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Author Topic: What am I? Self identification help  (Read 1234 times)

Mandamomx4

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What am I? Self identification help
« on: April 03, 2017, 02:34:32 am »
First of all, let me apologize, I have been out of the loop for many years, the world of paganism seems to have changed from what I once believed. I was reading some forums from the previous board and stumbled upon a few "can I still call myself a pagan if..." and "non practicing pagan" boards.

I have always identified as a Wiccan, for nearly 20 years since my discovery of it as an adolescent. But over the last decade or so, I have been primarily non practicing. I still fully believe what I was once informed was Wiccan but it seems as though my information may be missing some key practices.

On some of these boards I saw that there are certain rules with particular sects, certain things that must be followed and observed. I was honestly unaware of such guidelines. Mostly I am looking for a good reliable resource to reeducate myself and see some of the changes and/or missing information from what I once thought of as an absolute.

What should I be doing? Where can I find more reliable information to figure out which of the pagan religions best fit me? I need to find my way back to spirituality. Whatever dedication that takes, it has taken a back burner for too long, and my soul needs it.

I honestly didn't know that my perception was flawed until stumbling upon some of these forums and now I wonder if I have been unknowingly mislabeling myself all these years.

Any reputable resources to help me find out what would fit me and what I need to be doing and practicing to fit that mold would be immensely helpful. I don't like google. You never know what is accurate and what is not.

I am sorry if I sound woefully ignorant. I kind of feel woefully ignorant at the moment.

Mandamomx4

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2017, 02:54:24 am »
As a follow up:
I have read through the pagan primer and followed subsequent hyperlinks. I am still sorting through some of that, but there is an overwhelming amount of information and I'm not very familiar with forum style sites. This is very new to me.

Jenett

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2017, 08:35:06 am »
Quote from: Mandamomx4;204578

On some of these boards I saw that there are certain rules with particular sects, certain things that must be followed and observed. I was honestly unaware of such guidelines. Mostly I am looking for a good reliable resource to reeducate myself and see some of the changes and/or missing information from what I once thought of as an absolute.


First, this is a really common thing, so you're definitely not alone, and it's definitely confusing (that's actually precisely why a lot of people argue for not using Wicca as broadly as many people use it - it makes it really hard to talk about this.)

I have an article on my website that talks about some different kinds of uses of the term Wicca, and suggests some alternatives, and you might find some of the other articles on the site also helpful.

Quote
What should I be doing? Where can I find more reliable information to figure out which of the pagan religions best fit me? I need to find my way back to spirituality. Whatever dedication that takes, it has taken a back burner for too long, and my soul needs it.


This is a slightly different kind of question! First, I think that, to the degree we're talking about 'should', what you should be doing is figuring out what makes your heart sing, what helps you celebrate the good times, have support and some idea of direction in the hard times, and maybe connect with people who share at least some of what you're doing (to swap ideas and useful resources and so on.)

Figuring out a label for what you're doing may be very helpful for that (because it's easier to find material from other people doing similar stuff if you have some nouns to use), but it's not actually as important as doing the stuff that works for you.

(There is a codicil on 'stuff that works for you' which is that stuff that works for you but is appropriative of other people's practices, or misrepresents them, or takes pieces from them while ignoring safety information that goes with those pieces all have problems and are not recommended for various reasons.)  

Quote
I don't like google. You never know what is accurate and what is not.


That's where learning to evaluate what you read comes in! (And also, Google is not better or worse than publishers of printed books here, or talking to people on a forum or in person: all of them have great potential to be helpful, all of them can be lousy sources. You need to look at each thing and evaluate it as you go.)

Especially in a topic like religion, there aren't always obvious right and wrong answers - you can learn a whole lot from reading other people's subjective experiences, even if they can't be verified as factual, and at the same time some people's descriptions may not sync up well with what the larger community actually does, or with what's useful to you.

I've got more articles on my website about research and learning and evaluating things - I'd recommend starting with the "Critical Reading and Pagan Books" one since a lot of it also applies to webpages, but there's several in there that might also be helpful to you in sorting through information you find in different places.

Another thing I definitely recommend is taking some time and reading through this forum (and any others where you feel people are talking about stuff you're interested in and at least some people seem sensible and like they've thought through what they're doing.)

You can learn a lot from reading other people's questions, paying attention to whose answers or practices seem to resonate for you, and then looking at what they suggest in more detail. One of the other great things about an active forum with well-informed people is that if incorrect stuff gets posted, chances are someone will be along (maybe not immediately, but sooner than later) to clarify, correct, or provide alternate info.

Also, forums are a great resource for "So, I've seen X and Y and Z in different places, what's going on there?" questions. Individual answers may or may not be accurate, but by comparing different answers (and paying more attention to people with a track record for good info) you can usually get useful things out of it.
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Mandamomx4

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2017, 10:15:35 am »
thank you for your help. I will look through some of the information on the website you've provided. As well as some more on the boards here as I learn to better navigate them.

Back in the 90s when I began my research my main source of information came in the form of the silver ravewolf books. Not long after that, it seemed like that name in particular was a bit of a faux pas. That the information was not entirely reliable. I do have several books myself branching out from there by multiple authors so I am excited to see your reading lists to see if any of these may stack up for the critical reading as a good place to begin my rediscovery.

Thank you for taking your time to help

-a not so new beginner

Darkhawk

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2017, 10:56:13 am »
Quote from: Mandamomx4;204586


 
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Mandamomx4

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2017, 12:08:04 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;204587
A Reminder:
Just a quick note:  Please remember to quote, even if you're just  replying to the first message in the thread.  It makes the discussion  easier to follow, and it's required by  our  rules. (If you're using tapatalk on a phone, please hold your finger down on the message you wish to reply to until the quote function pops up.)

This isn't a formal warning, just a reminder.  No  reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification,  please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

Thanks!

 

Sorry I am still trying to learn how to edit a quote to just a small part without messing up the JavaScript. I have absolutely no experience with the commands.

Mandamomx4

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2017, 12:28:33 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;204583

Figuring out a label for what you're doing may be very helpful for that (because it's easier to find material from other people doing similar stuff if you have some nouns to use), but it's not actually as important as doing the stuff that works for you.

 
After perusing some of your page and subsequent hyperlinks, it seems at though I still identify as Wiccan, but in regards to pinpointing exactly what that means, and what form that takes for me personally, none of the particular traditions seemed just right.

More of an eclectic style. I am a solitary practitioner, This is my preferred method as well as the most practical one for my lifestyle with multiple children to care for. I am also not solely dependent on ritual. I have fallen out of practice and let life completely overwhelm me, but going back into it, that won't change much. I don't feel like it's necessary for me to do formal ritual as a part of my daily life, but more to make the awareness part of my daily life. I always reserved formal ritual for certain occasions or when the need of focused energy was present. Even my wheel of the year celebrations were more about an awareness of the day and incorporating what that meant into the whole of the day. More focusing on correspondences than formal ritual.

I'm not even sure if it has a name. As far as deity, I don't follow a polytheistic path but more of a pantheistic path, recognizing deity in everything, without a specific label.

So I guess what I need help identifying so that I can have a noun to give me a starting point for my research, is a pantheistic Wiccan a thing? I'm a hard copy kind of girl. A screen is great, but books speak to me. And are much easier for me to follow. Websites with all of the dozens of subsequent hyper links on each page remind me of a "choose your own ending" book and I feel like I'm drowning in wells of information that my brain can't organize.  

I did take down several books from your page recommendations to give me a new starting point, but they were mostly very basic, general things since I have not pinpointed exactly what specifically I want to explore further.

sevensons

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2017, 12:49:17 pm »
Quote from: Mandamomx4;204593

I did take down several books from your page recommendations to give me a new starting point, but they were mostly very basic, general things since I have not pinpointed exactly what specifically I want to explore further.


Energy manipulation is a good bit of education I don't know any books as mine is all self taught. a nice way to dissolve negativity is what's needed.
Awaken myself alive and well loving to start learning today ahead a challenge set by the Gods. Haven't

Darkhawk

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2017, 12:57:50 pm »
Quote from: Mandamomx4;204592
Sorry I am still trying to learn how to edit a quote to just a small part without messing up the JavaScript. I have absolutely no experience with the commands.

 
I don't think there's JavaScript involved?  You just need to leave the initial quote with the code involved (so, for example, this post starts with 'QUOTE=Mandamomx4;204592' inside the QUOTE box) and the box with /quote at the end.  If you're familiar with webpage code it's a lot like that.

If you delete *all* the text make sure to put the QUOTE and the /QUOTE on different lines for it to show properly.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jenett

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2017, 01:15:35 pm »
Quote from: Mandamomx4;204593
After perusing some of your page and subsequent hyperlinks, it seems at though I still identify as Wiccan, but in regards to pinpointing exactly what that means, and what form that takes for me personally, none of the particular traditions seemed just right.


Well, and that's a thing: in more traditional uses of the word 'Wiccan' if you're not following a particular tradition, you're not Wiccan. (That's definitions one and two, roughly, on the first link I gave you earlier)

Quote
I'm not even sure if it has a name. As far as deity, I don't follow a polytheistic path but more of a pantheistic path, recognizing deity in everything, without a specific label.


If you're not recognising multiple deities as individual beings, you're also not Wiccan by more traditional definitions, or even some of the less traditional/structured ones. (Traditional Wicca is being the priesthood to two very specific deities, who are publically known as "Lord" and "Lady" but who have names and other identifying info known to the initiates of those traditions.)

More to the point, if you say both "I don't honor any particular deities" and "I'm Wiccan" a lot of people are going to be really puzzled at you, and you're going to have a harder time trying to find people who are doing similar things or useful resources.

Can I ask why you're so much wanting to keep 'Wiccan' even though it seems like that might not be a good fit for you?

Obviously, if it's a term you've used about yourself for a long time, stepping away from that can feel really weird. But it might be really worth spending some time (a couple of weeks at least, not a day or two) sitting with the ideas and exploring different terms before settling on one.

(You also don't really need to settle on one at all, except that it can make it easier to find stuff and people doing similar things: a lot of people come up with a short phrase that works for them, rather than a 'this is what my path is named' or have multiple paths as part of their personal practice. You'll see lots of examples if you look at what people list for religions on this forum.)

Some other terms that might be useful for you:
1) Religious witchcraft
This covers a wide range of paths - you'll notice that I list my own path as initiatory religious witcraft, because while a bunch of what I do fits fairly comfortably into definitions of Wicca, I don't think it's the right term. (Specifically, the tradition I'm part of works with different deities and different religious mysteries, and I think those things matter.)

Using this term will give people the idea that you've got some degree of spiritual/religious application - you're not solely focused on magic as a tool (like 'witch' or 'witchcraft' alone might suggest).

But it is general enough that many people will realise they need to ask you for more details about what you do rather than make some of the assumptions that "Wiccan" would encourage (i.e. that you celebrate Sabbats and Esbats, that you work with/honor/etc. deities or specific deities, etc. even before you get into the initiatory parts.)

2) Pantheistic Pagan
This puts an emphasis on the pantheism part, if that's a thing you'd particularly like to connect with people about.

Pagan in this use is fairly general, and has some complications (some people who use it generally think all Pagans do Wiccanesque things like celebrate Sabbats and Esbats, and that's both not true and not useful to anyone.)

But those are relatively easy to work around by being clear what you do and not speaking for what other Pagans might or might not do (at least until you have a lot more familiarity with the range of practices.)

3) Eclectic solitary
Also a very common option! This will tell people that you're gathering material from a range of sources (the 'eclectic') and that you're working on your own ('solitary'), and that your path is probably pretty individualised.

4) Pagan (or Seeking or Exploring)
Any of these are very general, but they can serve as markers that you don't have a more specific label yet, which can be very helpful to others.

(So for example, when I see someone who puts "seeking" in their religion label here, I know they haven't settled on something, and will likely adjust my answers for that. If I see someone identifying as "Wiccan", I'll probably assume different things about them for a starting point - to begin with, that they're at least somewhat settled on what they want their path to be!)
 
5) Pantheists
To answer your question, there are people who are pantheistic Wiccans, but from what you've said, I don't think it's a particularly accurate description for what you're doing or want to be doing.

(The people I know who use it are mostly pantheists who also honor/work with/worship specific deities, as well as seeing the presence of the divine in everything - like they would work with individual humans and also see them as having the divine in them. Again, using "Wiccan" if you don't intend to do any kind of deity work at all is going to confuse and possibly mislead a lot of people you tell it to.)

6) One final option:
You mention you've got multiple kids, and so I want to mention one option that works for a lot of people who want a religious community that can include their kids (which traditional Wicca explicitly isn't: it's a clergy commitment that's not a thing one sensibly asks non-adults to make) A lot of people find that community in Unitarian Univeralism.

There's a huge variety between UU congregations (because other than a few principles, congregations are very independent of each other) but pantheism is not uncommon for members (or at least some comfort with it), and a number of congregations have some specific events that are Pagan in nature, or earth-centered, or other things that might appeal.  

Books:
Quote
I did take down several books from your page recommendations to give me a new starting point, but they were mostly very basic, general things since I have not pinpointed exactly what specifically I want to explore further.

 
One of my standard recommendations for people who are pantheists is material from the Reclaiming tradition, and in this case, specifically the book Twelve Wild Swans by Starhawk and Hilary Valentine. It does a really good job at looking at a story as a way to structure religious and spiritual growth over time, without being specifically deity centered (you'll see some deity-related material in there, but there's plenty that isn't or can be adapted.)

Two things I like a lot about it are the fact it's got lots of examples and ritualish activities (many of which are smaller not-formal things, but show the range of things one might want to do or try or consider) and that it goes at the central story in three different layers, and is a great illustration of how someone can build on myth and story in different ways at different points in time or their learning.

Marion Green's A Witch Alone is also a classic for people who want a seasonal but not deity-centered practice.

If you want recommendations for other things (magical practice, meditation, divination, etc.) I have a bunch more than those two, but it'd help to know what you're interested in.

In general, you are not going to find really great *books* that talk about tons of different specific paths, because it's a thing books do really badly. Most authors just don't have the range of experience to describe a wide range of paths, even fairly closely related ones at all well or consistently.

Some books of this kind have articles from different people, but again the quality and information shared can be really uneven. The best sources are usually individual group (or path) websites, and people's descriptions of their own practices (on websites, forums, Tumblr, in person, whereever you happen to find them.)

Plus, one of the real challenges is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of small independent religious witchcraft practices in the US (and certainly thousands of people doing different things with variations from each other that look small from one angle, but make a big difference to them!)

Even the biggest (in terms of numbers/geographic spread) Wiccan traditions may not have groups of that tradition in an area that's near you (or near enough to get to regularly enough to be part of a group) so for people who are interested in looking for group work, I suggest starting with learning what groups are active near them and exploring those.

Since it sounds like you're not looking for group work, a lot of what specific groups or paths do isn't going to be terribly accessible to you *anyway* (since a lot of that is stuff you just have to be there for: some material may be available online, or people talking about parts of what they do - but very few groups or individuals provide anything like a complete picture in public, for all sorts of reasons. Privacy or oathbound material, but also simple time/energy/desire.)

So you probably are going to have more luck, in terms of finding resources, figuring out what kinds of things you'd like to do more of, and looking for resources about those, than trying to find a path label (beyond the fairly general ones I mentioned in the numbered list above)
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Seeking: first steps on a Pagan path (advice for seekers and people new to Paganism)

Darkhawk

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Re: What am I? Self identification help
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2017, 02:08:57 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;204597
There's a huge variety between UU congregations (because other than a few principles, congregations are very independent of each other) but pantheism is not uncommon for members (or at least some comfort with it), and a number of congregations have some specific events that are Pagan in nature, or earth-centered, or other things that might appeal.  

 
Some pagan-friendly UU congregations have chapters of CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans), most of which seem to operate something on a general religious witchcraft model.  (My own church does not have a CUUPS chapter, but does have a few pagans - CUUPS is not necessary for a congregation to be suited to an individual pagan, but it might be a good sign for something to check out.)

I'll note that I initially sought out UU churches because of my kids - both the religious education program and the eventual sex education programs are highly worthwhile.
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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