Love is My Religion

One reason I wanted to start this blog was to explore and talk about my spirituality, hence the name "Spiritu:Re:Ality." I haven't really done that yet, so here we go.

In 2004, I came across the term "pagan" for the second time in my life. I came across the concept for the first time during high school, while I was still attending the very traditional high school, before I switched to the very non-traditional school which benefited so much in making me who I am today. So, in 2004, something switched on inside me, and I started thinking, "I want to explore this pagan thing." I started networking with people online, especially with a group of pagan women in Colorado, and met the person who would become the High Priestess of the first coven I ever was part of.



Maybe I should back up. What is paganism? The word "pagan" comes from the Latin word "paganus," which means "country dweller." (Thank you, Wikipedia.) Many people know it as a term describing anything not Christian, but there is much more to it than that. Pagans feel a strong connection to nature and their ancestors, whether they be European, Asian, African, etc. Sometimes pagans experience a strong connection to all of the above. Many pagans see the divine as being female and male at once, and call on a Goddess and God. Others work with just a Goddess, others with just a God. There are many different types of pagans, but the one thing that connects all pagans is the fact that spiritual power can be drawn from nature, and that nature can heal, enlighten, and strengthen someone. There is also energy that flows through every person and every piece of nature, and this energy can be harnessed to make things happen. Pagans conduct rituals, which are very much like praying with a more hands-on approach, and often include certain herbs that are burned as incense, certain stones that contain certain types of energy (such as healing, or invigorating, etc.), and the words that are spoken are more action-based ("May such and such happen") rather than request-based ("Please, God, make such and such happen").

So, there's paganism in a nutshell.

I'm not sure what attracted me to paganism in the first place. I think it was the combination of connection to nature, and the magic of the rituals. (And I mean magic both figuratively and literally - pagans see the manipulation of energy as magic, but I also mean a sense of magic; the feeling of excitement, of something new, of something actually happening.) So, I started studying and practicing with the woman I mentioned above, and joined a coven (a group) of amazing, strong women.



Also in high school, before I decided to look into paganism more, I discovered the Unity Church. My dad had told me his mom took him and his sisters to the Unity Church often, and he said they had a different idea of the Bible and Jesus than most Christians. So I went to one of their services, and I was amazed. They spoke about Eastern religions and philosophy, they meditated during the service, they sang and danced and just experienced joy. Their website said they welcomed people of any and all religions, that they are called the Unity Church because they accept all people and unify them. I remember, after one of the services I attended, there was a woman dressed in all black wearing a pentacle. I knew what that pentacle meant, because I had been introduced to paganism before. I noticed people were not staring at her like she was a freak. They were smiling at her, welcoming her to the church, and treating her like a human being. I was amazed.

I also attended the youth group at the Unity Church for a good while, and actually, I think that is why I decided to look into paganism again. There was a guy in the group who came regularly and wore a pentacle, and I asked him about it and he told me a little about it. And it was at that moment I realized you can be more than one "religion," you can experience more than one type of spirituality at once. Even after I started practicing paganism seriously, I went to Unity Church events and services quite often.

I had always felt a connection to the idea, or the energy, if you will, of Jesus Christ. But I did not feel connected to how he was portrayed in most Christian churches. I've always thought it was a silly notion that a guy died on a cross to absolve me of my sins...First of all, I've never believed in sins, and second of all, how can someone just do that? (If this is something you believe, by all means, I am not saying you shouldn't. It was just silly to me and doesn't work for me.) The Unity Church sees Jesus as a great master with great teachings, and the Bible as one big metaphor that can be interpreted and applied to our lives today. They take out of the Bible what works for creating positive outcomes in our lives, and leave the parts that don't serve them. I can totally wrap my head around that, because I have been doing that spiritually for years.

Those are my basic thoughts on my spirituality. I dabble sometimes in Jewish paganism also (Judaism and paganism are very similar, believe it or not). I attend a Unity Church pretty regularly and am a proud member at one. I have been working with a coven since I've moved here and have learned a lot. I do yoga regularly and it is a moving meditation with effects that trickle into the rest of my life. I'm more a pantheist than anything, and truly believe the Divine, whatever word you want to use for it, is in me and around me in nature and the world, and it is not an entity that is "up there" looking down on me from above. And I've discovered that I feel called to the energy of Mary Magdalene. I love my "grocery store" spirituality. It's what works for me.



But I'm starting to realize, I can't be boxed in. I can't devote all of my time to one group, or one thing. I take what works for me, I leave what doesn't. In my view, all our versions of the divine are describing the same thing, just using different words. My spiritual path will always unfold before me in ways that I never imagined. I look back on my path and see all the wonderful things I have learned. I've taken some things, and left others, and will probably continue doing this forever.




2 comments:

  • Megan | 06 September, 2012 15:48

    Actually, the thing that drew me to Wicca was the fact that it's a really DIY religion, and I know that I don't ~have to follow any set of rules or specific practices or standards, because Wicca/Paganism is rather lenient with regard to respecting the paths each individual finds themselves on. That's why it's perfect for me; because my goal in life is to always grow, change, and progress. I'm really grateful and content to have found a religion and a belief system that reflects my own free-spiritedness.

  • Amethyst Midnight | 06 September, 2012 21:19

    This is a very lovely thing about spirituality. I would love to attend a Unity Church if it's the way you say it is. I felt called to Paganism back when I first started high school and have learned much from it as well from other beliefs. I tend to call myself an Eclectic Pagan.

    Your definition of a pagan hit it dead on, for me a least. :)

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