I’ve been putting this post off for a few weeks, but since this seems to be the week for introspective “state-of-the-journey” posts (at least in the corner of the pagan blogosphere that I inhabit), I figured I might as well finish it and join the crowd. :) Initially inspired to begin this post by Mam Adar’s October post about Neos Alexandria and Druidry, I am now inspired to finish by her (and everyone else’s) posts about where things stand today.
I’ve been fascinated with comparative religion since about the age of 10, when I first read Huston Smith’s “The Religions of Man”, and I continue to find most religions intensely interesting to learn about, even the ones that I will likely never practice or become involved with. This fascination has led me into and through a number of religious experiences and practices over the last few decades. While most of them have not “stuck” in the sense that I don’t practice them any more, all of them have shaped, in some fashion, the ways that I see and respond to the world.
I think of my religious worldview as lower-case pagan; I see such wonderful variety in the natural and spiritual worlds, and I know that our human perspective is so limited, that I can’t believe one religion, one dogma, has all the answers.
My primary religious expression is upper-case Pagan. I honor the Theoi, the spirit(s) of Nature and of my ancestors as I experience them – because I experience them – without worrying about the finer details of spiritual taxonomy that everybody seems to want to fight over, and that I frankly see as somewhat hubristic.
So far, pretty straightforward – as Carl McColman and others have said about their journeys both into and out of paganism, I trust my experience and it has led me here. Mostly. I still feel pagan, I still think pagan – both upper- and lower-case – but there is another Voice that still whispers in the back of my mind, another Power that I don’t feel is through with me yet… Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Of all the traditions I have passed through, other than the one that I am actually practicing, Judaism is the one that had and has the most powerful hold on my mind and heart. I have a great affection for my Jewish community – the people, their worship, their music, their food, and yes, even their God – and after more than ten years, it’s clearly more than just infatuation. I know there are shadows – there are prayers in the liturgy, particularly at the High Holy Days, that make me cringe (even in Hebrew), and the current news out of Gaza breaks my heart – but I know that many of my Jewish friends also cringe at those prayers, and also weep to watch the news.
In 2005 we moved a good bit farther away from “my” synagogue; I stayed with the choir for a while, but as the time came for High Holy Day choir practices to kick off, I felt (for a number of reasons, most very personal) that I needed to make a choice once and for all between paganism and Judaism, and that this need – in combination with both the longer commute to the synagogue and to work cutting into my family time – made continuing there untenable. So, regretfully, I quit the choir and (for the second time since we first started going there) stopped trying to go to services at all.
But, of course, it (or He) wouldn’t leave me alone.