Like many other Pagans, I have come to my own interpretation of what spirituality is. Over time, I’ve come to my particular version of a spiritual pathway over time. I’ve collected aspects, ideas from different systems that I’ve come across…I’ve tried them out, played with them in my head, discarded what didn’t work for me, modified others until they felt right for me. Even if we don’t start off as Eclectic, it seems that most of us end that way.
I don’t believe in a “God” with a personality. Divine dictate doesn’t make sense to me. Whatever reality is, I don’t relate to the idea that there is any higher being which is making judgements on how we live our human life. What doesn’t fit in with my logic is that if we were created to follow certain rules and regulations, why were we created WITHOUT the desire or inclination to do so? We were created flawed, in that case (disobedient children)….and then being punished by the Being that created us as flawed.
For many people, being “spiritual” is the same thing as being religious. This means that they follow the rules of their tradition–Christian or otherwise–and attend or perform rituals on an appointed timeline. When we are introduced to any particular religion, we often follow it because we accept that it is the correct thing to do. Other times, we have a fear of punishment, either from the presiding deity (“God”) or social repercussions from the surrounding public. In the viewpoint of the magician, we construct a thoughtform that we consider “God” from the descriptions of our families and our churches. We come to expect God to behave a certain way….and the manifest world to enact this God’s will, in the form of our personal experience.
Sometimes, we have something that passes as a “spiritual experience”–a peak energetic/magickal, emotional or physical sensation. We get excited in a way that we never have before and we assume that that is “God” touching us. Whether one interprets this as that humans are hard-wired to seek pleasure or that as spiritual beings, we are intuitively drawn to the finer energies such as Love or Joy, Expansion or Wholeness….the experience of highly pleasurable sensations are sometimes confused as an experience of the divine. When something feels so good, it might be the MOST pleasurable that the particular being can experience….as long as it fits within the mental construct of what a person was taught was acceptable. If there is too much guilt or other negative thinking associated with that act, then the “rightness” of the sensation is negated.
Here in my hometown, there are charismatic practitioners of a church who are very devoted to their church meetings. They work in groups called “communities”. There is the safety of being socially accepted within a group–along with the feeling of inclusion/specialness of being in one group and not another community. This feeling of inclusion can be found in covens, prayer groups, study groups as well. It is being one of “God’s chosen ones”, but on a smaller level.
We often talk ourselves into being special. Whether that is being part of a particular religion, specific tradition, that we have special powers/gifts, found the right church or coven….or had a dream/vision/feeling/insight that some devil/angel/god has a special mission, purpose or plan for us…some of us feel the need to unique or different. This need to justify specialness works on at least two levels–negative and positive.
If we did not feel special growing up or our need to feel special is not being met in our adult lives, then our complex mental-emotional structures might come up with a line of thinking which justifies why we should be able to think that someone else/others need to believe that we are special. Specialness is tied into the concept of self-worth. If we cannot believe that we have enough worth or value for any reason, our fragile ego will come up with a justification for why others need to believe that we are valuable in some way.
To be fair about my vantage point, the concept that I work with is that I perceive that in this spiritual universe, our identity is Spirit. Any experience which is not completely of the essence of Spirit requires the limitations of human thoughts and human emotions–which are temporary and belong to the world of limited form. Although much beauty can be perceived and experienced in this physical plane, it is only temporary, changeable and does not include the truth of Spiritual Completeness. That being said, anything more directly related to human life, including individual history and personality, can reflect beauty….but, is subject to change, can be distracted from and cannot include the entirety of it. A bad analogy is that of a looking glass–we can hold up a mirror to reflect the sun rising over a field of flowers on a hill. The size of the mirror is comparable to the length of a human lifetime–that beauty which it is reflecting is the eternity of Life, Itself.
Some people feel the need to express their personal mythology and story to others, in order to get a reaction….approval or to make an impression of some sort. There is a delicate line between sharing your personal story to be helpful (inspiring) and to make an impression. There is nothing wrong with having a personal mythology, if the end result is that it makes you a more peaceful, more loving being. Personal mythology may change over time. In the mind of the magician, these images can be changed out when they are no longer inspiring….myths and the gods, themselves are only doors and passageways to deeper experiences of Beauty.
When one needs to get the reaction of others, approval or otherwise, it might be that one is hinging one’s personal validation on the people around him, not sincerely investing in personal experience. The ability to keep one’s personal mythology to one’s self and derive strength, inspiration and guidance from it could be considered to be the true test of its validity. When one’s spirituality only has value when other people react to it….one might have to ask if they are using their “spirituality” as a tool to manipulate the emotional reactions of others.
So, what is spirituality? Let’s be completely honest. We are all just hedging our best bets. I could claim that I know intuitively what is my mission or that my spirit is telling me that my particular pathway is what Spirit is leading me through, at the moment. Either of those might be true. I have no way of proving it with any hard evidence. When I practice, I feel peace….I feel love. I experience what I would term “positive” energy. As a side effect to my inner peace and joy, my physical experiences are more positive. My intentions manifest in the world with much more frequency and detail. But, I couldn’t say that my way is the only way or the best way. I don’t believe that any particular set of images or imaginary storyline works better than any other.
Any religion can work. With our belief invested into any particular religion, tradition or pathway….the individual can manifest enough evidence to justify their particular viewpoints. Our fears are included. Our worries about punishing deities or spiritual “rules” are enough attention to cause them to manifest, as well.