Integration

I’ve been thinking about this post from Teo Bishop, another ADF Dedicant  I’m enjoying getting to know and whose thoughtful questions often spark some self-reflection for me. Te0’s question is this:

How do you integrate your spiritual practice into your ordinary life? What tips could you give someone who is struggling with this challenge?

I want add another layer to this question: How do you integrate your spiritual life with your ordinary life? Or, even further, do you integrate your spiritual life into your ordinary life?

Some pagans still seem to fear social and professional judgment or retribution  for their religious beliefs, even maintaining a “double life” to prevent that from happening. In Drawing Down the Moon, Margot Adler dedicates an entire chapter to “Paganism and Prejudice” and discusses the plight of those pagans whose suffer when their “coming out” results in a negative or even violent reaction from their neighbors. Adler mentions that the word pagan itself was a “derogatory term” in third-century Rome, and even today the word has connotations of “occult” or just “cult” rites. (I’m thinking of X-Files, in which local-yokels typically assume some horrible murder was committed by a pagan cult, and Scully always has to say, “Well, remember, most Satanic sacrifices are actually urban legend…” Okay, that’s not exactly what she says, but the fact that the show’s writers felt the need to include that point speaks volumes about popular misconceptions.)

This is an issue that has been over-hashed, I’m sure, in the larger pagan community, but I’m starting to deal with these questions on a personal level. I’m self-employed, so I have no fear of professional retribution, and I’m pretty sure my landlady smokes pot alone in her house at least once a week, so she’s not really one to judge.

But I haven’t told my parents about my choice to pursue druidism as my spiritual path.

I’m not sure why. I’m an adult: I can make my own choices now. My parents are not religious, so that won’t be an issue.  They can be a little judgmental, though, and I’m not sure I’m ready to deal with that. I’m still answering my own spiritual questions… do I have to start answering someone else’s? To put it that way sounds selfish, but it is a personal journey, after all.

This also leads me to ask, Why is it often more socially acceptable to believe nothing rather than something? But that’s another whole (and probably quite long) blog post.

Anyway, I’m not sure what exactly I’m asking with this post. Maybe I’m just exploring my concerns in a more public forum. But… is finding the courage to speak out about your beliefs part of the spiritual journey? Or am I just being cowardly?

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7 thoughts on “Integration

  1. I’m not sure I’ll ever “come out” to my family. They are religious, and in fact conservative Baptists, and probably the most important thing to my mom is that I believe in Christ. She can handle any other change (although she has trouble adjusting and might “handle it” by not mentioning it ever again) as long as I am still a Christian. I don’t lie about it, but I don’t talk about religion and will change the subject when my family brings it up. This is sometimes difficult because as a seminary student, they expect me to want to talk about it and will ask me specific questions about Christianity. I get through this by talking about different groups and answers within Christianity, rather than my own.

    I’m not certain it’s ever a necessity to “speak out”about my beliefs. That might vary by person, but since I don’t see Paganism as proselytizing, I’m not particularly concerned with telling everyone about it. But if they ask, I answer as much as I can be fairly certain I will keep. So in that, I think it is something you develop. Like you say, it’s hard to answer other people’s questions when you haven’t answered your own, so I’m not going to go in detail about beliefs that I think may change soon, but I am more willing to share foundational things that I think will stick around.

    • Oof, hugs to Sanil. This must be so hard for you.

      I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

      The strange thing is, I’m so happy with Paganism that I *want* to share it with everyone. But there are people in my life who I’m afraid would not understand. I’m just not quite ready to answer the questions though.

      It’s nice to know other people are making the journey at the same time as I am, though.

  2. For me my spiritual path informs and shapes the way I treat the world and the people in it. I wish for my spiritual path to be my daily life, if that makes sense.

    I rarely discuss my beliefs with people and I don’t do a lot of praying/ritual type stuff where anyone sees me because I’m a private person that way. It makes me really uncomfortable when my ultra-Christian friends decide we have to stop everything and loudly pray over the McDonald’s burger before we eat it. I think that’s showing off and not a very sincere devotion. I can (and do) say thanks for my burger without the show.

    If people ask me about my beliefs I’ll tell them though, so it’s not like I’m in hiding. I think where I live it’s more acceptable to believe nothing than to believe something not Christian because that makes you look easier to convert. Yeah, I’m a little cynical. :-/

    • I’ve been there with the vehemently public Christian friends. I went to a Catholic college, and people there were praying left and right, at meals, at daily Mass… I’m actually a little afraid that “coming out” to those friends would lead to a loss of a our friendship… I know that probably indicates a less than strong friendship, but some people take their religion so blindly that they will cut out those who convert away from it, though.

      Like I said in my previous reply, I want to talk about it with everyone I meet, but I’m just not quite ready to face the judgment from those who will give it. But I think, from replies that I’ve gotten and some more thought, my spiritual life can shape my daily life without a public discussion of my beliefs.

  3. The best advice I’ve been given yet on this subject came from Rev. Dangler. He posted a response to my post via LiveJournal that read:

    “I might suggest, too, that it is worth turning things around: let your mundane life fit into the ebbs and flows of your spiritual life. Wrap your brain around it from the opposite direction.”

    While proselytizing or “getting preachy” may not feel right to you (as it doesn’t to me), this shift of perspective could be very useful – at least as a start.

    I’m not out as a pagan to my parents either, or to people I work with, but there is time for that. What’s important to me at this moment is that I grow into a tradition that feeds me, enriches me. When I’m ready to share, I’ll know it. I have to trust that.

    It was the same with me when I came out as gay. Had I thrown myself a personal pride parade when I was just out… girl, it would have been a hot mess. What suited me best was to tell people on an individual basis until I was at a point where I felt strong in my identity. Now, I don’t hide it from anyone.

    And, by the way, I don’t think you’re a coward. Not at all. I think you’re quite brave.

  4. Pingback: Making the Mundane Magickal « Grey Wren's Flight

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