Friday, August 10, 2012

A Spiritual Journey

A friend recently published a blog about her struggles with her spiritual path. It made me think of the path that I have walked,. I was raised in the Episcopal church. At various times I have sung in the choir or been an acolyte. Looking back I can see that I was looking for a connection with the Divine that just wasn't there. In 1982 I read The Mist of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. That introduced me to the idea of multiple deities and more important the concept of a goddess. This was also a time when I was struggling with a crisis of faith. I was trying to get pregnant for a second time and having all kinds of problems only to be told that I was sterile. I went to the priest of the church we attended and got nothing but platitudes along the line of "well, it's god's will."Even though I felt guilty I started turning the goddess.
We moved to Houston, Texas and the path continued. This time it was my son who pushed me further along the path. We took him to church and he asked questions about why things were the way they were, why we did what we did and what the prayers meant. I couldn't answer him. Raising a child you try to teach right from wrong and that wrong actions result in punishment of some kind. That didn't go well with the church teachings that you can do pretty much anything you and want and as long as you repent it's all forgiven.

Then we moved to York, PA. My son and I both love books. We found a bookstore that was going out of business so all the books were greatly discounted. I picked up a book about Witchcraft by Cunningham. A year later on the day of the full moon in April, 1987 I formally left the church when I did a self dedication to Wicca. On a side note it's also when I learned that cinnamon oil is not good for annointing skin -- it burns.

For me that was like coming home. I felt like the thing I had been looking for in the church was there. The concept of a duality, a god and goddess and a connection to nature fit me. Also, the concept of karma, that whatever you do comes back to you at least three times over.

Since that time, some 25 years ago I have continued to learn and grow. I have studied not only Wicca but many different religions. I know now some of the problems I had with the church was the way it is cut off from nature. I see the world in much the same way some Native American tribes do, that it is a great web and everything is connected.

I know this makes it sound like I had an easy transition from the church to Paganism but it was all white light and fluffy bunnies. Like many I grew up with the concept that witches were in league with the devil. As a teenager I had a tarot deck and when the reading turned out to be accurate I was convinced it was evil and got rid of it. I struggled with guilt when I first acknowledged the goddess sure that the Christian god was going to do something horrible to me for straying from the church.

Nor has my path as a Pagan been easy. My path is one that teaches that the individual is responsible for what happens to them. It is either karma or a lesson to be learned. It's much easier to put credit or blame on a god or devil than to take responsibility for self. It's easier to be a sheep and just follow the rest of the flock than to think for yourself. I am a firm believer in choices, in each person choosing the path that is right for them, which is another problem I have with any religion that claims to be the one and only true path and tries to shove it down everyone's throat.

Long before I chose my path I studies meditation with a Zen Buddhist. Something he said stuck with me. He said the Divine is like the top of a mountain. There are many paths up the mountain. It doesn't matter which path you take, just that you are on one.

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