A Vodouisant And A Ceremonial Thelemic Wiccan/Freemason Walk Into A Bar…
Article ID: 10145
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Christopher Orapello
Posted: September 25th. 2005
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When it comes to relationships and being a Pagan, I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but I think I can speak for myself, as long as my girlfriend, who is a practitioner of Vodou, allows me to do so! Seriously speaking though, I would be lucky if I am even allowed to finish this article without being turned into a zombie and made to do her will, oh wait, I do that anyway! Oh dear…here she comes, just act normal and she may simply pass.
Religion, to me, has always been a journey, and a part of that journey is how it affects and relates to the various aspects of my life. In life, change, is inevitable. Since change is a part of development and growth, one may often find themselves in unexpected places and, as of recently, oddly enough, I have come back to Wicca as a spiritual path after exploring other faiths and philosophies for the last five years. Previous to that period of exploration, I was a Wiccan for five years and now, as a Wiccan once again, I think that being religious and being Pagan, tends to make one a lot more accepting of others, their lifestyles, and their beliefs as I have noticed personal changes in myself depending upon my beliefs over the years, especially through this recent transition.
It’s also interesting to see how others treat you based upon your religion. For example, a few years ago, before I met my girlfriend, I was talking to someone on the phone that I was in the process of getting to know. As we were speaking, she felt the need to disclose to me that she was Jewish. It turned out that in the past she found that her faith was a problem for some people, so she felt it necessary to inform me of it before we met in person or pursued anything further. Not having the slightest problem with her faith, I seized the moment to inform her that I was Wiccan, which was amusing at the time because she thought that her news was going to be the conversation stopper! As it turned out, I was the one who made the record player come to a screeching halt, giving way to a moment of silence, followed with a giggle of relief. Needless to say, it didn’t work out between us, but at least that was due to honest incompatibility and not to ignorance or religious intolerance.
When it comes to my personal life today, I act as if my religion is common place and not a big deal because to me, it’s not. I am simply, first and foremost, a person. I don’t see my faith as something I can use to shock others with. It’s not something I learn about, teach, and practice in order to flaunt or to seem eccentric or mysterious. My faith is personal, and as far as I’m concerned, it is as common as any other religion in the world. Of course, when I meet someone whom I feel may not agree with my faith or who may have a problem with it, I keep it to myself and choose to keep any friendship or relationship from developing any further with them, which is done out of respect for myself, my faith, the community, and for their own peace of mind. I treat such individuals like I would any other person I feel that things may not work out with. I see it as a social courtesy; an unspoken agreement to disagree, executed in a mature manner with the best of intentions held in mind. Some people just aren’t able or ready to understand things which are different to them. Not everyone is going to agree with or tolerate me or my religion and I realize that. That is just how life is. We’re all at different points in our personal, social, and religious development. As a spiritual traveler, I keep this in mind as I make my way through the world.
As a Pagan who became a Freemason, my experiences with differing faith traditions have been very positive. During my initiatory degrees, my religion became a lodge interest because, as an option customarily offered and practiced in Masonic ritual, I chose to take my Masonic oaths on the Thelemic text, The Book of the Law, instead of the Bible. My fellow brethren were more than happy to honor my request to do so, but still some were curious about the text and my religion, but not curious in a negative or troublesome way. This interest initiated many pleasant discussions, some of which have yet to end to this day. I am also happy to mention that I was asked to provide our lodge library with a copy of The Book of the Law, which I happily did, for any brother who so chooses to use, or read it, for their own benefit or interest.
As a Wiccan, I see divinity present within all things, animals, people, and faiths. So, I am able to accept the differences in the world, the differing beliefs and the practices of my family and friends without much thought. Of course, when I first started out on this path, I found it difficult to be so tolerant and accepting. Not because I felt others were ‘wrong, ’ but because I still had to reconcile my own feelings, beliefs, and personal identity with myself. I needed to be alright with who I was before I could be alright with others. Through my personal and spiritual development, I realized a long time ago that religion is a very personal thing and because of this, there really isn’t a need to parade it around for others to see or hear about. In fact, the more of an issue something different or not of the norm is made out to be, the more attention it gets and possibly the more of a threat it may seem to others. We all know people fear what they don’t understand and this reaction is purely instinctual and not based on logic; it’s a primal survival tactic. Unfortunately though, not many people in the world live their lives logically or make decisions based upon thought or reason and with that understanding, I am able to conduct myself in a proper and peaceful manner for the betterment of myself and for the betterment of others, whoever they are or whatever religion they practice and follow. Just as they should one day understand their place in the world and the place of others, so should those as seekers of knowledge understand their own place in the grand scheme of life and the places that others hold as well.
Four years ago, when I met my girlfriend. I know for a fact that I was in a different place religiously than I am now. The religious changes that I personally went through over the last four years would probably have made anyone else’s head spin, but my girlfriend’s head didn’t budge because she, as a Pagan (not being a practitioner of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam), was able to recognize and respect the value of individual religious freedom and the need for personal religious exploration. When she and I first started seeing one another, I was moving away from Wicca spiritually and beginning to explore other paths in the hope of finding something which I felt was more suited for me. She, on the other hand, was just beginning her journey into Vodou, which is what she currently practices as a solitary over four years later to this day.
Through the years of my religious and philosophical fluctuation, going through Chaos Magick; to Hermeticism; to Left Hand Path philosophies; to a short interest in Gnosticism; to Thelema where I joined the OTO where I am currently a Minerval; to becoming a Freemason and now I currently find myself back to where I started with my initial love for Wicca, where now I am very happy religiously. So happy I became a clergyman with the Universal Life Church and am interested in pursuing this title further. Through all of those changes and interests, where I know I have changed because of all of it, my girlfriend has stuck by my side. Though we have differing religious beliefs and interests, we love each other for who we are and utilize that union to cultivate and enrich our lives physically, mentally, and spiritually. We realize that we can’t practice our religious traditions with one another because they’re different and personal, and we understand that. So, we share it in other ways. For instance: with conversation, debate, sharing books, and similar forms of interaction which enable us to better understand one another and our relationship. An important thing to remember is that with all life affirming/positive religions there are common themes found in their philosophies and teachings which are most always unity, acceptance, and love.
In life, we all are travelers in some form or another, searching for our place in the world and who we are as individuals, so that we can become better people with the hope and desire to share who we are with someone that we love. After all, life is about union isn’t it? It is about connecting with others in different ways in the hope of reaching out and finding a bit of ourselves in the process. Like the Goddess to the God, from the worshipper to the divine, from a man to a woman, a man to a man, or even a woman to a woman, all relationships are about union: they are about two becoming one. And the more we can learn about one another, the better off we’ll all be in the end.
Copyright: Copyright 2005 Christopher Orapello
Location: Clementon, New Jersey
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Bio: Christopher is a south New Jersey Pagan and local artist. Father to several little critters and very bald. Enjoys painting and writing.
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