Friday, September 24, 2010

Losing and finding my religion

The topic for this week's spin cycle on Sprite's Keeper is religion.  Whilst most people shy away from this topic of conversation, I feel confident to talk about it- to anyone and everyone.

I grew up pretty much a Christian of various denominations.  When I was about 6, my mom had a baptist church bus come pick me up for bible study every Sunday morning.  At about 10, when I lived with my father, I chose to go to a methodist church.  As an early teen, I attended the Catholic church with my friend's family.  Later in my teen years I tried the baptist church that now boyfriend went to. We'd also go to bible study together when hosted at lunch in school.

During those years, I felt a fire to be a godly person.  I read the bible on my own time.  I attended church because I chose to.  I tried to understand the bible and live according to "its" rules.  I was troubled about some things (like premarital sex), or why it seemed I'd be judged by minor discrepancies even though I was a good person inside.  I didn't question much though.  I was a good girl.  Good girls don't question (I don't know where I ended up with that idea because my mom surely didn't teach it to me).  Good girls and good Christians just have faith.

When I was 18/19 I met Ex and his mom.  His mom reads tarot cards for a living.  She showed me there was a different way to view religion.  For a while I was reading new age books and searching for something to label my religious philosophy with.  I'd say I was spiritual and not really religious.  I still wasn't sure.

When I was 26, My middle child was diagnosed with cancer.  I felt like I needed religion.  I chose the Catholic church near our home.  I chose Catholicism because I liked the ritual of it, and Ex was baptised Catholic.  The kids were all baptised Catholic in that church.  I went to Catholic 101 classes.  Both ex and I couldn't just buy in to it and have faith.  We asked too many questions.  While in the hospital, I did the rosary because I liked the chant.  I tried to pray.  I put crosses up in my home.  But I never felt that FIRE that I had felt as a teenager.  It was sad that I couldn't fully embrace that religion because that church sure as heck embraced my family.  They paid for our son's cremation and memorial service.  They sent cards to the hospital.  The packed big backpacks full of goodies for our other kids' flight home.  They were good people and great Christian role models.

The next year we ended up with friends who attended a baptist church.  Again I went.  Again, lots of questions, no fire.  Why does God have to be a guy?  Why is he angry and vengeful?  Does he really want to hear Joe Schmo pray for his football team to win? Does he really believe an adulterous or fornicating woman should be stoned to death?  Does he really hate shrimp?

We moved again- back to our old town, back near mother in law.  I read some books she suggested that were metaphysical and comforting about death.  I yelled at God,  if there was one.  I became bitter and cynical.  I knew I believed in something.  Energy, spirit, something or someone to thank.  Look at a giraffe, someone had to paint him to look like that!

A friend took me to a Unitarian Universalist church.  We meditated.  I tried a Buddhist temple.  We meditated.  Both were lovely, both I knew little about.  I continued to question and to flail in a nonreligious purgatory.

Then, in 2001 I met him- the most wonderful anthropology teacher ever.  He had studied with the lakota Souix.  His story was amazing: he had been searching like I had, and a Souix saw him at a gift shop, walked up to him, gave him his phone number, and told him he'd be right over when the teacher wanted to learn.  Teacher was stunned.  He called a while later.  Souix moved into his house and taught him.  Teacher even did a dreamquest.  I decided to take his religion, witchcraft, and magic class.

Teacher's daughter is a witch.  She and her coven came into class.  A Peyote came in another night.  We read about Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslims, and Jews.  We learned about religious books.  Teacher was open and non-judgmental.  It was wonderful.

I started reading up on paganism.  It felt good.  I felt the fire again.  A few practices under the pagan umbrella appealled to me.  I tried on the title Pagan, and decided it was good.  I read a lot.  I read books that showed connections between paganism and Christianity- Timothy Freke was the author.  I read paganism 101.  I wanted to know more about Wicca.  I read.  I went to boards online.  I debated whether it was a lineaged and exclusive religion.  Then I realized it wasn't quite right for me.  There are a few things that don't add up.

I realized that I can't have a label when it comes to religion.  I call myself a witch.  Some will argue that witchcraft is an act, not a religion.  I feel comfortable calling it a religion.  I think it makes me a better person.  I can see how it benefits me and the world.  I feel closer to nature and divine energies.  I feel a responsibility for people, earth, nature, myself, animals, etc... that I never felt with other religions.

I still have questions.  I probably always will.  I mull over hard or soft pantheos.  I mull over Godhead versus energy.  I don't know if Gods exist or if they are merely an idea to describe energies.  I try things out to see if they work for me (a lot of what I do can be backed up by science, which I love).  The cool thing is, that I can question in this religion.  I can also take the steps to find the answers myself.  I don't need a leader to tell me.  I can be free to really experience and feel the religion.  I am a better person for it.

I could go on forever- but I hear the call of margaritas!
ttyl, K


Her Mom said...

Finding something that works for you is what matters. Having something that you can believe in, but need not bow down to without question, is what matters. Living a good life, being a good person. Doing no harm. Not following blindly.

geoff said...

I'm glad you posted this. I knew some bits of this but had never heard you spell it out before.

You're so right about the giraffe! Check this out:

"Many scientists and casual observers have been intrigued by the blood-pressure regulations in an animal with so long a neck and legs. Research has shown that the giraffe has a very large heart (13kg) and that its pumping power is three times that of a man. Most important, there is an intricate network of valves in the veins and blood vessels of the neck, which prevents the brain from being filled or emptied of blood too quickly. One highly specialised vessel near the brain acts as a sponge, slowly absorbing blood to the point where pressure warns the animal to lift its head before damage occurs. Next time you see a giraffe drinking, notice that it never keeps its head down for too long."

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Thanks for sharing your interesting and moving journey! Keep on questioning! It's the engine of the spiritual journey.

Sprite's Keeper said...

If you're comfortable with it, that should be most important. I've read into Paganism, unfortunately, my interest was peaked by Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. :-) It took a bit of research to get past the fictional stuff.
Very interesting, and I've always had an envy for those who can meditate, since my mind never seems to shut off long enough.
You're linked!

Mouse said...

Mother Nature does it for me. Resourceful, cruel & compassionless at times, but then catching you out with a touching moment - did you see the dogs & elephants that were devoted pals?

Cheveux Fluorescents said...

I love this!

Anonymous said...

And that, my dear, is why I've always said....being a Witch is fucking rad.

Kathy said...

Questing is good. I wonder if we'll ever be able to get so comfortable in the questions that the answers won't matter any more. Someone else said that we don't usually start asking the questions until the answer is already formed. ( questioning if that's true.) I like your wide-open spirit. You'll need a religion/spirituality which honors that, I think. Sounds like you're finding your way.

Lyn said...

Thanks for sharing your story, K. One of the things I love about being a witch is the freedom to question too.

Mara said...

It's very important to be allowed to ask questions and to be allowed to learn from the answers. Without that you get those people who are blind to anything else but their religion and that can quickly turn into extremism. Unfortunately.

SuziCate said...

It's good to question and not be forced that's how we learn and find our fit. You are a good person and finding what works for you is important. Thank you for sharing your story. I think most of us spend our lives searching. I wish I could unclutter my mind long enought to meditate...have never been successful.

Imagination Cakes said...

Wow K what can I say that everyone else has already touched on? It's funny that you mention having all these questions and that's great! If we knew exactly all there is to know about religion, faith, or higher power... then they would be. We are humans trying to understand. An I think that's great. Remember it's not about where your going, but how you get there. Good luck on your journey.

Tracy DeLuca said...

This resonated with me. It sounds very similar to my own journey. I call myself a pagan now... on the path to be a witch. My daughter is actively Wiccan and loves it but I can't let go of my questions enough to just have faith. I have always been spiritual... but I will never be religious....