It’s been almost one and a half year since I disclosed my chronic religious undecidedness
on this forum.
I think I made some progress not in the process of settling for a religion itself, but in recognizing that emotional responses to what I experience also complicate said process.
Until some time ago I thought making a list of what and how I would like my religion to be and to have would help me to make up my mind regarding religion, but I was wrong; it’s not enough.
I noticed that when I thought I’d settled for a religion, something happened emotionally that made me reconsider my decision to settle for that religion.
I don’t know anyone who’s been through anything like it, but I still think other people can help me.
I will try to provide more context regarding the religions I’ve considered settling for and how emotional swings change my decision.
Heathenism is the religion I’ve considered the most from almost two months now. As for my list of desirable traits in a religion it meets #1, #3 (partially), #4 (and #5 may not apply for historical reasons), #6, #7 (partially), #8, #9 (partially), #12, #13, #14, #15 and #16; I’m not sure about #17; a) (to some degree) and b). I see Heathenism as a complete religion and as a religion that has a solid community.
A positive emotion I feel when I think of coming back to Heathenry is alleviation of my hypochondria and my fear of death in general. I suffer from hypochondria for years now and my doctor says it may be associated with OCD, which I suffer from since I was a teenager.
A negative emotion I feel when I think of coming back to Heathenry is the sense of being obliged not to do everything I want regarding my sexuality and to stop both questioning and fighting social phenomena like classism and racism, because these can be the result of Divine action; cf. Rígsþula.
There are people who think there’s no inherent problem with fighting classism and/or racism and still being a Heathen, but I don’t know if the Heathen lore can be stretched enough to acommodate it with no damage to its consistency. The same applies to Heathen groups who emphasize, say, sexual diversity to a degree that didn’t exist in Scandinavia prior to the siðaskipti according to extant sources.
When I face racism and/or everything I hardly can be, do, have and live because my hair isn’t blond and my eyes aren’t blue, it’s very difficult to keep the process of settling for Heathenism. Then sometimes I make the controversial effort to try to remember everything I am, do, have and live because my having a blond, green-eyed and fair-skinned mother, because my have other very white ancestors and because, in my country, it’s really uncommon for me not to pass as white; most people here consider me white. (Our local idea of white don’t match that of North America.) It makes me try to accept my place in this social order that may be seen as product of Divine action.
Theistic Satanism is a religion I never practiced, but that I keep thinking about since I started to see that most religions Pagan people try to reconstruct upheld their contemporary status quo, most of which weren’t less oppressive than those there are today. Regarding positive emotions, it’s a religion that inspires me to care about myself first, to save most of what I earn to myself in secret (that means telling my family I have nothing left from my money when it’s not true), to try to look better for better and more frequent sex, to begin studying again to earn more… it’s a religion that I also think of when I feel I’m discriminated against for racial motivation because African(-Brazilian) or African(-Brazilian)-related lore can be associated with it. It makes me not just seek revenge for when I think other people wronged me, but it makes me think said revenge is possible. As for my list of desirable traits in a religion it meets #1 (but I think it depends on Who one thinks Satan is), #3 (possibly), #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 (possibly), #9, #10, #11, #12, #13, #14, #16 (partially), #17 (possibly), a) and b).
Negatively, however, Satanism is a religion that I fear. I don’t know if I could ever either pray, or to worship Satan. I was raised a Christian, after all. I also fear possession. I fear that some really bad thing could happen to me, my mother, my sister, my house and/or my room if I worship Satan. Well, and practicing a religion completely in secret can be non-optimal.
Some months ago I began developing a personal reconstructionistic religiosity inspired mostly by Greek, Egyptian, Gaulish and Roman – but also can include Levantine and Mesopotamian – religious ideas and practices. It’s a path that encompasses (Greek, Graeco-Egyptian, Gaulish and Gallo-Roman) reconstructionistic magic and witchcraft, reconstructionistic worship of Deities primarily associated with different religions and sacred sexuality. It’s not finished and not completely coherent. It’s sources are too many to remember off the top of my head. It’s built to be a Left-Hand form of Paganism exclusively based on ancient sources.
I feel for it more or less the same positive emotions that I feel for Satanism, because its moral space may be empty as well. It, however, don’t have the same potential regarding racial oppression, as it’s composed by beliefs and practices primarily associated with white people.
As for my list of desirable traits in a religion it meets #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 (but the evidence is thin), #6 (but it’s controversial), #7 (but the evidence is mostly literary, #9, #11, #12, #13, #14, #15 (to some degree), #16, #17 and b).
Negative emotions I may feel for this religiosity is insecurity; what do the Deities think of this put-together of disparate ideas and practices primarily associated with different peoples, places and times? I may irritate Them unwillingly. This path also includes much study of sources and require from acquaintance to full-blown knowledge of several languages. It may further preclude the realization of any rituals until one doesn’t have everything that this practice requires.
I’ve also been considering to start a Church of Aphrodite revival. It’s obvious that I would be alone in the beginning.
Gleb Botkin’s In search of reality basically is the theological foundation of the Church of Aphrodite. It shows a modern Pagan religion’s sofisticated theology and syncretic monotheism; it addresses topics like the nature of Aphrodite, the problem of evil and life after death.
When I think of the Church of Aphrodite I think softness, calm and ease are words associated with positive emotions I can feel. It’s a very non-demanding religion ritual-wise; English is the only language one needs to speak to study it, there are no complex rituals, one doesn’t need to know ancient lore, its practice doesn’t include any purity-related observation. Personally the Church of Aphrodite has a strong appeal because Aphrodite was, as far as I remember, the first Goddess I made a ritual to before I knew anything about modern Paganism. I think it was more or less one year before the first time I heard about modern Paganism.
What I can say about the Church of Aphrodite that can be seen as negative is that it seems to lack any solution to social unequality among human beings and doesn’t approve casual sex. One can suppose social activism is discouraged because Botkin’s book I previously mentioned says nothing good/productive can result from anything bad/improductive. It means anger, for example, that’s common among oppressed people, can just stir more anger, as well as hatred produces hatred, criticism produces criticism, social unrest produces social unrest… so I conclude people shouldn’t fight for anything according to this doctrine. And everything bad that happened in the past, I think, should also be forgotten according to it. Casual sex also seems to be frowned upon because it’s described …