I’ve had some difficulties with eclecticism over the years but I’m starting to think that’s the only way for me to go and really be true to my calling.
When I first had a yearning for it I really had no context to fall back on and could never even really get started, but after I was immersed in liturgical Christianity it became much easier to create ceremonies that were of substance and had a coherent theology.
But for a year or so there it kind of went bad. I burned out because I created a new system in a short amount of time based on ideas that were intellectually appealing but probably not from a place of spirit, that part of me that can simply say, “Yes, this is truth as I am able to apprehend it.” (In other words, something I truly had faith in.)
So over time I continued with organized Christianity but some rites developed that I still do and that have worked and have a lot of depth and beauty. But I feel more connected to that personal side of my spirituality than institutional religion and don’t feel right about converting to any other religions no matter how much I admire about them.
So…I’m taking a break from all of that to explore this because I feel a lot of things coming up and am about to create more and might simply cut ties with formal religion/church except for maybe a visit here and there. A lot of this has grown out of a spiritual encounter I had that is not easily classifiable. But I’m hoping I’m not going to burn out again or get frustrated. These are some guidelines I’ve developed for myself in the development of an eclectic practice. Some elements wouldn’t apply to all eclectics but this is what I’ve come up with:
1. Keep your ceremonies, theologies, and other practices related to the core tenets and goals of your path.
2. If a practice seems appealing from my own religious background or one I thought of in passing do NOT adopt it unless there is a clear reason to do so. The practice must be compatible with the core ceremonies I have developed or grow organically from them. (I have a method for how new practices emerge or revisions are made.)
3. Do not adopt deities or very specific religious practices from other religions you have no connection to or were never a member of. Instead use something from your own religious background or eclectic practice and adapt it with new associations to fill a similar need. (This one in particular is how I’ve discerned over the years that I should do it — it’s a disaster every time I do it differently.)
4. Do not assume that because a theology you have created is coherent that it is actually your belief.
5. If you are going to adopt a belief or new practice that will influence your ceremonies, do the intellectual homework, but do not burn out on this. Pray about it and discern. Then put it out of mind — if it re-emerges and I can truly give assent to it from a prayerful place then adopt it.
6. Do NOT rush!
7. Let some beliefs be held in tension, even contradictory beliefs if need be — something useful will come of it. Do NOT over-think it!
8. Let the path develop slowly on an as-needed basis: do not try to fill in gaps until you need to, especially if a practice from your religious background still fills that need and there is no need to re-invent the whole wheel.
As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically. (I could explain but it wasn’t really necessary right now.) What do you think? Do you have any similar guidelines or advice? Thanks.
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