Thursday, October 27, 2011

Witch's Circle: Commitment

There is some interesting conversation going on over at The Deepest Well for the first topic in the newly formed discussion group The Witch's Circle .

In a nutshell, we're asked as pagans-- how committed are we to our path if we have dedicated ourselves to paganism, but haven't renounced our previous faith? In her topic post, Aine says,
"In my opinion, it's too easy to dedicate to something without having to forfeit something else. There is no risk, nothing to lose and because of this, it's too easy to commit."

And, "Commitments are necessary, and sacrifices are a part of life. In your spiritual life, you can't walk two paths at the same time. These paths may run parallel to each other but they are separate."
So I've been chewing on this idea since yesterday. I understand the point, but I'm not sure that I really agree. I have dedicated to my path in ritual, in front of others. I have re-dedicated to my path. I have been part of several rituals where I challenged, guided and then welcomed new dedicants after their year and a day of study. These were rich, emotional, fulfilling rituals with vows that were taken seriously by all involved. But were they incomplete because they didn't include a renouncement of former faith?

I think not. At least for me.

I can't say that I grew up in a very religious family. I remember going to Methodist church when I was very little and I was part of the children's choir for a couple of years. But I don't remember being involved in the church much beyond those years, except for when I would spend the occasional weekend with my Gram and she would take me to her Baptist church.

In my teens and 20's I was confused about religion. I tried finding God by reading the Bible several times, but never made it very far past Genesis. Why was God so down on women? Why was he so angry and vengeful? Where was the love?

In my early 30's I was involved in a 12-steps program, two of those steps stating that I came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity, and, being willing to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God. Wait a minute. I didn't understand God. And I certainly wasn't willing to turn my life over to Him. So I went searching for understanding.

And on my last day as a Christian, I went to Easter services and listened to not one, but two pastors tell me I was an unworthy sinner who needed saved and blah blah blah. It was spring time, a time to be celebrating, and we sang doleful hymns about how Jesus died for our sins and without his sacrifice, we would never make it to heaven and everlasting life. After the service I sat in my car in the church parking lot and cried because I hadn't found God. And I made the decision to explore a different spiritual path, paganism.

Although I didn't state it out loud or during a dedication ritual or in front of witnesses-- I feel that at the moment I decided to pursue a pagan path, I renounced my former (tenuous) faith. I made a choice. I was committed to that choice. And after several years of study, I made a second commitment to my path when I went through a dedication ritual and gave myself to the Lady and the Lord.

I feel I renounced the Christian path when I made my choice to pursue paganism, but I don't renounce God or Jesus. I believe They are just different aspects of the Lord that I now honor. Only I know the Lord as Lugh and the Greenman and Hanuman and Father Sky and by other names. They are all different parts of the whole. How can I reject one of the many faces of the Lord, just because I don't connect with that aspect? Instead, I focus on the faces of the God that I do connect with.

What are your thoughts?


Dori said...

Wonderful post! Thank you.

Aine said...

Yes, you left your old faith behind before you committed to the new one. It doesn't matter that you didn't do it formerly.

And obviously you do not bring anything with you from the other faith to paganism, save an aspect of a god. But some people bring much, much more....

And I just think that there has to be a line drawn somewhere, even though this is a very free, beautiful and creative path. I wonder how much from another religion people can bring to this one and still call it Wicca/Witchcraft/Paganism?

I guess when I started seeing people call themselves Christian Witches I had to raise the red flag :)

Thank you so much for blogging on this subject and joining the Witch's Circle. I hope you participate again!!

intothedawn said...

DORI~ *hugs*

AINE~ I've always been confused? curious? about Christian witches too. Although one of the first books that I read on paganism (Ann Moura's "Green Witchcraft") does briefly touch on that topic. But to me, becoming pagan means leaving those types of ideas behind... Thanks for your comment!

Danni said...

You've hit the renouncement nail on the head; it doesn't need to be formal, you just need to walk away and fully commit to a new path. I think the beauty (and to some extent the hardest part) of having a pagan path is that there is no set in stone code of conduct nor an angry God telling you what to do or else you face eternal punishment.

Thank you for sharing your views, I'm happy to see you in our witchy discussion circle! :)

Tiffany said...

Very well said indeed. I was like you I only remember the younger years of church and then nothing till adult life.I got tired of being judge by people and condemned by the pastors. I most definitely agree with your last paragraph about the many faces of the Divine.

intothedawn said...

DANNI~ Its definitely a draw to not have an angry God, but you are right, it is sometimes a challenge to walk this path with no "Bible" to guide us. And yet the choice to use our own moral compass is another empowering draw to Wicca/Witchcraft.

TIFFANY~ It is sad, isn't it, that all we remember is the judgement? I often wonder, now much of that is really part of God's message & how much of that is created by those who choose to be his mouthpiece? Thanks for your comment!