A Tale of Two Deer

After some of the horror that we’ve seen in the US these past days, I thought it might be time for a little bit of a nicer story.

The company I work for exists in buildings that were built right next to a state certified wetland, therefore there is a good amount of the property that the company can’t build on.  Instead of letting this land go totally wild, the company maintains trails throughout the land for the employees to use.  There is also a nice side open field the company has created to allow associates to come and picnic, or use for cross country skiing or even training for trail runs, which I’ve seen associates do before.  The land is privately owned however, so you must be a company employee in order to utilize it.

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Back in July, however, something peculiar showed up in the open field.  Two baby deer, waiting for their momma.  The employees left them alone, with the exception of getting pictures.  Overall, we thought momma was very smart, leaving her two babies in a field where humans frequent.  That would be a perfect place for them to be safe from predators.

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Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.  After seeing the babies over and over, we realized momma had been the deer that was hit several weeks previously.  These babies were orphaned.  But as we kept seeing them in the field, they went from simply sitting to eating grass and finding places to sit in the shade when it just got too hot in the sun.  21077281_10213512057256774_4321863583240579355_n.jpgSome weeks would go by and I’d see them every day out on my walk.  Other weeks, I’d see them once or twice.  Every time I’d see them, I’d talk to them for a few minutes before I continued on my journey around the walking trail.  I worried a little bit about what they would have to eat, but with the creek and wetlands, apple trees and fruit bushes on the property I figured they would be OK.  And none of the associates that work here tried to pet them; instead, we all took pictures, and went on with our business.  The only real roads they have to cross now are the small ones that link the parking lots for the multiple buildings together, and those all have a very low speed limit.

The deer have a pretty nice size of property in addition to our area too.   Many other businesses on our side of the road were built around the wetland, which means the deer have solid woods for roughly half a city block around my company’s property.  And it’s all private; so there will be no hunting in this area.

There was a lull in our sightings of the babies in August and September.  I had hoped they were OK, but felt that it was best that we didn’t see them.  Perhaps they had learned about how to behave like proper deer, and hide when the humans came around.  But about two weeks ago; another associate I work with spotted what we thought were the baby deer on one of the trails.  He pointed them out to me.  When I looked at them, I realized those weren’t our baby deer.  One had a serious amount of antlers.  And they were much more wary of us humans than the babies were.  I think one of them had to be daddy.  And perhaps daddy had picked up on raising the babies where momma had left off.

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This week, I was able to spot both of them again.  As you can see by the photos, they still aren’t afraid to be seen.  Sometimes they stay together, but sometimes they wander on their own as well.  IMG_5003.JPGTheir spots have gone, and they are getting bigger by the day.  I think the day will come soon when we don’t see them at all anymore; they’ll take their daddy’s advice and keep away  from the humans.  The day I took the final picture of them above, I did stick around to see what they would do when they saw a moving car.  And wisely, they quickly made for the foliage around them instead of sticking around to see where the car would go.  So they are still OK with humans, for now, but don’t like cars, and that is very good news.

I hope that I’ll get the occasional chance to see them as they continue to grow.  But even if I didn’t, I’ve very much enjoyed the times I did see them.

 

 

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New Age Bashing

Several weeks ago, an article entitled “New Age Bullshit Part 1” popped up in “A Parliament of Owls – Spiritual & Metaphysical Chat for Wandering Owl Fans” discussion group on Facebook. Since then, It’s been on my mind quite a bit.  It’s been on my mind because I agree with some of the author’s points, but I also very much disagree about his stance on the new age movement.

In the article, the author speaks immediately about the jargon people in the new age movement use. (He calls them ‘lightworkers’ in the article).  Specifically, he speaks to how most lightworkers only talk about love and light, Further down in the article he speaks to how some of these people refuse to even consider the darker sides of the soul, speaking to how most lightworkers believe that if they don’t give any energy to that side of them, the dark side can’t hurt them, or basically, it won’t exist.   This is where I do agree with him.  Yes, there are people out there that have been in the new age movement for quite some time and don’t think about anything but ‘the light’ and preach how staying in ‘the light’ allows this and that and allows you to develop <insert touchy-feely statement here>.

I further agree with the author that many of these lightworkers are stuck in their own personal development because they only focus on the light.  But just like the minority of any religious or spiritual discipline that ruin it for the rest of the population, the same thing has happened in the new age movement, and these lightworkers he speaks of are the culprits.  Yes, we are going to get the people that are that are stuck but they claim they are not.  We are also going to get the people in the New Age movement that specifically speak to only certain practices are ‘true’ and only using certain tools are ‘right’ and so on and so forth.  And we should deal with them like we do when we find them in any other aspect under this great big umbrella called paganism:  We need to ignore them and continue our path.  Because if the lightworkers are true to form, anything we say to them is only going to get us angrier.

The author basically leaves his article there, which makes it feel more like a rant to me than being anything informative.  (In all fairness, he did say this was part one, but I could not find anywhere where he had a part two.)  Again, I see his point and can understand why he would rant.  People like the lightworkers he describes can be very frustrating to deal with.  But there are other facets to the new age movement he doesn’t even consider covering in his article, and that’s a shame.

As most of you already know, I do intuitive tarot readings.  Many of the clients that come in to see me for readings are searchers.  Some of these people are clearly out of their comfort zone, they come to me even though they have no idea how a reading works or what to ask.  Some don’t even know how a tarot deck works.  Still, they come because they are searching for something that they cannot name.  Still others come speaking of ‘talents’ or ‘gifts’ their recent ancestors had; and their visit to me is them grasping at straws trying to connect with that talent that might be innate in themselves.

In these cases, I do my best to be the gracious host of the metaphysical realms.  I speak to them and give them ideas on reaching out to their ancestors; or other ways they can start ‘testing’ the waters so to speak.  But I don’t give them too much.  Going straight into how to cast a circle, gathering spell components for a spell or talking about some of the more specific areas of the metaphysical realms are just too much for these clients.

So in short, I give them what some people would call New Age practices to start with.

If you look at some of the practices of the new age belief you will see immediately that they are very basic.  They are easy to comprehend and they can be communicated and understood in a very short period of time.  That makes them the perfect building block for me to present to my clients so they can start building their own foundations for metaphysical practice.  Also, the so called ‘light’ exercises are perfect to help teach protection and grounding; which most newbies desperately need.

The practices I speak about aren’t any that need deep oversight.  I’m also not designating myself as their ‘teacher’ by giving them suggested practices, nor do I say they MUST do them.  I simply suggest them and allow the client to make up their own mind as to whether or not the practice is right for them.  And if they choose to go deeper and want more information, then I can suggest a specific person from the list of people I have that I know to be very reputable and that can give them further information about a specific subject.

Another reason I start with new age practices is because of the terminology of the movement is so common.  Reaching for a common language to communicate to someone is the same thing I do in my day job.  As a technical writer, I constantly have to think about my audience; Is my writing going to someone with technical knowledge so I can let lose more technical terms, or is the audience a group who doesn’t know the difference between Kaizen and a Kanban?

In order to communicate anything, we must first make certain we have a common language.  New age terminology easily bridges that gap.  It also allows me to bypass terms that might scare my clients.  Sure there are things that I still must explain in more detail, but overall I have a common language that I can use to start connecting with my client and help them work through whatever problem they have come to me to get more information on.

The people that come to see me and people like them are some of the biggest reasons why the new age movement is still thriving.  These are people who could be just becoming aware of the energies within and around them and have no idea how to work with that energy.  They might be scared shitless of something they saw, felt or heard and have no idea what to do about it.  Or they are like me when I found new age practices – they are the people that feel deep in their heart and soul that something is missing, and are reaching for the piece of them they cannot define.

I am a Reiki Master, and that, to many people, is a new age practice.  Yet it was my training in Reiki that ultimately led to my being able to control my intuitive gifts and become the adept reader I am today.  It also led to me being able to use healing abilities and helped to teach me not to send out my own energy and deplete my own personal energy sources.  Reiki became my teacher in other ways too.  It was what I reached for as protection when I started doing my own deeper journey work and it has helped deepen my understanding of the Gods as I know them now.  In fact, Reiki still is a very important piece of my spiritual discipline.

When I found Reiki, it was the only thing that I could find in the pagan community that made any sense regarding my healing and intuitive abilities.  I was already pagan; I’d been practicing rituals at that point for roughly 10ish years and no matter how much I searched, I could find no one who could help me with my intuitive and healing gifts.  Reiki was the only thing that helped me understand what I was doing wrong in my practice, and it was the only thing that helped me correct my mistakes properly.

Now had this article been written back then, and had I seen it prior to my decision to be attuned to a new age thing such as Reiki, perhaps I would have reconsidered my decision to become attuned.  And I would not be following the wonderful soul fulfilling path that I currently follow.  I would not be the strong person that I am today.  I would not be devoted to Loki and Odin. I would not be a member of OBOD.  And I would not be a keeper of the Sacred Pipe of my ancestors.  That’s one reason why I’m a bit upset about this article; who is going to read it and step away from possibly the very start of a very fulfilling spiritual path because of what others think about the practices they do?

The whole ‘new age bashing’ in articles like this one also makes me wonder if there is a deeper reason why it happens.  Was there a time where we, in our newbie ignorance, were like those lightworkers perhaps?  Did we condemn practices that weren’t exactly like our own? Or, are we condemning new age practices that are so simple that we in our current knowledge base would now assume that ‘ANY’ newbie should automatically know them as common sense?

Or are we embarrassed at our own beginnings, and that is why the new age movement gets the brunt of the bashing, much like pagan publishers that publish lots of beginner books like Llewellyn publishing (or bash the so called ‘Llewellyn babies’ who read said books), authors that write lots of beginning practice books (Silver RavenWolf) or why books that we once held in high esteem get joked about (Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue anyone?).

Perhaps that is the crux of it.  We all DO have to start somewhere.  Let’s stop bashing those starting points.  And while we are at it, let’s not worry about the lightworkers or other people that choose to stay stuck and help the ones who truly want to reach deeper.  Let’s help them realize that the tools they received and the skills that they learned in the new age movement can help them learn that there is much more to these paths than what they know.  And in the meantime, let’s recognize the new age movement as the stepping block that it can be into a much bigger world.

 

Photo from Deviant Art

A Longing

Happy Autumnal Equinox everyone!

As the leaves start to finally turn color around my Midwest stomping grounds, I realize that the brief time for rest is up for me.  It’s time for me to jump into a new project.  Specifically, it’s time for me to build a framework around my beliefs.  this framework is going to include prayers, spells, holiday celebrations – the whole ball of wax so to speak.  The energy for this endeavor is already around and within me.  I feel an ache like I have never before in my heart and gut.  Finally, the culmination of all the work on myself is coming together.  I recognize now that I’m creating things for myself, blending my own beliefs, my ancestral bloodlines and traditions that I feel are right for me into a repeatable, workable methodology.

It will be fantastic to finally feel at home in a tradition I make of my own; a tradition I can share with others if they want to know what it is I do, but mostly one for me, where I know I’m going to make a difference by doing the practices I create for myself.

So with all of the energy spinning around me right now, where the heck is this creative block coming from?

I know that I’m not going to be able to pull everything together in a matter of months.  Heck, it might take me a full year just to figure out what works for what holiday.  And that is fine.  But the surprise is that I’m having a heck of a time writing a prayer right now, much less any ceremonies or spell work.

Writing down this type of thing isn’t new to me.  I’ve been in many covens and written a significant number of rituals for full moons, training rituals, rituals for high holidays, spells, you name it.  And I am longing to do this work.  I ache to do it.  The joy that I have felt over the past year finally figuring out how I ‘fit’ has been fantastic.  I am eager to play my part and move forward.

Yet, as much as I want to, I cannot put into words what it is I am feeling right now; I cannot figure out how to truly convey the simple prayers of adoration that I wanted to start with.  I am literally aching to put pen to paper, yet it feels like the language is totally foreign to me.

Perhaps I stay with this feeling for awhile and just wait for the words to come.  Perhaps I have to start with another prayer, or give up on the thought of using eloquent and descriptive wording for not.  I’m not certain what direction this is going to go.  So right now I’m just going to express my longing for this next project (and a bit of my frustration), and see what the coming days bring to me.

 

God Save Me From Your Followers…Sometimes

 

 

I listen to a hard rock/metal station that plays lots of new artists as I come into work each day.  Heavy metal and hard rock are both types of music that I can pull energy from when I am having a hard time with my fibro, and I’m always on the lookout for new bands to add to my playlists.

This morning a band came on however that gives me significant pause.  Don’t get me wrong, I like their music, and even occasionally sing along when they are played on the radio.  But this band prominently puts it out there that they are a Christian band.  And because they are so open about it, whether it’s real or imagined for me, I can hear Christian themes throughout their music.  And for that reason, I can’t bring myself to patronize them.

This isn’t because I don’t believe the Christian religion is a decent path.  And this isn’t because I don’t see the fact that many other people feel comfort and solace from it.  This is because of the significant number of people that are on the Christian path that try to tell me what I do and believe in is wrong, and that I need to be ‘saved’ or recruited somehow to become Christian again.

Like I have said before in my posts, I was raised Roman Catholic.  And for many years I struggled with trying to find my place in that religion.  I also gave many other denominations of Christianity a try, and still struggled.  None of these denominations were a fit with me; and many of them looked at the metaphysical gifts that I possessed as things that the “devil” was tempting me with.  Yet those gifts never went away, no matter how much I wanted them to when I was a child.

I don’t think a Christian can imagine that – I, a small child back then, able to see other’s pain, spirits and energy, and being told that those things were evil.  And no matter how I tried, I could not stop seeing things.  How much do you think that hurt?  Here I was, a child who desperately wanted to fit with the religion of my parents, but never truly did because I had these ‘evil’ gifts?  And even worse, because I was so ‘evil’ I was going to go to a place that would cause me great pain for eternity for things that I had no control over.  That was damaging to me.  VERY Damaging.  It’s something I hurt from for many, many years.

And even now, I still have people ask me to turn back to Christianity because I must not have found the ‘right’ niche for me back then.  I’ve dealt with the pain and hurt that I experienced as a child, and I’ve found a religious and spiritual path that makes me feel more connected to the world around me than I ever have, yet I’m still being asked to go to a totally different religion that has more people in it who think what gifts I have are evil, and will cause me strife for using them.

No.  Just.  No.

I know also that the inclusion of Christian rock in my playlists will just be an opening to be confronted about converting.  Someone may think I’m going overboard, but if comments on my Facebook wall become openings for Facebook friends to pop in and tell me I’m on the ‘wrong’ religious path (which I still get!), what would admitting and patronizing a Christian rock band do?

The thing that gets me the most about this whole situation is that I understand.  I understand how someone could feel so passionate about a Christian God.  I understand how someone can feel so happy being connected to a church, and how they feel so content in their soul by speaking with others about their religion.  I understand, because I feel it too about my Gods.  And I wish Christians well with the path that makes them so happy.  But until they understand that MY path makes me JUST AS happy, and that I don’t need to be ‘saved’, I cannot have any relationships with them.  And that is very disappointing, because there are beautiful things in that religion.  But just because I find something from another religion beautiful doesn’t mean that I am destined to become a member of that religion.  Until those Christians who are out to save souls realize that, they are going to continue to be shut out of conversations that would be inspiring, powerful and beneficial for everyone involved.

Photo from Deviant Art

A Story About A Choice

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I want to tell a story about something that happened to me today.  this event was very profound, as nothing like this had ever happened, especially when I was at work.

I am lucky to work for a company that has a mile nature trail on its campus.  Many associates take advantage of this trail.  Some do it for the exercise, or just to take a break from the daily grind.  I do it for that, but I also realize that there are a significant number of spirits in the woods and in the stream near the trails.  So i frequently also send a mental ‘shout out’ to them as I walk by.  There have also been many times that I have had conversations with the ones that choose to speak to me, and from those conversations, I’ve learned a lot about the path that I am currently on.

Today however, things were very different.  I took the path at a fast clip, as there was another associate who was also walking, and my introverted self didn’t really want to walk near the associate and try to facilitate small talk.  He, recognizing that I had much longer legs than he did and was walking much faster, allowed me to pass, and off I went into the first leg of the wooded part of the trail.

And I immediately spotted a large brown and white feather right in the middle of the trail.

Without thinking, I scooped the feather up mid-stride, and never broke my pace.  The feather reminded me of one of a red tailed hawk, a predatory bird that is frequently seen where I live.  However I knew that it was not.  It also seemed beaten up, much like if the bird had lost it in a fight.  I knew that my seeing the feather was a sign of something, as there is very rarely any feathers on this trail that I walk on a frequent basis.

That’s why the second feather was so surprising when I saw it.

This one was all black, like it had come from a blackbird, raven or crow.  Again, all three have been seen around the area, so I really had no way of knowing.  However, this one, unlike the brown and white one, was perfectly formed and surprisingly longer than most.

When I first saw the feather, I walked by it.  After the third step I felt like I had to turn around and get it, to which I did.  The associate I passed was still in range, and watched me walk back to get the second feather.  I quickly took up my fast pace in order to not have any questions asked of me, and overtook a second group of associates walking the trail to get some distance.

As I was carrying the feathers, I took a trail not rarely used (it was full of mud – I didn’t care) in order to double back and make sure a proper ‘thank you’ was said for the feathers.  As I said, they are very rare on these trails, so I had thought that I was very fortunate to find two on the same day, not 20 feet from each other.

When I doubled back, I found that I was the last associate to utilize the trails for that lunch hour.  So I had it all to myself.  And after a proper ‘thank you’, I was off.

As I continued to the farthest part of the trail, I realized that these feathers were more significant than I had originally thought.  While I wasn’t told specifically what each feather meant, I was told that one of the feathers would have to go back to the trail, and with it, a choice was to be made in my spiritual practices.

The beat up one seemed to symbolize my past.  It symbolized the abuse, it symbolized how hard I had pushed through to heal from everything, but it also symbolized all of the strength that I had gained and the spiritual allies that came to my aid.  At least that is what I sort of ‘assumed’.  I was never able to get a straight answer.

The black feather I think symbolized the unknown.  And from it I could sense that there was a hint of a gateway to transform into something that I was not yet able to become.  In the metaphysical sense, I could tell this feather contained no darkness, but yet it contained no light.  The only thing that I could truly comprehend from the energy was that it contained the beginnings of something new.

At this point I was coming to the second trail, which has a bridge over a fast flowing stream.  I was told that I could not keep both feathers; that one had to be dropped into that stream.  And if I chose not to drop one of the feathers, there would be some sort of consequence that I would be choosing to face.

Now I was still at work, and even though I am allowed to take a longer lunch hour, I knew I had to get back to my desk as I was expected for meetings.  It was only within a matter of moments that I was going to get to the bridge and cross it.  And even though it was a short distance, I was surprised at how much dread, pain and longing I felt.  Even though the meanings of the feathers were never truly clear, I knew they had some significant importance, and I didn’t have any time to study or understand that importance.

So onto the bridge I went, and as requested, one of the feathers went into the water.  I watched as it spiraled down and the current carried it under the bridge and down the stream.  For a moment, I thought about going down and trying to grab it as I saw it head toward the bank, but thought better of it.  Instead, I quickly walked away before I could see if it would get stuck.

The second feather now sits on my desk, next to a feather I had found on another walk, and three stones I used for focus and meditation during the day.  the feather sits in the middle of the three stones, much like a small altar in between my two monitors.

I am unsure of all of the intricacies of what it is I have chosen.  All I know and believe is that I have chosen to step away from that which I know and into the unknowns of a new path, one that will hopefully lead me to becoming someone who knows myself well, and can utilize what I know I am for the good of myself and those around me.

 

 

 

Paganism, Christianity and the Fear of God Syndrome

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Tansy Pat wrote a post yesterday regarding the compelling topic of the Christian God.  His post is reminiscent of things that I have had to deal with, being raised in a Roman Catholic family and then dealing with family members that went to the ‘ultra’ conservative side of Christianity.  This is also something a significant amount of pagans have to deal with, and ultimately also has other facets including feelings toward family, our Christian upbringings and all sorts of other pain and problems that make the entire topic a frustrating ball of crap.

Personally, I think it was awesome of him to bring up this topic.  I think it is something that needs to be talked about.  It takes a lot of guts to start thinking about and dealing with feelings and thoughts about a God that so many of us were taught at a young age to love and abide by.  Quite a few pagans I know get so angry about their upbringings that they never reconcile this.  Instead it becomes locked in their memories, where quite a bit of energy is needed to keep it locked, and lots of anger and negativity is thrown around in defense of anyone trying to suggest to them that they open it.

If people realized how much energy that they spend trying to avoid things and how much less they would use if they just dealt with their hurts, perhaps they would be more willing to dig into it and get it over with.

Sorry, just a short healer rant there.  But I digress.

Years ago, while trying to get a pagan group together in the town I lived in at the time, I came across a woman who would cast protective spells on her things.  She was very outgoing, and spoke often about different Gods and Goddesses.  However, when I approached her about the meetup I was trying to form, I got a very peculiar answer.

“I don’t want to get any other Gods mad at me”.  She replied.

When I pressed further, she changed the topic, and taking the hint I dropped it.  I found out later that her mother was a devout Christian.  And because she lived with her mother, she did a significant amount of work with her mother’s church.  So she was saying she didn’t want to get the Christian God mad at her for going to a Pagan meetup.

Her response to me was a clear and classic case of the “Fear of God” syndrome.  It is something that until recently I dealt with too.  And I think it is also the thing that Tansy Pat speaks about in his post:

When I feel my heart flutter, when I feel anxiety, when I encounter hardship, when my blood sugar drops suddenly and I am faced again with the reality of being diabetic…I have this ingrained urge to believe I am being punished by this god I no longer worship, that I have brought these things upon myself.

When we start getting called by other gods growing up, or when we realize we have gifts that no other playmate or friend has, we start to become torn.  Our heart and gut says we have to honor ourselves.  However that is quickly overridden by our minds, which tell us that doing something like that is “bad” and will push us towards the path of “hell”.  I think the ‘Shit happens’ joke was right when it classified Christianity as “Shit happens because you are bad”.  We get that slammed into our brains so much it becomes a part of our DNA.  And no matter how much we fight it or lock away our feelings about our past, the fear is always there.

Tansy speaks to how he started figuring out how to deal with this Fear of God syndrome in his next post, where he talks about starting to recognize the origins of the Christian God.  By doing this, the Christian God starts to fit in within his framework of Divinity and thus he becomes more comfortable with it.  That was huge.

I am doing my best to handle my own Fear of God Syndrome.  But unlike Tansy, I have to fit it into my own personal framework.  It doesn’t fit to me to look at the history of God, and that is OK.  For me, I had to recognize where it fit by my discussion with the Christian God when I was still forced to attend mass.

As a minor, I was still forced to go to Roman Catholic mass, and of course, take communion.  At that time I was already a full-fledged witch and working with the native spirits where I lived.  However, not wanting to be totally disrespectful, I recognized the importance of communion to the Catholic tradition, and thus said a prayer to the Christian God to remove the blessing associated with the host after I consumed it.  I did this every time I took the host.  And every time, the reply I got was a joyful feeling that I could keep the blessing, even though I considered myself outside of the Christian religion.

It wasn’t until more recently that I recognized what the rest of the message was.  By the Christian God’s allowance of my keeping that blessing, I realized the Christian God isn’t the type of God that most Christians today believe or pray to.  The Christian God is a loving, caring god that is higher on the stalactite spectrum and excludes no one, unlike what most of his believers say.  If you pray to him, he listens, and if you don’t, that’s OK too.  If you have to recognize what his historical origins are to accept him, that is awesome.  If you have to just look him as divinity as a whole and not use his name, that’s fine too.

What makes things uncomfortable around the Christian God are his believers.  99% of the congregations in the United States don’t have a true home for the real Christian God in their churches.  There are a few that get it; the “Christians Tired of Being Misrepresented” group on Facebook, Pastor Rob Bell, who wrote the book “Love Wins” and immediately lost his congregation because of his writings gets it.  John Pavlovitz, whose blog “Stuff that Needs to be Said” has over 17,000 followers and over 18,000 Facebook followers also gets it.  They are the minority right now, but the movement has started to find a place back to what Christianity is supposed to be.

All of this recognition has allowed me to stop looking at Evangelical Christians with anger (although people like Kim Davis still get me in an uproar at times).  Instead, I look at them with pity.  If they knew the God I felt in that church all those years ago, perhaps they wouldn’t have so much anger and hatred for others.  Perhaps they would stop judging and start truly loving as they claim.

We as human beings are too individual to fit under one religion.  It was never meant to be.  We need to not be afraid to broaden our own horizons and find where we fit, where our soul can call home.  And we also need to be courageous enough to deal with the damage caused by trying to fit us into a ‘one size fits all’ belief system that truly doesn’t exist.   I believe doing both of these things is required for us to truly be free enough to worship our Gods and Goddesses with a complete body and soul.

Where I am in the Belief Spectrum

Shark_tooth_stalactitesI just finished reading John Halstead’s post regarding his frustration with arguments regarding his status as being pagan.  John is an atheist pagan, and although I don’t fully understand his system of beliefs, I appreciate the fact that he is open about them.  Through his posts I have found quite a few theories that he has written that I have taken into consideration and have thus changed my own beliefs.

Isn’t that what blogging is about in the first place?

John started discussing the things that he is done with, listing quite a few terms and classifications of paganism.  This got me thinking; what terms fit my belief systems?  Where do I fit?  I don’t want to know to put my shingle out there and carve my place out.  I want to know more so that I can understand who I relate to and thus what else to look for in this blogging world to find more nuggets of insight that I can add to my own understanding of the community as a whole.

So I started pulling up definitions for some of the terms he used in his post so that I can very clearly understand what fits me, and what does not.  The surprising thing is that all but two seemed to fit into my set of beliefs.

The first term that didn’t seem to fit was Hellenic, but because I have never been drawn to the Greek Gods in the first place, nor do I know much about them with the exception of what I learned in school, I understand why.

The second is the term “New Pagan Orthodoxy”.  It sounds like this is describing the ‘right’ way to be a pagan verses the ‘wrong’ way, and in my mind, there is no such thing.  As pagans, we all have our own sets of fate that we work in, and we all make choices either with that in mind, or deal with the consequences of not thinking about that framework.  To judge someone else’s beliefs as outright wrong isn’t something that feels right to me to do.

I knew the term polytheist and animist fits me.  I recognize the spirits in natural (and sometimes mechanical – who hasn’t named their vehicle?) things.   I recognize that I currently have dealings with Eir, Loki and Sigyn, (which in a way makes me also a heathen – another term check-marked off the list) and in the past have been called on by Yemaya and have had occasional dealings with The Morrigan.  My husband works with dwarven spirits as a blacksmith, and also has dealings with The Morrigan.  These are all separate entities, all unique, and request different things at different times.  I recognize as I grow as a person my needs change, and thus I am called on by different deities to learn and to do work with and for them.

At the same time, I recognize that I am also a pantheist.  I can see how all of these deities that are separate can form into one source.  I was told once that during a talk, Raven Kaldera likened separate deities to stalactites on the ceiling of a cave.  You can interact with the lower portions of these deities, which are each unique and different.  However, as the stalactites go up, they join together and finally meet at the top of the ceiling, representing all of divinity.   This goes along with my personal theory.  You can experience Divinity at any aspect or area of these stalactites.

The thing that makes me recognize that I also have pantheist belief is that unlike Raven Kaldera’s belief that you cannot reach the ceiling, I believe you can.  As a reiki master, I recognize that the source of Reiki is the ‘ceiling’ in this analogy.  I also think that a lot of people who talk about spirituality as a whole are speaking about their experience with the source.  These are people that for their own reasons may not go deeply into religion, but instead, and in their own way, worship the divine through spiritual work.  Spiritual gurus like Deepak Chopra fit into this area.  And while a lot of people might roll their eyes at the thought of ‘new age’, ‘fluffy bunny’ type of thinking and the cash flow that someone like Dr. Chopra and people like him have coming in, they wouldn’t be here unless there was a need for them.  For some people, they cannot fathom the deep belief systems that people have.  But yet they still have a yearning to grow and live in a manner that helps to heal others and the world.  Spiritual gurus fill this need.

So in my past posts I’ve talked about how labels can be problematic, so why the heck am I claiming so many here?  I’m doing it so I can understand where I am coming from.  John said something that really hit home for me:

“Whether or not it makes sense to us intellectually, what matters is if we feel Pagan … in our blood and in our skin.  And no one can gainsay that part of us.”

This post is one of me starting to go into a deeper understanding of my own belief systems.  I’m writing down what it is I feel in my bones.  And now that I finally have it down, it can become a new starting point for me to learn by and move me forward into new understandings and insights in my spiritual practice.

It’s funny, I’ve been a pagan for over 20 years and yet I still feel like I am starting from the beginning.  But I think that is how it is meant to be.  In order to understand others we have to understand ourselves and how we relate to others.  This is where as a Wiccan I think I was lacking a bit.  Always being surrounded by those who believed just as you did and not branching out into learning about other areas of paganism is good to learn at first, but it can become a hindrance.   By learning about other areas of paganism, even if I don’t agree with them, I feel I am becoming even more of who it is I am supposed to be.  And that is what matters most.

Picture of Shark Stalctities uploaded by Dave Bunnell, copyright creative commons.