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Author Topic: Have you consistently practised paganism since you first became interested?  (Read 5865 times)

juniper.

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I have dabbled in paganism since I was 19. I would start with a Wicca 101 book, but I found they didn't have enough substance. There was lots of instruction on what to do, but not much on the why. I am a scientist, so I need the why or it won't click for me. I would also get frustrated when reference A said X and reference B said Y.

A few years ago I went through a traumatic experience and have been healing since. As my health improves, my interest in spirituality has been rekindled. A combination of maturity (I am in my 40s), time (I am on disability), and organisation (I now write out my goals and limit the number of things I focus on so I don't get overwhelmed and shut down) has contributed to my finally beginning to explore in depth.
And I am thrilled with the resources now available (or maybe it's that maturity thing giving me the patience to search things out!). There is still a lot the chaff out there, but it has become easier to find substance. The internet is such a useful tool, but it is a double-edged sword for me as I can easily succumb to information overload. However, I am applying my scientist skills of determining which sources I feel are more valid. This is different too, because 'feeling' doesn't usually come into science--I am learning to not apply all of my scientific habits to spirituality.

My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

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Quote from: juniper.;175665
My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

 
1. Around 1985. I'd been essentially pagan before that, but I didn't have a term for it nor did I know that there were existing traditions.

2. Yes, but "practiced" is a loose term for me. Meditation is the only thing I do regularly.

3. I don't have a reason for discontinuing; that's why I keep doing it. Or am I misunderstanding your question?
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

juniper.

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Quote from: Altair;175669

3. I don't have a reason for discontinuing; that's why I keep doing it. Or am I misunderstanding your question?


Gah! I wrote question 3 incorrectly. Question 3 should read:
If not, what do you think your reasons for discontinuing?
 
Thanks for answering Altair. I really appreciate it as I am just curious how others have practised over time.

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Quote from: juniper.;175665
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
    2. Have you consistently practised?
    3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

1) When I was 13 or 14.
2) Not really as It took me forever to figure out what I believed. I liked Wicca (which was easy to find info for in the 1970s), but it never really clicked for me. However, I've consistently practiced magic of one form or another since I read Huson's Mastering Witchcraft and Regarde's The Golden Dawn in the early 1970s.
3) not really applicable
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Faemon

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Quote from: juniper.;175665
There is still a lot the chaff out there, but it has become easier to find substance. The internet is such a useful tool, but it is a double-edged sword for me as I can easily succumb to information overload. However, I am applying my scientist skills of determining which sources I feel are more valid. This is different too, because 'feeling' doesn't usually come into science--I am learning to not apply all of my scientific habits to spirituality.

My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?


1. Alas, I'm moved to give the orange answer to the blue question, because it depends on what you mean by "paganism". I consider paganism an amalgamation of symbolic languages used to articulate existential hopes and anxieties.

If you've watched Nova's documentary "Einstein's Big Idea", the documentary parallels La Voisier's ghost with his widow's romantic memories, because of how his rigorous experimentation proved that everything in nature is a conserved quantity; and potrayed Faraday as being the discoverer of the unifying aspect of energy beneath electricity and magnetism precisely because of his Christian faith in an omnipotent and omnipresent god.

Neither of those reasoning processes are scientific. However, science is an irresistible source of poetry and metaphor, even though the scientific process itself does not hold with making those poetic associations. Science doesn't tell a person how they should behave to their neighbor, it's a tool rather than an agent of political injustices, and it cannot navigate the variety of subjective experiences of the human condition. Science is such an important and necessary system when it comes to an improved quality of life and understanding of the natural world, but it's an insufficient philosophy.

So, elements of something not-quite-science and not-quite-Christianity has always been influential in my life, but whether I can call that a spirituality or religion at all let alone pagan is a doozy.

If a book tells me to call the quarters of the four elements and directions to honor the ancient universal Wiccan goddess, then it's probably because the ritual act in its symbolism has resonated with someone enough that the why is obvious. If it doesn't resonate with me because a different elemental system has been a more prominent influence and it just feels wrong, or because I have personal issues with authority figures, or because I don't need some romanticized matriarchal past to have been historically true to have the psychological strength to defy the patriarchy, or because cisgendering chafes my mind like metaphorical sandpaper...well, then it doesn't.

But that doesn't mean that anything that isn't this philosophy or the personal belief that I've developed is classified categorically as chaff. When we seek what is comfortable and helpful for us outside of the territory of science, it doesn't have to be objective. I think it ought to be authentic and part of that is whether it's true, but a fully humane truth doesn't necessitate an obliteration of subjective life experiences. While Joseph Campbell is one of my major influences, he's been getting a lot of flack for universalizing world mythology for a cause of common humanity. And I think his philosophy deserves it, because he presumed to judge "common humanity" from his own standpoint, basically trying to turn it into a science. Poetry ain't here for that, IMAO.


And then there are pagans for whom it's not poetry at all, but literal, and therefore I ought to be condemned as some pop culture incorporating pseudopagan.

And I also love science.

If that's caused conflicts, I can't really suggest to you how resolve that internally or philosophically except to say that before I used to feel apprehensively "ehhh" and now I'm complacently "ehhh" when it comes to considering What'll The Neighbours Think.

2. I consider everything a practice, so I've always been practicing...but I can't hone in on even one thing to do that has been consistent. That said...

3. My philosophy of religion as symbolic metaphor and poetry is very metacognitive or meta-analytical or whatever the word is. So, when I immerse myself in a life experience, it's either no longer religious, or it's more religious than when I think I'm being religious and feeling like I'm being religious.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 08:22:27 am by Faemon »
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dragonfaerie

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Quote from: juniper.;175665
My questions are these:
1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
2. Have you consistently practised?
3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

Let me address the science first. I'm an aerospace engineer by day. I firmly believe that eventually we will understand how magic and other occult/paranormal phenomena happen. But we aren't there yet, and that doesn't bother me. Weird things happen, magic works, science is fluid, and we can't even explain human consciousness yet. This is why paganism is faith.

As far as my paganism, I've been drawn to the topics my whole life, but became Wiccan in 1996, when I was 18. While I don't always do spells and ritual, there's never been a time since then that I didn't consider myself Wiccan.

 I've also studied Druidry for almost 10 years, but have always thought of myself as Wiccan first and a Druid second.

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Quote from: juniper.;175665

   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

 
1.  I first became aware of Paganism when I was in high school, around Sophmore year I think, so just under 20 years ago.  It was pretty much a coming home for me, I have been called to it since my very first book.

2.  Tricky questions.  Yes, and no.  I have never taken an official break or turned away from it.  Since I first started my path, I have considered myself Pagan.  I have, however, had quite a few fallow periods, where my practice has sort of hibernated.

3.  I think that there were times in my life where I just needed to focus on other things, and my practice took a back burner.  I also think that, for me, those periods of downtime allowed me to return with drive and focus, and in the end, worked out well for me.
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Demophon

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Quote from: juniper.;175665
My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?

When I was about 15.

   2. Have you consistently practised?

Yes, but *what* I practiced has changed a lot. I started with Cunningham and DJ Conway, casting circles in my bedroom when my parents were asleep and burning coloured candles to get what I wanted in life. I mainly practice devotion to deities now. I have been interested in Catholicism and the veneration of the Blessed Virgin, but not enough to actually be in communion with Rome. There were times my devotion to more "pagan" gods faded out and Holy Mary was a more prominent element of my personal practice, though that's currently not the case.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 11:45:42 am by Demophon »

Emma Eldritch

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Quote from: juniper.;175665


My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

 
Firstly, I'm glad your health is improving, and also that you are enjoying getting to explore the spiritual side of things.

As for your questions...

1. I was fifteen - this was the mid 90s, making me one of the darling adolescents inspired by The Craft.

2. Mostly, although there were some gaps.

3. The first time I deliberately took a break from paganism and magic was the result of teen drama. We had a little 'coven' that exploded for a multitude of reasons and I was fed up with the whole scene for a little while as a result. Didn't last very long though, and I started back up with solitary work.

There have been other periods in my life where I was much less active - my beliefs stayed more or less the same, but I wasn't always doing the actual work. Looking back I can see that the few times this happened was when I was disillusioned with life in general and would give up on not only spirituality and magic, but also on art and writing as well.

juniper.

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Quote from: Faemon;175679
1. Alas, I'm moved to give the orange answer to the blue question, because it depends on what you mean by "paganism". I consider paganism an amalgamation of symbolic languages used to articulate existential hopes and anxieties.


Thank-you for your thorough answer, Faemon. It has given me much food for thought and also inspired me to briefly research things like existentialism as I've never read up much on philosophy. However, I am coming to believe that part of what was missing for me was philosophy. I doubt I will ever be a philosophy expert, but I am enjoying very much watching debates amongst those who are from the sidelines.

Quote from: Faemon;175679
But that doesn't mean that anything that isn't this philosophy or the personal belief that I've developed is classified categorically as chaff.

 
More evidence that writing clearly is not my forte. I did not mean to infer that I thought anyone's philosophy or personal belief is chaff, but rather the lack of supporting explanations in a book intended to be a textbook renders the book chaff.

juniper.

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Quote from: dragonfaerie;175685
Let me address the science first. I'm an aerospace engineer by day. I firmly believe that eventually we will understand how magic and other occult/paranormal phenomena happen. But we aren't there yet, and that doesn't bother me. Weird things happen, magic works, science is fluid, and we can't even explain human consciousness yet. This is why paganism is faith.


Quote from: Faemon;175679
When we seek what is comfortable and helpful for us outside of the territory of science, it doesn't have to be objective.


I've always had faith, as unscientific that may seem to others (to the frustration of my atheist mother-in-law). When it got down to the nitty gritty of practise though, in the past I was trying to apply scientific principles to something that is beyond those principles (at least for the moment). Part of my growth is learning, as Faemon says, that it doesn't have to be objective, a process I am going through now.

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Quote from: juniper.;175665


My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?

I was interested in the occult since childhood for some reason,  and then paganism in my early teens in the 90's.

Consistently yes, in some form. In the military I had a real lack of personal time and space so that period was when it was the lowest. Belonging to groups requires a lot of time, and sometimes life gets in the way, but I've always been consistent in my personal practise.
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Quote from: juniper.;175665

My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   

 
A (former) friend introduced me to Wicca in 2000, when I was 16. She suggested that since I liked ancient Egypt so much, why don't I make that my religion? It was a suggestion after two years of ambivalence and lack of enthusiasm for Christianity. I was searching for something else, and Wicca was, well. It was somewhere to start.

I have consistently practiced since that time, yes. My practice has constantly changed over the years, and it barely resembles what it was back then, but I've never taken any sort of prolonged break from it. There were pauses when my practice was being rebuilt, but those weren't really breaks in the sense of leaving Pagan practice completely. They were focused on rebuilding my practice into something that fit the place where I was at the time.
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Quote from: juniper.;175665

My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?


1. Sometime when I was around 11 (so, 2004ish)

2. No, I haven't.

3. Type of interest, I think, and general lifestyle and beliefs. (expanded in my case below). I think for a lot of other people, it's also convenience (although less shallow than that word may convey- family not approving, unavailability of resources, lack of time, etc)

Summary: My practice changed rapidly in the first couple years, then I lost interest at 14 or 15 (actually can't remember the age for the life of me, but I guess that's because losing interest is different than outrightly stopping), then although I dabbled with mythology interpretation and philosophy a lot, I didn't start again until I was 20 (and now I'm about 22).

Longer:
At first, spells and crafts really interested me, but I was a very serious kid, so I got really into solitary wicca and stuff in order to provide myself with a foundation and structure to what I was doing. Between level of interest, time, belief in magic, belief in the lord and lady deity setup I was presented with, etc, my practice changed a lot between magic/religion/ritual and combinations thereof.

Then I learned that while I absorbed associations and mythology, religion wasn't really my thing, and magic and so on went with it, since I had always learned that they were at least connected. And, as mentioned above, I just lost interest in the whole thing as I discovered that the religious aspects weren't for me.

Then, for recontinuing, although it's not part of the question:

In the meantime, I took a lot of literature and mythology courses in high school, then literature and philosophy as my electives for college. If I had more time to think, rather than being buried in schoolwork, school stress, financial stress, etc, I probably would have found more interest again then.

When I got back into it, it was a combination of things that brought it (although being more stable in my sense of self, not being a preteen, certainly helped on its own). I wanted an altar again, to help me meditate, concentrate, contemplate, etc for writing; some sort of balanced point to think at. I was having medical issues, and the confinement, lack of activity, etc, gave me a lot of time for reading and introspection. That let me structure my practice in ways that suited me better, and explore more than just Llewellyn wicca (also because I was an adult with my own computer and no reason to be embarrassed/shy as I was on a shared one), which in turn helped me lose the automatic perspective of 'books are official,' which fed more self discovery. Also at the same time as altar want/medical issues culminating, I had a weird paranormal experience that made me want to cleanse my house bare (this may actually have been the catalyst to start research, but in any case, the three coincided strongly).

I'll start with this, but hopefully I'll join more discussion after)

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Quote from: juniper.;175665

My questions are these:
   1. When did you first become interested in paganism?
   2. Have you consistently practised?
   3. If so, what do you think the reasons for discontinuing?


1. I've been drawn to paganism since I was a child, though I didn't come know it as such until I was about 16 when I was really just beginning to sort of "think for myself," spiritually.  I had previously simply taken what I was taught as the truth, but I found myself being taught things I just didn't agree with in my heart.  A friend just happened to lend me a book about paganism at the time, and I couldn't help feeling as if the answer had fallen into my lap.

2. I must admit I have not, and this is something with which I have struggled.  At first, it was simple logistics.  I didn't want to upset my family, so I kept everything very stealthy.  I did more reading and studying than really practicing.  Now, I'm afraid I'm sort of stuck in that mindset.  I have more freedom now, but I still feel inclined toward secrecy.  I think that is a large part of what's contributed to my inconsistency.  

I'll dabble for a while, then sort of forget to do anything, float around aimlessly, then find my way back and repeat the whole process again.  I'm working on getting out of that loop, though.

I think part of what's held me back is that I previously had a rather rigid idea of what constituted "practice."  I felt like a needed to be doing full-blown rituals in order to really be doing anything.  But my idea of ritual is expanding now.  I'm embracing kitchen witchery.  I meditate.  I'm working on weaving my spirituality throughout my life in smaller more subtle ways.

And I'm also working on planning things better.  I'm finding that everything (cooking, cleaning, writing) gets done much more effectively if I plan it ahead of time.  My memory is terrible, and if I don't plan things, they don't get done.  That includes Sabbat celebrations.  I don't know how many times I've though "Oh, yeah ___ should be coming up soon" only to look at the calendar and realize it was three days ago.

But I'm working on that.

3.  I wouldn't say I've ever really "discontinued" my practice.  I've had fallow periods (and I really love that term).  Long ones sometimes.  But the seeds have always been there still.  I think other aspects of my life have simply demanded more attention during those times.

My most recent fallow period coincided with my partner (who happens to be the breadwinner) losing the job she'd held for the last 14 years.  She only recently found another, so that was a rather stressful period of time.  I thinks sometimes our spiritual lives have to take something of a back burner, so to speak, while we're dealing with problems in the physical realm.

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