I decided to start an actual blog. My old DP blog is still out there on live journal, but it seemed inappropriate now that I've long completed the DP and am moving to another phase in my spirituality. So, here I am, a bull-headed follower of a Bull God (Dionysus, for those of you playing the non-Greek game). This is probably going to be a combination of rantings, devotionals, ponderings-out-loud, and assorted musings on life, religion, faith, growth, and anything else that pops into my head. We're all mad, here.
Due to the public nature of this blog, I'm going to attempt to not reveal TOO much about myself, and trust that those reading who know me will be able to fill in the blanks.
Let's start off with something that's been rolling around in my head, then. The concept of faith.
Faith among pagans, at least in my experience, is rarely talked about. At least for my overarching church, there's this notion of orthopraxy vs. orthodoxy, and we are decidedly orthopraxic... what you believe doesn't matter nearly as much as what you do. It seems, almost, that even talking about beliefs (philosophy AND theology, which I separate from one another) has become a sort of "taboo." Maybe this is because of my nature as a mostly solitary druid--most of my contact with other pagans is through Facebook, with the exception of the occasional High Day that I can make the drive to celebrate with others. My lack of conversation with other pagans is greatly affecting what I hear and experience, even as a grove member. There's not a whole heck of a lot I can do about that, either, I feel--I just can't make a two hour drive with any kind of regularity, and most people I talk to (or try to talk to) are incredibly busy. Not that I'm blaming anyone, it's just the reality of my situation at the moment.
This whole train of thought came into mind due to an odd experience I had this weekend. I was visiting my sister in another state, and went to church with her--a VERY large, non-denominational, "community church" that she's become very involved in in the time she's lived there. I'm pretty sure everyone I met there assumed I was Christian, just based on my relationship with my sister, even though I wasn't singing their songs (I might have, had I known the words or tune) or praying their prayers (which are all silent, so no one knew who I was actually praying to). This, as a saw, is a community. A group of people serving each other and serving the world, all based on a foundation of belief. The sermon was even on that foundation... the classified it into three things. Essentials (Jesus died, Jesus was buried, Jesus rose, Jesus appeared), Convictions (things you believe very strongly but aren't necessary to be a Christian), and Preferences (worship style, hair color, what have you). The pastor spoke at length about the unfortunate tendency of Christians to turn Convictions and Preferences into essentials, whilst dumbing down the essentials into something no one ever really talks about. The point of the sermon was to step back and look at yourselves--look at what's necessary for your belief, and focus first and foremost on that.
I found myself, during their time of silent prayer, saying my first prayer to the Abrahamic god in many years. I thanked him, oddly enough, for what he has done for my sister--he is not my god, but he has blessed my sister, she has found a community focused on him that she is at home in, and she's had amazing things happen because of it. Her relationship to her church, interestingly, has made my relationship to her stronger over the years. So I thanked that god, and we parted, I think, on good terms.
It took me roughly 7 hours to drive home that day. I spent a great deal of time thinking about that community based on faith, and I came to realize... I miss that. I miss the community, the inclusion. I'm a member of a druid grove, at least in name, but... am I really? They meet often and I can't be there, they do local community events that I can't be a part of because I live two hours away. Soon, I will be moving further south, further away from that grove. I find myself wondering, when the time comes this fall, if I will renew my official membership. They are forever my kin, but the distance is taxing me, more so than I think any of them know.
I find myself thinking about my faith. What do I really believe? What beliefs are at the core of my self? Even if it's what I do that makes me a pagan, what beliefs INSPIRE what I do?
I spent some time with Dionysus tonight. He was there, as always, ready to sit with me and talk. Ready to calm me and comfort me and inspire me and inform me. I was given an oracle--Delta. The best interpretations that I've found of the Greek Oracle come from this site, and the part that stuck out to me most is this: "Blind conformity to customs is spineless; overly strict adherence to rules is self-defeating." The words I heard in my heart told me to examine WHY I do what I do. And to change my practice accordingly.
I'm going to be taking some time. Dionysus has many faces, and I would like to meditate on and study as many of them as I can. I'm also going to be doing some research on ritual and the Core Order of Ritual as is used in ADF. There's a possibility my own devotions and my own practice will change. Enough to cause me to leave ADF...? Doubtful, but possible. We'll see where this leads me. I have been promised personal insight and a successful practice if I go through with this. This blog is, in part, an outward train of thought as I do this.
Wish me luck, friends. Help me with insight. Help me see things I might not, interpret words and actions as I cannot within my own head. And, if you will, ask the gods to grant me faith and fire.