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A Quest for Unity

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Year: 1997 ...

Survey Results - AAA General Profile

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Survey Results - Explaining your Religion/Personal Belief

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Unity Essays from YOUR Community

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Article Specs

Article ID: 2031

VoxAcct: 9

Section: unity

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 8,012

Times Read: 4,686

Your comments on - Explaining your Religion/Personal Belief Pg3

Author: Pagan Communities
Posted: September 16th. 1997
Times Viewed: 4,686

Survey Sez...

"Although Asatru is not like Wicca, it has recognized positions and titles for those who are Asatru who practice a magickal system, i.e.Spaecraft, Seidhr, or Erulian practices. It is not as a religion wholly based on Magick like Wicca. It is a religion in which an individual is oathed to the Aesir Sky gods and the Vanir Earth gods exclusively and use the systems of magick religion And/or living contained within this tradition. It is very specialized in these arenas of worship, living, and magick. Priests are known as Godmen and Priestesses are known as GodWomen with the word God being used in it Anglo-Saxon form which can refer to a deity of either gender. The status of GodMan or GodWoman is not the same as a Witch. Witchcraft is usually practiced separately from the priestly vocations. Asatru holds Eostre, Litha, and Yule in common with Wicca and Paganism, but the moon, Manni, is considered male and the sun, Sunnais considered female. We have Blots pronounced Bloatsto, commemorate the holidays, and these are usually specifically religious in nature where we offer gifts and thanks to our gods. Magick is practiced separately at different functions; unlike Wiccan Sabbats and Esbats which can include both a religious ceremony and a Magickal working. This is not all there is to know about Asatru, only the tip of the iceberg."

"Spirituality is the foundation on which a personal belief system is built. Religion is optional to me. I have religion. It is what I do. It is the actions, rituals, ceremonies, that symbolize my belief system. Religion brings my thoughts and beliefs into material reality. For example, my belief system says I have a patron who guides and protects me. So"religiously' every Halloween, I have a ritual. At this point, if someone has a problem with me burning candles in my back yard, then they are infringing on my religion. If they say that having a patron is heathen and I'm going to hell, they are attacking my personal beliefs. To which I like to reply to as" fine, at least let me go in peace"

"As a solitary Wiccan, I do not practice with a group of people, but I do follow a common set of guidelines and ethics so I can be identified as a Wiccan. I feel there are more than a group of people that follow the same set of beliefs;. I feel there are people in large numbers that have the same knowledge. All Catholics know their God and their teachings for example...Earth Based followers know the energies produced by nature and so forth. Religion is Knowledge. A understanding of a viewpoint. -Cerulean"

"It is my observation that we are exceedingly old, having known and experienced youth and age, male and female, great joy and crippling tragedy, in so many forms that they are uncountable. We have worn a mantle of human form through a multitude of ages and epochs, feeling the cultural structures shape and channel our essential nature into an expression that is unique to the challenges, lessons, and pleasures of that lifetime. And our learning is not limited to our embodied state- there is an infinite variety of places and spaces that seem to me to contribute to the sculpting and honing process that ignites the entelechy of the soul. We are becoming ourselves. We are part of an evolutionary continuum that has developed the potential to consciously co-create its own fruition. We are a remarkable species. Many of us seem to be imprinted with what I'll call a -flavor- that results from following a particular path in our answering the call of the Divine through our long series of lifetimes. Of course, all the wide variety of paths are valid and many of them come clothed in language and iconography appropriate for a particular culture or time. I am a Witch. I can see and enjoy the thread of this particular school in others as well and can also appreciate souls that seem steeped in the Mysteries of Christianity, Aboriginal, Shamanism, Hinduism, etc. It seems correct for me to say that I have followed this path before- many times. Before there was a word Witch, and certainly before anybody tried to create codified standards for our practice. I feel that I may well have expressed and fulfilled this aspect of my nature even in embodiments where I may have been a sincere adherent to any number of other religions. I also feel that the root of it stems WAY BACK into a time before language or human culture. To me, it seems to emanate from a very primal source reposited in the reptilian structures we still carry with us in our brain/body. It probably harkens back to that great serpentine era which we have inherited in our genetic structure. The present day expression of Wicca is interesting to me, but the truth of the matter is, that my deepest held passions relating to this stem from a profound archetypal connection. I WISH that modern day Wicca spoke to me that deeply. At the heart of it, I find myself strongly attracted to a way of walking through the world that HAS NO NAME. In fact, it seems maudlin and antithetical to the very process of becoming awake to insist on naming and categorizing things. I know a few things. Authenticity is important. Gentle but pervasive self assessment, coupled with humility and humor, are your ticket in the door. We are absolutely glorious creatures in a Living World that is intelligent powerful and beautiful beyond belief. We are here to give and receive Love. --SF"

"I think the best way to create some unity here could be by 2 different methods. One, simply start with Gardnerian and then Alexandrian, Wicca codify those beliefs, and once those are established publicly, it may be easier for others as splinter groups, just as in the Christian churches. To come up with some very simple and basic definition of earth-based religions basic precepts and tie this in with the Native American Church, and the Santerians, and other similar groups. These are the best ideas I have anyway. Thanks for the opportunity to say what I think"

"My personal belief system in many instances coincides with my religion, however a personal belief system is essentially one's convictions and can span many facets of one's life. In my case, I found that Wicca or Witchcraft incorporated many of the beliefs I personally held already, so my switching to a life in the Craft was fairly easy."

"The relationship between religion and spirituality personal beliefs is not unlike the relationship between the body and the soul. Spirituality incarnates in the form of Religion. This also expresses the mystery of unity, separation and singularity, multiplicity in spirit and matter. --- Ivo Dominguez Jr. Panpipe"

"My religion is that, in short words, which connects me with the Divine. The Universe in this religion is polarized and complimentary while simultaneously being complete and whole. The dividing line along which this division is noticeable can be found in the general social and historical definitions of femininity and masculinity. All things are a part of nature and a cycle of life and magick is a glue that exists between all things. Spellcraft is a recognition and affirmation of the cycle of life and ones own place within it. I worship with an eye towards thanking and spreading this belief system not through conversion but by example. People do not have to know my religion to see how I live. It is my hope that my life would be seen as something positive and laudable. My Personal Belief System includes many of the precepts of my religion as my religion has aided me in defining what I believe. Conversely, my PBS provided the groundwork undefined though it may have been upon which I based my religion. Honor, trust, introspection, relative moralism, and cross-cultural respect for culture sexual orientation, gender, religion etc. are all parts of my PBS."

"My religion is a combination of earth base beliefs and connection to my ancestors beliefs. I feel more in touch with my history through the religious path that I follow. Loving the mother earth has brought me more in touch with myself then I have ever been. I am always learning and growing. As my religious path is always lengthening and widening. The God and Goddess have given me a new look on life and a better understanding of things that surround me and interact with me."

"My personal"be-life" system as a way of"be-ing." Being IN the worlds and in relation TO the worlds. I choose to identify myself as a Witch and that is attached to my understanding of magic as the art of changing consciousness at will. The processes and practices of my belief system are grounded there. My values are self direction, self responsibility, and evolution. I struggle with the constructs of being defined as a religion. I struggle with the need for a valid culturally acceptable definition. That need for definition lies in a world that I don't fit in. Do I want recognition protection and validity in THAT world? Am I willing to compromise my be-life system for that protection or validity? Nope. Do I recognize that I need to come to terms with that definition in order to sustain the evolution I so desire? Yep. Will I make compromises toward that end? Yep. While I insist on my own be-life system, I am willing to put my energy into incremental steps toward creating a world that I do fit in. I see that happening only if I and other Witches are able to come together long enough to...and only for the purpose of creating a definition we can live with FOR NOW. Like a seed we are planting,. with a common goal for fruition of a world where defined, validity and protection are no longer perceived as something we NEED. A world grounded in Freedom TO, not Freedom FROM. I believe that UNITY is possible and necessary...even given our delightful divisive diversity of religious belief systems. I see this unity as a situational co-creative process, not a set of definitions rules dogma that become the stones of a Temple. I envision the process of unity like a huge cone of power - called into a Circle of Magic. thousands of unique voices, blended in a single tone for the moments necessary to build and cast the cone of power. and blast a doorway to that world where we ALL fit perfectly in our own unique diverse be-ings. "

"It would be really hard to put in words. What I do as part of my beliefs come from me, therefore each ritual and rite is different. "

"To explain my earth based religion, I would have to start by explaining my search for religion. I have a personal belief system that I have held since I was very young. It involves the belief in a higher being or beings and the interdependence of all life on earth as well as a moral system to do as little harm as necessary while walking our path. In answer to a strong inner need I went in search of God in my mid twenties. After many years of searching and exploring many of the worlds religions I finally found a religion that corresponded with my personal belief system. I discovered the Goddess and WitchCraft and I thought Yes this religion does not clash with my personal belief system. I suspect this may be true for many pagans. That they had a strongly developed personal belief system in place before they found a name for their religion. This explains many things. Firstly, it explains the phenomena that many pagans feel of having come home to the Goddess. Secondly, it may explain why it is so hard to nail down the tenets of our religion. It is based very loosely on the personal belief systems of those who follow the religion, not on any doctrine or writing. Thus, each person practicing WitchCraft has a slightly different slant on the religion from every other witch. I feel the need to emphasize here the difference between witches who practice only magical arts and those who name WitchCraft as a name for their spiritual beliefs. There are some witches who simply practice magic and would not call it a religion. It is when having to deal with this extra component that can make nailing down a hard and fast set or ethics or morals extremely difficult. In my opinion, most spiritual people no matter what religion, are basically ethical. But there are unethical people that practice WitchCraft. Just as there are people who call themselves Christian that steal or cheat or lie etc. but since WitchCraft is based on personal belief, how can you call another witch unethical? These and other questions will keep the pagan community talking for a long time. In defining a religion, I cannot imagine anyone who could claim a religion that did not harmonize with their own personal belief system. I believe it is important to have a good understanding of your own personal belief system before you claim a religion as your own."

"Alright. most of the questions need clearing up for me. Here goes. 17. None of the above. What defines an earth based religion for me is the belief that all spiritual religious and philosophical truth can be found in nature. 20. I think my path is BOTH a religion and a personal belief system. 21. and 22. I think that WitchCraft and Wicca are BOTH a religion and a personal belief system. 25. Magick is part of BOTH my religion and my personal belief system. 26. Worship of the divine is part of BOTH my religion and my personal belief system. Finally, I explain my religion and or my personal belief system this way. I am a naturalist. I believe all spiritual, religious, and philosophical truth can be found in nature."

"My personal belief system and/or religion is kind of. confused right now. Discovering the Pagan Earth Based religions has caused me to question things I never really questioned before. I have seen the light in a sense and it has confused me and made me look for things I never looked for before and think things I never would have thought before. I'm just sort of. in between."

"My religion is based on two pillars. 1st the historical religions that existed in Europe prior to Christianity and my interpretation thereof. 2nd the idea and practice of the current revival of the WitchCraft movement. I describe myself as a nature worshipper because too many people misunderstand any other term I could use. I believe that magick can and should be used for betterment of a person to include defending yourself and your community. My personal beliefs are founded on the idea of the threefold law and the interconnectedness of the ecosystem."

"Any belief in a set of ideas that cannot be proven by technical means, or cannot be seen, but rather felt and known to be true is a belief system. Unfortunately, this includes all religion. Magick doesn't work if your belief isn't there. Religion is only the framework by which we share our ideas on our personal beliefs with others to share and understand their systems and allow us to attain common ground so that we can further our ideas to others. Without personal belief, religion is nonexistent. Without religion, personal belief is not shared--remains personal. Religion is necessary to go beyond the personal, but my beliefs if unshaped still are valid and powerful."

"My practice of Witchcraft, as I understand it, is a religion. I believe there is a desperate need for formal education of our clergy with degrees from divinity schools to help us become more widely accepted and understood."

"Merry Meet . Everyone, no matter what the name of their religion, adheres to a personal belief system. There are some basic tenets of every faith, though some faiths have more of these perhaps than they need to, yet every single practitioner of every single religion has a very particular world view- no matter what religious banner they fly under. Every person is individual and every individual has an equally individual belief system. Blessed Be Roland WordStone"

"It is my personal belief system that leads me to my religion. That may be why it is difficult for some to separate the two. One cannot truly be happy with a religion if it doesn't incorporate their personal belief system. Not to pick on Catholics but I have several friends who call themselves Catholic, yet they take Gods name in vain, exercise pre-marital sex, have abortions, and abuse their bodies with drugs and alcohol. Don't get me wrong. Do what you want, but I thought these were frowned upon by the Catholic church. I do not consider them Catholic just because they say they are. If you believe these practices are okay, then you cannot call yourself a Catholic. I was baptized as Presbyterian but I don't consider myself so. As an adult, I have formed my own personal belief system which lead me to explore other religions and eventually to the Wiccan religion. Maybe if I put it this way- Several people can form common valid personal beliefs without a religion. They cannot form a valid religion without common personal beliefs. Caspia Sweetwater"

"Religion is to me a general outline of a personal belief system. Personal beliefs are a spiritual way of expressing the religion."

"I do not adhere to any set religion, but I do have a strong personal belief system when it comes to Witchcraft, including a belief in the Goddess. Religions for me have always been too strict and full of set laws. I am solitary eclectic in my practice and do not abide by any set religion. To be honest, I haven't found one that suits my beliefs and personality."

"The only problem is that I am religious AND have a personal belief system and the form here is limiting us to one answer per question. My personal belief system incorporates religious practice and my religious practice is full of my own belief system. It is fairly intertwined. The only way to separate these things is to go by the either-or system of the current patriarchal way of thinking and try to dis-entangle all the fronds from each other. Not an easy task and you will end up with as many answers as people who answer. I have heard many folks say that trying to present a united front is a bad idea because it goes against the very reason they are pagan. Its like saying you are a shaman and practicing more often than not in a group. It is unlikely that anyone can craft a description of the broad earth-based religious groups and get consensus on it for a long time. By the time you are done, it will probably be pretty vague. This is however important to try anyway, because in this particular time and culture, we are definitely back to being endangered by folks who want to see us converted or wiped out. We need something to cover us legally and at the moment - we don't have it. Good luck Blessed Be "

"I find that there is more overlap than differences. I worship and use magic as both part of a religion and personal beliefs. For me, the religion is the foundation what I learn from others and the examples I follow -the belief structure are the little different, thoughts and beliefs that spice-if you will, the religion. I am also thinking that religion plays more a part when I am with a group; whereas personal belief is more when I work solitary. I also acknowledge some parts of religion as valid although they are not a part of my personal beliefs- for example, I don't think the elements really react in accordance to a particular direction. Although many people make a big deal out of directions, and I would certainly invoke Air facing the East as part of a religious rite without hesitation, I don't personally believe it matters. Maybe that's it- when we have a religion, there's a common ground give and take of personally beliefs for the greater hole. tuff questions BB"

"My religion is Witchcraft. I adhere to the rites that have been passed down to me by my Elders of the traditions of which I am an initiate of. I believe in initiation, group consciousness, the use and practice of magick, and acknowledge the God and the Goddess as being components of the ALL. I acknowledge the Laws of the Craft, although some of the laws like parts of the US Constitution are outdated and obsolete, but I DO follow the majority that DO pertain to myself and to contemporary times. I am a WITCH, not a Wiccan. Today's Witchcraft is MUCH different than what Witchcraft originally was. Today's modern practitioners of the Craft feel that it is an anything goes system of belief. That is NOT so. If it was, then there would be NO laws. The LAWS of the Craft are based upon the Laws of Nature. If there were NO laws, there would be chaos in EVERY aspect of existence. There are laws all around us that we face up to and experience every day. The laws of gravity, the laws of physics, the laws of nature, anyone who denies the existence of said laws and denies that they adhere to these laws, is a FOOL. The Laws that were created to govern covens and groups were done so out of a need for guidelines. If there are no guidelines in a group, how can there BE a group? I cannot say that my religion is my personal belief system, that is too restrictive in my opinion. I feel that one can adhere to a religion and still maintain a personal belief system that parallels their faith. In some traditions of the Craft, it is not permitted that a Witch work/worship solitary I have been solitary and sometimes I MUST work solitary. My personal belief is that I may practice solitary and that does not make me less of a Witch, whereas the tradition says it is not allowed or looked upon as valid or correct. There is NO one way that defines everyone's personal individual beliefs. That is impossible to fathom However, there are common threads in religion that we may align ourselves with that allow us to become part of a religious system that we may accept as our faith system of worship. ... I feel religion is a system of rites that helps us to understand humanity and nature better, validates our faith in something that we are a part of, and allows for communion with the Gods or the Universal Light of the Universe which we are ever striving to reunite with. To me, religion is a collective of individuals with common personal beliefs. When these personal beliefs conflict with the religion ,and people leave the religion to follow a system composed of these personal beliefs, then people are no longer a part of the parent religion They now adhere to their personal belief system OVER the original tenets, doctrines, beliefs, and teachings of the parent religion. Such as the Protestant branch of the Christian faith When certain Catholics began to disagree with the parent-church and they shared a common belief they separated and formed the Protestant church. That doesn't make them any less of a Christian religion And now we have MANY different branches of the Christian Faith Congregationalists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, etc. Over the years, the has been seen in the Pagan religious movement. Most specifically in the Craft... with the creation of Wicca s its OWN religion- a loose-knit anything goes philosophy based on whatever feels right to the individual and the use of the often misunderstood and misconstrued law of"harm ye none, do what you will." Creating its rites based upon altered practices of the traditions and other Pagan religions like Native American Shamanism and Eastern Mystery religious practices and suiting them to the practitioners tastes and needs. This is a perfect example of personal beliefs taking precedence over a religion. This division has created its own religion Neo-Wicca. A collective consciousness sharing common personal beliefs amongst a large group of people. My religion of Witchcraft is VERY different than today's Wicca in MANY ways. In old Craft, there is a sense of dogma; in today's Wicca there is a refusal to acknowledge dogma. In old Craft, there is the justification of counterattack on someone who has done harm against you, in today's Wicca people are taught to psychoanalyze why that person did what they did and ignore it or else you will be harmed again through karmic debt. In old Craft, there was preservation of the old ways and a respect for the elders of the tradition in today's Wicca there is a rejection of the old and a belief in doing it ones personal way rather than the tried and true old ways and a refusal to acknowledge the elders of the Craft who are the forefathers/mothers of what they are altering because this is bowing down to someone which is NOT allowed or believed in. In the Old Craft, it is encouraged that people ADD to the tradition and to the Book of Shadows, but always preserving the old ways and NOT removing them or changing them. Today there is a doing away with the old, removing valuable parts of traditions and teachings, and bastardizing of the old ways to suit personal individual needs and desires. ...In Old Craft. all the members of the coven were important. Today, their is focus only on the leaders and the people of that coven, not the focus of the religious practice or the Gods. Today people forget that you must work with the Gods- they take and take, but ever forgetting they must give in return. This is incorrect. I am not saying that MY way is the ONLY way, I am only explaining my observations of what I was taught, and have believed in, and what I have seen practiced today in the name of Witchcraft. There is NO one true way, as I have said before, and if there was NO reason for this new brand of Wicca to exist, then it wouldn't. However, I feel that there must be a solid foundation in the Craft through training in a tradition- afterwards do what you will Take the knowledge that has been passed down to you and work with it, add to it, pass it on, so that others may grow and pass it on. Afterwards. go out and create something that may become a tradition that others may feel proud to call their religious path But don't just roll out of bed and say"Poof! I am a Witch" without any sort of basis for what you are practicing. Personal beliefs change as time goes on- it is part of learning and growing. Religion is an institution for people to participate in as a group and base their faith. The majority of what is Wicca today is based on personal belief. I see it ever dying and coming back, dying and coming back. and without a constant, how can it be looked at as legit? I feel a good solid foundation and acceptance of Laws, education, and training, and reality is what MANY people need, in my opinion, or else they will never be looked at as anything other than charlatans and flakes by other religious systems. On Quest. 24 I answered NO because there are SO many different Earth based religions and my concern is only Witchcraft. I am not a Shaman or a Goddess-worshipper or Pagan. We cannot establish set guidelines for these branches of Earth Based religions. That is unfair. We have differing versions of laws, differing views on morality and ethics, different views on magick practice, worship, etc. and when you blend all this in with personal beliefs. you're gonna get socked with a whammy. THIS is one reason why I don't think unity will ever be possible. Too many people constitute personal belief as religion and not everyone has the same personal beliefs and to try to group everyone under ONE set of guidelines is asking for trouble. No doubt that there will be enormous resistance. On 17 I feel that there are 2 answers. One is to interact with other Earth Based Groups and the other is the common statement of religious belief. If only we could have a sort of Witches United Nations set up with elected representatives that could meet peacefully and work together to provide information to our own as well as to the general public but then you'd have the fanatic eclectic smorgasbord saying That's not right There's NO such thing as leaders in the Craft "Wah Wah You can't tell us what to do". Do as you will Harm none Or the How dare you represent me. Ka-Ka. Nobody has to relinquish their personal beliefs to be a part of a community- its letting go of ego and extending your hand and lending an ear and agreeing to participate once-in-awhile in something different that will allow for unity. -Lady Tisiphone Star Serpent Coven"

" Its sad really that even in the pagan community, what there is of it, that the expression of one's beliefs have to be limited to a statement of what you don't do- rather than what you do. -- S."

"I believe we are individually given as much as we are capable of understanding. Therefore while some may seem further along the Path than others, none is better. All will be led to Deity eventually regardless of what Path is taken. How long that takes, differs. How easy it is, differs. What does not is that we can each help others whether they believe precisely as do we or not. Kindness, shelter, sustenance, love are all ways of offering aid. What we do to help our fellows will be returned in kind or passed along to some of our own who are in need. This I truly believe. Thank you for listening and for sharing this with everyone who happens by your site. Blessings unto you and yours Carol J. Bell Cannon"

"This was way too hard. The difference between religion and personal belief system when applied to Earth Religions is practically semantic. I say that I practice a non-traditional religion. My religion is based in many respects on my personal belief system because I am an eclectic. I do not like having to divide my religion and my personal beliefs. That's why I turned away from the traditional religion I was raised in. My religion Wicca blends with my personal belief system and it allows me to adapt the religion or rather adapt the way I practice the religion to fit with my personal beliefs. And isn't that why we have all been drawn to these faiths? No, that's way too generalized. But I think that is part of the calling. So how would I explain it? As a non-traditional religion that emphasizes the divinity in all things, the interconnectedness of all things, and the necessary balance between the masculine and feminine principles that the universe is based on."

"I am a Witch. period. I follow the revival of ancient mystery religions known as Wicca or Witchcraft. I believe it to be an initiator path...though initiation may come in a myriad of ways. I worship a balanced male/female polarity in the form of the Goddess and the Horned God. I believe the Craft to be a valid path for both men and women. I believe strongly in the teacher/student relationship. I think that this has been denigrated in the modern Craft."

"That is a good question. To me religion is what we do to worship some sort of higher power. There is a set of personal beliefs that go outside and alongside whatever religion you choose. Unless you want to be a mindless sheep and believe only what you are told. The personal belief system allows you to individualize your religion to yourself. I would define my religion as Wicca. my personal belief system just happens to correspond with the belief system inside of Wicca. I do not believe we should harm people or other living things for that matter unless for survival blah blah. Wicca states. "and ye harm none. do what ye will"-that fits into my personal beliefs. I do not think you should mold yourself to fit your religion..

"Wow, I think you all just fried my brain. GOOD questions. I think a religion and a personal belief system define each other--the two are closely intertwined. How do you tell the dancer from the dance?, to quote Guy Gavriel Kay. I do know people who a religion, who definitely have a personal belief system, that I consider positive for lack of better term. Others rely on their religions to dictate their lives for them. I feel I had a personal belief system, found Wicca, and discovered the balance and grounding were something I desperately needed for myself. Wicca filled in the foundation of my beliefs--it gave me structure purpose and a celebration schedule which I think is an important part of religion. Storm Dancer"

"To me a personal belief system IS a religion. Religion in it most basic form is rules laws and beliefs. They are things to follow. Things to know. Things to hold close to your heart. And when you think about it, so is a personal belief system. Belief systems are based upon religions. Not every Christian lives their religion the same way. Not every Buddhist does either. And nor do Witches. With the chances of finding an open circle or group or even people of like mind within the area most people have to gather their own information. This means books texts and the occasional person to person chat or in person meeting. Solitary Witches gather what they have learned and then adapt it to their workings and surroundings. Working skyclad and outside may work for those with large plots of land and a warm climate but will do little for a person living in a cold climate and in an apartment. Long and detailed spells and invocations may work for those who have the time to do so, but may not help those who have to do *quickies* to hide from accusing eyes or get the kids up for school and get off to work. The only difference between belief system and religion I see, is that religion is a little more defined, but never followed to the letter. If so, then there would have never been holy wars or banishments. Personal belief systems are like a perfect fit in an off the rack world. It is those little alterations that make Wicca fit like a glove for those who wish to make this religion a personal belief system."

"From my studies of religions, modern and ancient around the world, it seems to me that what makes a religion is that sense of common ground-of having some beliefs in common and of giving them a name. It is knowing you belong to a group of like minded people... whether or not you actively participate with them. It is this sense of belonging that provides comfort and creates unity."

"I believe the divine is present in all of nature, which includes the natural world, the plants, the creatures, including humans, that inhabit Earth. I also believe Earth is a sentient being much as has been defined by the Gaia hypothesis by Lovelock and before that by Oberon Zell. I am not really a deist, in other words, I do not feel compelled to worship the gods in my spiritual practice. I do think that pantheons of goddesses and gods work as powerful archetypes for magical thought and work however. But I do not pray to them. I sometimes will invoke their qualities to help me manifest something in my life, but I ask for those qualities to infuse MY being, rather than ask the gods to help me directly. I believe humans have as part of their manifest destiny an obligation to care for the planet and that somewhere along the line, we have strayed from that path mainly because the logical progression of our evolution has taken us ever further away from our connection to the Earth. I think also that, unless we reverse the trend away from an awareness of earth as a sentient being and unless we acknowledge our irrevocable connection to the natural world, we are heading towards the demise of the human race and perhaps the destruction of the planet. I think that is the single most important issue facing Witches and Pagans today, Unfortunately, most Pagans and Witches, IMHO, spend too much time trying to create some dreamy world based in the past instead of working in the present to preserve what we have. Peg"

"I do not worship any god persay, as I do have an ethical code. I do what I believe is right, not what any one else says. I feel that right and wrong is built into you."

"I believe in Magick. I believe that the Earth is our Mother and we must treat her with respect. I know this sounds like bumper sticker philosophy, but I am serious. I believe that we are all interconnected and the actions of each of us ripple out from the center and affect all of us. I believe in acting on my convictions. Hope this helps you as much as it helped me. Getting my thoughts in order was long overdue. Blessed Be. Betzy Comiskey"

"My religion is roughly the stated beliefs and practices of the groups I belong to. My personal belief system is what I believe. It is constantly evolving. It is close to, but never exactly the same, as those I practice religion with."

"I am Wiccan and I practice Witchcraft, the art of magick. By definition, all Wiccans are Pagans that practice Witchcraft."

"I may not have this right, but here goes. To me, following the Lady and Lord, is a RELIGION that I have accepted with all of my heart. Believing in Them gives me the strength to carry on another day. I was an atheist for ten years before I discovered Them and it was like a large void in myself was filled. To others, They may appear as Allah, Buddha, or good ole' JC. We all believe that a higher power is watching us, guiding us, protecting us, loving us, like children. To me, that is a religion. Now this personal belief that you talk of seems like a result of the religion. At least to those who follow a religion. If you care for your Deity, and agree to their laws and moral codes, then your personal habit and beliefs will reflect that. If your Deity says"LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU WOULD LOVE ME", then your belief will be to help your fellow man whenever you can. Now those that have a personal belief and no religion have, in my opinion, a harder time of it. Without a religion to base their beliefs on, it is hard for those beliefs to be recognized in the NON EARTH BASE society. But since I am not of this category, I shall not try to explain this personal belief without religion. For to do this would only be speculation on my part. and poor speculation at that. "

"This is hard to put into words, so bear with me on this one. I strongly believe in personal power. I also believe that I do not need a organized religion to practice my beliefs. I have not had too much access to religions, such as Wicca. I did have some involvement earlier in my life with the satanic religion and found them to be just like the Christians; they just call it a different name. This is why I have chosen to follow my beliefs on my own. I know I have more self power and greater control of my energy by my self. All the organized religions I have encountered have been about control and manipulation. I do not pray to a god or believe that there is one single entity in control of the entire universe. I do not know what to call the power we all feel; I just know there is a universal power that gives energy to every living thing. The earth, the stars, the plants, the water, ect, and I believe we all need to be respectful of our environment, the earth, the people, the animals, and all of the life on this planet and to all things in the universe as well. Unless some one intentionally causes some one harm; Then I believe that anything that happens to those people is deserved and just. No matter how cruel or light."

"Explain my religion? I worship the Triple Goddess and Horned God as the divine forces of Nature. In conjunction with the Wiccan Rede, I have become closer to our world in ways which can't be easily defined. I believe that in the attempt to define what it is that Wicca is or means, we lose part of the spiritual aspect that reinforces our religion. This loss of spirit degrades Wicca from a religion to a system of belief. Systems can be defined by analyzing its part to draw a conclusion. A religion holds more of an esoteric ideology which in essence cannot be classified by our standard scientific views. To truly understand a religion, one must make it a part of themselves and experience on a personal level. While this may seem confusing, a religion will change the person who follows it and a system of belief is subject to change by the person. In order to fully understand the religion system separation, we need to ask ourselves whether or not I am a part of Wicca, or Wicca is a part of me. I know that I am a part of Wicca because my relationship with the God and Goddess guides me through my life. I feel Them with me and I learn from Their wisdom. For me, Wicca is a religion. Even though my personal beliefs may change, my connection with Them never does. They are a part of me- just as much as I am a part of Them."


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