Wednesday, September 19, 2007

becoming convinced: part 1

I'm a solitary type of spiritual person. In that, I mean that I've never felt much of a need for community in my personal questing for truth and spirit in my life. There is a rebellious streak in me a mile wide that deeply resents the idea that another person could possibly know what the most intimate part of my soul requires or what the Divine has given me to share with others. Still, since I left the liberal Protestant church of my childhood, I have missed having "a people" to call my own. I have longed for a greater spiritual family in which to rear my children and for people to whom I could belong and with whom I could feel at home. In the following blog series, I will be exploring my process of convincement as I make my spiritual home among the Religious Society of Friends.

Neo-Pagan

That which others call God is in the natural world. My debt is to the Earth and my commitment to the web of life that sustains me. My morality is grounded in my belief that I must honor diversity and uphold life sustaining interdependent relationships. Woven through this living tapestry is the dark thread of Death. I honor Death too and the mystical, contemplative wisdom that grows from our dance with a Divine Presence that knows no dualistic boundaries of light/dark, death/life, male/female. So I am a Pagan-- a Neo-Pagan since I do not wish to reclaim the so-called ancient ways of any people. I am not an ancient person and cannot pretend to be. My world is a postmodern world. I cannot pretend it is otherwise. I must busy myself addressing the social issues of today. Additionally, I will not become a spiritual imperialist. Not if I can help it. Let me be a student of indigenous spirituality. Let me be filled with gratitude for others' wisdom, beauty, and knowledge but do not let me claim that knowledge as my own. Let me not exploit it. What I own, I must earn.

It would have been easier if after I left the church, I could have become Wiccan and entered a coven. But I am NOT Wiccan. Nor do I feel comfortable with most Neo-Pagans. Too much of the New Age intermixed in their rituals, perhaps? Too much ritual period? I've never cared one bit for ritual. I'm just too Protestant to buy into it, I suppose. For a long time, I joked that I was really a Protestant Pagan. I want to live simply, peacefully, with dignity. I want to uphold the right of all persons to live with dignity. I place no faith in ritual or ceremony. Magick leaves me feeling spiritually empty. Although I understand why it is valuable and effective for others, my rational mind rebels against it. I spend too much time explaining to myself that "lighting a candle provides a visual stimulus that awakens subconscious archetypal, etc...." and not enough time actually feeling that symbolic connection beyond the words. I have been a solitary pagan choosing to study thealogy as an academic. This process has further distanced me from other pagan people as I grow impatient with what I see as a lack of focus and of thealogical and hermeneutical discipline among the broader pagan community. I find that I am physically uncomfortable in spaces where pagans gather. It isn't me. I don't belong there and when I say "the Goddess" or refer to my pagan spirituality, I am all too aware that I am as much a misfit among the pagans as I was among the liberal Christians.....And so I have grown lonelier.

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