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Author Topic: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...  (Read 2721 times)

arkeiryn

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Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« on: July 09, 2011, 12:34:13 pm »
*hopes this is the right place*

My current label of choice is "Pantheistic Pagan". "Naturalistic Pantheist" is a label that quite nicely sums up how I view the universe in its entirety. The universe should be revered. There is nothing that cannot be explained by science, nothing that breaks the laws of physics, and anything that appears to just means we don't know enough about the laws of physics ;) That's fairly simple, and was fairly easy for my brain to get itself around. It was basically "Oh, that's what that label means? Sure, that's me".

It's the "Pagan" part that's more tricky. I know I wish to follow some earth-centred religion, that my beliefs fit somewhere under the pagan umbrella. I first found paganism through Wicca, and I still like some of the simpler aspects of the rituals -- casting a simple circle, having an altar, stuff like that. I like the (Celtic-based, as far as I can tell) Wheel of the Year festivals, and (the idea of) doing witchcraft. (Don't ask me whether I believe witchcraft works or is just a psychological thing, though; still unsure on that.)

But there are aspects of Wicca that put me off, and aspects of other religions that attract me. Thor and Odin from the Norse pantheon. Sekhmet and Bast from the Kemetic. The Kami of Shinto. Hekate, Persephone, Rhiannon, the Morrigan, Taranis, Tiamat, and probably some others I've forgotten, have all called out to me at some point, too. I haven't had a chance to look into any of this in great detail, though; Real Life keeps getting in the way and there seems so much.

And this is all very confusing when I'm not even sure I believe in gods!

Is feeling quite so confused and bewildered a normal thing? How am I supposed to work things out? I am still very new to paganism, and the boyfriend has preconceived notions that I have not yet got the strength in my own beliefs to persuade him aren't true so I don't feel like I can talk to him yet. My two real life pagan friends don't know about this new path I'm attempting to find either but I am self-conscious, and embarrassed to talk to them about it to them. I can't really afford to by all the books in the world to read up on everything and I'm not even sure that would help. Sometimes I feel like I'm about six different people!

... help?
"That which yields is not always weak."

"Yes my lord, but questions are dangerous, for they have answers"

Jenett

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2011, 01:22:04 pm »
Quote from: arkeiryn;3330

Is feeling quite so confused and bewildered a normal thing? How am I supposed to work things out?

 
Confusion is a totally normal stage for many people. It's a really complicated topic and set of overlapping communities and practices and ideas, and it takes time to sort through that.

As to how to get less confused, one thing that might help you is the idea that many Pagan paths are more about shared practices than shared beliefs. (There's obviously some overlap, and some places where a practice really only makes sense if you also are at least open to a particular belief.)

So one way to sort through what you do next is to figure out what you actually want to *do* about it.

Some people aren't sure what practices interest them:
There are lots of ways to explore. Reading (both intro books and places like this forum) and paying attention to what catches your attention can be good places to start. As can trying some beginner-friendly activities as you find them.

I've got a bunch of things up on my website that might help you at least sort through some possibilities (http://gleewood.org/seeking), but the book that springs to mind is _Twelve Wild Swans_ by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine.

It is derived from the Reclaiming tradition (which might or might not be of interest), but I suggest it both because it's got a *huge* number of different types of practices and activities, presented in a beginner-friendly way (and ways to develop those into deeper practice over time) and because it's still pretty widely available (and in particular, a number of libraries have copies.)

Some people want to find other people to do things with:
Which could be a social/discussion/networking group, an open ritual, occasional or regular workshops, all sorts of things.

In that case, one really practical option is to check out what's available in your area, or that your friends who are Pagan do. (This will likely be easier once you have an idea what your particular interests are: it's easier to work with "I'm interested in trying out this specific thing" than "Teach me all you know!")

There are certainly other options out there, but it makes sense to start with what you can get to easily. Many people find that the first few things they go to (in terms of open rituals, public events, etc.) aren't precisely what they want - but they help them narrow down what they *do* want, or make connections that make finding that easier.
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Seeking: first steps on a Pagan path (advice for seekers and people new to Paganism)

Katefox

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2011, 03:03:30 pm »
Quote from: arkeiryn;3330
It's the "Pagan" part that's more tricky. I know I wish to follow some earth-centred religion, that my beliefs fit somewhere under the pagan umbrella. I first found paganism through Wicca, and I still like some of the simpler aspects of the rituals -- casting a simple circle, having an altar, stuff like that. I like the (Celtic-based, as far as I can tell) Wheel of the Year festivals, and (the idea of) doing witchcraft. (Don't ask me whether I believe witchcraft works or is just a psychological thing, though; still unsure on that.)

But there are aspects of Wicca that put me off, and aspects of other religions that attract me. Thor and Odin from the Norse pantheon. Sekhmet and Bast from the Kemetic. The Kami of Shinto. Hekate, Persephone, Rhiannon, the Morrigan, Taranis, Tiamat, and probably some others I've forgotten, have all called out to me at some point, too. I haven't had a chance to look into any of this in great detail, though; Real Life keeps getting in the way and there seems so much.

And this is all very confusing when I'm not even sure I believe in gods!

Is feeling quite so confused and bewildered a normal thing? How am I supposed to work things out? I am still very new to paganism, and the boyfriend has preconceived notions that I have not yet got the strength in my own beliefs to persuade him aren't true so I don't feel like I can talk to him yet. My two real life pagan friends don't know about this new path I'm attempting to find either but I am self-conscious, and embarrassed to talk to them about it to them. I can't really afford to by all the books in the world to read up on everything and I'm not even sure that would help. Sometimes I feel like I'm about six different people!

... help?

 
Hello, you sound sort of like me.  I can certainly commiserate with your confusion.

One of the things someone here on TC suggested to me is to go to a bookstore or library, and just browse the books on Paganism, magic, &c. and grab whatever looks interesting.  The library is great, because you can read the books without paying for them. :D  It seems really unfocused, but this has actually been helping me narrow down the sorts of things I want in my religious practice.

I also tend to sort things out by writing them down.  Something about taking the time to put my thoughts into writing really helps me clarify them.  And this works the same for figuring out my path as for anything else.  I know I'm going to be doing alot of writing about it as I go along.

xerces_blue

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2011, 03:51:36 am »
Quote from: arkeiryn;3330

I'm in the same boat as you are, only I've been floating in it for a few years now. :D I also have a pathless path with no label, and I think that's fine. Some folks dislike ecclectics, and sometimes with good reason, but it's possible to be ecclectic without being fluffy and having a proper structure, only you create that structure by yourself.

I would give you the same advice you've already been given, to seek out the company and support of Pagans in your community, and to read everything you possibly can.

My additional advice, however, is not to force yourself to go in a certain direction because it's what other people do. If you find a group you honestly feel a good connection to and you agree with their practice, by all means, stick with it. But please don't feel that you have to change yourself to fit in with everyone. If you get together 100 Pagans, even Pagans with the same label, you'll see some similarities, possibly, but likely you'll get more differences. That is fine. I believe there's as many paths are there are people. The methods may be completely different, but the goal is still the same.

Also, don't just read about Pagan and magic stuff. Read about other religions, philosophy, ancient cultures, even about things that you think are absolutely not related to your path, because sometimes, you discover there IS a connection, like a point of view you never thought of, or an explanation for something that clicks just right for you. This is what's been helping me tremendously lately. Reading stuff that I first thought was irrelevant has surprised me greatly in being perfectly relevant at times, and I would be missing something important right now if I hadn't have read it.

Your confusion is normal, and it happens to everyone, not only in the beginning, but perpetually as well for some people. Don't be scared. This is a chance to discover a great many things. It's an adventure, so enjoy it. :)
« Last Edit: July 10, 2011, 06:00:45 am by SunflowerP »

arkeiryn

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 05:22:47 am »
Quote from: Jenett
but the book that springs to mind is _Twelve Wild Swans_ by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine.

It is derived from the Reclaiming tradition (which might or might not be of interest), but I suggest it both because it's got a *huge* number of different types of practices and activities, presented in a beginner-friendly way (and ways to develop those into deeper practice over time) and because it's still pretty widely available (and in particular, a number of libraries have copies.)


I'll go see if the local library have it. Erm. When I'm actually near the local library ;) I see the next handful of weekends after I get back to uni being spent in the library...

Quote from: Katefox
One of the things someone here on TC suggested to me is to go to a bookstore or library, and just browse the books on Paganism, magic, &c. and grab whatever looks interesting. The library is great, because you can read the books without paying for them. It seems really unfocused, but this has actually been helping me narrow down the sorts of things I want in my religious practice.


This sounds like good advice, thanks :) I've also remembered that I'm living with two pagans next year, so they might have books of interest too... :o

Quote from: xerces_blue
Also, don't just read about Pagan and magic stuff. Read about other religions, philosophy, ancient cultures, even about things that you think are absolutely not related to your path, because sometimes, you discover there IS a connection, like a point of view you never thought of, or an explanation for something that clicks just right for you. This is what's been helping me tremendously lately. Reading stuff that I first thought was irrelevant has surprised me greatly in being perfectly relevant at times, and I would be missing something important right now if I hadn't have read it.


I have a handful of physics books on my planned reading list for basically this reason ;) The university library sounds like it'd be a better place for reading up this stuff than the town library, so I might explore there too.

(I'm also supposed to be working as of next week. I'm not going to find the time! :D)

Thanks, guys :)
"That which yields is not always weak."

"Yes my lord, but questions are dangerous, for they have answers"

arkeiryn

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2011, 05:55:31 am »
Quote from: xerces_blue;3508
Also, don't just read about Pagan and magic stuff. Read about other religions, philosophy, ancient cultures, even about things that you think are absolutely not related to your path, because sometimes, you discover there IS a connection, like a point of view you never thought of, or an explanation for something that clicks just right for you. This is what's been helping me tremendously lately. Reading stuff that I first thought was irrelevant has surprised me greatly in being perfectly relevant at times, and I would be missing something important right now if I hadn't have read it.


H'mm... "A Shaman, or other seeker after spiritualism, will conceive of archetypes as gods and goddesses, encoded in the collective unconscious, whom are scorned at great risk" *heads off to browse Shamanism websites* ;)
"That which yields is not always weak."

"Yes my lord, but questions are dangerous, for they have answers"

Nyktipolos

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2011, 07:07:34 am »
Quote from: arkeiryn;3849
H'mm... "A Shaman, or other seeker after spiritualism, will conceive of archetypes as gods and goddesses, encoded in the collective unconscious, whom are scorned at great risk" *heads off to browse Shamanism websites* ;)

 
Kind of curious where you got that quote from, and whether it's credible or not. There are a lot of websites (and spiritual traditions) out there that appropriate the word "shaman" to fit several models it was never originally designed for in the first place. This includes making broad generalizations for a specific role. :/
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arkeiryn

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2011, 09:49:51 am »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;3863
Kind of curious where you got that quote from, and whether it's credible or not. There are a lot of websites (and spiritual traditions) out there that appropriate the word "shaman" to fit several models it was never originally designed for in the first place. This includes making broad generalizations for a specific role. :/


http://www.mythsdreamssymbols.com/dreamsarchetypes.html :P It's got a headache-inducing background, by the way. I was searching about archetypes and gods on Google :D

... What I was (am) really doing was (is) procrastinating starting my dissertation, but shush, don't tell my dissertation supervisor! ;)
"That which yields is not always weak."

"Yes my lord, but questions are dangerous, for they have answers"

Morgan

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2011, 12:43:58 pm »
Quote from: arkeiryn;3330


Thor and Odin from the Norse pantheon. Sekhmet and Bast from the Kemetic. The Kami of Shinto. Hekate, Persephone, Rhiannon, the Morrigan, Taranis, Tiamat, and probably some others I've forgotten, have all called out to me at some point, too. I haven't had a chance to look into any of this in great detail, though; Real Life keeps getting in the way and there seems so much.


Hello,
I know this is going to get tedious but read books on them. I personally recommend books that are aimed for children.  You will hear about their basic stories and will have a better idea on whom you really want to worship/ find more information about/etc.  Children books are good for this because you don't have to shift through a big book written in the 1970's to realize half way in that no, Odin doesn't appeal to you as much as before.  Plus, children books a lot of times will have maps and illustrations.   Then of course hit the big dusty books.

Aster Breo

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Re: Beginner wanting... well, I'm not entirely sure...
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 02:56:04 pm »
Quote from: Katefox;3354

One of the things someone here on TC suggested to me is to go to a bookstore or library, and just browse the books on Paganism, magic, &c. and grab whatever looks interesting.  The library is great, because you can read the books without paying for them. :D  It seems really unfocused, but this has actually been helping me narrow down the sorts of things I want in my religious practice.

 
I think reading/research is probably the #1 recommendation given on TC when people ask for help finding their path or a "patron" god/dess.  :)  I know I spent years reading about all things Celtic, which is how I found my way to Brighid.

But I also think a word of caution is necessary.  IME, bookstores (in the U.S., anyway) rarely carry the more reliable, credible, and academic books about pagan topics.  I look in the "occult" and related sections every time I go into a Borders or a Barnes & Noble or any other bookstore, and I usually only find Silver Ravenwolf-style books.  Similarly, the public libraries in my area are pretty small and don't have most of the books I'm interested in.  Most, if not all, of the books in my personal "pagan" library have come from the individual sellers listed on Amazon, Abe Books, and similar sites.

I'm not saying that there's nothing to be learned from the kinds of books carried by stores and libraries.  But it's crucial to read them critically and with a very large grain of salt.  You can always post here to ask about particular books and authors.  If it's in print, someone on TC has probably read it.  :D:

If you can be a bit more specific -- e.g., are you especially interested in a particular culture or kind of practice?, etc. -- you'll probably get more solid suggestions for reading materials.  F'ex, there are several reading lists for people interested in learning about the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Celts, or Greeks, or Egyptians.

Also, you might get started by reading some of the articles and book reviews available right here on TC.  We also have a Pagan Primer and a Teens and Paganism FAQ, both of which have great "gateway" information and tons of links to more resources.  (Note:  Despite its title, the Teens and Paganism FAQ includes a lot of info that is relevant to all ages.  If you're not a teen, just skip the sections on dealing with school, parents, etc. ;) )  And Jenett's website is a fantastic resource, complete with suggested reading lists.

Hope some of this helps!

~ Aster
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