Thursday, February 12, 2015

Coming To (A Pagan) Faith

Beth of Manic Mumbling said:

"I always love stories of how you celebrate your faith. It seems awfully personal to ask you about how you came to it, but ... you opened this up!"

She's right! I did. And I am fine talking about my faith and how I got here. It's a little meandering, and I'm sure I'll miss pieces. But, this is a basic rough idea.

People have always been faithful. Whether throwing gifts into water in the hope of an answered prayer, lighting incense to carry their petitions to the Gods, or building cathedrals as monuments of an awesome and all powerful deity. We have, collectively, always believed in something bigger than ourselves.

I'm no different.

I was raised Episcopalian, but had a hard time connecting on a deep spiritual level. Which, to be fair, is not the fault of the church.

I was young. And I had always seen it as a show. Something you rehearsed for and put on. My dad was the choir director, after all. I can see why it was hard for me to understand the meaning behind the show, and how it was used to create a spiritual experience.

So I left, in my teens,to search for something that I felt like I could connect to. A dear friend was a practicing Pagan, and she introduced me to what she believed in. I started reading, and teaching myself.

Part of what drew me was the idea of personal power. I had experienced some trauma early on in my life, and had always felt like what happened to me, was up to other people. The ability to be in charge of my own spirituality, was empowering.

Of course, I think part of what drew me to Paganism, was also that it was just so different. And it felt a little rebellious, too.

But really, that's not a good basis for any faith choice.

Eventually I got over the need to rebel. And I went back to the Christian faith.

I tried.

I tried so hard.

I tried to be enough. I tried to do enough. I thought if I could just pray hard enough, do the right things, be devout enough, read enough scripture, I would feel connected and...good enough.

But it never came.

I also started to have issues with ideas and people within the church, and I ultimately lost my faith.

I just plain didn't believe.  

Yet, I still felt like there was a divine force in the universe. I believed in that. I just started to believe that it was bigger. More inclusive than exclusive. A force so great that all people had tried to connect to it in one way or another, and maybe none of them were wrong.

Maybe being right, wasn't the point at all. Maybe the religion wasn't the point, but was instead a set of tools to connect us to that force.

I started reading again. And was drawn back to the Pagan path. What I practice, acknowledges balance, and the divine nature found in all living things. It focuses on respect, on harming no one, not even yourself. Which seems like a simple ethical principle, but is truly quite profound.

I love that that simple idea frees me from worrying about how anyone else lives their life. My job is not to judge, but to live my life to the best of my ability. I don't have to be right. I have to do right. It no longer matters so much, what I believe. Now what matters is how what I do, and how my beliefs influence my actions.

So, Paganism, for me, lets me see the Divine through the cycles of the earth. It provides me with a rich mythology, from which I can pull lessons that help me to live my life. And it helps me connect to something bigger than myself, in a way that works for me.

The Great Spirit, as I see it, is a multifaceted jewel. And the Gods, as we choose to believe in them, are facets of that jewel, giving us a glimpse of something so much greater.

And following this path, has allowed me to feed my soul in a way that feels natural for me. I am at last, a very happy Pagan Mama.

Faith? Personal? Well, there's not much left I haven't talked about, really. And if you came to read it, you're pretty lovely. So, do me one more favor, and click the link below, which registers a vote for me, would you? Thanks! You're the best!
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