I was raised old-school Church of God in the Bible Belt of the deep south from the time I can remember until I was 12. For those unfamiliar with what that means, let me offer some background.
Church of God, the old school ones, anyway, are very serious when it comes to their religion. I suppose every religion is in it’s own way, though.
Women wore dresses, below the knee, 24/7, not just for church services. No make-up, no jewlery other than a wedding band.
Even though I attended Sunday school with children my age, the pastor’s voice carried throughout the small building. While we were memorizing John 3:16 and learning the about the New Testiment, stories of fire and brimstone and eternal damnation echoed around us.
Sunday and Wednesday nights, we were privy to what the adults got. Shouting, speaking in tounges, running up and down the isles, people laid out in the floor vibrating and shaking from the power of their beliefs. The nights these events occured were considered among the best of the services by the adults.
I never realized how disturbing this could be to someone not familiar with the practices until I took Draco to a service at my cousin’s church (my family is full of pastors, gospel singers and devout Christians) where he is the pastor, and Draco spent most of the service looking ready to bolt for the door. He was raised Church of the Bible Covenant, which I gather is more like Baptists, who are much more docile in services than Church of God.
I also spent a fair amount of time at the local Baptist church. They often held special events and anyone was welcome. Women in pants and the quietly spoken “Amens” were uncommon in my world where church was concerned.
When I was about 8 or 9 I suppose, life opened up. Aunt Hattie (my babysitter my whole childhood and an extremely devout Christian) would drag me to church every time the doors opened. My great aunt that I lived with would take me with her to a honkey-tonk every Friday and Saturday night. There was a battle going on between them there that I wasn’t aware of until I was an adult. My great aunt didn’t attend church. I nerver knew why.
Above my bed hung a Certificate of Dedication to the Church of God with my name on it. When I got old enough to ask my great aunt what it was, she said she had me dedicated to the church when I was very small, that way, the church was responsible for my soul and not her.
I went to live with Mom when I was 12. Even though Mom had been raised in the same faith as me, she didn’t attend church. Dad’s Dad is a pastor, something I wasn’t even aware of until I was grown, and he didn’t go either.
Weekends were spent riding in the car, most often in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which is still my favorite place to be.
Dad taught me about life, love and nature. He could identify any plant and it’s uses, he taught me to watch the skies – the clouds, sun, moon and stars – and how those things effected every living thing. He taught me respect for the world I live in and at his side, I found more of a connection to God and Divine energy than I ever had in a church.
I learned of a gentle but powerful Divine energy. I learned more about feeling that Divine energy in my heart and soul than I ever did cooped up in a building reading a book I didn’t understand.
I learned to be human and humane. I learned about this awesome world we live in that most people take for granted. I learned that everything is alive with that divine spark, not just humans, and I learned how to feel Divinity within me, and through it, my connection to every other living thing. The world and nature became my church.
I know that my Dad had no clue that I was finally finding religion while we sat on the bank of a lake fishing and talking or while we wandered around exploring nature. I know it wasn’t his intention to bring me religion, but he certainly brought me to it.
I’ve searched most of my adult life for somewhere that made me feel that way inside in a church. Somewhere that talked about the God I found wandering the Blue Ridge Mountains. The God I felt as I rested my head against a maple tree to smell the sticky sweetness oozing from it and listened to the squirrels and birds chatter in the woods around me. The God I felt in the rush of water around my feet as I stood in the middle of a cold mountain stream, arms stretched wide, head thrown back, the kiss of the sun on my face and the wind blowing through my hair.
The God I feel stirring restlessly in my soul as the fall fades to winter and the world he created sleeps. The God I feel begin to stir again as the air warms and buds begin to peek out.
Where is that God in the Sunday morning services held behind closed doors and stained glass windows while a man gives me his interpretation of who God is supposed to be to me? That environment just isn’t for me.
So where does the Goddess you hear me talk about fit into all of this?
When you get down to the bare bones of what I believe Divinity is, you see the Goddess aspect come into play.
Put simply, I believe that all gods are one God. I believe that that One God encompasses everything. It has no name, no gender, because of this, it is every name and both genders. It is Divine Energy, The Divine Spark. It is every name from God to Buddah to Zeus. It is also Mother Nature, Mother Earth, Gaia, and even Hecate.
The Pagan path I follow is more nature related, but even an old tree-hugger like me finds need for prayer and asks for help and guidance. It helps, in my mind, to be able to work directly with certain aspects of Divinity sometimes, and this is where names and genders come into play for me.
In my next Exploring Phases post, I’ll delve deeper into how these aspects come into play in my life and how I made peace with the dual-gender aspect of Divinity.
Until next time…
I recently downloaded a book for my Android Kindle App called Hippie Witch: Magical Life by Tori Douglas and was so very impressed with how she lives her life. At the time I downloaded it, it was free. It is now $2.99, but it’s a price I feel is well worth it.
This book is another blogger gone published, and I have to say, even when I’m impressed with the blog itself or the blogger in particular, I don’t usually run out to buy a book if they publish one and I’ve never done a book review on any of my blogs. In this case, I found the book first, which lead me to the blogger instead of the other way around.
While this post won’t be a review either, I had to give credit to my inspiration for it. If you’re interested in looking up her blog, you can find her here.
What I would like to talk about is the impact her book had on me personally and why.
As you know if you follow the Fairy Phases fan page on Facebook, Draco and I recently (about 3 weeks ago) moved about 2-1/2 hours away from where we’ve lived the majority of our 16 years together.
It was where I was raised and have lived all but about 2 years of my life. It’s where the kids are, it’s where what’s left of my family is (other than my brother). Other than the 2 years I spent up north when I was in my early 20’s, it’s where I’ve always lived.
Leaving was such a mix of emotions. I was excited and glad to not have to be apart from Draco all the time, but leaving where you’ve lived over 30 years is hard. Since Mom died in June, though, my conviction to get away has been stronger than it’s ever been. I knew I had to go no matter how hard it was.
Moving has been a good thing in spite of my initial feelings and bouts with being homesick. We moved into the house we want to grow old in last week and I can’t remember when I’ve been happier or felt such peace.
Knowing we were totally on or own with no help has really put things into perspective as well and life has gotten really simple, really fast.
Most of our possessions, including the majority of our decorations and magickal supplies were put into storage and left behind and that added to the initial feelings of being severed from everything. I found myself thinking things like “how can I practice my religion without my things?” And “I don’t have half my stuff here, I can’t even cast a proper spell!”
After about the first week and a half, I began to remind myself that in the beginning, I had no tools other than myself. I didn’t run out on a magickal shopping spree either.
So, I told myself, we’re back to basics. We can do this.
I began to remember my earliest magickal training. The books I’d read that had warned about getting so caught up in the process and trappings that you didn’t live magickally. I remember thinking, as a young woman of 19 and new to pagan religions, that it would never happen to me.
Guess what I realized? It had happened to me.
When I first started as a Wiccan and Paganism was something I didn’t really know how to do, I went with my instincts and I stared out incorporating what I was learning into my day-to-day life, especially in my cooking and housekeeping. I used to make my own floor wash from orange peels to cleanse negativity out of the house each time I mopped the floor and when I cooked, I used herb associations, burned incense, listened to music and drank wine.
What happened to the witch that chanted to herself when she swept? That only stirred food clockwise unless there was something to banish?
What happened to sitting outside with nature without a phone in my face?
Where did my habit of saying good morning to the sun and goodnight to the moon go?
It was then that I realized that those were the things that had brought spirituality into my everyday life. I was no longer experiencing spirituality, I was simply practicing a religion; akin to going to church on Sunday simply out of habit and spending more time considering lunch options than listening to the sermon.
I knew it had to change, but 19 was a lot of years ago and the BOS (Book of Shadows) that held all that gathered information was long gone. I found myself frustrated and stumbling more than starting.
Out of frustration, I sat down with my Kindle App and determined to do what I’d done in the beginning. Read.
I’m a fan of Pagan ebooks For Free on Facebook, and I remembered downloading a ton of books on Tarot, herbs, gems and even healing, but wasn’t certain if there were any regular pagan books or not.
I started and stopped probably half a dozen books and had almost given up on finding the inspiration I needed to get back on track when I saw the title Hippie Witch in my archives. I immediately pulled it up and began reading and didn’t stop till I finished the book. I was truly disappointed when it was over and immediately craved more.
I remembered seeing something about her being a blogger and wondered if her blog was still up and active (so many pagan blogs sit neglected these days). I quickly sought out her blog and was thrilled to see a very recent post. I immediately became her
cyber- stalker newest follower and have followed her on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Her book is all about bringing the simplicity back to her craft. How she incorporates it into daily life and she also offers some very good information.
She doesn’t know it yet, but she became the inspiration I needed to find myself and my path once again. For that, I can’t express enough gratitude.
So, I am now on a voracious quest for knowledge. I am re-teaching myself and it is a beautiful thing, especially when the classroom looks like this,
How awesome is that?
This week while Draco is at work, Dutchess and I are going to spend some time in the graveyard at the end of the street honoring the dead for Samhain.
I may not know where this path is going to lead me this time, but I’m determined to enjoy the view!
Oh, and it looks like that writer’s block problem was a spiritual thing, cause, baby, I’m back!
)O( BB )O(
Today has been an interesting day so far. Not all good, but mostly good.
For starters, one of my new friend’s mother’s has gone to the hospital. Her health is not good as it is. I’m sitting by the phone today waiting to hear what’s happening with her. I’m sending out love, light and good energy to the recovery of her mom.
Second, a dear friend of mine had a spiritual experience today with my guidance. I will not give her identity, as that is hers to decide, but we had a very interesting conversation about totems this morning and I believe I helped her find hers and take one more step on a spiritual journey. It also further bonded our friendship and for that, I will always be grateful. You know who you are, Sister. All my love follows you on your journey, and I am always here if you need me.
Then, I get on Facebook and another very special person to me has busted the doors off the broom closet. She has come completely out and I’m so proud of her! I have known, almost as long as I have known her, that she was Pagan, I just wasn’t always certain she knew, and that is a destination that each person must reach on their own.
Over the years, she’s asked me questions about my own path, and I’m always willing to answer anyone that is curious. People who know me well know that I don’t believe in pushing my beliefs on others, but I’m always available to help anyone with enough curiosity and courage to ask. I’m so glad that she has finally found her way and I love her dearly, for a multitude of complicated reasons. If you’re reading this, Love, you know who you are as well.
Then, there is Mini-Me. She is learning possibly one of the hardest lessons of being an adult. She is learning about loosing and letting go. This is not easy for my little Virgo. She is often like a bull-dog on a bone when she sets her mind to something. She has been trying to hold on to something that has been gone for a long time and she just didn’t want to accept it. I know how that feels and I sympathize with her. I know how hard this lesson can be, and how painful. Sometimes, no matter how much you love someone, you have to let them go. Sometimes they stay in your life in another aspect, but often, they don’t. My heart is with her as she faces this hard lesson.
So, as you can see, it’s been an active day. I thought about writing a post specifically on totems, but to be honest, I just don’t have the mental capacity to go into that much detail and research right now. My two main totems are pictured above. They are the strongest and most active in my life and they are complicated totems to have at times. Both are social and anti-social at the same time, which is how I’m feeling today myself. For now, I think I will go be alone with my thoughts.