Silent epiphanies, just for me
Some would call me blasphemous. I think of it as inclusive.
To keep a very long story short(ish), I was raised Christian but always had an interest in the supernatural. My papa was kind of a spooky guy. Deep southerner with close Native lineage and a strong belief in the word of the Bible. He was dedicated to his belief but was fluid in the ways that he practiced it. There were many strange happenings in the house on Birchwood, but he acknowledged them and shrugged it off, often referring to the odd occurrences with a twinkle in his eye. There was no fear or concern of the possibility of the unknown or barely seen. It was something we happened to live alongside. Papa was an intelligent, but simple man and was just fine with this conclusion. Though it scared me at times, that way of thinking came to me naturally, and I began a relationship of my own with my sense of “the other side”.
As I got older, I informally studied traditional religions, most of what falls under the new age umbrella (which are mostly traditional beliefs that have been rehashed and commercialized) and I pursed my natural draw to the realms of mysticism. I didn’t commit myself to any of these things, I just took a little of each along the way. There are many who would say there is no true connection to divinity for those who pick and choose. I respectfully disagree but encourage others to do whatever it is they feel brings them closer to the world around, inside, and above.
I build altars though they’re more to ideas than they are to specific religious figures (health, love, prosperity, etc) and weave a blend of different symbols and practices into their set-up. I use herbs and oils in ways that are based on their known, proven purpose in addition to the symbolic purpose assigned to them by cultures of past and present. I have a knack for tarot cards and other forms of interpretative divination. I believe in magic and manifestation, though I define those differently than some. I’ve experienced things that have stumped my analytical mind to such a degree that it just shrugs and adds the experience to the mental X-Files drawer I revisit on other unusual days.
I don’t try to push others into what I believe. Most beliefs are objectively illogical but make perfect sense for the people who believe in them. I don’t expect anyone not to scoff when I say that I grew up in a haunted house or that I saw my Papa’s aura while we were standing in the backyard one afternoon. Divination and astrology are arguably just a projection of oneself onto a pattern of seemingly mystical arrangement. The same could be said for religious practice as a whole. I would also like to note that I don’t think that belief in a god or religion is necessary to form a connection with yourself, the world around you, or things that are much bigger than all of us such as the unyielding passage of time or the chemically driven ebbs and flows of the ever-expanding universe.
There are great writers, philosophers, and scientists who’ve uttered profound and simple blips of poetry, a black and white record of what occurred when a glimmer of the universe sparked within the chemistry of their brain and they suddenly understood so much at once. The point of a spiritual practice is to connect with these things, no? Can deep, core shaking, powerful wisdom not come from the secular world as well? I’ve met atheists, agnostics, and even satanists who had a clear vision of their place in the world and walked in paths of understanding, love, and connection. I take these things into consideration as I feel it keeps me grounded. I am not afraid to question my logical side, but my logical side is not afraid to question me either.
I seek spiritual freedom, but I know I must be willing to understand and work with the world around, no matter how enlightened or self-actualized I feel. Spiritual people often fool themselves into believing their egos are much smaller than they actually are. The ego may be smaller than it once was, but now it feels itself whittling away and is desperate. What’s left is so deeply rooted and will not come out without a fight. There is always work to be done. Sometimes it’s through prayer and meditation. Other times, it’s through education and experience. Usually, it’s both.
I believe it’s no coincidence that I’m feeling this way at this time in my life nor is it coincidence that you have come to this post at this time. Perhaps it’s to share a belief that will force me to consider my own. Maybe it’s because your story needs a reason to be told, and this is a natural segue to that storytelling. Perhaps it is coincidence. That’s okay. Coincidence is fine. As long as we’re both having a good time. Are you having a good time? I am. These flickers of creation I have are mine and mine alone, though I am always happy to share them with others should they want to see them.
Spirituality to me is simply knowing there is more. I am just a small speck of this amazing creation we are in. My religion is Baptist...but my spirituality is focused on that peace of knowing, loving, respecting, and connecting to a higher power in a deeply purposeful way. We choose or are born into our religions...to me spirituality is how we find that sweet peace. There are many paths and all are unique just like the individuals we are. For me it is simply appreciating and celebrating in nature or slowly breathing and focusing on a mantra during meditation. Giving out good vibes and peaceful thoughts can cover anxious moments or situations. I believe what we put out there definitely comes back to us...
“The Spirituality of the Tangible”
I'm reminded of what Vine Deloria Jr. said about religion and spirituality: "Religion is for people who're afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who've already been there."
Now, there are different kinds of hell: The most well-known one is the hell of the afterlife, that religious people fear as some kind of punishment for a life ill-lived.
...but the other hells: addiction to drugs and alcohol, abuse, mental illness--those hells are far more prevalent and real.
In my experience, the interesting thing about people who have survived these kinds of hell --abuse, addiction, and mental illness-- are the people who have an interesting view of spirituality: They don't identify with any particular type of religion, so much as they believe in more tangible things: Good people, warmth, charity and friendliness, and the reality of how people treat others. That in itself is a type of spirituality--the spirituality of the tangible.
Spirituality is the concept that there is light and life within our own selves and to find God, we must journey with in ourselves to find that peace
Religion is an organization, it has to put God and all Deities in a box of flawed human thinking.
thus giving power over people to certain individuals.
Spiritualism doesn’t do this. I causes one to focus on the light from the inside outward thus bringing out the best in the person making it easier to ascend to a higher level of intelligence..
I was raised Christian... sort of.
My mom is Christian, and we went to church every Sunday, but it wasn't what you think of when you think of "church". I mean, it did have a pastor back in those days (although it doesn't anymore), and we sang songs and went to Sunday school and all that. But a lot of churches seem to come from a place of "this is how it is" and this church seemed to come from a place of "let's explore our Christianity together".
My dad used to be Christian, but is now an atheist and has been for a while. We didn't know that growing up, though; he didn't talk about it.
So we were raised Christian. It's true, and I'm not sure why exactly I feel the need to add "sort of" to that, but I do. Because yes, my mom's Christian, but when non-Christian friends of hers find out, they tend to go "you don't seem like a Christian." And yes, we went to church, but it's the sort of church that welcomes everyone, and I mean everyone. Which is what all churches should be, isn't it? But most aren't like that at all.
Anyway. I'm not Christian. It came about gradually (as most things do, at least in my life); I got to that age where I started considering what I really believed, instead of just assuming everything I was told was the truth.
And I found out I love spirituality. I love learning about spirituality, connecting to the divine, thinking about my own beliefs, talking about spirituality; I love it all. It's become an important part of my identity, one of my favourite and defining traits: I'm a spiritual person.
And it's always a bit sad to me when people are religious, and lose all touch with spirituality. Religion should be a vessel, a framework to explore and connect with spirituality. But hey, what do I know? Everyone's different and maybe it's better for those people to approach it like that.
But my dad's always trying to tell me how alike we are, how he was just like me at my age, and I give him a raised eyebrow and say, "I don't know about that." One of the most important things to me is my spirituality, and he's all "Science! Facts! Evidence!" which tends to rub me the wrong way. But he tells me he was spiritual too at my age.
And that just makes me think, how sad. Your disillusionment with Christianity, the framework you used to define your spirituality, made you lose that spirituality altogether.
And maybe I'm completely wrong, but that's how it seems to me.
Nowadays I would say I'm a witch (don't tell my grandparents; they don't even allow the Harry Potter books inside their house, because they're possessed by the Devil or something?) And the problem with being a witch is that no one knows what I mean when I say that.
Witchcraft, occultism, the esoteric... they're incredibly broad categories and that's what's so great about them. In reading about witchcraft, I've felt a connection to it that I never felt learning about other religions or belief systems. Buddhism is super interesting and I love learning about it, but it doesn't click inside me in the same way. When I learned about witchcraft, though, it just felt like yes. This is me.
I suppose the first bit of witchiness I came across was tarot. I had always had sort of a vague idea that tarot was a thing that seemed cool, and then I read a novel that featured tarot cards, I read online about how tarot reading works, I learned that the final T is not actually pronounced, and I went and bought myself a tarot deck.
And wow. My vague idea was right; tarot is so cool. It's not some vague concept that supposedly helps you in your life but doesn't really actually do anything... it's practical. It's relevant. It's had immediate positive effects in my life.
And a big part of witchcraft for me is about taking back my own power. Turns out spirituality isn't just something I can think about—it's something I can actually do. It can be so much more than just cerebral; it can be embodied.
I've also learned so much about myself through learning about spirituality. I've always loved introspection, self awareness and personal growth are very important to me, and I love things like the enneagram and MBTI and gender and sexuality for how they help me explore myself. Adding in things like tarot, ideas of the divine feminine and masculine, astrology, or magick (spelled with a k to differentiate from fairy tale, make-believe, fantasy magic) adds more lenses with which to view my Self.
When I look up "spirituality" the definition is "the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things." But that's not quite right. Spirituality is also concerned with the way the spirit or soul connects to material and physical things.
Everything is connected, interconnected, because everything is one. We're all manifestations of the Universe, of the Everything. Everything we do is an exchange of energy. Energy and divinity run through all of us, through everything, and we live in the illusion of separateness but nothing is ever separate.
Spirituality for me is connection, expansion. It's Everything.
I cradle my little flame close to my breast,
how bright it seems now in the shadow I cast,
as I bathe in the light of torch-bearers past,
cheering me on as I kindle at last,
a candle to add to humanities sun,
a hard-earned yet simple-struck spark born from some understanding
built slowly in earnest and jest,
now flickering gently, a warmth in my chest.
Matters of the Spirit
When I was younger it meant fantasy, and fiction that for some reason so many people held in high esteem
As an adult it became the unexpected means by which to chase after a dream
Then as it's darker side made it self known
I found that to my Lord and savior it was time to come home
The unseen realms where dreams are made
The mathematically and scientifically seemingly impossible becomes the reality where the root of all things are found when one does wade
Without the spirit running deep
every fruit tree would wither and weep
For in the spirit is our start and end
and nothing can change that no matter what we try to bend