free, there will always be hope.
A video is at the link above, and I found another link on You Tube:
To help or for more information, see the links below:
Sacred Stone Camp -site with news and information
Red Warrior Camp – Go Fund Me page
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman
Over the year that I have been working with Loki, Sigyn and Odin, I have found a happiness that I never thought was possible within religion. In all of my years as a practicing Christian, I never felt the Christian God the way I feel the ones that I am working with now. Yes, the Christian God felt alive to me, but I didn’t “feel” like one of “his” children. Even when I was doing other pagan and Wiccan practices, I never felt so close to the Gods as I do now. The more devotional things I do for Odin, Sigyn and Loki, the more I feel and hear them.
I wonder if in today’s constant strife regarding the role of religion if this is something that we are lacking. We see a lot of posts about how and what people think about their Gods, their practice and what other people should or shouldn’t do, but we aren’t seeing many posts about how we FEEL about our Gods. Perhaps if we looked at how we feel about our Gods, and in turn how they feel about us, we wouldn’t have as much argument. It doesn’t matter how we find our own ways to get there, but in the end, if you are content with your practice and feel the connections to the Gods, then that connection can be a starting point to reach out to other religions.
My connections to my Gods make me feel alive. They soothe my soul and make me feel whole. Odin helps me to understand that I do not know everything, and that I have a long road to get to the level of understanding that I want to be at. He recognizes that I have value in who I am and in what I do, and that I’m not afraid of going outside that which I know in order to get something done, especially in his honor.
My connection to Loki is one that is very hard to describe. I feel his passion and fire within me, and that has gotten me through rough times, especially when I am having a hard time with my chronic pain. Loki also helps me learn to accept all of myself. This includes those pieces of me that I feel are less than desirable. I’m allowed to be angry, I’m allowed to dislike things. But I am also allowed to recognize those feelings but that I don’t have to DO anything about them. I can let things go as they may; I don’t have to make everything right for everyone, or even for myself. And while I am not constantly on the lookout for the rug to be pulled out from under me in some aspect of my life, I recognize that it may happen. And when it does, I am enough to do whatever it is that is needed to make the best out of the situation.
Sigyn is a much deeper lady than anyone gives her credit for. To know her is to know that there are other aspects of her that she does not show to many. She is the consoler, but she also does not let people shirk their duties because of their pain. She asks of you to do what it is you can, to find the limit and work to it, then to recognize that that is enough. Some days those limits are higher than others. Sometimes they are much lower. Either way, that is OK. She also teaches that once you have met the limit, Rest for your body and for your soul is always necessary. She is the champion of us who have chronic illness, a lady of quiet wisdom and strength, and a child of wonder and awe. She is someone you must sit with for a time as she must know you before she opens herself to you.
Some readers may also remember that I am the holder of a medicine pipe of Native American traditions. This relationship too has been solidified over the year. I am not as afraid as I once was of the power that likes within the sumac and pipestone. Instead, I recognize that its purpose is to help heal and teach those who are within its influence. Ceremonies with the pipe are not things that happen often, but when they do, they will need to be done very carefully and purposefully. And even when the pipe is in its bags, proper respect is still expected. I find myself still giving offerings to it whenever I feel it is necessary. Finally, the pipe doesn’t have to be out to speak. It will speak to whomever it needs to, whenever the time is right.
A year ago I made pacts with these Gods that I would renew within a year and a day so long as they still wanted me, and I still felt comfortable with them. Now I recognize that the connections that I have made with them will last much, much longer. And I am absolutely OK with this. It feels so nice to finally find a home. It just took me throwing out some of the things that others taught and feeling my way through my own truth.
Perhaps speaking about these connections will help others speak about their own feelings regarding their relationships with the Gods. Perhaps they will think on how they feel, and recognize that we all have a common starting point; the joy and comfort the Gods bring as well as the continuous lessons that we receive on a day to day basis. I don’t expect this post to change all that. But it might get some people thinking at least about expressing their own connections to divinity. And even if it doesn’t, I’m still happy at the fact that I can express the relationships that I have had a hand in making for myself.
Photo from Deviant Art.
As I go throughout my life, I recognize more and more that I need limits. Not only are they important in my physical life and in dealings with other people, but they are important in my spiritual life as well.
I am not the type of person to shy away from a challenge, especially when it pertains to my self-improvement. I’ve done a lot of things toward the goal of making myself a better person over the years. I’ve lost significant amounts of weight, quit smoking, quit eating things that were bad for me or that I was allergic to. (I know that one is a given, but I know family members who refuse to give things up, even when they know it hurts them!) I’ve changed my demeanor to the point that I have had people who haven’t seen me for a while come up to me and tell me I am a totally different person than what they knew before. The changes aren’t being driven from the outside. Instead, I’ve always wondered how far I can push myself to change, and to see what those changes would do for me.
Self improvement is one of the very basic things that I believe the Gods want us to do in this lifetime; we have to deal with the things that we are given, deal with the things that we have done to ourselves, and of course, deal with the stuff that others do. We have to get through all of this in order to get to the nature of who it is we are as human beings. It is only then that we see the gifts that the Gods give us to use in service to ourselves and others.
To that end, I believe the Gods take an active role in pushing you further in this life. They are going to give you opportunities to come to terms with things that are going on. They are going to give you opportunities to deal with roadblocks you put in your own way. And as a reward, they are going to give you keys to the different gifts that you hold inside of yourself. And the more you push yourself, the more the Gods will push you to go deeper into your spiritual path. In the end, what you do makes you better equiped to do their will on this planet. It’s never more than you can handle, but they still give as much as you think you can take.
That’s where the limits come in.
I’m recognizing the days of ‘overhauling’ my personal nature are pretty much over. At 41, I’m finally recognizing that I am enough, and that a lot of the mistakes, abuse and issues from my past are now dealt with. And if they aren’t dealt with now, they are at least on their way to becoming dealt with. But for a while there, I still kept piling on projects like I still needed a lot more work, and the Gods reciprocated by opening up other doors of possibility for me.
Finally, a couple months ago, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with stuff. . A friend of mine, after hearing about how in conversations with my Gods I was told about these possibilities, said to me that it was OK to say no. That thought had never occurred to me before. Say no to a God? Seriously?
It took me some time to realize it was true. And it’s all a part of self-care that I needed to do for myself now.
Now I understand. My Gods want me to say ‘no’ from time to time. It helps them know that I am putting my self-care first, something that is very important because of the physical maladies that I have to deal with on a day to day basis. They want me to know that I can stand up for myself, whether it be to them or to someone else who is either imposing on my time or causing me undue stress and harm.
I have a bet too, that I’m not the only one that needs to say ‘no’ occasionally. Gods, especially those in the Norse pantheon, don’t want us to bow and venerate them all of the time. They want us to work with them, both to make ourselves better and to make this world a better place. But the only way we can effectively enter a relationship with them and do that is if we are honest about our own limits. It’s weird to think that we can say ‘no’, as I know many who worship in pantheist traditions don’t think that they can. And those of us who were brought up in said traditions immediately carry that mindset of not being able to say ‘no’ to their polytheist practice.
Now that I have accepted it, I realize setting limits needs to happen frequently, and we need to be aware that they change. As a sufferer of fibromyalgia, I am constantly reviewing my efforts to stay active. And that means that if I want to pursue one activity, another one is going to suffer. I have to be OK with that. It doesn’t mean I’m going to drop the activity that suffers, but it does mean that it needs to go on hold for awhile. This is the same with my spiritual practices. I can’t spend an hour each day on practicing and reviewing the runes while also wanting to do a significant meditation practice and build a better spiritual gardening practice. All of that takes time and energy, and with fibro, both of those are significantly limited.
Especially as we start to journey toward the Autumnal Equinox, I find my spiritual practices going back to focusing on balance. Limits need to be created and maintained in order to find that balance. We still aren’t through this extensive year of work yet; and I expect the next months until year’s end are going to be very productive on many different levels. Reviewing and redefining my limits right now are going to go a long way to getting myself ready for the work ahead.
Photo from Deviant Art
Last week I helped to bury the patriarch of my extended family. My Grandfather was a strong, noble, wonderful man who held together all of the extended families with his presence. If he said ‘be here on this date’, all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren would assemble, ready to do whatever it was he wanted.
His burial was a Catholic one, and I once again found myself in the Catholic church of my upbringing. The funeral home’s services also were Christian in nature as my Grandfather’s faith in the church was just as strong as he was. Even the Knights of Columbus came to give their respects and held their own special service to commemorate his 50 years of service with them.
The tone of the funeral and it being populated with so many strong christian and Catholic overtones reminded me of one many years earlier, the funeral of my great-grandmother. Weeks before my great-grandmother’s funeral, I had come out to my parents as being pagan. At that time they didn’t say much about it, but instead chose to unleash their anger at me on the drive home from my great-grandmother’s funeral. I remember that drive vividly, as it was filled with my mother’s tears and ranting. Specifically aimed at me, my mother ranted about how my great-grandmother, also a devout Catholic, had shown such unwavering faith in her religion, and how dare I belittle her by not following suit with my own faith.
This recent funeral didn’t come with the same yelling, but it did come with a deep silence that felt like an uncrossable chasm between my family and I. In the end, no one took notice of my half-hearted attempt at mumbling through the remembered prayers of my childhood. And the not going up to communion was still easily explained at the fact that I cannot eat wheat without getting violently sick. That isn’t what I wanted though. I would have much rather had a long conversation with them about what I believe and why, and how the values and morals that I carry in my heart are so much like their own, even though we do pray to different Gods.
I wanted so badly to explain to them that my desire to better myself and help others around me steers my life and is based in my beliefs, even though there is no bible that dictates it. I wanted to tell them that they would be proud of me, because I don’t just speak of my beliefs on Sundays and on events like this, but instead I speak of my Gods on a daily basis, and am constantly in a state of communication with them, allowing them to guide my actions as they see fit. I wanted very much for them to see that the faith that they yelled at me years ago for not having is there and is so much stronger than I ever thought it would be.
I wanted to say how much I pray; how often I give offerings, not only things like what is dictated by the Christian church, but yet I give so much more than that and included volunteering, prayers for the dead, prayers and blessings for those around me and actions to help this earth that we all live on. How I wanted to explain that each of my offerings came directly from my heart and was because I felt it was needed, not dictated by Christian doctrine.
I wanted to say I didn’t need the bible to give me comfort in the loss of my Grandfather. I wanted to explain to them that I knew he was home, and that no bible was needed to explain that to me. And most importantly, I wanted to say I knew that someday we would all see him again, regardless of what we believed, how ‘good’ we were at ‘repenting’, or what religion we claimed to be.
In the end, I didn’t say those things. I’ve given up on the idea that my parents or my sisters would understand me. Instead, my family is more comforted in their beliefs that I am an atheist, because this ‘pagan’ ideal is much to hard for them to understand.
So the silence still remains. And I grieve the loss of my Grandfather alone. I have learned to leave the silence in place, as every time I have tried to cross that uncomfortable quiet I am struck down. I am silenced by them again and again because my beliefs do not come from a book, nor do my beliefs need someone else to validate them for me.
In the end, I am stronger for what I believe, and I know this. But it doesn’t stop me from wishing for that one day to come when I can talk to them and help them understand. But I guess that will just have to wait for the time when we are all on the other side of the veil.
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