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Author Topic: Starting again - a change in belief/practice  (Read 643 times)

charlie

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Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« on: September 24, 2012, 06:00:57 am »
Hey everyone, I've posted this in the beginner thread as while I'm not exactly new to my path, I'm currently in the pocess of rediscovering and re-evaluating things and it often feels like starting from scratch. I've also been out of touch for a few years so I'm hesitant to jump right back in again to deep discussion when I myself am struggling to decide wat I believe.

 I started on my chosen path six years ago. I was initiated into a Wiccan tradition with all the beliefs and practices that came with it (I followed the rede, worshipped the God & Goddess, observed the sabbats etc and so on). I felt comfortable in my religious beliefs and practices and I was constantly learning. The coven I was initated into was lead by a close friend, unfortunely, nearly two years ago, due to occurrences that IMO were petty and should not have escalated the way they did, my relationship with my friend greatly deteriated. The coven fell apart and although I still have an ongoing friendship with its (ex) members, we don't practice together.

While i lost a friend, i also lost my teacher/mentor/support system. The situation really threw me emotionally and forced me to question a lot of things regarding myself and my beliefs. As a result, i stopped practicing and became the pagan equivalent of a christmas and easter Christian; my beliefs still existed, but religious practice in everyday life took a backseat. Very recently I decided I needed to rediscover who I really was as a person and what I wanted from life. As a very spiritual person, a belief system and actively practicing that belief system is important to me. The problem, I feel, is that a large part of what I believe was greatly influenced by the friend I lost and so reconnecting to my faith has greatly saddened me as memories of our friendship arise in all aspect of my spiritual practice.

I decided I needed to find my own path that wasn't so directly connected to the beliefs and practices we shared. While intending to go back to basics regarding what fit my personal beliefs and practice, I began to refer to myself as an eclectic pagan that practiced religious witchcraft. However I realised that I still believe in the majority of the principles and practices that I was initially taught and i don't take aspects of other traditions into my practice so the term 'eclectic' doesn't sit right. While I'm aware that labels don't dictate practice, and that it is our practices that define us, being able to pinpoint and indeed label my beliefs and practices is important to me and my attempt at self discovery.

So my dilemma is that while I still believe in the Wiccan principles and practices I was taught, I have no desire (at this moment in time) to work in a group again. While I'm open to attending public open rituals and the like, for my personal practice I'm quite happy being solitary. I was always taught that Wicca ccannot be practiced solitary, hence my confusion. I worry that referring to myself as Wiccan, after the tradition I was initiated into, would offend/mislead others as I no longer work with a coven. Additionally, i feel very drawn to the greek pantheon, and to two goddesses specifically. I've always worshiped the god and goddess, and only referred to specific deities in particular rituals. I wonder if primarily worshipping two goddesses from a specific pantheon contradicts the Wiccan principles I started with. I know that no-one can tell me what us 'right' but I guess I'm seeking validation that it's ok to move on from the path you started on.

Sorry about the length of this post. Rather than ask a question I've rambled in an attempt to seek a affirmation that it's ok to move on from my Wiccan roots while still maintaining the core principles and practices I was taught. Any advice on starting again, adjusting beliefs and practices and personal experience would be greatly appreciated. I just feel like if I alter my practice, even slightly, I may undermine all the time and effort I've previously spent establishing my path.

RandallS

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2012, 08:06:29 am »
Quote from: charlie;74914
Sorry about the length of this post. Rather than ask a question I've rambled in an attempt to seek a affirmation that it's ok to move on from my Wiccan roots while still maintaining the core principles and practices I was taught. Any advice on starting again, adjusting beliefs and practices and personal experience would be greatly appreciated. I just feel like if I alter my practice, even slightly, I may undermine all the time and effort I've previously spent establishing my path.

Welcome to TC. You'll find that many Pagans started out with some form of Wicca (because it is the Pagan religion one is most likely to discover first) and then found later that it was not a good fit for them and eventually found a different form of Wicca or even entirely different Pagan religion. Yes, doing so does mean that some of the time and effort you spent with the first Pagan religion isn't relevant to your current beliefs, but that time and effort was hardly wasted as it must have done something positive for you or you would not have pursued it.
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Gilbride

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2012, 08:50:27 am »
Quote from: charlie;74914
I just feel like if I alter my practice, even slightly, I may undermine all the time and effort I've previously spent establishing my path.


Hi,
I'm in a very similar position for different reasons. There are actually quite a few solitary Wiccans even if some traditions don't approve. There are also quite a few pagans whose practice is based primarily around devotion to one or a few deities from a specific pantheon. So if you trust your instincts and continue in your current direction, you'll only be doing what a lot of other people are already doing.

charlie

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2012, 08:59:23 am »
Quote from: RandallS;74922
Welcome to TC. You'll find that many Pagans started out with some form of Wicca (because it is the Pagan religion one is most likely to discover first) and then found later that it was not a good fit for them and eventually found a different form of Wicca or even entirely different Pagan religion. Yes, doing so does mean that some of the time and effort you spent with the first Pagan religion isn't relevant to your current beliefs, but that time and effort was hardly wasted as it must have done something positive for you or you would not have pursued it.

 
Quote from: Gilbride;74923
Hi,
I'm in a very similar position for different reasons. There are actually quite a few solitary Wiccans even if some traditions don't approve. There are also quite a few pagans whose practice is based primarily around devotion to one or a few deities from a specific pantheon. So if you trust your instincts and continue in your current direction, you'll only be doing what a lot of other people are already doing.

 

Thank you both for your responses :). I greatly value what I've already learned/experienced but I do feel it's time to branch out. I suppose I've been rather sheltered and narrowly focused in my path and gotten rather too comfortable. While I genuinely feel that it's quite daunting to leave my comfort zone, it's good to know that many people started where I did and have managed to adapt to something different well enough.

Rhyshadow

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2012, 09:08:46 am »
Quote from: charlie;74925
Thank you both for your responses :). I greatly value what I've already learned/experienced but I do feel it's time to branch out. I suppose I've been rather sheltered and narrowly focused in my path and gotten rather too comfortable. While I genuinely feel that it's quite daunting to leave my comfort zone, it's good to know that many people started where I did and have managed to adapt to something different well enough.

 
Change is probably the only true constant in the universe - each of us changes with time, and sometimes that change requires a new perspective on things

As Randall said, quite a few of us came from Wicca - myself from an Alexandrian/Gardnarian background and I even taught for a while - and went elsewhere; in my case I'm now a mix of Celtic Reconstructionism/Hedge Witchery and a healthy dose of UPG - almost as far from Wicca as you can get

Ask questions, get involved in discussions and seek out those who seem to have things that peek your interest

And Welcome to our great Mixing Pot of Paganism :)

Jenett

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2012, 10:21:15 am »
Quote from: charlie;74914

Sorry about the length of this post. Rather than ask a question I've rambled in an attempt to seek a affirmation that it's ok to move on from my Wiccan roots while still maintaining the core principles and practices I was taught. Any advice on starting again, adjusting beliefs and practices and personal experience would be greatly appreciated. I just feel like if I alter my practice, even slightly, I may undermine all the time and effort I've previously spent establishing my path.

 
There's several different pieces here.

(And to complicate that, the use of the term Wiccan varies in the US and the UK: I'm in the US, and reasonably familiar with some of the differences, but I'm wondering if there's a terminology issue: are you using this in the more UK typical sense of Wicca, to refer to Gardnerian, Alexandrian or other trad-Wiccan practices, or are you using it in the sense it's often used in the US, where it can be a broad usage for a variety of religious witchcraft practices that have roots in trad Wicca but also often a lot of differences? This board tends to help with clarity by saying things like "trad Wicca" and "eclectic Wicca" or "religious witchcraft" to make it clearer what we're talking about.)

First, if one is trained and initiated as a Wiccan, that does not go away just because you are, for whatever reason, working on your own.  (I'm in a similar position: I'm an initiate and 3rd degree priestess in a small religious witchcraft tradition, now living 1500 miles from my trad mates. I am still very much of the tradition, even though my current personal practice does not look a lot like the group work I trained with, because there is not (yet) a group local to me (though starting one is on my "working on it" list.)

That said, for all the trad Wiccans I know, significant changes - such as which deities you're honoring, or honoring two goddesses as opposed to a God and Goddess would be a major substantial change. That really *is* a core piece of what the religion is doing, after all.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that it wouldn't work in the practical sense - but it does mean that you probably want to think through the implications carefully. Think through what that means for the Great Rite. Think through what it means for whatever your practice taught about balance of energies within the circle. Think through what the implications for the use of tools and their corresponding energetic flows are.

There are plenty of alternatives to Wicca out there - but if you're working with two Goddesses, you are almost certainly moving into the realm of "religious witchcraft, not Wicca in any form". That's not bad - but calling it what it is is a good thing.

And while it's not an issue if you're just working on your own, I've found it is useful to have a way to talk about what I'm doing. So, for example "I'm a priestess in a small religious witchcraft tradition - Wicca is a close ballpark, but we have some differences." or "Currently working on my own, but hoping to go back to group work in my tradition down the road." or "Honour my training, but I'm doing this new thing now."

I do also believed we're shaped by what we've done - but that it does not need to limit us. We can honour and recognise what we've done and what's shaped us, while also saying "There's this new thing now." There are better and worse ways to do that, of course - but I think it's actually *more* respect and *more* honour to be up front about the changes, rather than coast on "still sorta the same."
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Maps

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2012, 11:12:26 am »
Quote from: charlie;74914



 
I think a good place to start, other than reading the heck out of Jenett's post, lol, is to ask yourself some questions. Like... what parts of your old tradition continue to speak to you and what ones don't any longer, if any of them? How does your tradition view divinity? Is it dualistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, etc.? Do you still believe that, or no? What practices are physically feasible for you to do alone, without that group effort? What does religion actually accomplish for you and what is its role in your life?

And so on and so forth. I don't know anything about how initiations tend to happen and what's involved therein, but you might have had to ask all those questions already, haha. Even though, it's good to have an idea of what those answers are most times, even if they change.

I was never initiated into any tradition, though my friends and I did have a coven back in those days (we were 14) and did practice together... whatever that "practice" actually consisted of. (I think all we did, really, was spellwork and cooking, so there was zero substantial interest in gods. It was a feeble, albeit genuine, attempt at religion without the help of adults.) I dropped religion from my life for about 8 years, along with those friends, but I came back to it this past spring, doing something completely different-- I'm a reconstructionist and polytheist now that has no interest in magic by any modern definition of the word.

But it's like Rhyshadow said, sometimes change is inevitable.

charlie

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2012, 11:22:01 am »
Quote from: Rhyshadow;74926
Change is probably the only true constant in the universe - each of us changes with time, and sometimes that change requires a new perspective on things

As Randall said, quite a few of us came from Wicca - myself from an Alexandrian/Gardnarian background and I even taught for a while - and went elsewhere; in my case I'm now a mix of Celtic Reconstructionism/Hedge Witchery and a healthy dose of UPG - almost as far from Wicca as you can get

Ask questions, get involved in discussions and seek out those who seem to have things that peek your interest

And Welcome to our great Mixing Pot of Paganism :)


Thanks Rhyshadow, there seems so be so much diversity on this forum, it's wonderful. I'm definitely going to delve into the site a bit and see what other people have to offer. Exploring something new doesn't seem so scary after all. :)
 
Quote from: Jenett;74928
There's several different pieces here.

(And to complicate that, the use of the term Wiccan varies in the US and the UK: I'm in the US, and reasonably familiar with some of the differences, but I'm wondering if there's a terminology issue: are you using this in the more UK typical sense of Wicca, to refer to GardHnerian, Alexandrian or other trad-Wiccan practices, or are you using it in the sense it's often used in the US, where it can be a broad usage for a variety of religious witchcraft practices that have roots in trad Wicca but also often a lot of differences? This board tends to help with clarity by saying things like "trad Wicca" and "eclectic Wicca" or "religious witchcraft" to make it clearer what we're talking about.)

First, if one is trained and initiated as a Wiccan, that does not go away just because you are, for whatever reason, working on your own.  (I'm in a similar position: I'm an initiate and 3rd degree priestess in a small religious witchcraft tradition, now living 1500 miles from my trad mates. I am still very much of the tradition, even though my current personal practice does not look a lot like the group work I trained with, because there is not (yet) a group local to me (though starting one is on my "working on it" list.)

That said, for all the trad Wiccans I know, significant changes - such as which deities you're honoring, or honoring two goddesses as opposed to a God and Goddess would be a major substantial change. That really *is* a core piece of what the religion is doing, after all.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, or that it wouldn't work in the practical sense - but it does mean that you probably want to think through the implications carefully. Think through what that means for the Great Rite. Think through what it means for whatever your practice taught about balance of energies within the circle. Think through what the implications for the use of tools and their corresponding energetic flows are.

There are plenty of alternatives to Wicca out there - but if you're working with two Goddesses, you are almost certainly moving into the realm of "religious witchcraft, not Wicca in any form". That's not bad - but calling it what it is is a good thing.

And while it's not an issue if you're just working on your own, I've found it is useful to have a way to talk about what I'm doing. So, for example "I'm a priestess in a small religious witchcraft tradition - Wicca is a close ballpark, but we have some differences." or "Currently working on my own, but hoping to go back to group work in my tradition down the road." or "Honour my training, but I'm doing this new thing now."

I do also believed we're shaped by what we've done - but that it does not need to limit us. We can honour and recognise what we've done and what's shaped us, while also saying "There's this new thing now." There are better and worse ways to do that, of course - but I think it's actually *more* respect and *more* honour to be up front about the changes, rather than coast on "still sorta the same."

 
Hey Jenette, thanks for the reply. Just to clarify, by Wicca I was referring to trad-Wicca. While I still believe many of the principles that underpin trad Wicca, my main issue, as you've clarified, is that I'm now identifying with different deities and this changes my belief and practice enormously in so many ways. Also, I still wish to honour the god and goddess, yet im drawn to two specific goddesses. This has led to much confusion regarding how i can incorporate the two. I also have no problem referring to myself as practicing Wiccan influenced religious witchcraft, it's just that until I establish how much of my practice will change, and in what ways, I feel unsettled and unsure of myself. I guess I'm reluctant to let go of my Wiccan practices even though I know adjustments will have to be made to accommodate my new beliefs and to allow me to explore what it right for me personally. I think I'm just apprehensive to move out of my comfort zone. I have a lot to figure out.

charlie

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Re: Starting again - a change in belief/practice
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2012, 11:30:08 am »
Quote from: Maps;74934
I think a good place to start, other than reading the heck out of Jenett's post, lol, is to ask yourself some questions. Like... what parts of your old tradition continue to speak to you and what ones don't any longer, if any of them? How does your tradition view divinity? Is it dualistic, pantheistic, polytheistic, etc.? Do you still believe that, or no? What practices are physically feasible for you to do alone, without that group effort? What does religion actually accomplish for you and what is its role in your life?

And so on and so forth. I don't know anything about how initiations tend to happen and what's involved therein, but you might have had to ask all those questions already, haha. Even though, it's good to have an idea of what those answers are most times, even if they change.

I was never initiated into any tradition, though my friends and I did have a coven back in those days (we were 14) and did practice together... whatever that "practice" actually consisted of. (I think all we did, really, was spellwork and cooking, so there was zero substantial interest in gods. It was a feeble, albeit genuine, attempt at religion without the help of adults.) I dropped religion from my life for about 8 years, along with those friends, but I came back to it this past spring, doing something completely different-- I'm a reconstructionist and polytheist now that has no interest in magic by any modern definition of the word.

But it's like Rhyshadow said, sometimes change is inevitable.

 
Thanks for your input! I'm going to have to do a lot of thinking regarding many of the questions you posted, that's what seems daunting to me lol. I was quite comfortable in my ways and i know that change isn't always a negative, it just a little disheartening to suddenly question something I once had so much faith and confidence in.

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