Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Wednesday Factoid: Religion

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you religious or spiritual?

Not in the traditional sense, no. I identify as an atheistic eclectic Pagan, which for simplicity's sake means I have a vaguely Pagan outlook on life (i.e., the Earth is the most sacred thing we have), but I don't subscribe to a specific tradition or practice and I don't believe in any gods.

What I appreciate most about Pagan traditions is the connection a person can experience to their environment and their past. I like the link to antiquity--to the emergence of humanity as a race looking for its meaning--and I like how the practices represent reminders of what we grew from and our identity as human beings. What I personally practice is very little actual ritual, but I redecorate my apartment every season (eight times a year) as a reminder of the wheel's rotation, and I like to engage in seasonal baking with old Pagan recipes (or new ones with Pagan symbolism). Another piece of Pagan lore I enjoy is elemental symbolism. I also have a prominent altar in my room that holds symbolic items; the left side is for goddess symbols, the right side is for god symbols, and the center is for displaying whatever seasonal items are appropriate.

Altar in late winter
Altar at midsummer

When I was in college and for some years afterwards, I experimented with more involved traditions, and ultimately just didn't find them fulfilling after enjoying the discovery. I know how to do all the stuff Pagans are famous for (the rituals, the spellcasting, the invocations, etc.), but it just didn't mean a whole lot to me except as a symbol, and when you don't believe in gods it just kinda feels more like you're talking to yourself--which I can do without spending a lot of time and energy on a messy ritual. I've enjoyed them in the past and understand why other people enjoy them too, but these days I'd rather celebrate differently. It certainly made for great research for developing the Pagan-based traditions my characters belong to in my fantasy trilogy, though!

Leading a Winter Solstice ritual with a friend in 1999
Oh, and I love Pagan music, too. I have a great deal of CDs by Pagan musicians and I know a lot of chants. It's fun.

I was raised in a Jewish tradition, and while I appreciate the connections to the past that provides as well, I'm not enthusiastic about some of the specifics of its tenets. I was more interested in Judaism as a subject than as a practice of religion, and enjoyed learning Hebrew as a child and celebrating the holidays with my family throughout my life.

Hanukkah candles with my sisters
In 2008 I inherited my family's Sedar plate that belonged
to my grandfather's mother!

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