...keeping it real...

my beliefs

 

The following are the basis for my faith. I'm not going to debate or try to "prove" my beliefs to anyone, so please don't give me the "Fire and Brimstone" talk or try casting out my demons. Don't tell me that since I don't align myself with any one path that my thoughts on the matter are irrelevant. Don't tell me it's a phase, or I'll get over it, or I'll come to my senses. Just accept it, or not: that can be a private decision and a private act, and has nothing to do with me at all. I am open and accepting of others' beliefs and try to show respect in that; please show me the same courtesy by being tolerant of mine. Thanks. :)


My upbringing--spiritual and otherwise--has been radically eclectic in many ways. I'm not going to get into all of that here. However, it's important for others to realise that religion, to me, is a highly personal choice and what one chooses to believe or not believe usually makes up the core of one's being.

I've thoroughly studied or been involved with Jehovah's Witnesses, a type of Egyptian gnosticism, Humanism, Islam, Christianity, Wicca...and on and on. I've attended dozens of churches or spiritual meeting groups, I've voraciously read sacred texts of almost every kind. My family is, for most part, Lutheran. My husband's family, for the most part, is Southern Baptist. I'm not going to try to label my own faith because honestly, I can't come up with a good one: the closest would be something along the lines of a pantheist-eclectic-pagan, however there are so many different paths, its difficult to align myself with one specific tradition. I will say that this page will be comparing my own beliefs with Christian ideals, mostly because my family and in-laws are Christian and it's easier to use the explanations I already know.

I believe the idea of faith or Divinity is hard-wired into our DNA, explaining why so many cultures across the world and across time have had amazingly similar creation stories. To me, the holy texts of any given religion may have been divinely-inspired but limitations in understanding, language and translation may have altered some aspects. Also, the times, places, culture and prejudices were different with each author, even within any given singular work.  

The Christian Bible, in my view, are not meant to be taken literally. Rather, I feel that it more akin to a collection of stories to be understood in a purely allegorical manner. To quote my good friend Ayla: "[Holy texts are] a metaphor of comforting parables meant to speak to a place in our hearts and mind that crave the leadership and direction of Gods and ancestors."  I see them as much like the Greek and Roman myths: not at all about literal persons but instead using names and situations to help illustrate deep spiritual truths. It doesn't make these texts any less revelant: the plays that Shakespeare wrote still deliver timeless messages of the human condition, even though the characters depicted had never existed. That's why I also think that reading sacred texts not necessarily related to one's faith, or even lost books of the Bible (Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Enoch, Judith, Wars of the Lord, Jubilees, among others) can only serve to enlighten and enhance faith.

Case in point: Jesus Christ. The metaphorical parables related in the Bible have been told and retold by many ancient religions; the persona of Jesus was also the personas of Osiris, Dionysus, Adonis, Mithras, Attis, Bacchus, and so forth. It is well documented that Church leaders "borrowed" much from paganism to help facilitate conversion to Christianity, and it is my belief that the basic tenets of Christianity were heavily edited in that sense. It doesn't make Jesus any less important; reading abut him and knowing how to incorporate his ideas and actions in daily life can be satisfying and uplifting.

I don't believe in the Judeo-Christian idea of the devil. Or in the Lake of Fire. Biblically, free will is interspersed with passive fate (read Romans 9 for a good example of this), so the idea that Satan was given power or is allowed to seduce others as it's written in the New Testament just doesn't sit well with me. Natural disasters are just that: natural. They aren't divinely-influenced to punish sinners, nor are certain locations spared due to the presence of highly-religious people. I believe that Satan is more of a personification of the idea of sin, (again: not to be taken literally) and his attributes are more than likely taken from Helal (Morning Star) and Shahar (Son of Dawn), both of the Canaanite pantheon.

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm a linguistics freak. So looking into other translations of the Bible and comparing them is something I've done for years. The Biblical idea of the Trinity, as far as I see it, isn't solid. In Hebrew, "El" or "Eloah" is the singular form of God; "Elohim" is the plural form. In multiple passages of the Bible, the term used is "Elohim", but YHWH is a singular name. He's even referred to as "El Elim" (God of gods) in Daniel 11:36, which to me only strengthens my idea of pantheism; or even polytheism. Not only that, but The term "Holy Spirit" is translated from the Hebrew as Ruach, a feminine form for "divine breath" and in Greek as Sophia, a feminine form for "divine wisdom". It seems only natural that God would have a female counterpart to create balance; for instance, the symbol associated with Sophia is a dove, which later turned into the dove symbolising the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Divinity is totally dualistic: The Male Aspect--or Yang--is solar, daylight, anger, will, summer, fire. The Female Aspect--Yin--is lunar, nighttime, joy, wisdom, winter, water. That idea is natural to me and one that I could not deny even if I tried. That sacred balance is evident in everything we do, and in all aspects of existence, but it's seen most profoundly in nature. Nature is a gift, and should be protected, and revered. It's a physical mainfestation of Divinity. There is a universal connection between nature and Divinity, and to commune with nature is to be enveloped in that energy. The depth of nature is a sacred space. The elemental power of Divinity naturally resonates in the earth.

Reincarnation is absolutely possible. There are many lessons to be learned by humanity, and the finite nature of our mortal lives sometimes disallow the learning of these truths. To me, salvation is universal and therefore we each are given ample to time come to learn what is necessary to be joined in a holy union with the Divine. If that means that we must endure multiple lifetimes to finally achieve that, then so be it.

Lastly, perhaps, I honour all belief systems. Encompassed around all the afore-said is my understanding in a universalist sense that all paths are valid and to be respected. I have great respect for missionaries who work diligently to do what they believe in their hearts to be true. Atheism, Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Baha'i, Paganism, Shinto, Hinduism...all these and more have their own intrinsic worth. If anything, I wish others would only open up enough to learn just a little about other faiths, even if only to gain better understanding. Hatred and fear get us nowhere.