The Syncretic Pagan
Article Specs |
Article ID: 8282
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,245
Times Read: 8,762
Author: Laura Salmonstone
Posted: February 7th. 2004
Times Viewed: 8,762
I am a Quaker Pagan - both a Quaker and a Pagan at the same time. My Pagan practice is influenced by many different traditions and experiences, and my spirituality is a blending of all of these influences.
I was born and raised a Quaker. Quakerism is formally known as the Religious Society of Friends, and is a type of Protestant Christianity with an emphasis on the belief that "there is that of God" in everyone. This concept of divinity in everyone is sometimes called the "Inner Light" or "Inner Christ." Friends are known for our silent worship (there is no need for a minister if everyone is connected to God), decision-making by consensus (God speaks through everyone), and strong stances and activism on peace, equality, abolition, women's rights, and the environment, among other causes.
I consider Quaker to be my cultural background, as it strongly informs the person I have become today. Being involved with the Friends community on a local, national, and international scale helped in giving me the support I needed as a liberal child of liberal parents in a conservative Midwestern town, and helped me spread my wings as a young adult traveling to London, Kenya, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and finally to Seattle, where I have now settled.
Quakerism in the US has gone through changes over the years as religious trends have made their impact across the nation. Today, Quakers run the gamut from Evangelical (who do typically have a minister) to politically liberal and more universalist-leaning "Unprogrammed Friends." My background is the latter. My first exposure to Goddess culture and study came from Friends gatherings. I have always experienced divinity in nature, and having parents involved in a Quaker organization committed to environmental causes certainly reinforced that for me. While early Quakers were very Christian and connected with divinity as Jesus Christ (and certainly some modern ones are as well), Quakerism as I experienced it allowed me to connect with the Divine in the manner that resonated with me.
I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley for the first time when I was in junior high, and I was filled with a great longing to be a priestess of the Goddess. My spirituality developed out of Quakerism and the presence of the Goddess in my life. Over the years since then, I have certainly felt Her call. I found divinity in the midst of silent Quaker Meeting for Worship, on a walk in the woods, in my family, my friends, my cat and dog, in the stars, in the ocean, in a flowing river. When I moved to Seattle, I saw the sacred in our pebble beaches, the evergreen forests, salmon spawning, Mt. Rainier - Tahoma - shining Her white peak on sunny summer days. I felt that of God in my new friends and my Quaker Meeting community. I saw that immanent divinity in Northwest Coast Native Art, tulip fields, ferry trips, islands, winter storms rolling across the ocean beaches.
I realized I was Pagan after reading Book of Shadows by Phyllis Curott, picked up almost on a lark. As I read it, I realized I could be a priestess in the here and now. I searched online for local Pagans and found a group that offers public ritual once a month. I read many books and met many people, and I found something that made my heart sing. One day in Quaker Meeting, I knew it would be a long time before I was in Meeting again. I had come to know candlelit rituals and cauldrons full of flame, casting circles and invoking the Goddess into my own self. Meeting was now too quiet for me.
So I stopped going to Meeting and became a priestess with this local group, offering rituals to the public once a month. I read Starhawk, Carol P. Christ, Patricia Monaghan, Scott Cunningham, Emma Restall Orr. I've attended or participated in Wiccan rituals, Goddess circles, Druid Gorsedd, Pagan festivals, co-ed and women-only circles, skyclad, robed, public, private, and solitary rites. I've experienced Reclaiming, the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Georgian Wicca, and the Sean Ciall traditions. I've been taught the Star Ruby, invoking the Watchtowers, and the Tree of Life, but I've also had rituals without ceremonial magick influences - just me, a stone, some milk and honey, the wind, and the Goddess. I've worked with Brigid, Danu, Hecate, the Earth Mother, Inanna, Cerridwen, Green Man, Cernnunos, the Horned One, and with ancestors, local spirits, trees, standing stones, waterways, and salmon. I build seasonal altars and have spaces dedicated to the four elements and the Goddess and the God around my home.
My spirituality is still about seeing the Inner Light of people, the sacred in nature, in trees and rocks and water, in the earth and sky around me - immanent divinity. I believe that Spirit is one Divine energy source, and I believe that there is that of God in everyone, and I believe that there is a Goddess and a God, and I have felt the energy of specific deities, and I believe that each tree and rock and creature has spirit. Mono-duo-poly-pan-theism - they all work for me and apply to my experience. I enjoy candlelit ritual, circles outdoors in sun and rain, quiet meditation in the woods - and, (I finally came back to) in silent Quaker Meeting for Worship. So after an absence of about three years, I have finally started attending Meeting again. Now I find the quiet to be comforting and peaceful. Meeting is a time that I can regularly look within and take a break from the bustle of my life.
I am not the only Quaker Pagan out there. I have found an online community and am starting to send out feelers into the local Quaker and Pagan communities to see if there are others in my area called to both practices. My online community has had some discussions about how people integrate the two (or more!) aspects of their spirituality. I have heard of Quaker Pagan Meeting for Worship, which can be silent worship inside a cast circle or silent worship on Pagan-themed queries or symbols, such as the dark moon - or both. It can be bringing a Quaker sense of that of God in everyone and consensus- decision making to Pagan organizations or covens. It can be attending Quaker Meeting and listening for the Goddess within while knowing that some of the Friends around me connect with the Christ within.
I've found a balance that works well for me. I have a Quaker heritage and foundation and it still has a presence in my life. At the same time, I have an eclectic Pagan practice in my day-to-day life. I have found room for both/and, not either/or. When my partner and I were married, we had a Wiccan handfasting ceremony, accompanied by a Quaker wedding certificate. I have ongoing opportunities for continual learning and growth, and high hopes for integrating my spiritualities with others who share my leanings in the future.
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Laura Salmonstone - Click HERE
Bio: Laura is a priestess with Our Lady of the Earth and Sky (OLOTEAS) and a member of University Friends Meeting. She lives with her partner and two cats in Seattle.
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Laura Salmonstone... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
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