This year I am participating in the Pagan Blog Project, a weekly posting challenge discussing our viewpoints on faith. For those unfamiliar with this project, the prompts follow the letters of the alphabet – two weeks per letter, on any topic of the writer’s choosing provided that the blog entry has a spiritual focus.
I’ll be using this project to do some introspection, re-evaluation, and recentering of myself as I approach my 20th anniversary of my dedication on Lughnasadh this year. They are intentionally written raw, with little editing – so please take any weird grammar, spelling, or jumbled sentences with a bit of a grain of salt. Also, any “you’s” should be viewed as me talking to myself rather than directed at any other person.
This week is the second week focusing on the letter A. Since yesterday was also the 39th anniversary of my traveling around the sun, I’m also going to use it to discuss one of the first things in my life to develop who I am as an individual and how it has affected my approach toward faith.
I’ve touched on adoption roughly every year as my birthday comes around. It’s hard not to, after all – the woman who gave birth to me relinquished me to adoption shortly after my birth. For me, adoption is the natural order of everything related to family – until Max arrived this past year, I had no blood family members to speak of. Everyone connected to me was through my legal adoption (my mom, dad, brother, and extended family) or the friends that I consider family (whether or not they do the same).
So when it comes to faith, it only makes sense that I’d do the same thing – the more something grows in importance to me, I adopt it. It becomes part of me, part of the extended family of my emotions and what drives me, and pushes me further in life. Just as with my evolving family, adoption is simply the natural order of things when it comes to faith.
I tend to view that this is the norm among Pagans. So few of us are born into Paganism – our faith is entirely through adoption. Yes, there may be that feeling that deep down these truths were always there within us but undefined (and they very likely might have been), but the Pagan path gets adopted through how it inspires, how it makes sense, how it challenges. Since there is no specific liturgy of Paganism as there is with the Bible, Pagan paths are entirely made of adopting beliefs, practices, personal codes of conduct, etc. We reject the concepts that either don’t apply or don’t make sense, and adopt the ones that do – or at least suggest that with enough study and practice, that will.
Most Pagans that I’ve met agree that Paganism recognizes that no faith is ideal for everyone. Individuals are simply too varied with different needs and different aspirations for any one faith to fit the entire population. Even among Christians who belong to the same church, you see individuals who say “well… the church says XYZ, but I don’t really agree with this.” So we adopt and adapt – and create faith that is entirely our own.
When I first started my Pagan path, this freedom was a bit overwhelming. I wanted to take everything I read and heard as what I should believe, mostly because I came from a spiritual background where there was one true faith. Once I got over that unsettling feeling that went with newly found freedom, I realized that there’s a whole lot of responsibility within individual faith. Adopting ideals simply because they make one feel good may be great in the short term, but it’s like eating a whole lot of junk food – great tasting in the short term, not spiritually satisfying (or even healthy) over a lifetime. Everything should be questioned from as many angles as possible, challenged, and twisted around before adopting a concept as a spiritual truth. And even then, no truth should ever be so solid that it has no chance of being questioned. Some truths are unsettling, frustrating, and even infuriating – yet they’re in place for a reason. Truths such as – it’s good to open up and ask for help, for example. But there’s another truth that comes with it – opening yourself up and admitting vulnerability can result in getting burned at times.
Frustrating, yes? True… absolutely. But these are things that teach us lessons so we grow and change through life as we’re meant to; as we need to. And as we go, we adopt and reject as we need to in order to reach the next level in our personal evolution.
It’s just the natural order of things.