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Author Topic: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?  (Read 1388 times)

corvidprince

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Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« on: November 29, 2015, 06:31:44 pm »
I waffled on whether to put this in the beginner pagan or magic section and decided on here because I personally am more focused on magic, but answers to do with religion will probably be helpful too, so feel free to give that if this makes you think of it.

I am a very, VERY skeptical person. I'm not saying that as a "I'm more rational than you!!!" brag, but as something that's a problem a lot of the time. If I think anything unusual or not widely accepted, I mentally beat myself up for being so delusional and wanting to fool myself with playing pretend. It's automatic, and I can't "just" stop doing it. It's fine when I'm reading a weird health claim and go to find studies or reports from reputable news sources to see if there's any truth to it, but when it gets down to something that's not easily provable, like magic...

I've managed to overcome the shame of "playing pretend" enough to do some basic energy work... because I could put objective "proofs" on it. I tested myself, for example, by putting a crystal on a table, disorienting myself by walking away and spinning, and then finding it again only through feeling for it without touching (success every time), and then through some tests with a friend I convinced to try with me (say, energetically tapping each other with backs turned and random timing, we both were always right with it). I'm perfectly happy with this level of proof because I could do several objective tests on myself, even if it's not widely accepted by EVERYONE.

And I've stalled at that level for several YEARS. I think six or so. Literally six years straight of wanting to do more but having no idea how to do it in a way that won't fill me with non-stop shame and self-hatred for being delusional.

To be clear, I don't think anyone else is being ridiculous for their beliefs, somehow other people are fine for me in that they get the automatic benefit of the doubt even if I don't quite understand them. I just can't get MYSELF to do anything.

How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.

Once people get started and see several successes (some contact from a spirit, divination proven correct several times, spells successful often enough to not seem like coincidence), then of course it's easier to move on to more and more advanced things and see which specific beliefs or skill to incorporate. But how do you get STARTED? How do you overcome that first barrier of not feeling like ANY of this kind of thing could ever work?

I never hear people talk about how they got started. (I dunno about this forum specifically, I'm just talking generally.) I just see the skim-over of "(birth religion) never seemed right to me... then I read about (pagan religion) and I felt instantly like I was HOME and everything fell into place and I'm so happy in my new practice!" It makes me feel like no one but me has this problem, this doubt in the entire CONCEPT despite wanting to try it, not just doubt in small nitpicks in certain paths.

It doesn't help that I have always been an atheist. Always, literally. My family never even mentioned religion my entire life. I've never experienced even KNOWING people who believe in things that aren't easily scientifically explained. I feel like a lot of people slot in by being brought up Christian and then just filling in beliefs that better suit them, but if you've never heard anyone talk about believing things at all...??

So I guess what all the venting boils down to is... did anyone else have a really hard time convincing themselves to try something new like this? How did you overcome having too much skepticism? What kinds of personal proof did you find for yourself to make you more confident? Anything like that you can think of would give me something helpful to think about.

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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2015, 10:36:39 pm »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993
I waffled on whether to put this in the beginner pagan or magic section and decided on here because I personally am more focused on magic, but answers to do with religion will probably be helpful too, so feel free to give that if this makes you think of it.

I am a very, VERY skeptical person.

(...)

I've managed to overcome the shame of "playing pretend" enough to do some basic energy work... because I could put objective "proofs" on it. I tested myself, for example, by putting a crystal on a table, disorienting myself by walking away and spinning, and then finding it again only through feeling for it without touching (success every time), and then through some tests with a friend I convinced to try with me (say, energetically tapping each other with backs turned and random timing, we both were always right with it). I'm perfectly happy with this level of proof because I could do several objective tests on myself, even if it's not widely accepted by EVERYONE.

And I've stalled at that level for several YEARS. I think six or so. Literally six years straight of wanting to do more but having no idea how to do it in a way that won't fill me with non-stop shame and self-hatred for being delusional.


I find two main ideas coming to the fore here. First, there's the requirement to test the empirical effects of something that has claims to empirical effects. That's reasonable enough! Second, there's the value judgment cast over how you can dare to even consider such nonsense, and that's not reasonable, that's emotional self-abuse that disguises itself as a search for facts.

I recently saw a table splitting the difference between "brutal honesty" and "loving honesty": Brutal honesty makes only the truth-teller feel good, assumes inferiority of the recipient, and is said spontaneously out of irritation. Honesty is difficult for both the speaker and the recipient, understands that the recipient has autonomy and agency, and is usually expressed after a lot of thought and concern for the other's well-being.

You seem to have enough of an inner conflict going on that some part of you is being brutally honest with the rest of you...but honesty doesn't actually mean something is empirically true. Psychologically and socially true, maybe. So, the impulse to disbelieve even an attempt to explore psychic phenomena isn't a matter of sticking to the facts, but a reinforcement of societal norms (even if it coincidentally aligns you with the factual. If you stay in line out of fear or self-loathing instead of because the line is comfortable, then that's not good. That's not a life.)

The thing is, if magic were reliably practical, then everyone would simply practice until they got really good at it and we wouldn't be disappointed that the turn of the millennium didn't bring flying cars because we'd be flying. Magic would be a technology, not a superstition. If you want to survive in the physical world, in the society you know, and live the life that you want...and you can do absolutely anything other than magic, then I say do that instead.

Anything I say about my own path towards magic is anecdotal. While I definitely took the empirical bent on it at first, where I've taken it since then is closer to appreciating folklore as an art. (Along the interpretive lines of Jung, Bettelheim, and Joseph Campbell.) Even though it's still magic, my sort of magic isn't of any use to the sort of magic that you want to explore right now.

But I really think the self-loathing is the real problem.

One book I'd recommend is The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan. I also got to watch the DVD set of Cosmos, where he pushed for searching for extraterrestrial life instead of nuclear weaponry development. Even though no indicators of extraterrestrial life came to light in his lifetime, Sagan still believed that it was worth exploring. This isn't because he believed in aliens. (As the thesis of The Demon Haunted World goes, extraterrestrial life believers overlapping with conspiracy theorists was all--to him--just witch hunts disguised as science.) He believed the possibility was worth exploring...more worthy than exploring the certainty of exploding political enemies, which science had the power to do. He would always make it firm and clear that there was no evidence for extraterrestrial life that had been found yet, and gain understandable irritation when conspiracy theorists used him to prop up beliefs that weren't scientifically founded just because they really wanted it to be true.

It works the other way, too. Pseudo-skeptics can manufacture toxicity by cutting people down. On the one hand, there's the Cottingley Fairies fraud, and on the other there's the stigmatization of Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola when he discovered the first cave paintings. The truth came to light, but not in Sautuola's lifetime, and what he suffered until then was brutally unnecessary.

Another link I'd recommend reading is this telekinesis video that turned out to be a social experiment. The conclusion of this social experiment? "...contrary to my initial expectations, the most ignorant people of this whole experiment where the hardened skeptics."

Maybe given all this, you might be able to better consider where the impulse to hate yourself really comes from. (If your curiosity about psychic phenomena came from a psychologically healthy place, too, then it should survive that process even if you leave it alone to unpack this baggage.) I hope this helps!
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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2015, 10:48:36 pm »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993
So I guess what all the venting boils down to is... did anyone else have a really hard time convincing themselves to try something new like this? How did you overcome having too much skepticism? What kinds of personal proof did you find for yourself to make you more confident? Anything like that you can think of would give me something helpful to think about.

 
You've already taken the first step: you try things, and you see if they work.  You've found some things that work to your satisfaction.  They may not be much, but they're still things.

I tried a lot of things, along the way.  I found that many of them left me feeling like a doof.  I more or less filed that as "this makes me feel ridiculous, so unless I want to feel ridiculous, it is not useful", and tried other things.  There being a whole lot of things to try out there.

The thing is, the first significant effects you get aren't going to be Grand Magical Effects.  Partly because Grand Magical Effects are hard to come by, partly because it takes time to build up the skills to move things more effectively, but most significantly because the thing it is easiest to affect with these disciplines is yourself, your own consciousness.

The magic you really need to be working on right now is not divination, is not spirit-summoning, is not any of these things: it's cleansing, purification, and curing that monstrous self-hatred.  Find your tools for that.  My teacher, for example, is fond of therapy, purifying baths, and drinking lots of water.  (I am not joking about any of these.)  Work on cleaning up your psyche first - and keep in mind that whatever else you achieve, you will keep coming around to cleaning up this crap basically forever.  With a little luck and a lot of work, we get rid of the giant shitheaps and move on to cleaning up the less stinky stuff eventually.

Two sayings from my studies you may find useful:
"Perceive first, then believe."
"Endless purification."
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Juniperberry

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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2015, 12:01:28 am »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993

How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.


I feel the same way, and wound up happily finding a pagan religion that doesn't really focus on magic at all.

But if you happen to really want a pagan religion that includes magic, then maybe you should ask what you  want magic for. The answer might actually be the source of your embarrassment, and give you some clue on how to start resolving it.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2015, 12:02:04 am by Juniperberry »
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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2015, 06:26:15 am »
So, I can't speak to all of your concerns, because I started in a sufficiently different place, but I do have some thoughts.

Quote from: corvidprince;182993

I never hear people talk about how they got started. (I dunno about this forum specifically, I'm just talking generally.) I just see the skim-over of "(birth religion) never seemed right to me... then I read about (pagan religion) and I felt instantly like I was HOME and everything fell into place and I'm so happy in my new practice!" It makes me feel like no one but me has this problem, this doubt in the entire CONCEPT despite wanting to try it, not just doubt in small nitpicks in certain paths.

 
I think that's because the more complicated stories tend to be, well, more complicated, and thus not necessarily something that gets trotted out often (I think if you read back through this forum, you'll find people coming from a range of experiences, but it's not always obvious from a single post what happened and how they sorted it out)

In my case, the short-form summary is that I was very active religiously growing up. (I was originally Episcopalian, my parents returned to the Catholic Church and I formally converted when I was 11, and I was active in a bunch of ways - music, mostly, but other things too - through the end of college.)

At which point it was clear I needed to be doing something else religiously, but not what, so I spent a year poking at a bunch of theoretically interesting options, settled on something in the Pagan part of the worldview, and then spent about a year figuring out specifically what that might look like. (Which then lead to me finding a group for training, and going on from there.)

(I moved halfway across the country about the time I was looking at religious change, which made some things easier and some things harder, too.)

But from start to finish, it was about 2 years, maybe a bit more, depending how you count, and I did a lot of poking at different things.

What made me convinced was a specific experience in small group ritual that I don't usually talk about in public, because it's sort of complicated and takes a lot of explantion, but after that, I was Very Sure there was something real there.

Up to that point (which was about 2 months into my being a Dedicant, and about 6 months into my work with the group and about 18 months into my poking at Paganism in the first place) there was enough stuff that made sense to me, and felt helpful to me to feel like it was worth continuing to explore, but it was more about 'these are ritual settings that help me get into my head and sort things out' and 'these are people I find it useful and enjoyable to do things with and learn things with' than anything obviously Big or Shiny or Magical.

Quote
How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.


First, I very much agree with what Darkhawk said, about the progression.

More than that, though, an awful lot of my magical work falls into one of two categories. One is 'making this space a ritual space' which is not really about 'do I believe this', as much as 'I go through these actions, and those are important to making the space for ritual'

The other, though, I'd say at least 75% of my magical work is psychology, generally working primarily on myself because I am the easiest thing in the equation for me to affect.

Sometimes it's about doing things to encourage myself to see the entire picture, so I can make better choices. Sometimes it's about being open to new opportunities and options that I might have been unconsciously blocking myself from seeing. Sometimes it's about taking a good clear look at how I feel and interact with the world (that's where a lot of the cleansing and purification stuff falls for me.) Sometimes it's about protecting myself in a difficult situation.

But it usually comes down to 'how do I make choices in this thing that work better for me and are also at least okay for the other people involved'. (Okay in both a pragmatic and ethical sense.) They aren't big shiny obvious Magical Events, but it does work, and it does get me the things I'm aiming for, so it's hard to argue that it's not working.

(I'll note that my form of magical work also usually isn't fast: the biggest recent one was job hunting, and it took over 15 months between the initial working and getting the job I now have, which is awesome and amazing and in a location I was almost sure I wouldn't be able to make work out. But it definitely was working all along, just that magic wasn't going to make a job that suited my specifics just appear out of thin air, either.)

Anyway, there's a saying in various strands of my training that is "Act as if". Act as if the things you're doing matter, whether that's magic or ritual or just how you are in your day to day life, how you treat other people. Act as if you're the person you want to be on your best days, not how you are at your worst. Act as if your magic works, your ritual works, and don't do magic or ritual for reasons you aren't sure you want.

It's not all that different, inside my head, from walking into a new job and acting as if I can do the job, even if there are parts of it that *are* brand new, and that i'm entirely nervous about, or walking into a new social setting, and acting as if I'm confident and outgoing and able to talk to all these people and have them take me seriously (when in reality, I'm an introvert and dislike large groups of new people).
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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2015, 08:55:14 am »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993
How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.

Try thinking of each spell you try as a experiment with magic to answer the question "does this work?" Many scientific discoveries over the years have required hundreds of tests and trying different (sometimes silly sounding, especially in hindsight) things before success of any type.
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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2015, 02:51:24 pm »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993
I waffled on whether to put this in the beginner pagan or magic section and decided on here because I personally am more focused on magic, but answers to do with religion will probably be helpful too, so feel free to give that if this makes you think of it.

I am a very, VERY skeptical person. I'm not saying that as a "I'm more rational than you!!!" brag, but as something that's a problem a lot of the time. If I think anything unusual or not widely accepted, I mentally beat myself up for being so delusional and wanting to fool myself with playing pretend. It's automatic, and I can't "just" stop doing it. It's fine when I'm reading a weird health claim and go to find studies or reports from reputable news sources to see if there's any truth to it, but when it gets down to something that's not easily provable, like magic...

I've managed to overcome the shame of "playing pretend" enough to do some basic energy work... because I could put objective "proofs" on it. I tested myself, for example, by putting a crystal on a table, disorienting myself by walking away and spinning, and then finding it again only through feeling for it without touching (success every time), and then through some tests with a friend I convinced to try with me (say, energetically tapping each other with backs turned and random timing, we both were always right with it). I'm perfectly happy with this level of proof because I could do several objective tests on myself, even if it's not widely accepted by EVERYONE.

And I've stalled at that level for several YEARS. I think six or so. Literally six years straight of wanting to do more but having no idea how to do it in a way that won't fill me with non-stop shame and self-hatred for being delusional.

To be clear, I don't think anyone else is being ridiculous for their beliefs, somehow other people are fine for me in that they get the automatic benefit of the doubt even if I don't quite understand them. I just can't get MYSELF to do anything.

How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.

Once people get started and see several successes (some contact from a spirit, divination proven correct several times, spells successful often enough to not seem like coincidence), then of course it's easier to move on to more and more advanced things and see which specific beliefs or skill to incorporate. But how do you get STARTED? How do you overcome that first barrier of not feeling like ANY of this kind of thing could ever work?

I never hear people talk about how they got started. (I dunno about this forum specifically, I'm just talking generally.) I just see the skim-over of "(birth religion) never seemed right to me... then I read about (pagan religion) and I felt instantly like I was HOME and everything fell into place and I'm so happy in my new practice!" It makes me feel like no one but me has this problem, this doubt in the entire CONCEPT despite wanting to try it, not just doubt in small nitpicks in certain paths.

It doesn't help that I have always been an atheist. Always, literally. My family never even mentioned religion my entire life. I've never experienced even KNOWING people who believe in things that aren't easily scientifically explained. I feel like a lot of people slot in by being brought up Christian and then just filling in beliefs that better suit them, but if you've never heard anyone talk about believing things at all...??

So I guess what all the venting boils down to is... did anyone else have a really hard time convincing themselves to try something new like this? How did you overcome having too much skepticism? What kinds of personal proof did you find for yourself to make you more confident? Anything like that you can think of would give me something helpful to think about.


I can relate. I grew up in a family of athiest/agnostics and no one ever really supported my beliefs/understandings as a child.

At the same time, my maternal great grandmother had been a Spiritualist medium. (My family head-atheist, her son, my grandpa, tormented her over this for years.) On the other side, dad's mom was psychic to the point of being scary.

Even so, everyone in the family sort of ignored it all, except when they trotted out "very strange" stories that included psychic things that "just seemed to happen" including Grandpa (the Big Skeptic's) prophetic dream that saved his life from a near fatal accident.

Nobody here but us chickens!

All I can say is that I was given several experiences that proved to me that magick was real, ghosts are real, entities are real and strange as it seems, I'm not entirely crazy.

Now I happen to work as a professional psychic for a living. You'd think I'd be over the skeptic stuff.

But for many years I had "feelings" and "visions" that I didn't trust, and when I kept silent about these things, I always felt my readings weren't entirely "right."

In the past few years I've given myself permission to just blurt out any odd thing that seems to come up. Funny, it all seems to make perfect sense to my clients. And now, even if they don't know what it means at the moment, I trust that my visions will eventually make sense to my clients. And I've had several (considering I mostly read for a transient/tourist community, any reports are significant since mostly I never see the client again) come back and tell me what my visions meant to them and how they were true.
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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2015, 09:52:48 am »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993
I waffled on whether to put this in the beginner pagan or magic section and decided on here because I personally am more focused on magic, but answers to do with religion will probably be helpful too, so feel free to give that if this makes you think of it.

I am a very, VERY skeptical person. I'm not saying that as a "I'm more rational than you!!!" brag, but as something that's a problem a lot of the time. If I think anything unusual or not widely accepted, I mentally beat myself up for being so delusional and wanting to fool myself with playing pretend. It's automatic, and I can't "just" stop doing it. It's fine when I'm reading a weird health claim and go to find studies or reports from reputable news sources to see if there's any truth to it, but when it gets down to something that's not easily provable, like magic...

I've managed to overcome the shame of "playing pretend" enough to do some basic energy work... because I could put objective "proofs" on it. I tested myself, for example, by putting a crystal on a table, disorienting myself by walking away and spinning, and then finding it again only through feeling for it without touching (success every time), and then through some tests with a friend I convinced to try with me (say, energetically tapping each other with backs turned and random timing, we both were always right with it). I'm perfectly happy with this level of proof because I could do several objective tests on myself, even if it's not widely accepted by EVERYONE.

And I've stalled at that level for several YEARS. I think six or so. Literally six years straight of wanting to do more but having no idea how to do it in a way that won't fill me with non-stop shame and self-hatred for being delusional.

To be clear, I don't think anyone else is being ridiculous for their beliefs, somehow other people are fine for me in that they get the automatic benefit of the doubt even if I don't quite understand them. I just can't get MYSELF to do anything.

How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.

Once people get started and see several successes (some contact from a spirit, divination proven correct several times, spells successful often enough to not seem like coincidence), then of course it's easier to move on to more and more advanced things and see which specific beliefs or skill to incorporate. But how do you get STARTED? How do you overcome that first barrier of not feeling like ANY of this kind of thing could ever work?

I never hear people talk about how they got started. (I dunno about this forum specifically, I'm just talking generally.) I just see the skim-over of "(birth religion) never seemed right to me... then I read about (pagan religion) and I felt instantly like I was HOME and everything fell into place and I'm so happy in my new practice!" It makes me feel like no one but me has this problem, this doubt in the entire CONCEPT despite wanting to try it, not just doubt in small nitpicks in certain paths.

It doesn't help that I have always been an atheist. Always, literally. My family never even mentioned religion my entire life. I've never experienced even KNOWING people who believe in things that aren't easily scientifically explained. I feel like a lot of people slot in by being brought up Christian and then just filling in beliefs that better suit them, but if you've never heard anyone talk about believing things at all...??

So I guess what all the venting boils down to is... did anyone else have a really hard time convincing themselves to try something new like this? How did you overcome having too much skepticism? What kinds of personal proof did you find for yourself to make you more confident? Anything like that you can think of would give me something helpful to think about.
Greetings,

I also started off from the point of view of skepticism. I studied physics and computer science in college and so believe in results that can be duplicated.

Fortunately, I discovered Magick and Qabalah around that same time.

The beauty of Qabalah is that it's not about casting spells to get some arbitrary result. Instead it is about self perfection. Thus, results can be seen in terms of health, self knowledge, self esteem, and self confidence.

That said, there are many meditations that can bring noticeable results. As one learns the symbolic language of the Tree of Life, Hebrew letters, and Tarot, one starts to be conscious of more in one's environment.

It is simply a matter of labeling the many facets of one's mind, emotions, and spirit to the point where the same is recognized outside of one's self.

I would suggest meditating on tarot cards to find their correlation with your own mind. The result is seeing the same around you. The more you do this, the more you will find that you have power over both yourself and the world around you.

Magick is a 'way' of seeing the world and of interacting with it. Thus, getting into the magickal mindset, you will be able to bend your mind too many more circumstances and even attract the same into your life.

Casting spells will eventually work because you will eventually master the conditions that you want to influence.

-Wimsaur.

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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2015, 12:09:40 pm »
Quote from: corvidprince;182993


How could I attempt a spell when I can't understand or prove how these things would work? Every time I think about doing even really basic stuff I just feel like I'm a two-year-old insisting I'm Batman or something. I hate myself for even thinking it. I hate myself for BEING here and typing this.

Once people get started and see several successes (some contact from a spirit, divination proven correct several times, spells successful often enough to not seem like coincidence), then of course it's easier to move on to more and more advanced things and see which specific beliefs or skill to incorporate. But how do you get STARTED? How do you overcome that first barrier of not feeling like ANY of this kind of thing could ever work?

I never hear people talk about how they got started. (I dunno about this forum specifically, I'm just talking generally.) I just see the skim-over of "(birth religion) never seemed right to me... then I read about (pagan religion) and I felt instantly like I was HOME and everything fell into place and I'm so happy in my new practice!" It makes me feel like no one but me has this problem, this doubt in the entire CONCEPT despite wanting to try it, not just doubt in small nitpicks in certain paths.

(snip)

So I guess what all the venting boils down to is... did anyone else have a really hard time convincing themselves to try something new like this? How did you overcome having too much skepticism? What kinds of personal proof did you find for yourself to make you more confident? Anything like that you can think of would give me something helpful to think about.

 
(I trimmed a few things from the initial post, leaving behind the stuff I was going to reply to)

I'll start with a bit of my own start.  I wasn't raised overly religious, my family were holiday Christians:  we went to Easter Sunday service and Christmas, and that was pretty much it.  I had a children's bible when I was little, but we didn't really do a lot religious around the house.

We were pretty solidly scientific though.  When I was older, my dad explained to me that his religious beliefs were formed after he researched the historical accuracy of what he believed.  Research was a much bigger influence in my world belief than religion as a child.

But I had always been fascinated by magic, ghosts, unexplained mysteries and fantasy.  My bookshelves, as far back as grade school had ghost stories, books on people with fantastic abilities, unexplained phenomena and a ton of fiction.

I had a very religious Christian friend when I was in middle school, and it got me interested.  I felt like it was something I should look into, and I started looking into it.  Then in high school, I found a book that talked about modern witchcraft as both a path and religion, and I was absolutely hooked.

For me, that moment was like finding something I had lost a long time ago but hadn't been able to put into words.  It just felt right.  And that has sort of been my basis for the rest of my path:  finding what feels right to me.

I do struggle a lot with my logical mind though.  As a teen, I think it was a lot easier to step into the magic and mystery of it all and to not question it as much.  But I have questioned a lot over the years.

One thing that I think helped me specifically at the start, and which I don't see much anymore, is that most of the books I read when I was starting (I was self-taught through books and the very early internet...this was circa 1996) talked about how magic bridged the gap between the left brain (talking self) and right brain (child self).  They all went into a fair amount of detail in how the things we did, with tools, symbols and ritual, helped communicate the desires of our thinking mind to our subconscious mind in order to bring about change in ourselves and in the world.

In high school, I was introduced to the power of affirmations from a completely non-magical source (a very strict Marine rifle coach actually).  Around this time I also started reading a lot of the self-improvement books that were being targeted at business people and entrepreneurs.  Books that spoke of the power of thoughts and how the mind works.  

More recently, I have done some reading into Quantum mechanics and that realm of science, which I feel definitely supports a lot of the ways that I see magic working and influencing the world.  

Having all these non-magical sources that echo the things I read from magical sources helps me to reconcile what on the surface seems sort of fantastical and unbelievable.  But I have had many moments still along the way where I did struggle with the "what if I am just insane" thoughts (I have whole journal entries about that..)

When it comes to actually doing the work, one of the main things that helped me when I was starting was how it made me feel.  Doing magic makes me feel good.  When I am working, it gives me a sense of peace and of personal power.  I feel strong and in control.  

It's not always easy, still to this day.  I have been actively practicing for about 20 years now, and I run into obstacles almost every day.  My husband is a very outspoken Atheist, and so much of what I do he finds sort of ridiculous.  I feel very blessed because he absolutely supports me in spite of that...however I do try to not do a lot of things in front of him because it brings up those insecurities and it takes me out of the place I want to be when working.  I am also lucky that I have some great friends that I can meet up with about once a week, and we talk and also work together quite often, so I have support there.

I think that my advice would be to look for outside validation if you feel that it would help you.  There are a lot of other sources that can be used to bridge that gap between magical and accepted.  One thing I love about having read these alternative explanations is that it gives me several references to speak about the things I do in language that a much broader audience will understand.

As far as how to actually get to practice, I would recommend trying different small things.  Meditation is always a good start, and has many benefits across the board.  Visualization practice is great too.  Try several different daily rituals, small things that you can do in a few minutes upon waking or before bed.  Perhaps grounding and centering, offering gratitude, charging a glass of water with intent for the day or drawing a tarot card or rune for insight into the coming day.  Try something for a few days, and if it doesn't feel good or right, then try something else.  It took me years to find a grounding that felt right for me, so keep at it!

When you find something that feels good and right, make it part of your regular practice.  Focus on how it makes you feel, not only while you are doing it but throughout the rest of your day.  Build on that feeling, and find other things that make you feel that way (or other things that make you feel good in other ways).
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Jake57

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Re: Overcoming the first hurdle of belief?
« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2015, 02:29:19 pm »
Quote from: Kylara;
When you find something that feels good and right, make it part of your regular practice.  Focus on how it makes you feel, not only while you are doing it but throughout the rest of your day.  Build on that feeling, and find other things that make you feel that way (or other things that make you feel good in other ways).

This is a great way of putting it - work on feelings rather than focusing on procedures.  Go very general and don't expect things to be anything like "I put the key in the ignition and turn it and something happens."

Also, the title of your post is interesting. Don't think of belief as having hurdles you need to overcome.  It's a process, and it really never ends.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2015, 03:26:58 pm by Darkhawk »

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