Commitment: A Witchy Discussion

If you haven't heard, over at The Deepest Well, Aine is having a witchy conversation. It will be a week long on this topic, then she's got more topics to discuss with everyone. As she says, this is an interactive thing. You are welcome to comment here on my response to it, or go on over to The Deepest Well and contribute there. Click here to check out what all is going on, then click here to read more about this week's topic. This is my contribution to the topic.

Aine makes a really good point about when people come into this path, the path of the Pagan, they tend to mix things with their old religion. Guess what ... I am 100% guilty of this. For me, it isn't a problem with committing to my path; no, my problem is this: I came from a Catholic family, albeit an extremely lenient one (many of you know of how my mom bought my first book on witchcraft when I was fifteen), and while the Pagan path feels right to me, the Christian bible also has some good points. I personally do not believe in Hell, and I also have a hard time believing everything in the bible, but in the new testament, Jesus makes some very good points ... he seems almost Pagan to me GASP the horror! I, personally, have tried to meld the two together, because of the good points Jesus makes. In recent times, I've been trying to completely come to grips with my religious beliefs.

After Gram passed away last year, some of you may remember me questioning everything, my purpose, my religion, whether it was actually my religion that killed Gram, and everything under the sun. Even a year later, I still question those things, to a certain extent. Does this mean that I should abandon the Pagan path? No. Does this mean I have a lot of soul searching to do to find out exactly what feels right to me? Yes! Does this mean that I'm not committed? To a certain extent, yes it does mean I'm not committed, because I am trying to figure out what is right to me, but because I am committed to finding out what feels right, and because Paganism itself does feel right to me, means that I am committed, just searching again. Is there a person on this planet that every stops searching? No, because even if you are 100% comfortable in your religious choice, you'll still be searching for other things; education, like minded people, knowledge, truth; these are all things that we as human beings never stop searching for.

The problems I've had of late stem from me being lost and confused. Today, I realized that while I had been praying and reaching out, I wasn't allowing the gods complete access; I was holding them at arm's length. No one likes to be held at arm's length, and most especially the gods. I know if someone is holding me at arm's length, then turns around and asks me for help, I'll be rather hesitant to help them out. The same is true for the gods. Today, while I was driving to school, I completely opened myself up to the gods. I let them see every tiny worry, every tiny hope, everything inside my soul, and do you know what? That is the most peace I've felt in a long time. I felt the arms of the gods enfold me and hold me tight. I felt strength, hope, faith, and so many wonderful, unnamed feelings; so, I made a promise to myself which I discussed in a previous post, to get closer with the gods again. In life, there is an ebb and a flow to everything. There are times in our lives when we feel intensely connected to our religion and our maker, whatever or whoever we consider that maker to be, and then there are times in our lives when we are stressed and stretched thin, that we realize our relationship with that maker isn't as close as it used to be.

In Christianity, they tell us that when those times happen it is because we strayed, because we do not have enough faith. I distinctly remember having to take communion, as part of the Catholic church, and having to tell God that I wasn't pure enough, and then having to ask Him if he would say it was okay for me to take communion. "But only say the words and I shall be healed," still rings in my ears. I hated being told I wasn't good enough to take of his "only begotten son," and just hoping that God thought I was good enough to do so. As a child I had a secret fear that I would go up to the front of the church, receive my "holy host," and be struck down by lightning because God didn't think I was good enough. I hated the idea of a god that could look down on the people and things he had created and one day decide he hated them, then destroy them in a flood, except for his select few that he approved of, but then on the other hand, he was supposed to be an all loving, all forgiving god. I'm sorry, to me, if you woke up one day and decided you hated everything you created except for this one thing and destroyed it all, you'll do it again, and you're not that all loving or all forgiving. I hated being told that I was dirty, and not good enough, unless I came into confession and begged for forgiveness.

The allure of Paganism was this: from the first page of the first book that I ever read, I was told that I was just fine. There was no one to beg forgiveness from because there wasn't anything wrong with me, I was being a natural, normal human being. So I looked at a young man with longing last week ... in the church I would have to say a million hail mary's to be absolved of the sing, but in Paganism I was told it was okay, that human attraction was a natural part of living. I was finally released from the oppressiveness of the church and told that I was normal, and not fighting a losing battle against sin. Christianity teaches you that when you're relationship with God isn't as close as normal, you are doing something wrong, that you need to come back to the fold, beg forgiveness and let God take you "under His wing" again. Paganism teaches you that there is an ebb and flow to everything, including faith, and it's okay. The problem in Paganism is that you are 100% allowed to create your own path. There are certain guidelines here and there, but from one Pagan to the next there are many, many differences.

It can be hard going from a religion that has strict guidelines and rules, to one with loose rules, and slippery guidelines, to forge your own path. When settlers moved to the west, only the hardiest and most stubborn survived. Paganism makes me think of that. Only those of us hardy enough and stubborn enough to stick to what we truly believe, despite what the rest of society thinks, will stay on the path. My path is very curvy. On the one hand, I want to stay true to my religion, despite what others think, and I want to stay close to the gods and nature, but on the other hand, the pressure from the rest of society to be "normal" and to do the "Christian" thing can wear me down from time to time. I still own a bible, and still randomly glance in it, but I'm so torn inside when I open the bible that I close it again as soon as I open it. Christianity doesn't feel right to me, and it never will, but there's still that little voice in the back of my mind, drilled in there from years of catechisms, saying that it's the devil causing me to be this way. I can still hear Granddad telling me that because of my interest in paganism the devil killed Grandma ...

"The devil's greatest trick is convincing people that he doesn't exist," those words, spoken from my grandfather's mouth almost 3 days after Gram's funeral still in my ears, and I ask myself, is that really what's going on? Has the devil tricked me into believing that he's not real and leading me down a path that will end up burning me in more ways than one? Then I look at all the blessings in my life. I own my house, I have money put away to be able to support myself in school, pay for the things that randomly pop up in life, and open my own nail salon. I have a great family, good friends, food in the pantry, and toilet paper in the bathroom ... surely if it was the Christian devil, things wouldn't be going as great as they are. Then I look over the problems that are in my life ... the fact that I have to move my house because of this rv park, the stresses and worries, the issues at school. Usually, even if inadvertently, I create those problems for myself. I over think things and cause the worries I have on my mind to happen.

So, if I'm the one causing my own problems, there's no devil to blame, unless I'm the devil, and I'm fairly certain I'm not ... last time I checked I didn't have a pointed tail or horns, but let me check again just in case ... nope no tail, no horns. I fall off my Pagan path because I am a human and as such, I get other things on my mind and wander away from the path. It's not because I'm not committed, it's because even in my day to day life, I'm a gypsy, I wander and travel (even if only in my mind). It's part of my nature, so I occasionally wander away from my beliefs, but just like home, I always come back. Anyway, that's my response on the topic. Sorry it's so long lol. What about yall? Do any of you have a problem with wandering away from your chosen path?


Aine said...

Fantastic Post! It would take a blog entry to address all this - but here's some I've learned from years on this path (spoken like an old person) First of all - the fear.

About a year into paganism I started getting fearful. Many of the fears came from the place where my former religion had planted them and apparently they are hardy little plants. I remember destroying all my books. But the funny thing was, I didn't go back to Catholicism or any form of Christianity. And soon, I was right back into paganism - for good. Maybe it's a right of passage? A dark night of the soul? So in other words, this is (and you are) completely normal.

The other part I want to address is the devil. I think your grandfather was wise, but I don't think the devil of the Christians is what we're talking about here. We are talking about the dark side, found everywhere and in everyone. Evil exists because it has to - for good to exist. So, yes, there is evil and we should be aware and beware, and yes, evil is so sly that it wants us to be lulled into the belief that it's not real, so that it's job is easier (think evil people, like murderers, pedophiles etc - who lure their victims with friendship and kindness.)

I think the Christian devil, which representing a real energy that does exist, is also very handy for keeping people from straying from their path. And that version I believe was created for just that reason.

Stay on the path my friend. Life tests us all the time. I am so glad that you went to the gods for help and I think they are too!!

Salem Witch Child said...

"When settlers moved to the west, only the hardiest and most stubborn survived."

I love this analogy darlin! Good post. :)

intothedawn said...

Thank you for this wonderful, open, heartfelt post! I truly understand that confusion of a vengeful and yet loving, God and that feeling that, especially as a woman, I wasn't "good" enough. And I really struggled with that fear of "What if I'm wrong and there is only one God & now I'm going to hell?" too! Good to know I've not been alone with those feelings.

I would have to say that at times I wander away from formally practicing my path, but I never wander away from it in my beliefs. I still know that this is my path, even if I don't celebrate ever esbat or sabbat, etc.

Willow Silverhorse said...

Aine, I agree with you very much. Evil does exist. I would never contest that, but what I hated at the time and what shook me so much was the way my granddad said it. He made it sound as if I'd killed my own grandmother. I posted about that about a year ago. I'm still struggling with it a little bit. I love the path I'm on. I love being Pagan, and I love the path of the green witch, but like intothedawn, I tend to stray a little such as not practicing formally, but always staying true to my own beliefs, even when I do question things. Thanks for such a wonderful topic to discuss this week!

Willow Silverhorse said...

Thanks Salem Witch Child! I'm really glad you liked the post!

Willow Silverhorse said...

Intothedawn, I completely understand :D! I'm really glad you liked the post too!

PandoraDelcour said...

Wow it's such a coincidence that you posted this! I just lost a loved one and was tempted (if that is the right word to use) to return to the christian faith or I started mixing it with paganism. I too have had similar experiences as yours and I must say, this post really helped.