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Anyone willing to take a POLL..?
February 21, 2007
9:25 pm
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raised: Catholic

currently: Agnostic...borderline athiest, with the hint of a spiritual side.

February 21, 2007
11:31 pm
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Hi OMW and mzrella,

I'm glad mzrella had some time on her hands to say a few things about Wicca. I myself am not at a stage where I could say I 'practice' Wicca (at least not awarely and intentionally) but some of the things I find appealing are included in what mzrella wrote.

I've read a few things in the last couple of years, including some writing by Starhawk, that resonated well with my values and aspirations for how I want to be in the world.

Thanks for asking the question, OMW... I am perhaps poised on the brink of investigating more deeply.

February 22, 2007
1:39 am
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Kroika-

Good to know you have those leanings and interests. It gave me more courage to express myself here regarding spirituality. People are not so accepting all the time of alternate beliefs. Sometimes even people I respect, who don't know me well, say ignorant things that make me cringe. It kind of makes me disappointed in myself that I am not more outspoken. But it's hard, especially if it's people you work with or live near.

-ella

February 22, 2007
2:46 pm
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ella,
Thanks for posting I had no idea. I can see how this would be attractive to some. From what you posted it does seem to have all of the matters that are important to most people. What does it say about personal strength, ability to change, relationships, stuff like that? Where or how does that happen ot take place?

February 22, 2007
5:55 pm
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Interesting topic, thanks OMW.

Mother- Jewish

Father- Greek Orthodox

Was raised Greek Orthodox.

After leaning towards Atheism, I have recently (within the past three years) found peace as a Pagan.

February 22, 2007
5:57 pm
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Isis

What does pagan mean to you?

February 22, 2007
8:46 pm
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mzrella,

Thanks for posting that about your Wicca experience. I know next to nothing about it, but what you said sounds very interesting and very healthy. It sounds to me like it is more a philosophy of life rather than a religion, per se. Kind of like Taoism, Wu Wei and perhaps Buddhism.

February 23, 2007
10:56 pm
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Raised: Southern Baptist

Still Southern Baptist only because I really love the people in my home church, I think the most important thing is the journey you take with God, and your fellow man, what Jesus taught us follow is something we should strive for.

Many times in my life my faith was all I could hold onto.

February 23, 2007
11:29 pm
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OMW-

How does change take place? You mean as a result of Wiccan practice? Well, it's probably not as hocus-pocusy as a lot of people envision it.

There are many interpretations of what Wicca should be as it is not an organized religion, but there are commonalities in what most individuals and groups believe (I think). In just the books I've read alone, I've seen a variety of approaches.

One thing that is advised against, and sometimes not even recognized other than that the practitioner is fooling themself- is doing anything with the intent to influence other people. Including and especially spells to wish ill on someone or "Love Spells" to make someone fall in love with you, or keep on loving you. Action to influence other people or to bring about certain behaviors or emotions in them go against what most Wiccans think is ethical. This is what dark magic is and I'm not sure many Wiccans even believe in that (Kroika? Your memory is probably more fresh than mine). I am not a practicing Wiccan and was never traditional, but believe similar things as most Wiccans do. I do believe that if you think that you can influence another person with any kind of spell or ritual, that you are only concentrating your energies in an unconstructive way. Or even a destructive one. You should be focusing on yourself, and in that way it is my opinion that Wicca teaches one to build on your strengths.

However, Wiccans are not unknown to wish well upon others, to hold rituals to benefit others or the earth... but their lifestyles and practices outside of the ritual itself work to bring about good results. They do not simply just wish for things, much like Christians do not simply just pray for the sick or needy, but do good works to help them.

Wiccans use the term magic and though I do not believe in the supernatural I also believe one can practice Wiccan magic without being so literal. I think what spells and ritual do is focus all natural energy and will to do what couldn't be done without faith or concentration. Nothing against nature or the will of nature can be done due to a person's will or desire. However, if you falsely believe that you can control some one with magic- you may act in a certain way (false confidence, manipulative behavior, etc.) and the outcomes will not be positive. Like any of the more established and organized religions, Wicca too can be abused for egotistical or escapist purposes.

This being said, one can still use many tools and aspects of Wicca just as in other faiths (prayer, ways of understanding the universe, meditation) to cope with their reality in a healthy way. It is a good religion for those interested in personal growth because it stresses respect for not only the earth, and others but one's self and one's body. From this it follows that relationships would be healthier if a Wiccan was spiritually concientious about her/his relationships. Wicca teaches compassion... it teaches one to refrain from hurtful behavior such as gossiping because of the larger impact of what seem like the smallest of our actions. Conversely, kindness can also have an exponential effect.

As far as relationships, if you mean romantic relationships- I've had my own experiences but I'm not sure if I'm qualified to answer certain questions on Wicca due to my lack of experience (other than opinion). What is your question exactly? Like is there any guidance for those in relationships? Or are the attitudes of Wiccans different towards relationships? I can only answer that vaguely- that I think more is left up to one's conscience than any set of rules. This is only one reason that many folk who feel marginalized by other faiths because of their sex (Women) or sexual orientation (gays) find their place
in Wicca a lot more welcoming than elsewhere. You are not condemned for who you are. Does this mean that Wicca says it's okay to cheat on your spouse or have wanton sex with inappropriate partners (meaning ones who will hurt you or someone else)? Well, what is harmful to you and other people? Sometimes those answers are more obvious to us when we DON'T have rules to follow.

People who don't care about others will be that way no matter what their religion tells them to do or not to do. But like I said, I would feel better if some seasoned Wiccan answered the relationship question rather than I.

Even being conservative about who I spoke to, I've met some people who practice, but I was young when I met them and so were they. There are also some people, as with any group, that you have to watch out for. Some are sexual predators looking into a religion of all things as a way to meet young and impressionable types to control- this happens I think because of the soul searching that so many young people do when they come across "alternative" faiths. (But I also know it happens in the worlds largest religions too.) Or people that are into things to make money, even some shop owners, tarot readers (some of the worst in my mind are those who charge and I don't put any stock in them) and authors are like that. If you read a book that just doesn't seem to jive with most of what you know about Wicca, it could be a formulaic money making publishing venture. I cannot respect that though I try not to judge too much, because you really can't BE the judge, only watch out for yourself. There are valid ways to make money from handmade products, writing about one's genuine knowledge with an honest intent to benefite the community, etc... Like with any religion, you just have to take care of yourself. Do you feel good about sending money to the man with the 5 million dollar house of worship on the info-mercial? If so, it's your perogative. Just because someone is a "leader" do they have integrety or any spirituality at all? We are all presented with these types of questions, albeit on a different scale, a different scene maybe. That's kind of off topic, but I'm trying to say, that Wiccans are presented with many of the same scenarios that others are in their faiths.

These insecurities were some reasons for me wanting to only practice as a Solitary. It seemed more a time to educate myself, slow down, and think. I felt a little too vulnerable to be sharing that aspect of my life with people in an intimate way, though I did talk about it with some people. It must be nice to have a group of people to worship with, a spirtual network like a coven or circle could help guide one a bit. Again, I think some it would be best to join others once one acquires stability and maturity in life. That's just my opinion. I hope to someday in the future, when I am feeling a little more grounded, to meet some people of like mind again at least just to share conversation with.

Through my period of study and practice I can give examples of how I used ritual to cope with relationship issues and pain. I don't want to get too personal or specific, but actually I look back and see that I had some very good tools that I lost for a while, unfortunately. I was able to (as geeky as this sounds) find my center and seek clarity successfully enough to see what was harmful to me, how to extricate myself from situations and persons that were distructive. Not that I didn't need other, more secular help at times! I was always in therapy since childhood- but without one's own efforts, even therapy isn't enough. You need to think, act and care about yourself and those around you enough to do so. So ritual helped me in general, but smaller things that others would call "spells" to let go of attachments- well, think self-help meditations but with concrete symbolic action that resonates. I'm not explaining this well here at all. There are many complex reasons that symbols and ritual work, and most religions take advantage of this. Too complex for me to go into. I'm obviously not eloquent enough for that or this post would be a lot shorter!

Trivia: The US Army chaplans are required to recognize Wicca as an established faith.

-ella

February 23, 2007
11:33 pm
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Lorelei-

"It sounds to me like it is more a philosophy of life rather than a religion, per se. Kind of like Taoism, Wu Wei and perhaps Buddhism."

Yes, Wicca gives credit to many philosophies and faiths and those are some among them. I agree, I think of it more of a philosopy of life than a religion as well.

-ella

February 24, 2007
1:38 am
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Sometimes those answers are more obvious to us when we DON'T have rules to follow.

Wow! That's a concentrated little nugget to meditate on!

About the difference between a 'philosophy of life' and a 'religion'.... I have heard one definition of 'religion' that it comes from the Greek [?] word 'religare' which means "to tie together"; so the element of building and sustaining community is inherent in the concept of a group of people who meet together/ worship together. (The concept of 'worship' is kind of interesting too...).

So to be a 'solitary' is by definition not to be a member of a religion, I suppose. Although with the internet and virtual cyber-communities (like this one), that whole idea is up for grabs too. One can feel connected yet not share day-to-day material activities.

February 24, 2007
1:50 pm
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ella,

I enjoyed your last post very much. I do see how the use of ritual and symbols could be used as a personal tool. I see how it could enhance meditation. I hadn't thought of that before. Even in yoga, it is helpful to create a personal sanctuary for meditation. It is just a symbolic tool to assist you in getting to your center. It has nothing to do with worship.

February 28, 2007
12:11 am
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Kroika-

The difference in religion and philosophy of life are only in my own personal terms maybe. I just am refering to religions as things that are so often followed, rather than practiced with reflection like they probably are by their true devotees. I guess it's semantics on my part. In other words there may be people who follow the scripture of a faith literally and blindly, (what I would call "religiously") and there may be others of the same faith who are more spiritual in their approach and look to their faith for the deeper meanings and applications to their life and all life. I am not saying I think Paganism or Wicca is a philosophy of life any more than any other faith. For me their beliefs and practices come closer than any faith in reflecting my ethics, personal values, world view, aspirations- thought I may have fallen short of these at later points in life.

What I mean is that to me, the things that my own spiritual beliefs brought to me were reflected in things I practiced in daily life straight down to the food I ate. (I wish I could say it was still the same- I try).

Religion, to me, brings to mind something more organized and didactic, than I was involved with personally. It carries with it for me, the association of a faith with a leadership and a doctrine heavy with dogma rather than one that incourages questions and accepts individuality. This is just my association, and it applies to the word "religion"- I must emphasize that it doesn't apply to any one faith. I seriously doubt that contempletive nuns, or Buddhist monks, refer to their "religion" in such a way. I have deep admiration for the deeply spiritual person of all faiths, I am far from that in any respect or practice. I don't know what terms other people use, and I do use "religion" when I am lacking for better words- but I don't think it sits well with me. Religion was always an obligation to me. Faith and spirituality are something I just had, but put to practice to enhance my life and bring me peace. Does that make any sense? After 11pm nothing I type ever makes sense to me.

Funny you say that about the solitary and cyberspace- I always think of how the Internet is like the collective concious (as opposed to the collective unconscience) coming to the concrete world and evolving at breakneck speeds- warts and all. I mean look at sites like Wikipedea- the Internet itself- not always an authoritative source for information by any stretch, but an effort by people all over the world concerning the dissemination of knowledge- and the retreival of it. Like a big cyber connected brain that unifies us all. We are becoming connected in a different way than we used to be I believe, not necessarily less so because we are "distant from Nature." Just different.

And a Solitary only means that you don't join others in ritualistic worship. You share similar practices and ideas with countless people, and can do so in other ways... Reading, meeting people and discussing things, making and enjoying art, and yes- now communicating through the Internet... evidence that Solitaries aren't necessarily alone.

-ella

February 28, 2007
12:42 am
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Lorali-

Not exactly worship as we think of it, no. But's a KIND of worship I guess. I do believe because Wiccans and other pagans do not always have the ready-made structure of a house of worship to visit, a religious leader to perform the ceromony FOR THEM, they are made to be aware of the nature of the symbolic acts, the meaning of the ritual itself, and yes- the idea of a God and Goddess and all that means. And if worship means recognizing that your Goddess is greater than yourself, than that is an appropriate term in a sense. But pagans also recognize that the Gods are within us... and ritual is one way we become more mindful of the Oneness of all that is. Microcosm/Macrocosm. This unfolds quite beautifully to the practitioner, and one becomes more attuned to certain things in time. I often wonder if I continued practicing in my present life, how it would be. It was easier for me in the past- before I moved to the city, to find a quiet, beautiful, place in the woods- when no one was around. The natural beauty all around me spoke to me quite clearly there. In some places that are very peaceful and beautiful, it is difficult NOT to be spiritually moved.

My lifestyle has changed a lot, responsibilities and other challenges have pulled me in directions that make me almost a hopelessly secular person not. I miss being able to take care of my own soul merely by taking some time out... it is one of my goals and I think it will benefit my health in the long run. Maybe, this is a good arguement for more structure and joining with others to practice. It keeps people attending to that part of their lives which for some of us becomes something we consider an indulgence- when it should really be a priority.

-ella

February 28, 2007
8:30 am
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ella,
Thanks for writing about it. It's interesting to say the least. I hope that you continue to find peace in your beliefs. šŸ™‚

March 1, 2007
12:42 pm
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Bev- sorry it took me so long to answer you, so much has been going on the last couple of weeks. I hope this answers your question.

Ella- what a wonderful read you are.

I am in much the same boat as you Ella as far as religion. I did what I had to, to satisfy my family and for the most part it was pretty good. The trouble came when I married my husband who is half Jewish and half Irish Catholic- raised Catholic. There was no way in Gods name that his mother was going to attend a wedding outside the Catholic church- not even a Greek Orthodox Church. So, me being me back then agreed to a Catholic wedding and in doing so had to sign on the dotted line and agree to raise my children Catholic. Ugh! The only hitch was- first I had to convert to Catholicism! Again- Ugh! To make a long story short, I did it because I had to- never ever felt it in my heart, had all kinds of questions, drove the priest crazy etc, etc.

Needless to say, I had four beautiful children- all baptized in the Catholic church, all made their first holy communion, the two younger ones in the midst of the Boston Archdiocese debacle as well as a huge scandal at a sister parish. Priests all around us were being arrested and accused of sexual abuse, as well as being tried and convicted. Yikes. It was then that I woke up and decided that it was not for me, and no one was going to force me to believe in, let alone participate in something that I DID NOT BELIEVE IN MY OWN HEART. So, I floundered for a while, stopped signing the kids up for CCD, took all kinds of grief from my mother-in-law and became pretty much a lost soul for a few years.

It was after I was first diagnosed with RA that I felt the need to connect spiritually with "something". I shunned conventional medicine after one year of unsuccessful treatment and started going to an alternative holistic practice- big step having a husband who is a doctor. I seemed to have grown into myself after turning forty, became a real daredevil so to speak. It was there that I learned that pain and grief- traumatic events have a huge role in autoimmune sickness and disease. In the beginning I was treated by a medical intuitive and a healer and later by a holistic massage therapist. It was at this time that I got in touch with myself through daily meditation and positive affirmations.

I did much research on mysticism and the wonders of the universe. I studied a lot about Gods and Goddesses and even delved into Greek mythology. I learned the importance of good energy and connection with Mother Earth. I learned how important it is to have "balance" in my life. I learned how difficult it is to achieve that delicate balance. My studies brought me down the path of Celtic spirituality.

In the end, I am just me- I suppose you could call me a pagan. I am a very spiritual woman who no longer attends church. However, I do believe in a "higher power" and am of the thought that perhaps she is a goddess. I am very in touch with Mother Earth. I have this little book-Celtic Devotional, daily prayers and blessings, by Caitlin Matthews. I won't call it my bible, however, it is MY BOOK, and I read it everyday. I still celebrate the usual traditional holidays- mainly out of respect for my husband and my children, and my children join me in the celebration of the Celtic seasonal quarters, or solstices. In the end it is their own personal choice as to what they believe in and how they worship. In the end, where I am and what Iā€™m doing, is working for me.

Isis

March 1, 2007
10:09 pm
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Isis-

Don't you wonder when you read about the ancients what their spiritual conflicts and explorations were like? The mythology and religions that we as modern pagan types find liberating might have felt unfulfilling to some of them, or restrictive, or even oppressive in the context of their culture. Who knows. But I am grateful that we have the benefit of so many different expressions of faith to draw from.

What you said about the number of Catholic priests being accused of sexual abuse... what is it with the Catholic church? Has it become a haven for abusers because as an institution it protects them? This is tragic. Like all faiths, I do believe there are good things in Catholicism that continue to deliver peace of mind and guidance to many good people. It is a shame that the bureaucracy reinforces such ills which cloud the beneficial aspects of Catholicism and doing so is in addition an inherent hypocrisy. In more alternative faiths, I am sure abuses take place- but I doubt very much there is anyone in those circles with too much power to cover them up.

It is wonderful that you and your children celebrate the solstices together. And that you haven't prevented them from pursuits of enjoying the traditional holidays. They are lucky to have a mother like you. My mother was very understanding until I started to show a stronger involvement in Wiccan related interests. Being an old fashioned Irish-Catholic, and less than informed about Wicca, she was a little apprehensive. But I think she trusted me. However, always being one to be supportive of reading and self exploration, my mother bought me gifts of books, tarot cards, crystals, pendants, and any other related tool of the Craft that I could not make myself. Apparently, my father also said to her "Don't you know our daughter? Would she be passionate about it if it was evil instead of compassionate?" (or something like that). It was one of the most intellectually rich periods of my life because it reawakened so much of my curiosity- I read a lot of non-fiction, history, science, physics and cosmology, C.G. Jung, a lot of ancient art history and mythology (of course), everything seems relevant when you are on that sort of quest, and it is. I wish I had a good memory for facts, only I can barely remember things I read a few weeks ago. Somewhere it's in my mind, and I can only think that all those experiences expanded my mind and my perceptions of my life experiences.

Children are so strongly influenced by modeling. Open-mindedness, seeing the virtue in different ways and traditions, compassion for nature, intellectual curiosity and being true to one's self are some qualities that your children will witness in you and most likely seek to emulate themselves- no matter what particular faiths they adopt. If only more children were brought up that way.

-ella

July 1, 2007
10:28 pm
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bump. for Isis.

July 2, 2007
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Mzrella

Thank you for finding this. I enjoyed reading all the posts again.

July 7, 2007
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was raised roman catholic, but even as a child I wrestled with some of the church's edicts/policies. The older I got the more problems I had with Catholicism. Toyed with calling myslef a protestant for a while, but that faded quickly too.

Currently - well I believe in God, but adhere to no one single religion. Trying to find my own path to God...oh, maybe I'll start a new religion..call it glittericsm...j/k ; ) I do respect the little I know of Buddhism.

I had a good giggle about Kurt Vonnegut (a humanist) speaking at Issac asimov's funeral when he said "Issac is in heaven now" and had fellow humanist's rolling with laughter. I very much liked assimov's reasoning against eternal damnation via "we have laws agaist cruel and unusual punishemnt in this world" isn't it wildly severe to punish someone for all eternity?

July 7, 2007
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I don't think the after life is much different than this one. only we can find it easier to be good if we want to be and harder to be bad if we want to be.

July 8, 2007
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Baptized Roman Catholic when born, then something happened, not sure what, when I was 5 or 6, maybe older, was rebaptized Methodist, though parents still retain all the rituals and beliefs of Catholicism. Both sides of my parents families are Roman Catholic...with tons of priests, one ancestor was a Cardinal on my dad's side back way back when and was excommunicated, he granted a divorce to a king, Pope didn't like that. Have one cousin who is being groomed to be a Cardinal and perhaps the Pope someday. He has had his own Catholic hour on tv and radio in several Parishes that they move him around to from time to time. And then they ship him to Notre Dame to learn more stuff...like psychology. He and I have had many argument because my immediate family are sort of the heretics. Had two priest cousins who spent time in a Federal prison because they tried to liberate a nuclear weapon some years ago. And my dad's brother had been a President of the Holy Name Society (national). I went through catechism and Pre cana, was baptized for the third time, picked my own God parents. Then divorced the jerk.
Became a Heretic AGAIN.

So I have been baptized three times. And perhaps four years ago....My marriage to my first husband was annulled, so I guess I am not considered a Heretic anymore...ALL HAS BEEN FORGIVEN! Yeah RIGHT!

Have not gone to church services since 1974, except weddings and funerals. Do not believe in religious dogma. At best, I am a Gnostic.

I do believe in alot of 'pagan' or 'metaphysical' stuff...like burning prayers, anointing and writing on candles for certain things, crystals and healing energy.

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