Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Pagan Discovery Journal - a.k.a. - Pagan Journal Prompt Week 1 - Day 3

The Pagan tradition I am most interested in right now is Celtic Wiccan
The reasons why I am interested in this tradition are I've always been heavily drawn to the Celtic culture in general as well as usually finding myself more interested in their mythos more so than other cultures. I've always had a fondness for myth & legend from all over the world, being drawn to hidden & common truths, which tend to come out in those.
The reaction of my friends & family to my interest in Paganism is a bit mixed though mostly ignorance & concern. Very few people that I know about are aware of my spiritual transition. Those few that do that have discussed it at all are friends, and have been exceptionally supportive or at the least moderately so. The vast majority of my blood family are exceptionally fundamentalist Christian right-wing leaning sort of people raised in the Bible belt, & based on examples of their standing on other sorts of lifestyle choices, my fear is I would become a pariah in my own family. I haven't actually had to confront that fact yet, even though I published the beginnings of this journal on Facebook earlier. I know that at least one family member has seen it, & I'm not looking forward to that discussion. Though I am in the process of making some new friends as well & actually a few of those also happen to be pagan/wiccan/witch as well & they have been especially supportive & willing to help. It's a big help for me moving forward in this. It helps me feel less alone.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pagan Discovery Journal - a.k.a. - Pagan Journal Prompt Week 1 - Day 2

Three things about Paganism I would be interested in studying further are
  1. The connection it helps you create between nature, the gods/goddess, other spirits & not least of all other people.
  2. The peace & ease of life that would seem to come with being that much more in tune with the cycles of the seasons & even of the days.
  3. I’ve also always been very interested in the signs & symbols of different things & cultures. It’s been very attractive to me how things that aren’t even words can have so much meaning associated with them; they have so many different layers, connections & profound significance. Paganism at large has always been full of symbol & ritual, so many different ways to connect to the spiritual side of everyday life & give meaning to every part of what you do.

My religion before I was Pagan was Pentecostal Christian. That is to say, I was forced by my mother (who very much meant well by all of it, & I appreciate her love & care) to go to an Apostolic/Pentecostal church from the time I was roughly 7 to 19. I genuinely participated for a few years but it didn’t last long, & it was mostly during my relatively short transition from being too young to understand things properly/being too young to truly be my own person with fully formed interests, opinions & personal beliefs that are properly my own. As I mentioned in what is basically the prologue to this journal that transition to my own beliefs ended up with me separating from the church due to not finding the proper answers & the right things for what I needed spiritually in it. Saying my religion before I was pagan was Pentecostal is the simple & easy answer but it’s not exactly the accurate one. More precisely I never truly had one before deciding to embrace this path. I was surrounded by the Christian church growing up, but was never truly a part of it & it failed me when it came time to discover my own spiritual path.
Five things I appreciate about my previous religion are null. Unfortunately, this line of thought is rather obviously null & void by the time you get to it due to how thoroughly & honestly I wrote out the previous one.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Pagan Discovery Journal - a.k.a. - Pagan Journal Prompt Week 1

Day 1

This will be a chronicling of my discovery of my true self & what exactly this new person believes & holds dear. It's been a journey nearly 2 decades in the making & quite likely the most important thing I've done in my adult life. I've spent the better part of the last 12 years floating in spiritual ambiguity. (an astral fog?) Only in the past couple years have I slowly started to find my way out, having a vague idea of where I belong religiously/spiritually & what that looks like. Partly because I felt so entirely alone it took me so long & was so scary trying to land on any sort of newly formed foundation spiritually, because out of all that agnostic ambiguity & unknowing confusion, I'm unsure of what that foundation looks like. I'm still pretty unsure. This Journal is intended to help me discover that. To give me purpose & direction, a bit of an anchor, something a little concrete to hold to as a make the journey whose most important parts are anything but concrete or material. Due in large part to having spent a dozen years in a spiritual fog & also from part of how I got thrust into that fog (becoming disillusioned with Christianity largely because in my late teenage years I started trying to grow & discover spiritually & the leadership at my church couldn't properly answer almost any of my questions about scripture.) This loss of an answer & true meaning/underlying truth I believe was the first step I took off of the Christian path, & off of any particular spiritual path in general. I spent all that time wandering in the truly lonely space between paths. My spiritual self became very weakened. Specifically over the last 2 years or so I came to realize because of my time in the fog I had seemingly lost almost all of my ability to have faith in anything. Not in the original Christian God or symbols that I had lost, not in anything new I had encountered, nothing, it just wasn't there. I had forgotten what it is to have faith.

Throughout my life I have had an attraction to the culture, beliefs, gods & overall atmosphere of the Celtic/ancient Celtic peoples, more so than any other similar interest or cultural draw. It has been the persistent anchor among all others. It’s this constant pull that has helped slowly pull me out of the fog, out & in the direction of this ancient, beautiful & natural way of seeing the world & all the varied spirits & gods & goddess with different traits, personalities & responsibilities that influence & oversee us & our world in this material plane. I’ve had this attraction for so long, & now that I’m finally actually trying to move into it out of the fog the challenge that I face is how to make the transition with the Celtic belief system from strong interest & personal identification to what it should be as a personal belief system in which I can grow, flourish & make it my own. In order to do that I need to learn (Not relearn, because I’m not certain I ever had my own personal faith in anything, not as an adult individual.) how to have faith, or how to… acquire it? It makes it much less easy I think because I typically have such a process oriented mind. I very much enjoy a somewhat scientific way of thinking, being drawn to everything having an explanation & enjoying being able to know the how & reason of a thing. I tend to think things through before I do them & try to understand the overarching theme of an idea before I get into it if not all the little pieces. This is at least partly because this process helps to do things properly when you start & ensures that you know the things you’re doing as you’re doing them. There are things that require you to do them to learn them & are best learned by doing & by experience. This is very likely a large reason why I find it so hard to go through this process, because there’s so little of that way of thinking involved: instead of building a bridge of logic from one conclusion to another or from one place of thought to another, in this area of life you more almost always have to make a leap of faith & leave the bridges behind. But at this point instead of letting that be an obstacle & excuse for me never starting & staying behind in the fog stopped by a wall of logic, I’m going to use a hammer of spiritual willpower to break through that wall that has been holding me back for most of this time. So now I’m taking the first true steps in a new spiritual journey in which I’ll be trying to strengthen my steps with continuous reading of history, lore & practices as well as reaching out to the community of like minded people to learn from & fellowship with. The like minded people will make it easier to embrace these new aspects (or simply very old, yet deeply internally hidden?) of myself without having to deal with people misunderstanding my new path, undue judgements, people barraging me with questions I don’t necessarily have the answers to yet, due to me being new to things still, & general feelings of being a pariah, which is a rather common reaction to people that have these or similar beliefs in this region. The next 35 weeks of this journal are going to follow a templet I recently found that is meant to help you question & define what & believe, why & how you feel about those things. It seems like an exceptionally helpful way to get me started on a path that otherwise has no other guide to it. I will eventually learn to be my own guide & let my own spirit guide me, but since I’ve up until this point been so… spiritually underexposed & weak I think this a good way to help hold me up along the way while I strengthen my spirit with the knowledge & companionship I’m building at the same time.

That is actually most of the reason for this entry being titled “Day 1” it being the first day of Week 1 of journal prompt activity. Each week has a series of questions or research prompts within them to answer or delve into which by way of going through the process of answering & completing you are forced to mentally & spiritually flesh out what your actual thoughts & feelings are about all of your beliefs & what you hold dear & why. I took so long to work my way up to the actual prompts because I felt that diving into the specific questions deserved a bit of a prologue, partly for myself because I had never really expressed most of these ideas all at once in either writing or conversation to really get them out there & help process them & also for those close to me that wish to begin or continue to know the truest parts of me. I suppose at this point I should actually move into the first couple questions of week one.

Week 1: Discovering Paganism
Finish each statement:

  1. I came to know about paganism because witches & pagan things in a fictional sense had been a part of pop culture for quite a while by the time I was in high school. At the time I was already rather interested in those sorts of things & especially the Celtic culture which it's generally portrayed as being related to. During high school I took the time to go a bit further than the exaggerated movie version & find out what sort of witchcraft & modern nature-oriented beliefs had survived to the present day. I never made it very much further than a basic surface knowledge & putting bits of that together with what I was learning about ancient history & world history in school & my own personal readings - I've always been a pretty big fan of ancient history & old civilizations. So it seems sort of natural & sensible to me that I would also be drawn to what's left of one of the oldest religions and ways of seeing the world there is.
  2. Three things I don’t understand about paganism or that concern me are..
    1. I have yet to run into any sort of creation or origin story in any of my readings & that's one of the important parts about any beliefs system. I'm pretty curious how all this got here.
    2. Conversely I'm also a bit unsure what exactly happens at the end of this life according to Wiccan beliefs.
    3. I have yet to run into a centralized sort of tome or proper collection of stories & teachings. I'm not saying I want their to be a "Witch's Bible" but something like that would probably be pretty he pretty helpful for people looking for info.