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Tony Grist

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Losing My Religion [Jul. 17th, 2007|10:06 am]
Tony Grist
When I left the Church in 1986 I wasn't yet ready to give up on religion, so I read lots of books and flirted with lots of spiritualities and wound up as a pagan.

It was the Goddess who drew me in. After all those years spent worshipping a masculine Deity some sort of balancing was needed.

For a while I was a pagan evangelist. 

Then Ailz and I became witches and ran a coven. That was brilliant fun.

But somehow- and I can't say exactly how- the need went away.

If I say I grew out of it, it sounds patronising. But maybe we shouldn't be afraid to patronise religion.

The dangerous question is "Why?"  Why am I wandering round this room naked with a sword in my hand?  Why am I addressing the empty air  in mock-Elizabethan English? Why am I wearing these papier-mache horns on my head and pretending to be Pan?

It's not that I became a materialist. I still think the universe is full of gods and spirits and ghosts. I'm one of them- and so are you and you and you; we're all working our passage. But I don't require sweet savours and people bobbing up and down in front of me- and I question the sanity and ethics of any spook that does.

I devised a Wiccan third degree initiation which ended with the candidate facing an unshaded window with her back to the temple. That was effectively the end of it for me. Look, I was saying to the candidate (but mainly acknowledging to myself) you don't need all that jiggery-pokery any more.

[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2007-07-17 04:23 pm (UTC)
It seems that religion is like anything else we might embrace. When it stops speaking to whatever inner inner prompt directed us in that direction, it ceases to be a valid choice.

Sometimes looking away from it is far more fulfilling than turning our spiritual eyes inward towards the tenets of a strutured religion. Long ago I stopped being a formal anything religion-wise. It took a certain amount of courage because the fear of my strict Polish Roman Catholic upbringing always made visions of hell figure in my dreams.

Funny thing, though. These days I feel far freer and more aware of what spirit(itual) means than before.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-17 05:14 pm (UTC)
The organised religions, of course, do their darnedest to keep people on board.

I've been called a "traitor" for leaving the Church. And worse.
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From: algabal
2007-07-17 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think you can get the "good stuff" from a religion (or even a sect of a religion) without actually joining a church. I need the tradition, the ideas, the symbols of Catholicism, but am not a member of the church.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-18 08:15 am (UTC)
What you get by joining a church is the sense of belonging to a great community stretching across space and time. I used to need that, but now, for whatever reasons, I don't.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-07-18 12:48 am (UTC)
One of the reasons I love my deities so much is that when I asked them what they wanted from me in the way of offerings, rituals, etc, the response I got was "All we want from you is love."

Well, that was a no-brainer, because I love them anyway. When the fact that they meant what they said sank in, it was a very freeing experience (especially for someone who went from Catholicism to ceremonial magic before hitting paganism). Nothing I have to do to "be good"? Just be myself? Wow...

I occasionally make offerings, but usually when I'm asking a favor; I think of it as being like giving a friend gas money in return for getting a ride to a distant store. Likewise, I sometimes do a ritual for them, but only when I feel that it's right. It's a whole different world than compulsory attendance.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-18 08:20 am (UTC)
What you're describing is essentially a friendship.

We're all in this together, I think.
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[User Picture]From: oakmouse
2007-07-20 04:25 pm (UTC)
Friendship, yes, and also a healthy family. One of my deities is the uncle who knows how to do everything, another is a sort of grandfather, another is the loving but stern aunt who makes you deal with things you may not want to deal with but who also has reams of good advice to give, and so forth. They're more my family than my biological relatives are.
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[User Picture]From: mokie
2007-07-18 01:42 am (UTC)
I think when you're comfortably living with the spiritual in your everyday life, you don't need to seek it in special holidays, occasions and rituals.

When you've lost touch with the mundane sacredness of life, that's when you need those special acts of reconnection.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-18 08:23 am (UTC)
All I can say is I used to need ritual and now I don't. Maybe there'll come a time when I need it again. The whole process is fairly mysterious to me.
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From: manfalling
2007-07-23 02:47 am (UTC)
These days I don`t feel much need to go out on a Sunday and spend the day playing frisbee.

It`s not the same as church sure- but in my head I`ve often thought of the 2 as pretty similar. It`s a community of all sorts, that stretches round the world, and once you`re IN that community, I`d say it`s wider and more inviting and accepting than most any other sport. I could go to just about any big city in the world, hook up with a frisbee team there, and because the sport is still not mainstream, the people will probably welcome me, and I may even know some of them, or they`ll know someone that I know.

We all go out on a Sunday morning and spend some time deeply involved in doing the same thing.

But these days I`m losing interest. Perhaps what I got from it, and what I had to give to it, no longer works for me. Sounds like your feeling wit the covenning.

Likewise I wonder if I`ll regain that interest. I think maybe not, though.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-07-23 10:29 am (UTC)
I don't know about you, but I find I have a short attention span. I spent something like a decade in the Church and a decade as a witch- and at the end of each decade I was bored and fed up and needed to move on.

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