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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Finding my path  (Read 940 times)

Cali

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Finding my path
« on: May 14, 2020, 10:20:57 am »
Hi all, For the past 6 years I've been researching various Pagan religions and I am aware there are many paths to follow but myself am unsure on which one my beliefs fit with the most. I do know one thing, having studied up on the various traditions of Wicca over the years, I don't feel a pull to it. I also have a mix of Irish, English, German and French ancestry so, I looked into Celtic and Germanic traditions. While it was interesting and I liked a few deities, I didn't feel much of a connection to the religions of Heathenry or Celtic Paganism. I had always been interested in ancient Greece since I was young, so I went in that direction, but overall didn't feel very in tune with many of the gods.

Do you have any advice? Any ideas on where my beliefs might fit into a particular Pagan tradition?

Here is a brief run-down of my basic spiritual beliefs:

* Soft polytheism. I'm more of a universalist, as I mainly view the gods as the same universal divinity manifesting in different forms, so I don't see much contradiction on honoring gods of different pantheons as such.

* I'm generally not one for groups and I'm more interested in a solitary path.

* The natural world is imbued with spirit, and thus is regarded as alive and sacred.

* I don't practice magic. I have a lot of respect for the occult and magic, but I don't thank that that is something that I'm going for in my spiritual practices.

* A belief in karma (the universal law of cause and effect).

* A belief that all living creatures have a soul.

* A belief in reincarnation. In between each life form the soul rests in the afterlife for a period before being born into another body.

* I'm not entirely sure if there are incarnations of the divine among humanity. However I do believe that to tap into oneself is to tap into the divine.

* I follow the wheel of the year but tend to be more drawn towards the solstices and equinoxes than what I see as man-made celebrations such as Beltane or Lammas.

* Ancestor veneration is important.

Eastling

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2020, 10:27:32 am »
Do you have any advice? Any ideas on where my beliefs might fit into a particular Pagan tradition?

Sounds like you're an eclectic, aka someone who borrows from a bunch of different paths and traditions. There's nothing wrong with that (although I'm not sure I'd define "karma" as "the universal law of cause and effect"--maybe one of our Hindu posters can help with that?).
"The peacock can show its whole tail at once, but I can only tell you a story."
--JAMES ALAN GARDNER

StellarWind

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2020, 02:51:01 pm »
Do you have any advice? Any ideas on where my beliefs might fit into a particular Pagan tradition?

I'd say Eclecticism describes you well; and you're in good company. There are many, many eclectics and that may perhaps be the largest group among pagans. Some of your overlapping bullets sound a lot like me.

Darkhawk

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2020, 04:32:13 pm »
Do you have any advice? Any ideas on where my beliefs might fit into a particular Pagan tradition?

It is worth keeping in mind that belief is the least interesting, least important, and least indicative factor in pagan religion.

This is a difficult hurdle for a lot of people who are coming from many Christian backgrounds, since, "DO YOU BELIEVE?!?!?" is treated as a core thing, but beliefs of this nature are of genuine irrelevance in most pagan contexts.  It is not only common, but actually normal, for groups of pagan coreligionists to include people with wildly differing beliefs on the nature of deity, the nature of an afterlife, and all those other things.

From a sheer practical standpoint the stuff that only exists in your head only matters where it turns into action; I find belief orientation (as in Christianity as it is often practiced) genuinely weird because if it's only in my head, I can't see how anyone else could possibly either a) care about it or b) verify it. All of this stuff may be of critical importance to the individual, but it has no relevance to anyone else unless it is transformed into action or inaction, and then it is the actual doing of things that is the part that creates that impact.  In other words, believe what you want in the privacy of your own head.

Questions that are more relevant:

- what relationships do you want to cultivate with people and Powers, and does this religion support you in that?

- what ritual practices satisfy you? what traditions?

- how do you understand the world, and in what ways can that be deepened and enhanced by adopting this religion's cosmological structure?

- what tools does this religion provide you to accomplish your goals, improve yourself, and/or develop as a human?

- what is beautiful about it?


The religions I adhere to I do because they work; they provide me with effective ritual and tools; they have a cosmology that is consistent with my understanding of the world; they are beautiful.  What I believe about the gods is irrelevant except to the gods, and only there primarily insofar as being rude to them is problematic. I will solve questions of afterlives when I am dead, and I am in no hurry for more data.  There are things I do because they are correct within systems I have adopted, and even if I do not personally find them meaningful I find enough of the rest of the system functional that I see no reason not to follow through.

"Perceive first. Then believe." - Victor Anderson
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Haptalaon

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2020, 10:29:01 am »
It is worth keeping in mind that belief is the least interesting, least important, and least indicative factor in pagan religion.

That's a great post Darkhawk, thank you!

Nothing jumps out to me OP, so I think the best bet is to focus on what do you actually want to *do*. You've got four annual festivals, so what specifically do you *do* on those days (and why). Then, what do you want to *do* on a daily or weekly basis?

So, if you say ancestor veneration is important...set up a structure for venerating ancestors. If you believe in karma, begin living as if your choices had karmic weight to the best of your ability.

I find "be an eclectic" quite an unsatisfing thing to be, but it helps to start doing things regularly which produce the kinds of spiritual experiences you seek and reveres the kind of things you find awe-some, that makes you feel like less of a floater and more of a fixed thing.

The word "animism" might help, that covers some of your beliefs. I'd also say that some concepts like karma, reincarnation, and being part of a divine soul remind me of bits of Hinduism and maybe Buddhism (neither are topics I know much about; I collect religious pamphlets so I've got a lot of Hare Krishna booklets)
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Jenett

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2020, 11:32:59 am »

In addition to the excellent comments so far (I want to second Darkhawk's, in particular), one other thing that might help is thinking about why you want and whether you need a name or label.

In general, in the Pagan and magical communities, the labels are useful to find other people who do similar things to you. Even if you don't want to do things with other people directly, people with similar interests will do things like share resources you might also find helpful, or have ideas for solving a particular thing that may work better for you than other options.

But it often doesn't work like denomination labels work in Christianity, or equivalent group labels work in other religions, where the labels often have a fair bit to do with larger structural considerations (like who the head of the religion is, or which building you worship in, or what rules you follow.)

If you're part of a practice that has an initiatory lineage (like traditional Wicca, initiatory religious witchcraft, or other practices that have a specific way of becoming a member) then those things sort of apply - but there are so many of them out there in Paganism that many people will only vaguely recognise the most common. As someone who's an initiatory religious witch, I can use that phrase to give people a broad idea of where what I do falls in the grand scheme of things, but for anything more detailed, I have to do a lot of explaining about the specifics.

In other words, we all sort of fall back on "Do you do this thing? Cool, what have you found helpful?" even when we do have a name for our path. There's so much variation out there.

Adding on to what Darkhawk said, even in a given coven, beliefs are not standard. I've been in circle with covenmates - other initiates of my tradition, people who have a chunk of the same background as I do in terms of what we practice and do - and they have very different ideas about the nature of deity, what happens after we die, and so on.

We do tend to largely agree about broad ethical priorities, and we agree about how we do the stuff we do together. (Because those things are part of deciding what we do together and how we go about doing it. If we didn't agree, we wouldn't be doing that stuff together, q.e.d..) But a lot of the details are very individual. And that's for people who do actually want to work together and share a bunch of stuff - so you can imagine how much more varied it is when that isn't a driving factor.

Given all of that, figuring out the language for the things you care about (for example, Haptalon's excellent suggestion about animism being a thing to explore) rather than for your path or focus as a whole may be more helpful to you in finding people to talk about things with. A broad label that lets people figure out where to start a conversation (i.e. "Eclectic" or "Eclectic witch" or "Soft polytheist" or whatever you consider the most important early thing for someone to know about you) can also be helpful, but there's only so much good it does.
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PerditaPickle

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Re: Finding my path
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2020, 09:29:45 am »


I'm biased, but your list checked a lot of boxes with druidry (which there are many different ways of approaching) - I take it this is one of the paths you already looked into, though?
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