Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Introduction Post: The Ramblings of a Spiritual Ponderer

*This post is not meant to offend any one of any religious background. These musings are based solely on my personal experiences and spiritual journey through this weird thing called life.  All negative and disrespectful comments will be deleted.

So I've been toying around with the idea of making a spiritual blog for quite some time now.  I dunno, maybe it's the fact that I am 30 and still feel completely lost in life.  I have neglected any sort of spiritualism all throughout my adolescence.  I grew up Catholic, went through about half of the Holy Sacraments as a young kid, not even fully knowing why I was taking part in these rituals.... I just went through the motions, cuz that's the path your parents wanted for you.  The thing is, religion can't really be TAUGHT.  I mean, yea it can... you can read different books that were written by man, including The Bible, The Kabbala, books on Paganism, Wicca, Shamanism, VoooDoo, HooDoo, You-do??... or any other book for that matter... but ironically enough, It's kind of like putting a science to this thing you're supposed to not see, but believe in.  Now before you assume that I am agnostic, that is very FAR from the case.  I guess what I am trying to say, is that I have always looked at church as some kind of obligation. An obligation that you feel like you HAD to do, or you would be looked down upon, from family, peers, the church, etc.  These people look down upon you and fear for your soul, for where you would end up after you died, because you didn't go to church on Sunday.  I can't help but laugh at that notion. I would be punished because I didn't show up to "God's House", a man-made building, every Sunday at the "Ungodly" hour (pun intended) of the ass crack of dawn? Yea. right....  

I do remember one instance when I was about to make my confirmation in the 8th grade.  First things first, they make you do an "interview" with the priest to make sure you know enough about the 7 sacraments, The Bible, the Church, The Religion, your Beatitudes, Commandments, who the Pope is, who the Archdiocese is, etc. etc. etc. You're questioned, Interrogation Style... Like a cross-examination... and if you failed, you weren't supposed to make your Confirmation.  So I went to this interview a couple weeks or so before my confirmation ceremony. It was a very intimidating process, and if you ask a 13 year old those heavy questions... they're either gonna spit out answers that they studied, without any inclination as to how religion should not work, but FEEL like... OR they're gonna do what I did, and look at the priest like, "Um... I left talent show practice for this?" (which was exactly MY situation). So I left there feeling less than enthused about moving on with my peers to the next stage of "spirituality".  I didn't get my grade right away either...

So a week goes by or so, and I was in my regularly scheduled CCD class on Wednesday afternoon, and our teacher decided to take us over to the church to practice and go through the motions of the ceremony.  I don't remember exactly how it came up, the kids were bugging him to give them their grades or something.  He said something along the lines of, "I can't tell you right now, but I can tell you that only one person in this class has failed". Of course now the kids wanna know, so they bugged and bugged him a bit more and then finally he goes, "Ok Ok"... he looked in my direction and said, "Justina You Failed"... In front. of. the. whole. class..... Who does that? Who just picks out one person from the bunch and discloses their personal information.  That information should have been confidential, especially in a group of kids who have NO respect for feelings, and poke fun at other people's failures.  That was the very moment that I knew the Catholic religion was not for me.  I was at the age where I was able to start forming my own opinions, and my opinion at this point was that I shouldn't have to feel bullied in my beliefs... Beliefs and religion are a VERY PERSONAL THING... Which is why I was debating to even start up a blog in the first place.  I'm a pretty private person when it comes to pondering things like this, and I only talk about these things to people who I know can handle what I have to say, and RESPECT my beliefs, even if they don't agree with them.  

Now I am not knocking what other people believe at all, and if THEY want to believe that's what will happen after they leave this earth, then by all means... Believe what makes you FEEL right, and at peace.  I just don't agree with the preachy nature of such structured religions.  I do respect them, and I will never knock someone else's beliefs, or try to convert ANYONE to MY personal beliefs... I just wish some (I realize not all behave like this) members of other religions would have the same respect.  But I guess that's why this is world is as crazy as it is.  No one will ever believe the same thing, and no one will ever agree to disagree... Which is why there is so much violence and death over what everyone else believes in, which is so unbelievably sad and disgusting to me.  

If these people who are so offended at the THOUGHT that there are people different from them in the world, could just get past their personal prejudices, the world would be such a better place.  Now I am not pointing the finger at Catholics for the suffering in the world, that is not what I am doing AT ALL... I am merely using them as an example in my own personal experience... but I am recognizing that there are prejudiced people from EVERY religion/race etc. Being bullied in a religion that was supposed to be my safe haven, it was so contradictory to me for the church to even behave this way.  Now I did end up making my confirmation after my mom told off my teacher for embarrassing me like that, in front of my peers... but that was the end of my time with the Catholic Church. After that my mom had us try out a smaller chapel of the Protestant religion.  I'm still not really even sure what that means, but it definitely was a lot more engaging to me to be surrounded with such loving people. They welcomed us with open arms, we attended bible school and went on retreats, etc.  It was a lovely atmosphere.  This church really welcomed people from all walks of life, and they still do.

However, such a structured practice of the church on Sundays deal, still did not appeal to me as I grew older, so eventually we had stopped going.  For ME personally, I feel like religion starts WITHIN yourself.  Praying is not something I feel comfortable doing around other people, so a congregation type of atmosphere is not ideal for me.  It's the same reason I hate going to the gym... I feel like when I am engaging in something that should be to better myself, it's a very personal thing, and I don't like feeling like I'm being watched, or judged for doing things the "wrong way"... and there are always those hardcore zealots of any religion who have SOMETHING to say about the way things SHOULD be done... Anyone who thinks they know it all about any one religion or belief system, and anyone who thinks they know where we go when we leave this earth because of what a man made book tells them, I just personally can't buy it... Cuz here's the thing... NOBODY KNOWS! Yes there are accounts of people having near death, out of body, gone to heaven and back experiences, but at the end of the day, nobody truly knows anything... we are mortals, still in our life on earth.  No one can sit there and tell you that you're going to heaven or hell, or that you're not going anywhere, or that you dissipate like dust into the many farticles of the universe, or that you're going to come back as a butterfly, or another person in your next life. There accounts of ALL of these things... but no one REALLY knows for sure... 

Maybe different things happen to everybody? Maybe some people go to heaven, some go to hell, some come back as butterflies, some come back as other people, some disappear into the oblivion of the galaxy of some crazy 5th dimension.  Whatever you believe in, it's all very possible.  Believe in whatever makes you feel whole... whatever gets you excited when you think about it, whatever makes you excited enough to talk about it with other like-minded individuals. Save your arguments and your waste of breath hashing it out with people who don't respect what you have to say.  It's more than okay to have deep philosophical conversations with people who believe in other things, but only when they can be open minded enough to see things from another's perspective. There is a difference between healthy philosophical debate and flat out ignorance and closed minded argumentative personalities. Don't get too caught up in those fights that leave you feeling negative, bullied, or judged.  Engage in conversations that leave you feeling uplifted and curious. Study other religions or belief systems, don't close yourself off, you are only doing yourself a disservice.  

It's just important to find a path that's right for YOU. I consider myself eclectic, and for the longest time, I thought I was just not religious or didn't believe in anything at all because I couldn't just choose any one religion that I completely and whole-y believed in.  

Did I abandon the Catholic and Christian beliefs that I was raised with completely? No, not completely... I was raised with it, and no matter how much I move forward with other beliefs, it will still be a part of me.  I still go to church when there is need for it, and sometimes there is a need for it... I also grew up studying earth based religions such as Paganism & Druidism which have been around centuries before the Catholic religion had even formed. The Catholics had actually taken a lot of their practice from those older world religions and passed it off as their own, giving the earth religions a bad wrap.. accusing people of witchcraft or satanism, which is not what Paganism, Wiccan, Druidism, Shamanism, etc. are about at all.. They are solely about your love and respect for Mother Nature, and using the natural earth around you to heal yourself and others, or manifest things you may need more or less of in your life...The negative connotations of these Earthy religions still exist today, which is very unfortunate, because they have nothing to do with devil worship, which is what most uneducated people assume. I also identify very much with more eastern philosophies like the idea of reincarnation and karma.  I believe that whatever you put out into The Universe, you're only going to get back... What goes around comes around, and I've seen it happen time and time again.  I also believe that we do come back in another life, maybe not right after we expire, but maybe if we haven't fulfilled our soul's purpose in this life time, maybe it will be in a next, whenever your soul decides to re-manifest in another human being, animal, tree, etc.,    Eastern beliefs appeal to me very much so, I've dabbled in studies of Buddhism which touches more on principals of spirituality and thought & meditation as opposed to a set of rules or principles like that of a structured religion.  Also Hinduism and the aspects of being Polytheistic is intriguing to me, looking to different gods & goddesses to aid you in your workings and prayers toward the different areas of your life.  And it doesn't even stop there, there are tons and tons of religions to delve into, to really educate yourself about, and that to me is a beautiful thing. 

I just needed to figure it out for myself.  Upon all of my research and experiences up to this point, I seem to mostly identify with principles of Pantheism. I don't believe in any one supreme being...I believe that The Universe as a whole is responsible for how things carry out in our lives... ( I have had instances with receiving signs from The Universe, but I will delve into those occurrences in another post at another time)  ... But I also believe that we are also responsible for creating our own lives within that Universe.  So this year for me, has been me coming to terms with my Spirituality, and acknowledging that it does in fact exist, that it does beat in my heart, and pulse through my veins.  I don't need a set religion or list of rules to follow, or an expensive list of tools to help me carry out these crazy rituals (although it is much fun to collect beautiful crystals or tools of divination).  All I need is the earth, myself, and the power that I hold within. 

I do believe in the afterlife, in spirits, spirit guides, and all of that fun stuff... So I do believe that there is some weird higher and beautiful power out there controlling this weird thing called life.... Is it God? I don't know if you can give it a name.. maybe it is God... but I can tell you it's probably not some Man with a white beard sitting on a fluffy cloud.. is it even a man? Maybe it's Morgan Freeman in a white suit? Maybe not.. Is it a woman? Maybe not... I think it's all encompassing... it's greater than anyone will ever know.... 

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