Questioning My Faith

I found these questions in the back of my journal, half answered over two years ago. I don’t know where they originated. But they are thought provoking so I decided to share them here.

What is your faith/religion/belief, and how would you describe it?

I’m an Eclectic Neo-Pagan, meaning a modern eclectic Hellenistic Pagan, not a Hellenistic Reconstructionist and an Unitarian Universalist. This means that I am polythestic, in that all the Gods exist and that I honour the Greek Gods most of all. I also deeply hope that there is a universal salivation and peaceful rest after life, be it in a heaven or a Summerland or even in the Eliseian Fields. My faith is based on the search for Truth guided by the light of Love.

What are three reasons, you believe your religion/faith/belief, is the answer for you personally?

I feel it has the unmistakable “ring of truth” that resonates in my soul.
I feel that I was “tapped,” or call it chosen to follow on particular deity.
It doesn’t ask me to go against what I feel is moral, just and right.

What deity called you on your path?

I call him the Lord of Love, the ruddy one, He of many names known throughout the ages, and the Eternal Dancer. He is a Personal God and as such not exactly found in books or lists of various deities.

Do you follow this deity’s path to the best of your ability?

Yes, I try my best within what I understand of Him and his guidance.

Do you feel your deity with you at all times – or have you ever felt as though your deity has abandoned you at times while on their path?

I have never felt abandoned by Him. Not even when I became an ex-Christian did I feel abandoned. I expected to stop feeling that divinity and connection I had known from childhood but instead I grew to understand more of who He is.

Question of the Week

Musings of a Kitchen Witch had listed a set of questions in an article about Pagan Apologetics that Pagans should be able to answer in depth in response to inquiry. These are my responses.

1.) Do the Gods/Goddess/Lord and Lady love their followers?

I believe that some may while others may not. There are some Gods and Goddess that I hope never love me, for their love scares me to my bones. I feel that is it personal to each deity in question. As I do not give honour to all deities, my perspective is as an outsider. I feel that some Gods are indifferent, others are scornful, that the range of what the divine feels for their followers cross a broad range of human understand and emotions be it positive or negative.

2.) Why do you believe in unspecified Gods as Creators of the world, as opposed to the singular Creator proposed by the Bible?

For myself, I draw my religious belief from a wide variety of sources, one of which being the science of how the universe was created and I try to find what makes sense to me. I believe that our universe was created by at least Two, which became Many from which the stars were born and died and life began and has continued to this present day.

3.) Are the Gods immanent only, or immanent and transcendent?

Yes, no and maybe so. I see no reason why they can not be all that at the same time or that way one at a time. I dislike adding limitations to what the divine can do.

4.) Is it possible to reconcile Christianity with a Pagan path?

Reconcile means to settle, to resolve, to accept, account for. I feel that Christianity has already reconciled with Classic Paganism in the appropriation of traditions and holy sites. Is it possible for Christianity to reconcile with Modern Paganism, perhaps. There seams to be a yearning for a feminist spiritually expressed with devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the exploration of Sophia, the feminine aspect of YHWH and wisdom and with more women in the roles of spiritual authority as priests and preachers.

5.) What happens to non-Pagans after death?

Religiously, spiritually, it depends on the person and their belief system. Generally speaking, Paganism does not concern itself with non believers. Unlike most monotheistic religions, there is no place that non-Pagans are sent to after death if they do not follow one of the many paths to the divine.

6.) What happens to people who have done bad things after death?

It depends on that person’s beliefs. If that person was Pagan, it varies. Some believe in reincarnation, others believe this is the only life.

7.) What does honor mean, and how do you live an honorable life?

Honour. Most Pagan religions have some form of a code of conduct that dictates what it means to live an honourable life.  Fore me, living an honourable life means doing my duty and doing what is right, just and loving.

8.) How do the Gods control natural phenomena outside of the country in which their worship originated? (e.g. Why does a Heathen in the US believe that if they pray to Thor to change the weather that he can do that when he was originally worshipped in Scandinavia?)

I do not believe in the divine being limited to a single place and time. I do not view the Gods as being part of a divine switchboard that we may call in our material requests. We may beg and plead with our Gods but the world operates on a well know set of laws which science is still discovering. If the Gods choose to make such a change, who’s to say that all of the divine did not work together, or even a part of the divine working to make such a change happen?

9.) Do you believe that the Christian God Yahweh exists?

Yes I do.

10.) Do you believe every religion has truth in it? If so, how do you reconcile your religion as truthful with others that contradict it?

No, I do not. I have found that there are some religions that as their core, their seed from which it’s doctrines and beliefs grow, are false and harmful. Not every religion is like that. I mostly view other religions as having a different take on the nature of the divine, much like having different eye witness accounts of a single event seen at the same time.

11.) Do you believe we evolved, or that there is Intelligent Design?

I believe in evolution as I understand it.

12.) Are the Gods real entities, faces of a single God and Goddess, or merely symbols through which you focus magical energies?

Yes, no, maybe so, all of the above and none. I really do not like putting limits on the divine. I rather deal with their own self expressed limits and my own limitations in understanding while accepting that limits are much like labels as they define a thing and in doing so, also restrict.

13.) If the Gods love you, why didn’t they die for you like Jesus did?

The matter of divine love is not an issue for Pagans as some Gods have died but not for the reasoning’s that Jesus did. Several come to mind, Dionysus who’s death is a part of his mystery, Odin who’s return to life brought the wisdom of the runes, The Oak and Holly Kings who’s death is part of the cycle of seasons, and nameless Gods who’s body in death gave birth to the world.

Question of the Week #12 – Is it just a word

So what does the word Pagan mean to us?

Being Pagan is about being a member of a modern religious movement:

  • that’s not rooted in Abrahamic religious tradition,
  • that has romanticized the past and other ancient religions,
  • and focuses on exploratory worship and ritual.

I like Isaac Bonewits’s breakdown of the definition of Pagan; Paleo-Pagan, Meso-Pagan and Neo-Pagan. This sub-sectioning kinda fits my views. So often when I say or read Pagan it really refers to the Neo-Pagan. But for me there is the Classical Pagan which corresponds well to Bonewits’s Paleo-Pagan. This would include the ancient religions of the Middle East, the Far East, the Classical religions of the Mediterranean, the indigenous tribal religions of Europe, the Americas and Polynesia. I feel a good cut off is somewhere in the 1800’s as I don’t recall any minor religions attracting the attention of history. It is this lull that I think prepares the way for a new view of things. And I’m viewing this very organically, open to change and revision.

The biggest dividing line that I see are religions before Christianity and religions after Christianity. And Neo-Paganism has maintained it’s roots outside of the Christian story but it has been influenced and in some cases stunted by the presence of the dominant religion.

The Neo-Paganism seen in America today is a mixture of Eclectic Wicca, Native American icons, myths and traditions; Reconstruction and adaptations of Classical Pagan religious; New Age methods and ideas and even Eastern religious influences. Even political sub-movements are finding the freedom of expression within Paganism such as deep ecology, feminism, and LGBT Pride. It truly is a melting pot of religious ideas and almost a direct reflection of the faces of America today.

This QtoW was brought to you by The Modern Pagan.

Question of the Week #8 – A burning question

Paraffin, Bees Wax, or Soya – what do you burn and why?

I’m a skin flint at heart so you’ll find in my altar stash most often paraffin candles. But in my heart of heart I prefer the light of oil lamps over any light given by a candle. I’ve made small oil lamps from clay before and after a while they cracked and broke from the heat of the wick. I had problems with the oil seeping through the unfired clay. I hope to eventually obtain some high quality clay and kiln fire a few pieces.

This QtoW was brought to you by The Modern Pagan.

Paying for an Education

Question of the Week #8 – Paying for an Education

So why shouldn’t you be charged for Wicca? Is there anything about Wicca that comes for free? Or do you have to pay for it in some way or another all along the way? So let us say that the lessons are free will they still have the same value to you?

Money is what makes the world go around on so many different levels. Does it make our faith go around as well?

First off I’m not Wiccan. I did study Wicca when I first started down this path but that hardly qualifies me beyond my own opinions. In another post I stated that I feel Wicca should remain coven based. If Wicca stayed coven based the whole question of charging for money takes on a new light; one covered in greed.

If a supplicant is learning Wicca; from the prospective coven, charging for the teachings becomes nothing more than exploitation. Now, I’m not talking about charging for supplies. Those costs incurred must come out of someones pocket, often the students. Those charges are reasonable. A responsible student should expect that all teachings have a cost of some sort.

The coven is much more than a Church or a fellowship circle but more of a family. Charging my family for teaching them how to do something that I know well just feels wrong. It’s not in support of the family to do so. In fact it can hold back the family by using money as the criteria for teaching.

Outside of the coven, charging for teachings start to make a little bit of sense. It is still tainted with greed but a more acceptable form. Time and supplies cost. Teachers are plentiful and credentials questionable. The buyer; in this case the prospective student, must be ware. At best these teachings would be the basics; not the mysteries and not tradition specific teachings. At the worst, the teachings could be harmful.

By paying for lessons, you are affirming a lack of loyalty. You have no loyalty to the teacher beyond paying for the next lesson. The teacher has no loyalty to provide an unpaid for lesson much less offer another lesson. It’s much like attend collage, where one pays for the parchment. Knowledge isn’t necessarily transmitted just because you paid for the lesson.

It is an Outer Court thing to charge for teachings. It does not touch on the heart of Wicca.

This QtoW was brought to you by Between the Ticks.

Question of the Week #9 – The Great Rite

Question of the Week #9 – The Great Rite

This weeks question comes from a discussion I had with a friend the other night. The Great Rite is a beautiful, symbolic or real act in circle and can have great power behind it. But is it something that you do? Lately I’ve been talking to many pagans as of late and it seems to be less and less common. Is the Great Rite a part of your own spiritual practice? Is it something that you do in every circle you hold? Maybe it is something that you reserve for Full moons or the Major holidays?

Regardless of how you work with the Great Rite or if you do at all. How did you come to the decisions you did surrounding it?

Hieros Gamos, The Great Rite, The sacred Marriage, Holy and Divine Union, Sacred Alchemy.

In many ways it is the core to my ritual practice. It is the foremost rite and it is the most important one in my practice.

There does seam to be a lack of interest in performing even the symbolic Great Rite – Wiccan style. I have never seen it done in public circle. I don’t know if it’s because it is thought of as strictly Wiccan, which it is not. Or if it is an after effect of the PR campaign to appear acceptable by the mainstream public by sanitizing the interesting bits like this rite.

This QtoW was brought to you by Between the Ticks.

Question of the Week #7 – Life and Death

Question of the Week #7 – Life and Death

He decide to step up and face his death in a noble fashion defending his people. Have we lost this option [Euthanasia] in the modern world? …….

As a pagan how do you feel about it? Should we have more control? Should we take more control over the last part of our life? If as pagans we believe in Reincarnation should maybe Euthanasia not be an option for us since we believe that we will just come back again for another life. Is it to easy of an out for us?

This question has been particularly hard for me. I’ve lost a few loved ones in my life, my mother and my husband’s brother. Both died far to young and left behind many who dearly loved them. I’ve had to step back a bit and let the question percolate.

For Pagans, the question of death is multifaceted. There are so many different ways to view and approach death in a religious sense. I don’t believe that my views about death are particularly Pagan rather than being my own. Perhaps it’s my age that shows in my attitudes towards death and more importantly my own mortality. Or maybe it’s my facing the facts that I’ve survived life threatening medical conditions and confronted my own mortality. Either way, it’s not death that needs to be noble but life and one well lived at that. Somewhere I’ve read that one ought to aim at living well and when death comes, go sliding in towards home plate, body all used up and saying “What a ride!” I like that idea.

That’s how I want my death to be, with a smile on my face and have had enjoyed every possible minute alive. Knowing what my ideal is makes it easier for me to keep focused rather than get swept away by the whole medicalised process and make better informed decisions. I know there comes a point where the medical industry can no longer help but hinders instead. One can not save the dying. The point of where that is differs with each person. And there needs to be a process of letting go, of letting go of attachment, of the body, of life, of fear, of sorrow and allow acceptance of the process of death.

I really think that this society, Western society has become so frightened of death that most of us can not accept it, neither for themselves or for their loved ones. Too much unhealthy unrealistic obsession with life has caused us to lose control of death. Or maybe it’s the first time in human history that a natural death of old age, illnesses and so forth are outnumbering sudden deaths. Perhaps this slower path to death has naturally raised the alarms, so we attempt to prolong life.

Death and life are cyclic process and for some Pagans, reincarnation is a part of it. I don’t think society will tank if a majority of it’s members supported reincarnation and ethical euthanasia.

Some of us will never go quietly into that dark night. Some of us can not imagine anything but fighting unto the bitter end. And then there are those who don’t have that spirit to fight and view the inevitable with calm. Both should be allowed to approach death with the philosophy their choice.

After a wrong click of the mouse this whole post vanished into cyberbits. It’s resurrection can be attributed to the best browser I’ve ever used. Mozilla Firefox. Right now I’m beyond thankful.

This QtoW was brought to you by Between the Ticks.