Posts Tagged ‘charismatic christianity’

Yesterday, Friday, I picked up my first real Pagan book called Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higgenbotham.  I have other books, such as Scott Cunningham’s Oils, Insence and Brews and an old, old, old copy of his Wicca: Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Both were ‘interest’ books, and not necessarily ‘serious’ ones.

Since Imbolc I’ve felt it imperative to begin—really, continue—the journey I began months ago. I let it rest for the winter season, but now that the sun is slowly waxing action is necessary. Wanted. Desired. Anticipated. You get the idea.

So yesterday after some web-licious researching I decided that Paganism looked like a promising beginner’s guide that included thoughtful journal exercises, discussion, meditations and light craft work.  I took the entire evening to read it over, except for the section on physics (which, hopefully, I’ll go back and finish tonight).  The contents of the book are pretty basic but very satisfying. They address the Wheel of the Year, celebrations, rituals, beliefs, diety, good/evil, the concept of satan, ethics and values, magick, divination and briefly discussed the differences between the major sects of Paganism. Lots of nice graphics and essential points of Pagan philosophy, such as Paganism is about personal responsibility, spiritual work, engagement, etc. It is not a book friendly to arm-chair spirituality.

Today I took the journal exercises for a test drive. I sat in Chick-Fil-A, where I get my best journaling done, and completed two sections of the first chapter. It addressed thoughts on the seasons, how Pagans view life/death, and if I thought I was a pagan.

I scratched my head for a moment. I ate a piece of lemon pie. I sipped some Diet Death.

I put my pen to the page several times, each time leaving a little black dot but no answer.

Am I a Pagan? Do I think I am?

I eventually wrote that I might not be a Pagan, yet, but I don’t think I am a Christian anymore, at all.

What I love about Christianity is this: Jesus, as a wise person. The Incarnate of the One God? I can’t attest to that. I can attest to Jesus’ sacrifice, his words on love, community, priesthood and wisdom. But I have so many problems with so much of everything else: inerrancy, the Old Testament (as spiritual text, not as history–as in, I take it as a historical/mythological document, not necessarily a spiritual one), Paul, the inherent stance on women, the pervasive sense of fear in the Church, the us/them mentality that stems from a rabid belief in satan, demons, possession, generational curses, etc. Just when you thought magic wasn’t in the church? Hah. The church—all stripes—is full of magical belief.

Some might say, well, cut the wheat from the chaff and just take a belief that Jesus died for your sins. See? You’re a Christian.

I struggle with that, I do. Christianity is seeped into the very marrow of my bones. But also sharing the marrow are some very non-Christian feelings. Like the pull towards nature I get every time I am alone in the woods, or on a path, in the rain, in the sun, before a storm, looking to the moon, when the wind blows across my neck. The electricity that vibrates in the air before the first spring storm or the first autumn cold front. The life in the earth when I garden. The taste of wine. The salty flavor or cheese. The feeling of curiosity co-mingling with a coming home when I read books on certain kinds of paganism, magick, philosophy or folktales. The utter connectedness I experienced at Imbolc.

It seems…stupid, in a way. To look to all of this as a sign of another Divinity, of being mutually exclusive with Christianity and Jesus. But the Christianity that I am emerging from believes that, if not under the name of God, what I am experiencing is demonic. That the Tarot is demonic. That if I pray to another god/dess I am praying to demons and inviting them in my life. That, at this moment, I am in sin. It’s a scary mindset to be in, a fearful one. I’ll be honest: when I started this path I felt terrified. I still do, at certain moments, though the terror is easing into an acceptance. This is my life stage. More importantly, this is my life. I shouldn’t be afraid. I am starting to slowly trust myself, and starting to slowly trust that I am a mature, adult woman who has a sense of ethics, values, balance and right action. Imagine! Being a spiritual adult and not perpetually an errant child.

Whether I revert to Christianity or journey to Whatever Else this single thing will always stay with me: I choose, and therefore am responsible for, my religious/spirtual belief.

I should say that I know all churches aren’t Charasmatic, Evangelical Protestants.  I am going to a UU church tomorrow to experience liberal religion for the first time. But I don’t think that I can just easing into a…less rabid? easier? more liberal?…church is going to solve the problem. The problem is I’ve always let myself be told what to believe (because I craved that structure!) and never figured that out for myself.

And that’s what Paganism gives you. That’s what it promotes, actively. Figure it out. Paganism is a buffet, not a restaurant. Get your ass out of your seat and get your own food, dammit. Sure, there are figures in Paganism/Wicca/etc. who make money on those looking for quick-fix-its, but the majority of the pagan community I have found online are thoughtful, earnest seekers. It’s not an easy path for them and it requires constant work. Again, sure, you can find the quacks and flakes all over the web as well, but I guess I’ve been blessed to find some really good forums and blogs. *

That is what draws me to Paganism. The work. The ritual. The curiosity. The demand for intelligence, research, study, journaling, activity whether you are solitary or coven/grove/community oriented.

So am I a Christian, at this moment? I don’t think so. Am I a pagan? Not yet, no. I won’t label myself (again) until I am so positive and so sure it hurts me to not call myself by that name. Then…then I can attach some sort of label. Until then I am me, seeker, wanderer.

Ah! There is such freedom and joy and rightness in my heart.

*One forum I’ve especially enjoyed is Ecauldron. Also the blogs on the sidebar, as well as others that I find randomly through comments sections.


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As I wrote that last snippet I stood amid the refuse of a binge.  I’ll go all out and dirty for you (the food writer in me is ashamed—alas, this is a part of that disconnection): there were Oreo Cakesters, Reeses, cheddar popcorn, bean-n-cheese burritos. Not a huge binge, actually, they’ve been getting less “huge” and less frequent. But their pattern, their substance, is generally the same.

Under the refuse on my table sit these books: The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Anam Cara (a book of ‘Celtic’ Spirituality), The Metamorphoses by Ovid and sits next to organic lemonade, organic Emergen-C and vegan multi-vitamins.

I realized in that moment something that…well, let’s just say the pebble just dropped in my still lake and the ripples haven’t yet begun. I am in that suspended moment of epiphany since I have never put this into words before.

I am…primarily…a disconnected person. Differentiated. Dual, but not in the ying-yang way, in the…my right and doesn’t know what my left hand is doing kind of way. I espouse values that I don’t apply. In fact, I say/want things for my self that are diametrically opposed to what I actually do.

I am American. I am a product of modern, technological, monotheistic, patriarchal, material, Western civilization.

I just offended myself by saying that…to myself. Part of me was deeply offended. How funny. But how true.

Even as I write this part of my brain/spirit/mind/whatever sighs and says, “thank God. She’s realized it. Now, time to act.” And part of me sighs and says, “Oh, Lord. Just let her get it out of her system so we don’t have to think about it.”

I can’t tell you which one is winning right now. Honestly they both sound good. The call to action, the call to change and then the call to…non-action, non-change…ultimately, nihilism, I guess. I am a creature of comfort. Of great comfort.

And in my love of great comfort (really, it must be emphasized how much I adore comfort/luxury/laziness!) is spawned on my great fear. Great, abiding, huge, yawning black hole of fear. And from that fear, shame.

Fear of: death, dying, loss, abandonment, CHANGE, damnation

And all that fear leads to shame…for only when we’re afraid of being judged, of being damned, of some ultimate consequence can we be shamed.  And when I’m shamed—I binge.

But also when I binge I am putting aside my spirit for the needs of my sickness (comprised of the fear and shame). I am directly feeding that gaping tear in my spirit/psyche. I am making it bigger, not actively healing it.

How does one become whole again? Where does it start? With what does it start?

In Christianity, it would start with me repenting and coming back to Jesus, Healer of all things. Part of me wants to do that…like an instinct.

But a larger part now wants to look, to discover, another way. Maybe it includes Jesus as the Divinity I turn to, maybe not.  I do respect Him as a healer and a truth teller.

Right now though I want to investigate…nature…I guess…as my model. That’s what draws me to panentheism (from Wikipedia: is a belief system which posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well).  When I was a child I felt so connected to ‘nature’, to the outdoors, to the environment and it’s causes. But as time has past, I grew up, got busy, became charismatic Christian and battled with myself and my true Spirit for years (see this post).

I have so many doubts and so many fears. And so many questions! About everything! About polytheism, panentheism, paganism, magic(k) and the properties of and theology behind, about Spirit, about nature, about skepticism and what we can and can’t know, about believing and trusting, fears of looking stupid/silly/gullible/idiotic…All of this, running in my head.

I know nothing. I am confused. I am disconnected, dual, differentiated and depending on the minute I do/do not care.

I need to go clean my house.

ETA: the first step is letting the shame out. Tonight I will tell my husband that I binged. I don’t always because I’m ashamed at my lack of control. I will also be telling him about the disconnection.

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