lathriel: (Default)
I realized one of the major reasons I don't like to consider myself a part of a community is because I am not, by nature, the kind of person who likes to share herself with others. I am not, admittedly, very confident or strong in who I am. Left on my own, I can blossom naturally and be at peace with myself- but when others come into my life, especially in an area that is so important to me, I find myself becoming too flexible, too conformist. I am not proud of that. It comes from a place of fear that I have been slowly learning to heal for a almost a decade.

But I have never been a social creature. I have always kept a wall between the world and my heart, and there are scarce few who I have allowed past that wall. Even fewer who I have allowed in. I have stood on the outside looking in since I became self-aware at the awkward age of ten, and I have too often not liked what I have seen. People hurting people. People getting hurt. Pettiness. (In all honesty, I would prefer a good, solid betrayal that can be forgiven, rather than petty slights that somehow feel more honest.) And I cannot help but be sensitive to this- I am an empath, and can hardly tell whose emotion is whose when I feel them sometimes.

So in the meantime I have become cautious about who I associate myself with. I've twice been burned by pagan communities. Countless times been hurt by friends. Too many times been abused by lovers. But I have found my true love, have I not? And I have found real, good, true friends. And in these recent (very recent) realizations I wonder if I have found my pagan community? The world wide matrix of truly good people and their bright, compassionate energies- the curious way we fall into each others paths, unplanned- the beautiful moments and epiphanies that we share with each other, that uncover truths even in the people who were not there to experience them.

It would be just like witches to have their true home in the ether. ;)

So here is my conclusion, and I am sure it will still feel wrong to many of you, but I must own up to what I really think: it doesn't matter what other people think when they hear the word "pagan" or "witch" because those are good, magical words to me, and my spirituality is mine alone. But I still prefer not to use those words with strangers, or "the uninitiated," or people I just feel aren't ready to hear those words. I don't want to push anyone's buttons, just like I don't want them to push mine. Passive? Perhaps. But I am not here to make people better. It is not my mission to force acceptance down everyone's throats. I can live out and proud, but still have my secret. And I like having my secret.

Ok, back to work.

Ps: the sun is STILL out! :D
lathriel: (Default)
Oh life. How good you are to me. How you play with me, and provide for me, and show me the things that I want. How much sharper the image gets as years pass. This is something that has been brewing for a while, and I hope I do not offend anyone, because that's not my intention.

I have been a "pagan" for such a long time. Since I first began my research on world religions in the Spring of 1998. Twelve years ago. Wow. "Paganism" itself is such an amorphous concept though- there is no true definition. You know if you are pagan, but if you aren't it's hard to say who is. Even among all the pagans I know, my form of paganism is utterly different from theirs. I've backed away from the word, slowly, these past few years. I've back away from the word "witch" even longer, because both of them have such negative connotations to the majority of the world.

Some of you may say that's cowardly, or that I'm letting "them" win if I do that. But I think I'm letting them in, actually. If I'm asked about my faith, I can tell people "My spirituality is very important to me" and no one is put-off, no one raises an eyebrow, no one scoffs or rolls their eyes. And through my example, and conversation, they can see the magic unfold in my life if they care to look, and if they're open to seeing. And maybe in that way I can enrich their life. But if I tell them "I'm a witch" or "I'm pagan" I am certain they will have the wrong impression of my spiritual life, even if they are open-minded. And if they are closed-minded, well. I think you know what I'd expect.

I've always despised labels for people. They are confining. Labels bring with them an expectation, a connotation, a history of the word and all the people who have carried it as a part of their identity. It's bad enough when you are given a label, but to give yourself a label is almost worse. I know, I know, these words are ancient and have been twisted and changed, and to many of you they are almost sacred, powerful words. I am not asking anyone to stop calling themselves "pagan" or a "witch." It's just that, for me, I find those words... confining. Confusing, almost. Dangerous, even.

Imagine if you were searching for spirituality in your life. You were an adult, or at least had the religious freedom to choose. You found a group and a philosophy that you felt strongly about, and so you joined that group. You called yourself a member of that group. It became a part of your identity. And then one day during a sermon or a rite someone says something you don't agree with. Maybe you question it, and they explain it to you, try to convince you. And because you are one of them, because you've dedicated yourself to them, you try very hard to justify this new concept and make it fit into your world-view. You conform to it. Just a little. And then the next time something happens like that, it gets a little bit easier to bend yourself to fit the mold you have been trying to fill. And the next time. And the next.

I don't want that. I have never wanted a religion any more than I have wanted a jail cell. And labeling myself poses the risk of tampering with the pure essence of who- not what- I am. True spirituality, in my honest opinion, is an utterly selfish path, for there is nothing that we do that we don't do to make ourselves feel good, or because we believe it is best for us, spiritually, or to satisfy what we want. Even if we want others to be happy. And that's okay. Humans are meant to be selfish. If we weren't, we wouldn't be individuals- we wouldn't have our own perspective, our own personal experiences. We can have no experience but our own, and that makes us selfish.

Yes, I did call myself "pagan" for a long time, because it was a label and I wanted a community to share my spirituality with. But I have found that community and spirituality together aren't good for me. I know community is wonderful for a lot of people, especially when they share something so sacred, and that is fine. But I have my handful of similarly-minded friends, and we can discuss magic and energy until the cows come home, and that is perfect for me. We understand on foundational levels that our beliefs are the same, and we love and accept each other for our differences, and that is what makes our rituals so powerful. Diversity is a good thing, or else nothing would ever grow.

Anyway, I'm going off on a rant now. Summary is labels bad, selfish spirituality good, just keep on learning and growing regardless.

Ps: the sun is out today! :D

Hmm

Feb. 7th, 2009 09:57 pm
lathriel: (desert)
While my pictures are loading onto my flickr page, I figure I'll do this since I haven't in a while and [livejournal.com profile] aerialmelodies posted her results earlier...

BeliefNet Quiz (now with commentary!)

1. Neo-Pagan (100%) - shocking ;p
2. New Age (89%)
3. Unitarian Universalism (76%) - handy that I'm going to one of their services tomorrow morning!
4. Mahayana Buddhism (75%)
5. New Thought (69%) - never heard of this
6. Scientology (68%) - heheheheh my parents were both Scientologists when I was younger (they were kicked out for exposing corruption) and I've been raised with a lot of Scientological (?) ethics and theories, most of which translate into other religions. This is why I don't think it's fair that Scientology is the one religion it's apparently OK to make fun of, hate, and make assumptions about
7. Hinduism (61%) - loves me some Hindu pantheon action
8. Liberal Quakers (61%) - guh?
9. Reform Judaism (57%) - it's in my blood
10. Theravada Buddhism (57%)
11. Jainism (56%) - I can see that
12. Taoism (50%) - I almost "converted" to this in 9th grade
13. Secular Humanism (49%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (49%) - really?
15. Sikhism (47%)
16. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (43%) - as long as they're liberal
17. Baha'i Faith (38%)
18. Orthodox Quaker (34%)
19. Nontheist (34%)
20. Orthodox Judaism (34%)
21. Islam (24%)
22. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (15%)
23. Seventh Day Adventist (12%)
24. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (10%)
25. Jehovah's Witness (4%)
26. Eastern Orthodox (2%)
27. Roman Catholic (2%)

Those last ten are just silly.

But I find it odd that I'm more Mormon than R.C. Joseph and I were a really, really bad match spiritually apparently ;p

lathriel: (eek)
-I finished reading my first draft of The Hierophant last night. ;-; I'm so freakin' excited about this book/series! The ending needs some work, and I still need to figure out where to have Kyla "come out," but other than that it's actually a lot better than I'd anticipated, considering I went into each chapter not knowing what was going to happen next. Ok, actually, no, it's just a really effin' good draft of a really effin' good novel. XD

-I got another mind-blowing CD from my parents about life the universe and everything (essentially) and it's got me high on bliss :D

-I have an exam today at 3:30, then I'm done with UB until summer!

-my mother had a reading with Gretchen (her friend who is a 3rd generation spirit medium/clairvoyant) and, being my mother, she asked about me, and, among several other awesome things, Gretchen said "Maddie does best when she listens to herself. Tell her to do that more." It's weird, because I've done that more and more the last few months, and I don't know if I needed the instruction to keep doing it, but OK! Feed my arrogance ;D

-Life is good!

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Madeline Franklin

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