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Author Topic: The Long and Winding Road  (Read 5975 times)

MarieInVa

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The Long and Winding Road
« on: September 18, 2011, 01:36:29 pm »
Each day, as I read more and move deeper into Paganism, I'm struck by how much there is to learn/know.  It's as if I'm following a creek, that turns into a stream, widens into a river, which empties into a bay, then flows into a vast ocean.  This is all good, as I love history and reading, and have been moved to tears (more than once) as I research; finally, feeling like I've arrived home.  Eight years of Catholic grade school, three years of Catholic girls' high school, bachelor's degree at a Catholic university, another two years for my masters at another Catholic university, only to end up decades later realizing I was taking the wrong path home.  It explains why spiritually, I always felt like a square peg, trying to fit in round hole.   Some of you may have had those feelings, I don't know.  I do feel like the ultimate slow learner. :)

As I'm reading about Paganism, it's like coming home; it just feels comfortable, and much of it strongly resonates with me.  Yet, much of what I was reading, doesn't seem foreign, even though I have never read or heard discussions about earth based religions, but many of the celebrations covered in the book, my mother and grandmother, Gigi celebrated.  Just one example would be August 1,  my mother and grandmother would bake bread, and make peach butter from peaches that were in season, then give away loaves of bread with a jar of peach butter to friends and family.  Why August 1, and why bread as is the custom Lughnassadh?  Both mother, dad and Gigi have since passed, so I'm unable to ask them.  A lot of this I always chalked to low country tradition.  The two remaining maternal aunts, didn't offer any useful information when I went on fishing expeditions with them.  I'm left wondering if they had one foot in the Pagan closet, and the other in the Roman Catholic church.  

My questions are for all members whether you were fortunate enough to be born into a Pagan family, or like myself, found this path late in life.

First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.  

For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.  I'm very private by nature, and generally do not share information about myself (even message boards posts can feel awkward!), so I don't see a reason to share this part of my life with anyone, and would be quite comfortable, being a solitary practitioner.  

Lastly, I can't imagine not having the internet, Amazon and message boards like The Cauldron while on this personal evolution and journey.  

My apologies, since this turned out a little bloggy; thank you for reading, and any input.

Blessings~

Livia Indica

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2011, 09:11:51 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804




First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.  

For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.  I'm very private by nature, and generally do not share information about myself (even message boards posts can feel awkward!), so I don't see a reason to share this part of my life with anyone, and would be quite comfortable, being a solitary practitioner.  

Lastly, I can't imagine not having the internet, Amazon and message boards like The Cauldron while on this personal evolution and journey.  

My apologies, since this turned out a little bloggy; thank you for reading, and any input.

Blessings~

 
I think I knew which type of pagan I was only after years of study and reflection and outright asking for signs from those that eventually became my patron deities. You sound like you already know all about research so don't be surprised if different signs start popping up pointing you toward a particular path, deities or entire pantheon. I remember getting impatient at times but eventually things became clearer.

I'm pretty open with my family about my beliefs and have just recently started being more open with my Facebook friends. Only had one negative comment about that so far so I think it's gonna be okay. I live in a small very Christian town, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, so I don't advertise, don't wear big pentagrams or anything like that but if someone were to just outright ask me I'd probably be honest, I don't know. It really depends on the situation, I guess.

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2011, 09:54:01 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804

First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.  


"Denominations" refers to sects within a specific religion, really; one might think of Alexandrian or Gardnerian Wicca as denominations with some accuracy, and the different temple affiliations available to Kemetics are more straightforwardly denominations.

Most pagan religions aren't part of a family like that, though; they're their own individual thing.

I don't think there is a "how do you know".  Learn, figure out what works, sometimes a body will trip over something really good.  Other times folks have to go all DIY.

Quote

For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.


Where I come from, talking about religion in circumstances where it's not among intimates is tacky.  For the most part, it's just not a public subject.  I have had very few issues about it (it's one of the things that people who actually know me know about me, because I am very devout and religiously-oriented), in part because I stick to cultures close to my native one and thus don't deal with people often who think it appropriate to talk about religion with strangers.
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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2011, 10:11:45 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804
First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans..... For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.


I agree with the above person about "denomination." Denomination is like a sect of a religion. Paganism is not a religion, just a branch of spiritual belief. Gardenia is a demonination of Wicca, since Wicca is a religion. I would use the terms path, tradition, or religion unless referring to a group within a path, group, or religion. Not that I'm any good at explaining things.

Myself, I don't follow any specific Path. For me, I could take it or leave it. As in, I don't really care if I fit in with a certain tradition or not. But if, for instance, I found a coven that seemed to fit entirely into what I was doing, then I may be interested. I just don't feel any need to squeeze myself in anywhere. My beliefs, I feel anyway, should come from the heart rather than being borrowed from someone else's ideas.

I hate the term "coming out of the closet." I don't feel any need to advertise my religion. That's tacky. But I don't feel a need to cover it up either. If you ask, well, then I'll tell you. Otherwise, I'll keep it to myself. So far that leaves it between me, and, well, one or two others.

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2011, 08:32:02 am »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804
First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.

First, I want to stress something Darkhawk said. Paganism is not a single religion. It's an umbrella term for a large group of separate religions (some of which have very little in common with each other other than considering themselves a Pagan religion). Some Pagan religions have divisions within them that are similar to Christian denominations, but the religions themselves are not "denominations of Paganism."  (Confusing, I know.)

Second, there is really no easy way to select the best religion (Pagan or otherwise). You just has to explore the various options until one finds one that strongly calls to you.
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Miss

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2011, 09:56:07 am »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804
Each day, as I read more and move deeper into Paganism, I'm struck by how much there is to learn/know.  It's as if I'm following a creek, that turns into a stream, widens into a river, which empties into a bay, then flows into a vast ocean.  This is all good, as I love history and reading, and have been moved to tears (more than once) as I research; finally, feeling like I've arrived home.  Eight years of Catholic grade school, three years of Catholic girls' high school, bachelor's degree at a Catholic university, another two years for my masters at another Catholic university, only to end up decades later realizing I was taking the wrong path home.  It explains why spiritually, I always felt like a square peg, trying to fit in round hole.   Some of you may have had those feelings, I don't know.  I do feel like the ultimate slow learner. :)

As I'm reading about Paganism, it's like coming home; it just feels comfortable, and much of it strongly resonates with me.  Yet, much of what I was reading, doesn't seem foreign, even though I have never read or heard discussions about earth based religions, but many of the celebrations covered in the book, my mother and grandmother, Gigi celebrated.  Just one example would be August 1,  my mother and grandmother would bake bread, and make peach butter from peaches that were in season, then give away loaves of bread with a jar of peach butter to friends and family.  Why August 1, and why bread as is the custom Lughnassadh?  Both mother, dad and Gigi have since passed, so I'm unable to ask them.  A lot of this I always chalked to low country tradition.  The two remaining maternal aunts, didn't offer any useful information when I went on fishing expeditions with them.  I'm left wondering if they had one foot in the Pagan closet, and the other in the Roman Catholic church.  

My questions are for all members whether you were fortunate enough to be born into a Pagan family, or like myself, found this path late in life.

First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.  

For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.  I'm very private by nature, and generally do not share information about myself (even message boards posts can feel awkward!), so I don't see a reason to share this part of my life with anyone, and would be quite comfortable, being a solitary practitioner.  

Lastly, I can't imagine not having the internet, Amazon and message boards like The Cauldron while on this personal evolution and journey.  

My apologies, since this turned out a little bloggy; thank you for reading, and any input.

Blessings~

 
Hey there!

I'm also in the same boat. I grew up in a very strict southern baptist family, always felt like something was a bit off. I also don't know what path will end up clicking for me, or if I'll end up eclectic. There's no rush,though! While Paganism broad, I'm just happy to have finally accepted it needs to be part of my life (without worrying about going to hell, as I was reminded at least once a week at home)

I think learning about paganism is really fun! Even segments I'm not super interested in my own personal path are still fun to learn because it gives you a basic understanding of other people.

Even when I'm cozied up in my personal path, I won't tell my family. I'm on good terms with them now and since they're a religious sect that feeds off fear it just wouldn't end well. So I have to learn to be happy without sharing my Paganism with them.

Glad you came to these boards and hope to learn together with you soon!

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2011, 11:41:26 am »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804
..
My questions are for all members whether you were fortunate enough to be born into a Pagan family, or like myself, found this path late in life.

First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.
 

I've always known what pathway I was supposed to walk I suppose.  What caused me such anguish and trouble was seperating spiritual pathway from practice.  It took a long time to realize that a practice might occur within a given pathway but the pathway itself was not driven by the practice.

For instance Shamanism is a practice but is not unto itself a spiritual pathway.  It is just one facet or way of approaching life that exists within the spiritual practics of a people.  As such lets say one was a Lakota Medicine Person, the medicine facet was not thier spiritual pathway as they would follow the spiritual facets of the Lakota Nation and its beliefs.  Yet they would understand and analyze for others within thier own shamanic practices and evaluate it within the spiritual or religious practice of thier people.

The same concept applies to Witchcraft as well.  Witchcraft alone is a practice or skill set that is utilized to do things.  Yet the spiritual facet of it can be found beneath Christanity, Wicca, Santeria or other spiritual pathways.

For instance you made reference to baking of bread.  The baking of bread alone might make it a regional or cultural practice that has nothing to do with a spiritual connection.  So to the people who do so there is no disconnect between the practice and their spiritual beliefs.

While I detest the use of the word Shamanic or Shaman for that matter it is the closest universal word to described the pathway I walk.  Yet that is the practice side of my pathway, the spiritual side is built about honoring and reverence of a specific set of gods / goddesses and how they influence and impact upon me.

Quote
For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.  I'm very private by nature, and generally do not share information about myself (even message boards posts can feel awkward!), so I don't see a reason to share this part of my life with anyone, and would be quite comfortable, being a solitary practitioner.
 

I only share to the extent that it is needed for the given situation.  As such I do not broadcast who I am or what my beliefs or practices are.  Yet I am also not afraid to speak on it when it is needed, but see no need to talk just to hear myself and really say nothing.

Jenett

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2011, 10:03:25 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804

First, how did you know which Pagan path to follow?  Like Christianity, there are so many "denominations" (if that term would be used) of Pagans.  This has been an fascinating journey so far, though some areas resonate with me to the core; I think this must be the way to decide what is best for me.  


I've been trying to get time to respond to this since yesterday, and am still struggling, so let me do what I can here, and maybe more later.

In terms of which path - for me, it was really important to include in-person group work if at all possible (for a variety of reasons, but principly that group ritual scratches itches in my head that nothing else touches, and I am a happier and better-off human if that happens with some kind of predictable regularity. I'm currently not in a place where it is - relocating across the country does that - but I have hopes of it again down the road.)

So, I started with by looking at two things more or less simultaneously. Part of it was "what groups are within reasonable driving distance of me, and what do I think of them?" and part of it was "What kinds of things do I want to do?" By the time I'd settled on Paganism in general (I'd know about Paganism in general for 5 years, by that point), I knew that I was more interested in something with a moderate amount of ritual structure, certain kinds of magical and other approaches, etc. and was pretty sure that something like Wicca was the place I was most interested.

So, I looked at Witchvox, figured out which groups in the area seemed most promising, and started investigating. (I sent four initial emails, two of which pointed me at the third, which is the group I trained with, initiated with, and am now a cheerful third degree and high priestess in. So that worked out fine.)

It was not always smooth sailing, and not always perfect (and there were, in fact, a number of times when I looked hard at "do I want to keep doing this stuff with these people?" But my answer always came back to "Yes.")

And, as it turns out, there are things in the tradition I would *never* have thought to put on my list of "stuff I want" - but that turn out to be an awesome fit for me in various ways. I've since become a big believer in not ruling out things that might be a fit without reasonable investigation. (By which I mean, "If you're not sure, give it some more time, within reason, as long as you're not actively concerned about safety or well-being.")

Lots of stuff within Paganism is often very new to people exploring stuff, and it takes practice to tell the "This is new, eep!" from the "This is not, in fact, what I want." Fortunately, there are bunches of ways to try new stuff out without going too far out on a limb.

Quote
For those of you who have come "out of the closet" or never been there, have people generally been accepting of your spirituality, or is it something you choose to keep to yourself since it is deeply personal.  I'm very private by nature, and generally do not share information about myself (even message boards posts can feel awkward!), so I don't see a reason to share this part of my life with anyone, and would be quite comfortable, being a solitary practitioner.  


I am currently not out to anyone except other local Pagans - I do eventually expect to out myself at work, but I work for a highly liberal college campus, in a generally pretty tolerant state.

What it comes down to, for me, is "If I hold back this information, am I damaging a friendship or relatonship?" I was not out as Pagan at my previous job for a long time, but I found myself feeling frustrated that I had to withhold a *lot* of information from my boss (who became a friend) and other co-workers who were friends, because I was stuck saying "Well, I did some fun stuff with friends this weekend" - which was true as far as it went, but really pretty minimal, when they were talking in much more detail about stuff they did.

The problem with Paganism is that unlike saying "Well, I had a great time at [whatever church] on Sunday, and we did some great music, and there was a lecture after about [relatively well-known topic] that got me thinking", you can't assume general knowledge on the part of your audience - so in my experience, you need to pause, and do the "Here's what Paganism really is, and here's what my path is for me." Once that's out there, *then* I can talk about going to a great harvest festival on the weekend, and the awesome bread I made (and that's why there's a loaf in the faculty lounge) and someone mentioned this thing my friend would be interested in.

In practice, I am entirely out to actual friends, to my family (though that was a bit more.. unplanned than I'd hoped for, but it's turned out well). I'm just careful at work, until not being open about it is more destructive to relationships than otherwise.

(Note that I've always worked places where people like sharing information and learning new stuff - working in education as a librarian does that to you. If I were working a mainstream business/office job, I might feel quite different.)

And one final note on terms: in general, Pagan paths are different options among Pagan religions and practices. Traditions is most commonly used with Wiccan and other religious witchcraft practices (traditions describe a collection of shared practice that's maintained over time.) Denomination, as others have noted, isn't used much, though religious witchcraft traditions are roughly equivalent (except that religious witchcraft practices focus on practice, where the usual assumption with Christian denominations is that they're first and foremost tied together by shared belief. Obviously, belief informs practice, and vice versa, but in each case, one gets more weight.)
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MarieInVa

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2011, 08:37:49 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;20804


Thank you all for your feedback!  The past few days I've been buried in paperwork and on the road; not having time to give  proper replies.  Hopefully, I can get back to the board for full replies, and to catch up on my reading in the next day or two.

Blessings~

MarieInVa

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2011, 11:15:44 am »
Quote from: Livia Indica;20889
I think I knew which type of pagan I was only after years of study and reflection and outright asking for signs from those that eventually became my patron deities. You sound like you already know all about research so don't be surprised if different signs start popping up pointing you toward a particular path, deities or entire pantheon. I remember getting impatient at times but eventually things became clearer.

I'm pretty open with my family about my beliefs and have just recently started being more open with my Facebook friends. Only had one negative comment about that so far so I think it's gonna be okay. I live in a small very Christian town, right in the middle of the Bible Belt, so I don't advertise, don't wear big pentagrams or anything like that but if someone were to just outright ask me I'd probably be honest, I don't know. It really depends on the situation, I guess.

 
Thanks for your input, Livia Indica.

As I'm researching, many of the things I've read are truly interesting, but there are certain principles that sound so familiar to me, though I have never read about them before.  They just stand out, and make perfect sense.  My impatience comes from knowing there is so much to learn, and my stack of books on this subject is ever growing, that I wish I could simply dedicated a big chunk of my day to reading and researching.  As it is, I spend my evenings reading (never been a TV person, really), but have had to train myself to slow down; read and digest what I've just covered, instead of going through books like a buzz saw trying to absorb as much as possible!

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2011, 11:19:08 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;20899
"Denominations" refers to sects within a specific religion, really; one might think of Alexandrian or Gardnerian Wicca as denominations with some accuracy, and the different temple affiliations available to Kemetics are more straightforwardly denominations.

Most pagan religions aren't part of a family like that, though; they're their own individual thing.

I don't think there is a "how do you know".  Learn, figure out what works, sometimes a body will trip over something really good.  Other times folks have to go all DIY.



Where I come from, talking about religion in circumstances where it's not among intimates is tacky.  For the most part, it's just not a public subject.  I have had very few issues about it (it's one of the things that people who actually know me know about me, because I am very devout and religiously-oriented), in part because I stick to cultures close to my native one and thus don't deal with people often who think it appropriate to talk about religion with strangers.



Darkhawk, one of my stumbling blocks has been trying to wrap my head about the fact Paganism doesn't have denominations or sects, like most other forms of religion/spirituality. There doesn't seem to be those strident categories for Paganism, something I need to remember, and keep moving forward.  One of the primary attractions Paganism has with me, aside from the fact it feels like a perfectly natural fit, is it's  very fluid and personal.  In everything I have read, one thing each author has made perfectly clear, and that there are no esoteric doctrines of Paganism.  It is, what it is to the individual.  How refreshing is that?

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #11 on: September 23, 2011, 11:23:03 am »
Quote from: RandallS;20954
First, I want to stress something Darkhawk said. Paganism is not a single religion. It's an umbrella term for a large group of separate religions (some of which have very little in common with each other other than considering themselves a Pagan religion). Some Pagan religions have divisions within them that are similar to Christian denominations, but the religions themselves are not "denominations of Paganism."  (Confusing, I know.)

Second, there is really no easy way to select the best religion (Pagan or otherwise). You just has to explore the various options until one finds one that strongly calls to you.


The umbrella analogy is an excellent visual I can use, while traveling on this path; thank you.  We are in agreement, there is no easy way to find the right path for the individual.  What I find so freeing about Paganism, is the practices that speak to me, are those I use.   I never understood why someone who knows nothing about me, decides what is best for me.  If someone likes blue because it's a color that makes them feel at peace and is pleasing to their eye, who is to say they should not like blue; it's speaks to them at some level.  That is the essence of religion and spirituality, I would think.

MarieInVa

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2011, 11:37:50 am »
Quote from: VickyRose;20904
I agree with the above person about "denomination." Denomination is like a sect of a religion. Paganism is not a religion, just a branch of spiritual belief. Gardenia is a demonination of Wicca, since Wicca is a religion. I would use the terms path, tradition, or religion unless referring to a group within a path, group, or religion. Not that I'm any good at explaining things.

Myself, I don't follow any specific Path. For me, I could take it or leave it. As in, I don't really care if I fit in with a certain tradition or not. But if, for instance, I found a coven that seemed to fit entirely into what I was doing, then I may be interested. I just don't feel any need to squeeze myself in anywhere. My beliefs, I feel anyway, should come from the heart rather than being borrowed from someone else's ideas.

I hate the term "coming out of the closet." I don't feel any need to advertise my religion. That's tacky. But I don't feel a need to cover it up either. If you ask, well, then I'll tell you. Otherwise, I'll keep it to myself. So far that leaves it between me, and, well, one or two others.


Its interesting you do not see Paganism as a religion.  Do you have a spiritual connection to your traditions, if not, do you see your practices as more of an extension of a smaller part of your life.

I apologize if I seen a bit of a dolt with this, as I may be tripping over decades of what I've come to know as the definition of spirituality.

Darkhawk

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #13 on: September 23, 2011, 12:07:30 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;21812
Darkhawk, one of my stumbling blocks has been trying to wrap my head about the fact Paganism doesn't have denominations or sects, like most other forms of religion/spirituality.

 
Why would the "none of the above" category have sects?  Everything that doesn't fit into another category, and the kitchen sink, are in there.

If you think that paganism is a religion, then you're going to continue to have problems with this.  It is absolutely not a religion - it isn't even a related family of religions.  It's the junk drawer of religions.

Are you surprised when the junk drawer has both loose screws and rubber bands?  Oh, the loose screws come in sizes and categories, and thus might be the same kind of thing, but this here rubber band doesn't go into the wall at all.

"Denomination" is like "what size of screw are you looking for".  Rubber bands, post-it notes, washers, and the staple remover may also all be in the junk drawer, but that doesn't make them a size of screw.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Darkhawk

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Re: The Long and Winding Road
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2011, 12:09:19 pm »
Quote from: MarieInVa;21817
Its interesting you do not see Paganism as a religion.

 
I also don't see mammals as a cat.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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