Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
My Father, My First God
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
The Fear of Witchcraft
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
Native American Spirituality Myopia
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
On Choosing and Following Your Own Path
Article ID: 12720
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Alfred Willowhawk, DMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 20th. 2008
Times Viewed: 5,973
"What path is right for me?” is a question that each seeker asks at least once in their lives. As children, most individuals follow the pathways of their parents. Even if a parent has no particular spiritual path, the child is influenced by their parent. This is almost genetic as, regardless of a path, the mother, to the child, is the goddess. As they grow older and begin to think for themselves, they begin to feel a desire to either embrace or reject their parental suggestions. This includes the chosen spiritual path of the individual.
In my own life, I have spent time in many "spiritual" and "religious" pathways. Some of these were even of my own choosing at the time, so I thought. However, as we are social creatures, even the most reclusive of us, we still seem to blunder about until we finally settle on what works well for us.
Over the years as I facilitate myself and others on reaching some kind of accommodation with their desires for spiritual connection, certain indications seem to be prevalent with the majority of individuals.
What is a Spiritual Path?
Dictionary.com defines the word spiritual, (among other things) as: of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature: a spiritual approach to life.
We will not concern ourselves in this article with the definition of the soul, despite differing presuppositional ethics, but accept this as a good working definition to add to our word "path".
Again, Dictionary.com defines a path as: a route, course, or track along which something moves, or a course of action, conduct, or procedure.
So, combining both of these we have a spiritual path is one where an individual is taking a route whether physically or metaphysically that pertains to the non-physical being of a person.
This definition allows for many diverse methodologies including those that are primarily of the physical realms, and those that are primarily of the non-physical realms.
Pressures that act as filters
As we stated in the introduction, many factors influence our examination and determination of our path. Some of these factors include, environment, social network, (including parents, friends, and co-workers), ethnicity or bloodline, and connectedness, or lack of it, to the world around us.
Each of these acts as filters through which we see the world around us. Ask any couple in a relationship how many times they "read between the lines" of a statement just to see how effective filters are in our daily lives.
One example of filters in relationships is as follows:
One partner is cooking dinner and asks the other partner: "Would you please take out the overflowing trash please?"
The partner who was asks responds: "What, why do you do that, I work all day and of course I will take it out. I simply forgot. What do you think I sit and read all day? I work too! If it is too much trouble for you to cook dinner tonight then we could have gone out!"
The first partner is taken aback by the vehemence of the response as all they really asked was for their partner to take out the trash! Not everything else! The second partner read between the lines, of the other through there own filters.
While this is an extreme example, you can see what filters do in this mundane world, imagine what it does for our pursuit of a spiritual path. Each individual’s path is unique. One may utilize the same aspects of the divine; yet call them by another name. Take the deific aspect of healing.
In some pathways, the deity of healing is Bridghid, (and lets not forget that spellings and language for even the same deity show regional differences), others it is Kwan Yin, and others Quanyin. Whole nations have gone to war over the NAME of a particular deity rather than listening to the aspect and intent of the name.
In our early 21st century world we have many examples of what I call "filter-itis". Christians fight Muslims, Jews fight Christians, and Wiccans fight Heathens, on and on and on.
Therefore, the first step in choosing a path is to put away the expectations of the society you are in and focus on the intent of the pathway without these filters.
Society and Acceptance
There is a quote from John Donne (1572-1631), which is in his "Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions", Meditation XVII: that goes like this:
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
While Mr. Donne was a Christian, the sentiment expressed above is still true, (See, I practice what I preach). We are social creatures that desire the acceptance of those around us. The problem occurs when we desire our existing friends, colleagues, family, etc, to accept our new choice, just because we do!
Our brother or sister, who follows another path, cannot always see that our path is equally valid. Sometimes this is because they are not following their true path either, however, it can also be that they truly feel that their path is RIGHT and yours is WRONG. While, based on the concept that all paths are one path, (my own pre-suppositional ethic), this is not necessarily the filter that others see through.
Therefore, seeking acceptance by others, while part of our social conditioning, does not "play well" with some of those around us that follow a different path.
I have many Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, (not what they call themselves-a topic for another article), Jewish, Pagan, Wiccan, Eclectic, Heathen friends, and family, the only thing that is important to me is that they respect my path as I respect theirs.
What to look for in a path
Since, each of us must live within our own filters, examine the path that calls you in as objective way as possible. If you are called to Quanyin, (the bodhavista form of the deity of Compassion and Love - androgynous) then accept that particular deity as one that speaks to you.
If you feel that the trees speak with you, and you can hear/feel this then follow this where it leads you and don't automatically say, I am not ____ (insert appropriate group here) and can not really be associated with trees.
If you feel that a particular set of rules (i.e. The Wiccan Rede) speaks to you and reverberates within, then follow it and find others that can support you.
What is important is that it fills some needs within you.
The next step is to investigate the teachings of the path and take on that which speaks to you.
Be true to yourself and don't belittle, or agonize over the choices you have made.
Be confident in yourself. You are the one who must follow the path, so you are the only one that needs to "understand" the path.
Lastly, do not label yourself if it would put you in a box that you do not wish to be part. Boxes are created by large groups and if you are a "round peg" why fit into a "square hole"?
Enjoy the Journey! After all - ALL life is a Journey.. We don't REALLY know what is TRUTH - (OOPS, another topic for another day)
Copyright: Alfred Willowhawk All universal Rights Reserved. 2008
May reprint with proper credit given to the Author.
Alfred Willowhawk, DMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman
Location: West Plains, Missouri
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