Thursday, February 17, 2011

Breaking free

I've been formulating this post over the past few days but with the sinus infection-induced fog that is my brain, I thought it best to wait until I could form a thought.  Didn't stop me from writing on my mundane blog but anyone who reads there is used to me not making sense.

It occurred to me that my relationship with Christianity has been like an arranged marriage.  My parents determined from before I was born that this would be my religion for life.  I was forced to "date" it regularly, worship it, believe that it was the only option opened to me.  When I strayed, I was treated like an adulterous wife by all and sundry in the community.  When I came back, I was viewed suspiciously and cautiously.  My dad even suggested I needed to take a beginner's class even though I had known nothing but Christianity all my life.

And while it wasn't all bad, it was still an abusive marriage.  I was restricted on what I could read, watch on television, even to some degree, my associations.  There were so many rules to follow that I failed miserably, and even though everyone else did, too, they looked at me as if I were the only one.  All the time smarmily pretending they did, too.

Then, I got a divorce, after a few trial separations.  It was scary out there and I kept running back to the home I had with my abusive "spouse."  But I kept seeing others happy in their marriages...marriages they entered into of their own free will.  I finally dared try it and I liked it very much, but my scarred heart wouldn't let me commit and I decided to date around a bit.

I saw a relationship that seemed comfortable and happy so we started seeing each other, but I soon realized that there was much of the old in the new.  There were rules.  There were attitudes of superiority and even people looking down on my former partnership as if it were sub-standard.  It also bothered me that I might be getting involved with gods who were not that different from the ones I escaped from. And there seemed to be a lot of getting lost in the past, instead of moving forward and making spirituality relevant to me as I am today.

And so I woke up one morning thinking, "Who has treated me better?  My present lover or the lover I just left?  Which gods made no demands of me, accepted me exactly as I was and let me come to the altar even when I wasn't quite pure?  Or even when I was sick?"  The answer was obvious to me.

So I have come back to the Celtic way of paganism, albeit not Wicca or Druidry per se.  I value the time I spent dating the Greek pantheon because I learned a lot about what I need spiritually and emotionally.  And I learned how free I am to choose my own path.

It really bothered me that the Greek way chose to stay in the past and worship as the ancients did instead of moving into this age.  Why on earth would I wear the clothing they wore then for worship and festivals, when they were merely wearing what they always wore in those times?  I thought about what the religion would look like had it remained viable and evolved with the times and it occurred to me that it would look exactly like Christianity, but with a few more deities.

And that's not what I'm looking for.

I also have changed my mind about parenting.  I used to believe that parents should raise their children in the religion they themselves practice.  I qualify that now, with a huge caveat.  No parent should ever dictate what path a child takes.  No parent should ever put the weight on a child's shoulders that not choosing the parent's religion will leave them outside the family or place a doom on them.  It's cruel, malicious, and debilitating to the soul.  Let the soul flourish in the soil that best nurtures it. 

I'm content now in spite of this evil head cold and sinus infection.  I can separate out my enjoyment of learning about Roman and Greek culture and religion with the path I take spiritually.  It feels good to be back with the lover who rescued me from an abusive and painful relationship.  And my lover neither requires nor desires a commitment from me.

And that is religious freedom.


  1. Wow. That is powerful. You should take some time to look back on your writings through this journey and see this sounds as though you have closed the door to one way of thinking and opened a door to another. Now that's what I call some Spiritual Growth!

  2. Great post! Your abusive marriage analogy is so powerful.

  3. This is an amazing post. I would love to share it around on Facebook if you were okay with that. If you're not I completely understand. I won't without your permission.

    You have so eloquently told this story.

  4. Shucks! You guys are making me blush. Feel free, Tana, to share it with anyone you think might benefit from it. And thanks to all of you for the kind and supportive words. I am so blessed to be surrounded by strong women who are there to hold me up when I can't do it by myself.

  5. That was a great post, thanks for sharing! These are some of the same thoughts I've been having lately. I can appreciate knowledge and practices of the past, but it's important that a path address the needs of a person of today. Staying stuck in the past of any spiritual belief can possibly cause one's spiritual growth to atrophy. Once again, thanks for sharing. :-)

  6. Thanks so much for commenting! It's good to know I'm not alone out here and I appreciate that you and others share the same thoughts.

    I struggle with not letting my past experiences affect how I feel about "people" who choose to follow reconstructionist religions. It's hard as I had to deal with so many Christian reconstructionists, now known as Dominionists who are attempting to create a theonomy in our country. But in other religions it's not so intrusive so I hesitate to criticize them. It's the system I find fault with and so choose not to follow that path.

    If they choose to worship in that fashion, I feel that's the path they should walk as long as they don't try to tell me or anyone else that the path we choose is wrong. One problem I did have was how territorital they were about the gods of Ancient Greece and felt that anyone worshiping them outside the context of reconstructionism was insulting to the gods. Or at least that's the impression I got from several on a message board I frequent.

    But that is a rant for another day. LOL