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Author Topic: I need help understanding what my girlfriend told me.  (Read 1514 times)

ThomasRiles

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I need help understanding what my girlfriend told me.
« on: April 15, 2016, 02:45:16 pm »
Hello.

First off, I want you to know I'm a Christian. I'm not here to talk bad about what you believe in. I was told growing up that pagan religions are evil, but nothing I have found supports that. My girlfriend calls herself Wiccan. The other night, she told me something. I can give you the basics as I understand them, but I can't go into detail about what she told me because I promised her I wouldn't talk about it. In the past, I've read about the Wicca belief, I can't remember ever reading about what she's told me. I'm hoping that she doesn't find this. I love her, and I don't want to lose her over this. Alright. Here it goes.

When we dream, our spirits leave our bodies and live another life on another plane, realm or something. A completely separate life to what we have here. People here are connected to each other through the spirit world.

That part, I could believe. The details she gave me, however... Eh... From what I've read though, there is no basis for it in Wicca religion. If it's something I missed, do you have any idea what she's talking about?

Jenett

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Re: I need help understanding what my girlfriend told me.
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2016, 03:28:52 pm »
Quote from: ThomasRiles;190109
That part, I could believe. The details she gave me, however... Eh... From what I've read though, there is no basis for it in Wicca religion. If it's something I missed, do you have any idea what she's talking about?

Hi there! We have people from a wide range of religions around here, so please don't worry on that front.

I want to talk about some things that might help you understand the background not only for your specific question, but why you might be having trouble finding sources that tell you what Wiccans believe, because it might help you with other similar questions.

(Sorry, this got long, but I'm trying to be thorough. Please do ask questions about pieces that are confusing.)
 
So, the first thing that might help with your confusion is to understand that people use the term 'Wicca' in a bunch of different ways. This means what you find in books or online searches may or may not actually reflect what your girlfriend believes or does.

The only way to know what she believes and practices is to ask her. (But looking at other sources can sometimes help if you want to know if a particular practice or belief is common or to learn more about it.)

The second thing is to understand that Wicca - and other forms of religious witchcraft, and most forms of modern Paganism in general - works a bit differently from Christianity. People familiar with Christianity and different Christian denominations often expect that there's some central organization, community, or source for what is or what isn't part of the belief structure, and that that central authority can do things like say whether someone is or isn't a legitimate member of that community.

That really isn't true for most modern Pagan religions. For one thing, we mostly don't have central organizations: people decide things for themselves, or what works within the small individual groups they may participate in.

Sometimes there are multiple groups following a shared set of practices and experiences (in Wicca, these are called traditions, and you can think of them sort of like denominations in Christianity), but even then, if someone does something outside the tradition's teachings, the pressure to change is more a social one (people may not want to be in ritual with them, or consider them to be doing the same thing anymore) rather than an organizational one (where a central authority determines a punishment, or even just says "stop doing that.")

The second part of this is that most modern Pagan religions focus on shared practices, rather than shared beliefs. It's really very common, even within a tradition with shared practices, for there to be ten people in ritual with ten different ideas about the nature of the gods, what happens after we die, or questions like yours about your girlfriend's belief.

A lot of the time we might enjoy talking about the differences, but our actual religious practices and whether they work for us (help us through the hard times, help us celebrate the good times, inspire us to be better people in ways that matter to us, and so on) don't require that we all think or believe the same things.

(If you'd like to learn a bit more about why all of this can be confusing to learn to talk about, I have several essays on Seeking, a website I run for people curious about religious witchcraft and Wicca. You might find the things Pagans tend to have in common, things we don't tend to have in common, and different ways people use the term Wicca particularly helpful, but anything in the Basics section might help.)

On to your actual question!

Quote
When we dream, our spirits leave our bodies and live another life on another plane, realm or something. A completely separate life to what we have here. People here are connected to each other through the spirit world.

So, this is a great example of a topic where people who are Wiccan (and people who are other kinds of religious witches, and all sorts of other kinds of Pagans) have lots of different views.

The one you describe here is a variant of one I've heard a number of people express in a related form, but not quite the way you describe it here.

In more general terms, I know a number of people who feel that there is a world - some call it the astral plane, some call it the esoteric planes, some call it the subtle or etheric world, and there are a bunch of other terms as well - that is a sort of overlay on our physical world.

A number of people do believe that we can deliberately travel and interact in that space, in ways our physical bodies don't allow. However, it's generally still our core selves (our soul, consciousness, whatever you want to call it) interacting, so it's not that we're living two entirely different lives at the same time, but more like we can travel to that other space at some times.

Some people think that happens when we sleep. (Usually not all the time we're asleep, but some of it.) Some people do it deliberately during meditation or ritual practices.

(For example: I don't think I do it most of the time when I'm sleeping, though there's been a couple of times I think that might have happened. But I do it as part of my religious practice to visit an astral temple in my tradition, and also a library that I use for research, personal and professional development, and just plain I like libraries. (I'm a librarian, professionally.))

The other part of this is that many people consider what you do on the astral to be just as much a choice as what you do in the rest of your life. (Though dream experiences would be a bit different unless someone is a skilled lucid dreamer because most people don't have direct control over their actions in dreams). So, someone doing something that would break an agreement they made when they're astral travelling is still breaking the agreement, even though there's no physical body involved.

So: is this belief of your girlfriend's a common Wiccan belief? It's hard to tell. Is it contrary to other Wiccan beliefs? Nope. Is it one some Wiccans have? Yep. (Also other religious witches, Pagans, etc.)
« Last Edit: April 15, 2016, 03:30:21 pm by Jenett »
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Darkhawk

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Re: I need help understanding what my girlfriend told me.
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2016, 03:41:59 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;190111
In more general terms, I know a number of people who feel that there is a world - some call it the astral plane, some call it the esoteric planes, some call it the subtle or etheric world, and there are a bunch of other terms as well - that is a sort of overlay on our physical world.

A number of people do believe that we can deliberately travel and interact in that space, in ways our physical bodies don't allow. However, it's generally still our core selves (our soul, consciousness, whatever you want to call it) interacting, so it's not that we're living two entirely different lives at the same time, but more like we can travel to that other space at some times.

Some people think that happens when we sleep. (Usually not all the time we're asleep, but some of it.) Some people do it deliberately during meditation or ritual practices.

 
For example, the ancient Egyptians appear to have believed that one of the souls would travel into the spirit world / world of the dead when sleeping, and that's why one could see people who had died in dreams.  (There are also extant examples of letters to the dead that include content like "Dear beloved spouse: would you please tell your servant to STOP STARING AT ME WHEN I'M SLEEPING?  It's creepy and I think he's trying to put a curse on me.")

Quote
The other part of this is that many people consider what you do on the astral to be just as much a choice as what you do in the rest of your life. (Though dream experiences would be a bit different unless someone is a skilled lucid dreamer because most people don't have direct control over their actions in dreams). So, someone doing something that would break an agreement they made when they're astral travelling is still breaking the agreement, even though there's no physical body involved.


There's also a lot of complexity to be had with certain forms of astral work, or whatever you want to call it; people do a lot of wish-fulfillment stuff there, including being Very, Very Important.  Unfortunately, a lot of self-taught people don't have a lot of training around ego work, and not all pagan religions even consider this sort of thing relevant.  This means I tend to be fairly skeptical of a lot of people who consider talking about their astral stuff really, really important; I've found a lot of it has not been gone over with the Comb Of Discernment to clear out the tangles.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Faemon

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Re: I need help understanding what my girlfriend told me.
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2016, 03:26:42 am »
Quote from: ThomasRiles;190109
My girlfriend calls herself Wiccan. The other night, she told me something. I can give you the basics as I understand them, but I can't go into detail about what she told me because I promised her I wouldn't talk about it. In the past, I've read about the Wicca belief, I can't remember ever reading about what she's told me. I'm hoping that she doesn't find this. I love her, and I don't want to lose her over this.


That's considerate of you, but I'm curious what's stopping you from asking your girlfriend? Are you afraid that by voicing your honest curiosity she might take it instead as some underhandedly manipulative way to tell her she's wrong in her faith and shouldn't confide in you? I would hope she'd be glad that you want to know more about her perspective and beliefs. As glad and comfortable as you would be, that she'd want to know more about how your religion influenced you to become the person that she fell in love with.

Just saying, continuing the conversation with the source of this idea is probably much easier and more effective than asking us.

Quote
When we dream, our spirits leave our bodies and live another life on another plane, realm or something. A completely separate life to what we have here. People here are connected to each other through the spirit world.

That part, I could believe. The details she gave me, however...

This other plane, realm, something is invariably very strange. Even to people who can believe that much strangeness as you did. The actual experience of it has no regard for the logic of our waking life. It's very strange.
Quote
Eh...

Very strange. Escher geometry strange. Spontaneous musical number with choreography that everybody already knows strange. Stranger than that. Completely contradictory ideas remain true at the same time and application, strange. Unspeakably strange. Too strange for any human language to have a word for some specific aspects of how strange it is. And some traditions lend ways to make it all make slightly some sense...some forms of Christian mysticism included, even...but sometimes it's really just not going to make sense?
Quote
From what I've read though, there is no basis for it in Wicca religion. If it's something I missed, do you have any idea what she's talking about?

No, I don't, because you didn't tell us. ;) It's okay not to tell us, especially if you're not supposed to. I thought you might be interested in some of Kat Karr's sermons. I hope this link still works, or that you can watch YouTube videos: I'm uncertain which denomination of Christianity that Kerr identifies with, but I thought they would be a good example of spiritual experiences that aren't strictly canonical, although they do springboard off of distinctly Christian stuff.

So, if that can happen, then it's not so much of a leap that your girlfriend can still fall back on Wiccan terms for something she believes (or has experienced even) but it might not be something you can find in descriptions of Wicca religious belief or religious practice. I hope this helps!
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