Confusion Setting In… TMI, Brain Overload!
When I discovered Paganism, I was sixteen years old from a use-to-be-every-Sunday-to-a-holiday-holy Christian family (we went to church on holidays… maybe). I just realized that I was *shhhh* gay. And I wasn’t feeling welcomed at my church and a lot of my friends weren’t handling the news all that well.
The girl I was seeing at the time was Pagan, and she introduced me to it through To Ride A Silver Broomstick by Silver RavenWolf (the old one… with the super stereotypical drawing on the front and everything… I took that sucker to school like it was a Bible… Don’t judge me). I spent a while calling myself Wiccan/Pagan/Witch and doing minor spells and the like. I really liked the fact that it was against what was against me (Christianity), and I liked that it accepted me regardless.
As I grew up and came into my own, I really struggled with Wiccan belief and practice. There was a lot of stuff that I really struggled with believing and understanding and learning… Like the idea that the God was the Goddess’s child, but then He grows up to get Her pregnant so He can be reborn again… And then the new, waxing, full and waning moon was represented in the Goddess’s life as maiden, mother, and crone… and then the Holy King and and Oak King are representations of the God, but it’s two different people who battle it out… And do I call corners (which are really in a circle, which doesn’t have corners) starting at north or east? Where did these names come from for these holidays? And how DO you pronounce Samhain?
What I found out was that it really depends on your personal preference. There are a couple ways to pronounce Samhain, and you may not even call the holiday that. You may not even celebrate it on the same day (some celebrate it in November). And the more I read and studied, the more I realized that Wicca really wasn’t for me. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t sit right. It felt like I was trying too hard to make things work. Now, I’m not talking smack about Wicca because I know many Wiccans who love their faith and their Deities and their practices, and I’m so happy that they and many others have a home with the Goddess and the God, but it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t chosen.
At one point, I sat down and just thought, seriously, about what I already believed about spirituality and the higher powers. I came up with a list (keep in mind, this is a 16/17 year old talking):
- There is one higher power because everything had to start somewhere.
- All other Gods or Goddesses must be the same thing because everything had to start somewhere.
- Christianity isn’t for me.
- Wicca isn’t for me.
Pretty basic, huh?
The Witches’ Voice use to have a page that listed traditions with a little blurb about what it was and what they believed. They have a variation it now, but it’s about four pages long, which is way more information than I would have read just starting out if it had been like that when I was 16. I was reading through the list one day and came across a brief description of Kemeticism, which said something along the lines of “a reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian beliefs, Kemetics believe in a single higher power for which all other Kemetic Gods and Goddesses are a part of.” Whaaaaat???
A quick search of Kemeticism online gave me the Kemetic Orthodox website and almost nothing else, but I ate up every bit of information on that website that I could, and everything I read simply fit. After that, I researched everything I could on the history of Ancient Egypt and what scholars said about their ancient faith. I tried to form up a practice for myself on my own (because the KO site wouldn’t let minors take their beginner class without parental permission, which I knew I wasn’t getting, and I didn’t want to lie as a way to begin a religious practice).
And then I had the dream. One night, I was laying in bed. It was maybe two or three in the morning at this point. I was staring at the ceiling, and I was praying for a sign. Praying to whatever God or Goddess would listen because I felt lost and confused and unsure of what to believe. I was struggling physically from the pain of rejection and the fear of disappoint about being and coming out as gay. I was struggling spiritually because there was too much information about Wicca, Kemeticism, and Paganism in general. I prayed hard and desperately for help and answers, and then this monstrous black cat walked into my room and jumped on my bed. It wasn’t like a panther or anything like that, but it was definitely the largest domesticated cat I had ever seen.
It curled up into my lap, and I started to just pet it while I prayed. And I felt comforted. I didn’t question where this massive cat came from, even though we didn’t have a black cat this large as a pet. I laid there, pet the cat, and was comforted. Then I realized who this cat was: Ubasti, the Egyptian Goddess of commonly known as Bast. She was there protecting me and comforting me and letting me know that everything was going to be okay. She chose me, and She was letting me know that.
My eyes flew open. I was laying in the bed, just as I had been. My hand fell to my stomach. Ubasti was gone, but I could still feel where I had pet Her on my hand, the pressure on my abdomen was still lingering. I knew at that moment that everything would be okay, that I had a place where I belonged.
Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring other young Pagans. I don’t necessarily mean “young” as in age, but young as in new to Paganism. I inevitably get asked the questions, “There’s so much information out there, where to I begin to study?” and “How do I know which path is right for me?”
With Christianity, the answer is fairly simple, “Start by getting a study Bible and reading. Visit different churches until you find one that feels like home.” But with Paganism, the answer isn’t as simple. A lot of the information we have about the ancient ways has been lost to history and change.
One thing I’ve noticed about Paganism as a whole is that it isn’t as much a just a belief that you have or a faith you participate it. It’s not something that you do, it is something that you are. Being Pagan is a lifestyle. It’s how you live and how you interact with people. A lot of the ancients’ faith was ingrained into their day-to-day life. The Ancient Egyptians’ faith, for example, was based around the flooding of the Nile. If the Nile didn’t flood, then they didn’t eat. They had three seasons based on a lunar calendar that dealt with the Great Flood. Their day-to-day life fully involved their faith. As such an integral part of the every day, the people didn’t necessarily write everything down, and much of what has been written has been either poorly translated or is in such fragments that it’s difficult to put together.
When I first started studying, there wasn’t a lot of information out there, and I was still overwhelmed from what I learned. Today, the information is overflowing, so it’s easy to see how newcomers to the faith can get overwhelmed. And it’s something that we, as a community, need to be aware of if we want this culture to survive and flourish.
I’ve read a lot this past week about needing choices, correctness and how to be a Pagan. The Twisted Rope wrote a wonderful piece called “Teaching Someone How to Pagan is Like Teaching Someone How to Art.” Von says, “You can only learn how to art by doing. Religion is much the same way, especially the less institutionalized religions of the Pagan umbrella.” Over at The Cry of Cicada Sinks into the Stone, Cicadinae wrote a wonderful blog about “Correctness” saying, “…don’t get so swamped in correctness that you cease to live your life, either spiritually or otherwise.”
And isn’t that it, exactly? In a world that teaches us that there is one answer and one answer only, it is hard for us to comprehend making mistakes and being okay with making mistakes. When I get asked the “where do I start” and “which path do I choose” questions, I respond with, “Start with simple prayer. Start with finding a book that calls to you. Start with thinking about what you already believe and maybe writing it down.”
The Gods are calling to you; all you need to do is listen. They’ve placed situations in your life, feelings that are designed to draw you to Them. Always been fascinated by the Ancient Greeks or Romans? Maybe you always felt a pull towards the Ancient Egyptians, as I did. Maybe the Bible really is calling to you all these years, or the Torah. Think about things you have an inexplicable passion for: swimming, hiking, the beach in the heat of the Sun, or skiing in the cool mountain breezes. The Gods are in all those things waiting for the moment where you’re ready for the call.
You must make your own choice, in all your confusion about where to begin and which path to follow, to earnestly seek the Gods. You may not know their name or their pantheon, but if you allow yourself to be guided by your heart and feelings rather than your mind full of questions, the Gods will lead you to the answers that you seek. You don’t need to know their names before you speak to them or they speak to you.
So right now, if you’re out there and you’re reading this and you aren’t sure what path you need to be on or which way you need to turn or where you should start studying, before you go to bed tonight or at any point to day when you get the chance, I want you to do the following: find a quiet place of peace for you. It could be your bedroom or your back porch or the woods or wherever you feel comfortable and won’t be interrupted. Then, I want you to open yourself up to the Higher Powers at Be. You can meditate or you can pray or you can talk aloud, which ever makes you more comfortable. Be completely open and honest to the Gods about your confusion, your loss, your needs. Ask them for guidance.
Do this on a regular basis. Then visit a book store and browse the pagan section or the history section or browse around online about different faiths. Be open to feeling a pull towards a certain topic or book, and when you feel it, go with it. The Gods are speaking to you and guiding you, but you must remain open to Their guidance. They help those that seek Them.
Study and Prayer. Those are the two biggest things that can, in my opinion, help newcomers to the faith. Study and Prayer. Formalization of beliefs and ideas, learning names of the Gods and different practices… Those come with time and those will change over your lifetime, but study and prayer…
Study everything you can. And pray often. And then watch the confusion melt away into a spiritual and life changing awakening.
Posted on February 5, 2014, in Faith, Kemeticism, Pagan Blog Project, Paganism, PBP, Religion, Spirituality and tagged C, faith, Gods, kemetic, kemeticism, kemetism, pagan, Pagan Blog Project, paganism, PBP, religion, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.