So, last night I couldn’t sleep. Which means I finally fell asleep this morning and slept most of the day. So my day began a few hours ago. And what have I done with my “day?” Well, it began with a post on the “Pagan Newbies” board about interesting information pages, which led me to the blog “Rogue Priest” and his explanation for why he is not a Pagan. I then read another article – “Why Wicca is Not Celtic Paganism” – and it got me thinking. I added the section about my faith recently, and it is an accurate look at my beliefs. But today my mind has been focused on what am I.
Well, for one thing, I am not a Wiccan. There are many teachings within Wicca that I embrace – universalism, dualism, a recognition of the four elements, and the focus on the individual. I believe that all Deities are expressions of the same Divine Power, the same creative force. I don’t go so far as believing that each goddess is merely a “mask” or separate face of a single Goddess – for this, to me, would assume that there is an overall Goddess and by worshiping a single goddess, we fail to acknowledge the whole might of the Goddess. I believe for myself, there is only Danu and Dagda. I have interacted with other Gods and Goddesses – each a unique and vibrant living entity. And, since I have started worshiping with Joshwa, I have had brushes with Elohim – the once elusive God of the Christians and Jews – and I know that he and Dagda are not one God wearing different masks. But they do spring from the same Divine Power. I have used the analogy many times that the Divine Power is on one side of a broken window and we are on the other. When I look through the section of window given me (be it by the lessons for my life and events in it, or if my section determines those things) I can only see the Divine in my own way. Some peering through another section of window will see something completely different – but it doesn’t mean we are looking at two different things.
As for dualism, I agree that there is a God and Goddess – but I don’t see their relationship and interactions are the same as viewed by Wiccans. I did, once, but like many things within Wicca, it was wrong. My God and Goddess have many forms – from youth to parent to elder – but they don’t live out this yearly tableau. They are all, coming to me as I need to learn or heal or commune.
When it comes to the recognition of the four Elements – and the four cardinal directions – most of my beliefs in relation to them are holdovers from my early days of Wiccan crossover and my years of worshiping with my Wiccan best friends. The Elemental associations of creatures and people are a good personality map, and it’s true that I am – quite literally – drawn to air in the form of the wind. I am energized by it, fed by it, and inspired by it. It is like a memory of flight, and the antithesis of my greatest fear – suffocation/drowning. But I am also drawn to storms with the same verve. It’s not just the wind – though a wind without rain is preferable to a rain without wind – but storms give me the same sense of peace and energy, joy and a release of sorrow. I am fascinated by what I have heard of the Celtic belief that the world is divided into three instead of four – air/above, earth, and water/below. I don’t know much about it – the times I’ve looked into those who could give me more information, I’ve been met with hostility and cynicism. I am once again drawn to searching – so if you have advice or places to look, please pass it along.
Finally, individualism. I have a personal relationship with my dearest Dagda and Danu – one that has led me through the darkest day of my life and flew with me on the greatest days and greatest achievements. My path is an individual path, my beliefs individual beliefs. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t place importance on community, nor does it mean that my beliefs are completely individual. It simply means that I cannot follow a system of beliefs if I disagree with its tenants and I will not call myself the follower of a belief system if I am “editing” it to fit my actual beliefs.
Those are the basic ideals of Wicca that I do agree with – and why they aren’t enough – but there are other ideals of Wicca that originally turned me from Wicca years ago. First is the ideal of “Harm None”. It seems, at first glance a good and right command. But then, I am NOT a vegetarian. I am not a complete pacifist. I believe that harming none is an ideal for an ideal world. But this isn’t Randland and I wouldn’t follow the Way of the Leaf if it were. (WoT reference) If my family (blood or otherwise) is threatened, I will do all in my power to defend them. I will continue to eat meat, because I like it. I have heard “apologetics” who claim that it is only a law in regards to magic – which, I see as a completely separate matter from religion – that you shouldn’t practice magic against another. But that isn’t what the Wiccan Rede states. It says “harm none” not “harm none when you do a,b,c.” And while I believe in karma, it is a “what goes around comes around” rather than a specific law, such as the Rule of Three.
Well, I base my beliefs off of what I know of the ancient Irish beliefs, mainly from the stories passed down, since I have nothing but the history myths and Divine inspiration. So am I a Celtic Pagan? Yes and no. I do recognize the many aspects of my God and Goddess – I’ve spoken on this before with the many ways Dagda is portrayed and described, as if he could be classified in any one way. And both Danu and Dagda are of the Irish pantheon. I also believe in honoring the spirits of a place, especially if you use their place for your worship. And, of course, I find great peace in honoring my ancestors – recent and ancient.
I believe that the family – and, in turn, community – is the heart of religion. That is why it has been so important for Joshwa and I to meld our beliefs into a cohesive tradition – because it’s not enough for us to independently walk our paths, but to have a tradition that incorporates our entire family. I believe that spirituality is about more than what is beyond this life – it’s about living this life in a way that connects with the Divine every day. It’s about honoring life and the lives we’re given.
But I don’t know that I “qualify” as a Celtic (Irish) Pagan. So, I call myself an eclectic Irish Pagan. My basic beliefs are based off what I know of the ancient Irish belief – the belief of my ancestors and since we don’t know what they called themselves, Pagan works. But I will continue to use the “eclectic” adjective because I know that my beliefs don’t line up completely with what is known as Modern Celtic Paganism and I refuse to change (or claim to change) what I believe to fit into a certain belief system.
So, I am studying again. Still writing (still waiting to hear back from Yahoo!). So, I bid you all to seek. And to share. Brightest blessings.