I think it's about time to get a little more personal in this whole conversation, to give people an greater understanding on where I get some of my ideas from.
Let's start with the basics...I was raised Irish Catholic. The cultural modifier is important, because for as pagan as Roman Catholicism appears, it ain't got nothin' on the Irish. Mima got to actually visit Ireland when she was younger, and while on a train ride she asked another woman if she believed in the "Little People". The woman responded, "Tsk, I'm a modern woman I am! Of course I don't believe in the Little People...but they're there just the same."
This pretty much exemplifies the Irish, at least as far as I was raised. I went to Catholic school, and was given all the liturgy and dogma, I learned the "stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight" pattern to the mass, sang the songs, did the dance...blah, blah, blah...and at home, when I asked my parents if animals went to heaven, because teacher said they didn't, I was told, "Of course they do."
I was also taught to make a wish on the New Moon over my left shoulder, to throw spilled salt over my shoulder, and that my Godmother and Mima could do magick.
I loved Yahweh, as my child's mind separated him from Jehova (who was kinda a douche, with all the plagues and smiting...), and loved Jesus cuz he seemed a really cool guy. But then there was the Blessed Mother...(you can prolly see where this is goin'... ;) )
Then I was told that I couldn't be an alter girl, like my worshiped older brother. That was pretty much the beginning of the end. I got the High School and read the Epic of Gilgamesh (in my freshman religion class...no, I'm not sure how that works either, but that teacher only lasted a year...), and generally realized that I didn't much like the god of the bible. I was reading a lot of mythology and fantasy and was *really* liking this whole "goddess" idea.
And then my Mother died.
I say without exaggeration that this single event has more impact on my life than any other. The ramifications continue to inform my decisions and probably will for the rest of my days.
While I was struggling with the anger and grief of not only the event, but with how my family shattered because of it, I discovered that I did not like the idea of my Mother in some distant heaven, so far removed and untouchable to me. And I sure wasn't even going to imagine that there was *any* remote possibility of a hell. F' that.
It was right around that time I discovered some books on Celtic mythology and learned about Tir nAn Og, or the Summerlands, the Land of Youth. Souls would rest and review their lives, learning their lessons and awaiting their beloveds so they could be born again together. Something in me wanted this so badly that I simply couldn't conceive of anything else.
Being a teen, I was pretty angry. Being a teen that had lost a Mother, had a crazy Father and Sister...I was raging. It bothered me that I was so angry all the time, so when my school gave us an opportunity to go to confession, I went, hoping that the priest could give me some idea of how to deal with myself. Looking back, I can say that I feel sorry for the priest...he simply didn't know what to do with me. I hadn't sinned, and he wasn't a psychologist. I don't blame him for the lack of solace I received from confession.
Walking back to class I went through a grassy patch. It had been watered and the cool sprinkles tickled my ankles...and I felt better. I don't know how to explain it other than all the anger I carried at that moment wooshed out of me through my feet and into the ground. the back to back events and how reacted to them remain a turning point in the development of my spirituality.
Later that year I dedicated myself to the Goddess under a Full Moon. I was 15 and wanted something other than what I had been taught in church growing up. I wanted a place where woman were not only not discriminated against, but were held in high esteem. I wanted magick to not only be possible, but expected every day. I wanted the ground beneath my feet to be sacred and not something to just be dominated. I wanted animals to have souls, and babies not to have to worry about "original sin" (I poked a badger with a spoon!). I wanted joy and love and laughter again. These I all received, like gifts, along with all the cool toys! (I got rocks and candles, beautiful smelling oils and incense, a rockin' awesome dagger for my athame, cloaks and robes, goblets and eventually a teeny, tiny baby cauldron...and then the metric ton of beautiful jewelry.)
I also, finally, got the sense that there was something else out there. Something that loved me, looked out for me, and wanted me to be bigger than I was, as big as I could be. It connected me to the earth beneath my feet and the vast universe above. Connected me to every living thing on the planet. It was a very good start.
When I was 18, I went to my Baccalaureate Mass (the last Mass you go to before graduating High School and become an adult) conscious of the fact that I was no longer Christian. It was my formal good bye.
It's been 20 years now since that night under the Full Moon and I am more comfortable now within my spirit than I was so long ago. Everything that I looked for I am still finding, and I choose consciously, everyday, to continue down the moonlit path. I can only hope that everyone finds this same sense of peace and joy in their spirit...it is a wonder indeed.
Well, I think I've rambled about myself for long enough. Next time I'll talk about the evolution of my ethics, and how they tie into my spirituality, and the epiphany I had over the course of a year. And *then* I think I'll go back and respond to my good friend's response to my response to her response of my post which was a response to her response of my post...woah...dizzy...
Thank you for reading, I am honored.
Till next time...Goddess bless,