religion

I grew up Catholic, then met a boy two years older who was smart and tall and loved me like I was his last breath. He was an atheist, but he called me his angel.

I have to give him credit, because I never questioned things before him. He made me skeptical. Later, cynical. I questioned the anxiety I felt at home, and why my family injected into my heart more fear than love. I questioned my future in “some sort of science” and realized my hands couldn’t stand to spend their energy with numbers and figures but chose art instead. I questioned even that: my writing was so frivolous and childish compared to his–his made me feel emotions I never thought about when writing my silly science fiction and high-octane adventure. Eventually, I even questioned our relationship. We broke it off after maybe half a year or so.

I was an atheist. Then an agnostic. I used science and logic above all else, and when others touted faith I labelled them as ignorant.

That lasted awhile. It’s hard to be an atheist when you’re afraid of ghosts. Not necessarily that I believe in ghosts, but long hallways and creaks in the night do frighten me more than they ever would an atheist. Perhaps an atheist would be afraid of these sounds but first think of burglars, you argue. True, I say. But I don’t think of burglars, I think of ghosts.

Spirits, maybe. Spirits would probably be more politically correct.

Thanks to that first love of mine, I also stopped performing so much of my life. I had told him it would be hard for him to meet my friends, as I acted so differently around him than I did them. I told him everything, you see. He knew me better than I did, myself. He found this confusing.

Aren’t you yourself, with me?

Yes.

Then why aren’t you yourself with them?

Again, it was something I had never questioned before.

With this loss of performance, I stopped performing atheism as well. There are mysteries in the world we can’t explain, I said to myself but never out loud. I was afraid to out myself as a faltering academic to my scientific friends. They’d say I was going off the rails. Drama kids and their yoga bullshit. They’re getting to her, they’d say. Or not. I was so worried about what they’d say.

In any case, I was a secret agnostic, hiding both from my religious family and vehemently anti-regilious friends. And I stayed that way for quite some time.

Then I graduated college.

They say God comes to you in times of need. I turned instead to Wicca. Don’t people always? I feel like Wicca wouldn’t still exist if not for college kids experiencing some sort of crisis.

I put off job applications to learn tarot cards. I swept off the top of a bookcase to make my little alter and burned candles at midnight. I meditated with crystals clutched deep in the pit of my palms.

I don’t really believe in it. But what it has been doing is calming my anxiety–ah, did you notice the tense change? I’m still in this phase of life.

The thing about Wicca is it’s kind of silly, but isn’t all religion? What’s the difference, between praying on your knees or meditating in a lotus position? Eating Jesus’s bread and body versus lighting a handful of candles? Eh. Maybe it’s because Catholicism is so pagan, honestly. So many crazy traditions ripped from local religions. Maybe it’s me getting back to my roots after all, but roots that extend deeper than just the Christian ones.

It’s silly. It’s silly, and I know it’s a phase. And I don’t believe in the gods, and the goddesses, and that the elements are blessing me, or whatever…but I do believe in the calming power of meditation. And sitting in front of a candle with some pretty stones and plants and dried roses is like sitting before a gorgeous altar in a church. It makes things feel sacred and calm. It makes things feel right.

I need some ritual in my life of turbulence. It’s been so insane. I disappeared into the mountains to teach ski lessons after graduation, then decided to teach high school English and get my masters, and now I’m in limbo waiting for someone to give ol’underqualified me a job. Of course I turn to something for certainty.

Bottom line is that I don’t know why I’m doing this, or anything else. And you, metaphorical “you” who still reads this blog: you know I only come back to this place when I’m depressed. Maybe it’s manifested itself in strange customs and rituals this time instead of slicing open my thighs with a pocket knife. So this is probably healthier.

All I know is, it’s making me less anxious. And I’m not scared of creaks in the hallway at night any more. So. Who knows. Whatever.

7 thoughts on “religion

  1. One thought about the ghost thing, many Atheist believe in ghost. Atheism is a God claim and thus has nothing to do with ghost or spirits. Buddist are Atheist and they believe in spirits.

    I’m not sure there is a connection between ghost and religion. They are states of being and not points of truth or protection. This is to say your religion wouldn’t matter to a ghost since a ghost is a person and they might not have cared what religion you were when they were alive.

    (I’m Christain by the way, not sure if that matters for this conversation)

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  2. Since we r ever forgetting, so God too keeps sending His messengers in every age. After the passing of one messenger we start to say he was the last he was the last. We r like naughty kids, who do not want to be corrected or confronted. See, if the Messenger lives we would b corrected if we misinterpret God’s words since He is the mouthpiece of God. That’s a big trouble for those who want to use religion for their self twisted benefits!

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  3. I am a very curious and questionful person. So I can relate to your questionful self.:)
    “The thing about Wicca is it’s kind of silly, but isn’t all religion?” -i believe, Religion isn’t silly. The interpretations we sometimes make of religion are silly.
    That’s one of the reasons why God kept sending Messengers. God didn’t change religion. He kept reminding us of the religion He sent but we keep forgetting or misinterpreting. So that we can mend what we’ve screwed up.and with every new messenger the ever ancient religion of God got new names. Its like translating same thing into different languages. See, if u say mom for ur mother ,another in another land might say medre for mother. That won’t change address to mother into father or something else!
    Idol worship or paganism has been there, as my observation says, since humankind started to realize some higher power. God, thru His messenger simply tries to convey the truth of His loving relationship with humans and maintain it. But eventually when the messenger goes some of us start to mix up lies, confusions, selfishnesses and more to religion turning it’s face super dark which in reality it isn’t! Then we start blaming religion instead of the ones who defamed it. In this, aren’t we like those who calls a raped girl with names and spare the rapist?!!!!
    Anyway, since humans previously been used to in paganism and finds it difficult to worship something without seeing it they always ended up putting self made idols.idols could b even their own imaginations. But look at irony, when God manifests Himself through living form, e.g. Adam, Moses, Sri Krishna, Jesus n so on, humankind rarely liked those forms. Why? I questioned myself and many others. We humans somehow like to follow our own norms or our fears. Screwed ups among us infested fear into religion but for their own selfish purposes. Our Churches, synagogues, mosques have become more of a business place or places where we learn to endlessly fear! But for what? We do not need to fear to know God to remember God to be with God. We simply need to know Him Love Him to be with Him.
    No?

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  4. To question is healthy, even when it disrupts your life. Glenn and Scribewoods both offer sound advice, based on experience: beliefs can change, rituals are comforting even (or especially?) when not tied to blind faith. And most of us need a gang of some sort!

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  5. I’ve been through the same things with many of the same results. i would suggest to you that it’s not silly. I’d also suggest to you that while it might be a “phase,” it certainly doesn’t have to be. Alas, so much turmoil! Ritual can be calming, but it can also contribute to that feeling that you’re doing something weird. So for a time, just go for a walk in calming settings: parks, forests, even cemeteries! Beliefs change sometimes. It’s natural. Don’t get stuck in the rut of having to believe this or having to believe that. Good luck.

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  6. I grew up Catholic and went through the Wiccan thing. Now I think of myself more along the lines of simply Pagan. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and one of the things that it taught me is that it’s okay to embrace religion even if you don’t necessarily believe.

    It’s an instinct. It’s wired into us as much as our need for socialization or love. It’s one of the drives that has helped us survive as a species. Every culture across the globe has adopted a religion because it brings us hope, comfort, and a feeling of connection to the world around us. The peace it brings helps us live longer and healthier lives.

    Love is an instinct that helps our species survive. We would not make or raise our children without it. Our brains reward us for helping our species propogate with all kinds of nifty chemicals that feel awesome. This biologically rooted fact does not make love any less special or real. It’s an instinct, so is religion, and if you are okay with understanding the physical need for love, then give yourself permission to understand your need for spirituality. Go for it.

    Atheism is a religion too, I feel. It is the religion of science, and that science brings comfort to its followers. I see my love of nature the same way. A reverence for the beautiful and complex patterns that tie us all together in a connected web. My reverence of nature has simply risen to spiritual proportions. It brings me awe and comfort.

    I have an open mind about it. I have chronic depression. I take medication, don’t bother with therapy anymore because I’ve had so much of it that a little therapist lives in the back of my head, even before I got my degree. So I have a full range of choices. I can take medication, which I do, I can go to therapy, or I can hold a rock and meditate. If I get the same result, who cares?

    Go for it. Embrace your witchy self. Or let your spirituality change. Whatever you need. Just don’t feel bad about it, you’re wired to need it.

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  7. Thanks for sharing! When we are a thinking robots, we tend to question things.

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