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Author Topic: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice  (Read 2549 times)

Owlet

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Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« on: September 06, 2015, 06:37:54 pm »
I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me. I have come to the realization that I cannot and will never be able to force myself to believe something. On the surface I have lied and call myself a Christian to avoid arguments and because I fear the people in my life will lose respect for me... but it is wrong.

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I'm from, if you aren't Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person... I'm so tired of lying to the people in my life.

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.

I guess I'm just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!

TinyToad

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2015, 07:11:59 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683

I guess I'm just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!

 
I was raised in the cornfields of Indiana haha, where extreme Evangelicalism ruled the area (we also had some Amish people, too, though). The people I grew up around didn't even like Catholics, believing they were minions of the Anti-Christ because of the pope. As kids we were not allowed to play Pokemon because they were demons, and we were not allowed to watch StarWars because it was the work of the devil. And so on.

I love a few of my relatives, but I love them from a distance. I would rather keep things personal and private, than have a mini war thrown in my face by freaked out people. I moved to a more urban area as an adult, and was eventually able to find people with things in common. I also never talk religion or anything spiritual or supernatural related on a job, I consider it unprofessional, and also won't tolerate people of other beliefs pushing it into my work time.

I would also advise reminding yourself that a lot of the people who act the way you describe actually feel similar to yourself. Right now in some areas of the world, it's okay to believe in X, Y and Z religion, but not others. All the people who make comments around you, about religion, live under the same pressure. If they didn't make those comments, then they might be seen as suspect. I am sure many of them believe what they say, but I am sure that many of them also feel as you do.

Jenett

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2015, 08:35:34 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).


There's a lot of different ways to handle this, but there's a book that might help you sort some of htem out, and figure out which ones are right for you right now.

It's _The Small-Town Pagan's Survival Guide: How to Thrive in Any Community_ by Bronwen Forbes, and she does a really good job of laying out thinking about the issues of living in a smaller, often very homogeneous community. Even if you're not actually in a small town, I think there's a lot in there you'd find helpful.

Dana Eilers' book, _The Practical Pagan_ also has a lot of good advice about this kind of thing, too, and things to be aware of on the legal and practical side if you've got any concerns about employment, custody, etc. either now or down the road.
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2015, 08:45:13 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683
I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me. I have come to the realization that I cannot and will never be able to force myself to believe something. On the surface I have lied and call myself a Christian to avoid arguments and because I fear the people in my life will lose respect for me... but it is wrong.

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I'm from, if you aren't Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person... I'm so tired of lying to the people in my life.

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.

I guess I'm just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!


In the beginning of your posted message, it sounds like your relation to your former religion and your religious surroundings is on good terms, in the middle of the message less so.

I entered paganism still with a mostly positive view on my former religion: Lutheran Christianity. I have noticed that those who enter paganism with a background in (or surrounded by) Evangelical or Charismatic forms of Christianity instead often comes hurt and abused by Christianity, and therefore, naturally, harbour a more negative view on that religion. Christianity comes in many forms, quite different from each another, so one person's experience is not another person's. I am still on friendly terms with Anglicanism, Liberal Catholicism, Liberal Quakerism and Unitarian Universalism, although I don't believe in miracles or the resurrection of Christ.

Christians are just another group of worshippers of Theos Hypsistos, the Father mentioned in (the very pagan) Chaldaean Oracles, and they prefer to call the gods and goddesses 'archangels', but refuse to sacrifice to them. It is easier to be a Platonist, I think.

Paganism may seem 'silly' by those who view the deities of pagan pantheons in a cartoonish way. It is their problem. Plato, Aristotle and Zeno did not believe in cartoonish deities.

Do you think that choosing the word Pantheist instead of Pagan would help persons around you to accept your worldview better? Sometimes the word 'Pagan' is misinterpreted, and 'Pantheist' may have a higher intellectual cred.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2015, 09:29:13 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683
I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).

(...)

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.


If dispassionate tranquillity is the goal to strive at for you, you sound like a Stoic, since the Stoics were (are) Pantheists just like yourself. Perhaps it is more socially accepted to call oneself a Stoic in your surroundings? Just a thought.

Owlet

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2015, 11:21:23 pm »
Thank you for the replies everyone. I appreciate it!

Quote from: TinyToad;179685
I love a few of my relatives, but I love them from a distance. I would rather keep things personal and private, than have a mini war thrown in my face by freaked out people. I moved to a more urban area as an adult, and was eventually able to find people with things in common. I also never talk religion or anything spiritual or supernatural related on a job, I consider it unprofessional, and also won't tolerate people of other beliefs pushing it into my work time.

 
I agree. It is very unprofessional in the workplace. Religion along with politics are two of the things I try to keep out of conversations. In the future, I think I will make it a point to let any co-workers that my religious/spiritual beliefs are personal and this isn't the place to discuss it.

In reality, the fact that it IS personal is reason enough to not feel obligated to explain my beliefs to anyone, or at least the people who I do not feel would receive it well. Unfortunately I feel if I mention this, or say that my beliefs are personal and I do not wish to discuss them to family members, they will still pry and pry, become concerned, and insist that because they are family it is their business. I understand that it is their beliefs that drive them to be concerned, but where is the line? I rarely if ever bring up religion/beliefs to those around me. It is always others who spark the conversation. I've been trying to avoid it as much as possible for the last few years and just nod my head, ha!

Quote from: Jenett;179692
There's a lot of different ways to handle this, but there's a book that might help you sort some of htem out, and figure out which ones are right for you right now.
...
It's _The Small-Town Pagan's Survival Guide: How to Thrive in Any Community_ by Bronwen Forbes.
...
Dana Eilers' book, _The Practical Pagan_

 
Thank you for the literature recommendations. Will definitely look into those! The first one especially sounds like a good place to start.

Quote from: FraterBenedict;179693
In the beginning of your posted message, it sounds like your relation to your former religion and your religious surroundings is on good terms, in the middle of the message less so.
...
Paganism may seem 'silly' by those who view the deities of pagan pantheons in a cartoonish way. It is their problem. Plato, Aristotle and Zeno did not believe in cartoonish deities.

Do you think that choosing the word Pantheist instead of Pagan would help persons around you to accept your worldview better? Sometimes the word 'Pagan' is misinterpreted, and 'Pantheist' may have a higher intellectual cred.


I respect Christianity and Christians just as I try to respect all other beliefs. I wouldn't say I'm on bad terms with Christianity. However there are still some aspects about it that do not sit well with me. As a teen I did have a few incidents with family members "attacking" me just for showing doubt (and it was, at the time, just simple doubt and questions). That may be the reason why I feel the need to hide the fact I'm not a Christian these days. If I was yelled at just for showing doubt and asking questions (and it was quite painful, just thinking about it causes me anxiety), who knows what the reaction would be now.

Totally agree with what you said about it being viewed at as silly. When I think of Paganism, history comes to mind. I fear when other people think of it, their ideas will not be as serious. Choosing the word Pantheist, I think, would be taken a little better but, although these are just labels, I don't want to feel as though I should hide or be fearful of calling myself anything. Right now I do not consider myself a Pagan because I'm still very new to this and am learning a lot, but in the future? That may change.

FraterBenedict thanks for getting my brain wheels turning- great advice and questions!

xAyla

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2015, 09:12:19 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683
I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me.

 
I can understand where you're coming from. My family is very religious, particularly my mom, and the topic of religion is very sensitive to her. Currently my beliefs seem to also be mostly in line with pantheism, but I've decided to avoid discussing it with her or anyone else in my family, as I fear it may damage our relationships due to their strong beliefs.

I know this isn't a very helpful comment, but I felt I should respond, since I know that sometimes it's nice to know that you aren't alone in how you feel (or at least in a similar situation).
"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten." - Neil Gaiman

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2015, 02:15:01 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179737
I respect Christianity and Christians just as I try to respect all other beliefs. I wouldn't say I'm on bad terms with Christianity. However there are still some aspects about it that do not sit well with me. As a teen I did have a few incidents with family members "attacking" me just for showing doubt (and it was, at the time, just simple doubt and questions). That may be the reason why I feel the need to hide the fact I'm not a Christian these days. If I was yelled at just for showing doubt and asking questions (and it was quite painful, just thinking about it causes me anxiety), who knows what the reaction would be now.


I am sad that I can't help you more, but you obviously live in a different culture, and I have no good advice to give for such a setting. Mainline Christians do not "attack" and "yell at" family members over personal doubt here. My Lutheran friends treat that issue as something private, and so personal, that it is considered bad form to pry into someone else's existential processes. My Catholic acquaintances gladly admit that they doubt now and then, and dark, doubting and existential Catholic authors such as Graham Greene and George Bernanos (and Waugh's Brideshead revisited) are popular reading among them, but my acquaintances might be less representative outside their own academic sphere: I have no idea how workingclass Catholics or the Catholic noble families view doubt.

Quote from: Owlet;179737
Totally agree with what you said about it being viewed at as silly. When I think of Paganism, history comes to mind. I fear when other people think of it, their ideas will not be as serious. Choosing the word Pantheist, I think, would be taken a little better but, although these are just labels, I don't want to feel as though I should hide or be fearful of calling myself anything. Right now I do not consider myself a Pagan because I'm still very new to this and am learning a lot, but in the future? That may change.


Look at it like this: If 'Pagan' and 'Pantheist' are two equally good description of your religious adherence, and 'Pantheist' is easier to understand correctly by people in your surroundings, you may use 'Pantheist' for now. Your choice of label doesn't change what you do or experience.

Ehina

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2015, 02:16:22 pm »
Quote from: Owlet;179683
I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me. I have come to the realization that I cannot and will never be able to force myself to believe something. On the surface I have lied and call myself a Christian to avoid arguments and because I fear the people in my life will lose respect for me... but it is wrong.

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I'm from, if you aren't Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person... I'm so tired of lying to the people in my life.

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.

I guess I'm just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!

 

I came from a similar upbringing.  I was raised with a baptist father and a southern baptist mother. Through out my childhood I attended Sunday school and service with different friends through out growing up. But there was always this, disbelief I would say, sitting in the back of my mind. It just didn't feel true to me, and even at a young age it wasn't something I accepted. I lived with a false sense of religion for years! I thought that this empty feeling was how everyone felt, even up through high school until I started to really get into research, I started looking up different religions and I remember reading about  Paganism and Wicca, there was an instant fire inside me. I felt excited to learn about something so 'occult' and 'evil' as the people in my old church said. I went a few more years denying that pull to the earth, a few more years being a 'good christian girl' until one year in high school for my final exam I did an essay on the different religions under the umbrella term Paganism, I felt that I could get away with renting books when I had the excuse "Well I am going a report on various different religions." or when I had students and teachers giving me a sideways glance at the mound of literature my nose was stuffed in during and after class.
Just like you I respect Christianity as a religion and that they are entitled to their beliefs. But  I also acknowledge the existence of all deities, gods and goddesses. I have yet to find my deities, and granted it feels discouraging and like I have lost meaning but until that time arises that they show themselves to me I spend my time worshiping the ground I walk on, praising my ancestors and coexisting with nature.
A lot of people in my home town think that it is strange that I feel so much for a 'hunk of rock hurtling through space' but Mother Earth is the only reason we are here today, she feeds us, waters us and gives us shelter. So if we don't take care of her then she won't take care of us.
My family is very religious and as my parents have gotten older they have intensified. My mother I believe she is suspicious of me, she comes into my room and looks at all of my tarot cards and says "If I didn't know any better I would think you were dabbling in some occult witchcraft... but I know your friend sent you some. They really do have beautiful artwork." then she will leave. I still feel like I have to keep it a secret from my family so I don't get very much time to celebrate my spirituality, but I try and make due. Once I am living on my own I know that it will blossom into something radiant and beautiful.
Sorry I kind of babbled, but I hope it makes you feel like you're not alone. A lot of us feel the same way, have gone through/ are going through the same thing(s).
;)

MeadowRae

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Re: Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could use some advice
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 07:07:42 am »
Quote from: Owlet;179683


I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a "joke" around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don't offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being "silly" or "childish" (even being in my mid-20's).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I'm from, if you aren't Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person... I'm so tired of lying to the people in my life.

 
I don't have much in the way of advice, but I can relate. I have a triskele that I wear almost every day. To me, it symbolizes the God, Goddess, and One Spirit. However, when my mom asked me what it was I told her it was a trinity symbol. Is it true? Yes. Was it honest? No. I feel conflicted about it, because I want to be honest and not cause her or anyone else in my life extra stress. As I am yet undetermined spiritually, I am hoping the answer will become clearer over time.
The genderqueer witch your mother warned you about

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