A Brief History of My Spiritual Life

August 23, 2007 at 6:03 pm 2 comments

I thought I should give a brief history of my spiritual journey so far as a good way of starting out. So, here it is:

I was born in the Bible Belt to a couple with too many kids, too little income, and a freaky penchant for extreme rage & bitterness. I grew up going to a “Is Jesus Your Personal Lord and Savior?” church at least three times a week, with other church activities occupying the majority of my time when I wasn’t in school. But I also grew up with a woods and creek behind the house and I spent a lot of time outside bonding with the Nature around me. This time of contemplation is, I’m certain, what kept me from being more fucked up than I was.

It was hard growing up in a household that didn’t allow freedom of thought or action, especially when this fascist state was reinforced by just about every single person I knew, because everyone we knew, or were allowed to be friends with, was also was part of the church. With this kind of cage in place, I vacillated between quiet, begrudging acceptance, railing against my freedom of choice and the rampant hypocrisy, or mentally hiding from all of it and just feeling stuff out.

When I was a teen, I started having more problems with pretending I believed things that made no sense to me. I didn’t feel like leaving home was an option because of my age (at first) and then later because I knew I was so wholly unprepared for dealing with the real world (thanks to the coddling efforts of my parents’ cult). It wasn’t until I started attending community college and making friends outside of the church that I was able to get out of all of that.

I moved out and at first completely rejected all organized religions. I was angry and rebelling and tried to ignore all of the spiritual aspects of myself for a time. Eventually I realized that I didn’t like being without spirituality in my life and I started exploring Earth-based/pagan religions at first. However, I have a major problem with most practitioners of Wicca I’ve met and I didn’t like the rigidity and silliness I felt went along with it. However, I knew I was at least partially a pagan, just not how I saw others doing it (at the time).

Next, I explored Buddhism intensely for about a year. I meditated for hours, went to a Buddhist group with my friend, read everything I could get my hands on about it, and eventually decided that, it too, wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to commit to something unless I actually felt it would work for me. Despite my affinity for most Buddhist philosophy, I didn’t agree enough with the ideal Buddhist mental activity (i.e. always thinking about your present moment/action), and that didn’t allow me to feel comfortable with it.

After that I’d accompany my man to Mass after he started going back. I fell in love with the architecture and the rituals and the Mary worship, but I can’t get down with taking Christianity seriously (except for very rare aspects) so that would never work out for me.

I was frustrated at this point, because I’d now been searching for a definition of my spiritual beliefs for several years, and while everything I was interested in looked promising, nothing was enough of what I needed on its own. I’d been reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and the closest thing I could find to what was in my heart and mind were the actions of a fictional character. Dream, “the immortal anthropomorphic personification of dreams and story telling,” travels through time and space interacting with all sorts of gods and goddesses, each one receiving the same honor in his house. Naturally, though, there were those with whom he was more connected (Bast, for instance) and these relationships were stronger and more powerful.

This example seemed to me how I now felt about religion, deities, and the like: All beliefs are powerful to someone and they all deserve respect, but the things I derive power from are those around which I have to build my system. Eventually, I found out that what I’d been trying to articulate was something other people were coming to as well: Integrational Polytheism.

 

“Integrational Polytheism is a form of polytheism
in which one believes in the existence of not several,
but of all the gods ever described. It has been
known as Eclectic Polytheism and other such names on the internet,
but this article is in reference to the religious
ideas of Calum Carlyle, who calls it Integrational Polytheism.
Of course it is impossible to serve, or even to know about, every described god, so
an Integrational Polytheist can choose which gods to follow, while simply acknowledging the rest.
Because Integrational Polytheists believe in all gods, their philosophy requires respect for other beliefs,
unless those beliefs stifle or repress another belief.” (source: Wikipedia)

After finding a framework I felt I could work with, I’ve been trying to fill in the gaps for myself ever since. My spiritual urges have peaks and dips as I assume everyone’s does, but that’s been mostly because I have been abandoning spiritual concerns while stressing over my problems. This blog is an attempt to reverse this cycle and to stay consistently in balance spiritually.

Currently, In the Shadow of the Shaman by Amber Wolfe is my primary resource. Because of this, most of the posts for a while will be focused on what I’m reading in/learning from In the Shadow.

For instance, the name of this blog was inspired from the book, because I’ve never felt such resonation with a directional idea before this one:

“Stand facing the North.
Consider that when you are facing North
you are actually standing in the South.
The South is the place of strength, protection, faith and trust. The South is the place of the Self.
Consider the strength of faith and protection.
Consider that you are standing in a place of faith in the south as you face wisdom in the North.”

That moved me incredibly. I love being able to feel that my body and mind are at the same place, and this is an easy way to do it. I woke up this morning and made sure I sat in the South for a while, basking in the awesomeness of being alive. And even though my current roommates (a couple) were having a fight, I was in an incredibly uplifted mood. It’s good to be happy.

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Entry filed under: faith, spiritual.

Pull Up a Chair The Moon and I

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. beau  |  August 29, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    I can understand where you are coming from all along this post. I never studied many religions though. But I have recently read some very interesting books about a man named George Gurdjieff. Look him up, it’s worth it IMO. I have since started living my life in the 4th Way style. His teachings are eye-opening and were different than all the other purported “spiritual practices”. Also the books by Carlos Castaneda are very good too.

    Reply
  • 2. Steve  |  August 30, 2007 at 9:41 am

    Good read. Lot’s of details about you I didn’t really know. My own growth is stagnated by… I’m not entirely sure what. Been trying to figure that one out for a while…

    Anyway… I’m glad you’re on a path you’re happy with.

    Reply

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