The Uphill Battle, part 5: All for now

It was all a wonderful whirl for a while- reading Starhawk and Adler for the first time , getting involved in my first circles and groups, attending my first Pagan gathering.  It was an interesting time to become a Pagan- the Gay and Lesbian (this was, IIRC, before “LGBT” was a thing) community had “discovered” Paganism, and a lot of interaction was going on… as a matter of fact, the first handfasting I ever attended was for a gay couple.  There was some disgruntlement about this from the more conservative folks in the community, but it wasn’t an issue with the Pagans I hung out with.

There was, however, an ugly situation or series of situations in the loose affiliation of groups that formed my part of the Pagan community.  I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of it, so I’m not going to go any further into it; let it suffice to say that it led to the messy dissolution of that affiliation, and thence to the founding of the Free Spirit Alliance… and was a reason for its original phoenix logo.  I was involved in that, and attended the first Free Spirit Gathering– as a matter of fact, I was volun-told into being the head of cleanup, which wasn’t too arduous.

I think I was a bit of a pest about being a Pagan at times; I chalk this up to youthful enthusiasm coupled with a convert’s zeal.  I was very serious about a lot of things, in that “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” way…  On the other hand, indirectly led to a very interesting conversation with my college roommate:  he was fuming about some of the campus evangelicals, and said something about how their behavior offended him as a Christian.  I (slightly gobsmacked) said something about him never telling me he was a Christian, and he told me that it was all about how he lived and what he did more than what he claimed he was.  It was one of those moments; I think I chilled out a bit on the proselytizing from that point on, and I know it has informed and empowered my Pagan practice to this day.

Eventually, eclectic Wicca started to dead-end for me.  Ariana performed an “initiation into my own path” for me, which was powerful and helpful but didn’t lead to any huge revelations.  I entered a long period of encountering traditions and paths that called to me but ended up just not being right for me.  There was a repeating pattern:  I would come across something new that attracted me; I would investigate, read, meet and talk to practitioners, attend rituals and ceremonies; and then at some point it would just go flat, and I would walk away.  I became resigned to following my own idiosyncratic and syncretic path, sometimes braided with others’ but still very much its own thing.  Something to be proud of, perhaps, but also a bit lonely.  Until I joined UToS, that is- but that’s another story.

Meeting, wooing, and winning my Monster was also essential to my spiritual development.  Not in the “destined soulmates” sort of way, mind you.  But the slow, patient, difficult and often devastating work we’ve done over the years to twine our love and lives together- that has burned out so much dross in me, illuminated so many dark corners.  She has been so good for me, in so many ways.  Besides, she has a streak of bloody-minded ruthlessness (monster, remember) that I lack… she has my back, as I have hers.

My religion, my faith, my belief has been a process of addings and takings away that has continued to this day.  Some of the constant themes:  polytheism (pretty solidly on the “hard” end of the scale), multiple truths and multiple layers of truth, humanity (and everything created by humanity) as a part of nature, the importance of compassion and kindness… perhaps at some point I will post my “Credo”, something I worked out during my time at CHS

I still have problems with faith and belief, of course.  In the end, the Law of Pragmatism is still immensely helpful.  There’s also a quote from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins that my Monster and I use:  “Does it matter- ghost, or what?”  I try very hard to be comfortable with a lack of knowledge without losing belief or faith.  I hope that this series of posts has helped you understand some of the “why” of that struggle, and how important it has been to my life.

I’ll end it here with a disclaimer:  autobiographers are sometimes the ultimate unreliable narrators, and I’m acting as a storyteller and a poet here, not a historian.  Memory is a fluid and fractal thing; I’ve included no deliberate deceits, but I’ve arranged things to make a coherent and cogent narrative rather than a historical one.

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