Yesterday, I went through and cleaned out most of the cupboards – particularly those in the pantry. I checked the expiration dates on a lot of the food that was in there – and discovered that much of it was past the expiration date. By more than a year. By more then five years in two particular cases. Instead of chancing it – I removed the particular items, opened them, and dumped the extremely noxious contents down the garbage disposal. I cleaned out the containers, and put all of them into the recycle bin.
I’m willing to bet cleanups such as that are quite common in a lot of other households. But what about in the rest of your life? All of this prompted me to check into the corners of my life and see where such “straightening up” were required. This included a lot of my own “spiritual” practices. The framework that I have been working with through OBOD is doing quite well for me. I’ve had to bandage a few parts to make it a little more palatable to me – but nothing so drastic that it becomes unrecognizable for what it is. But it got me looking into some areas of practice that I had been holding on to for quite some time.
When I started down the Pagan path, Wicca was my original starting place. It was different for me – off the beaten path, so to speak, from my Catholic upbringing. But it was similar enough that I could recognize the beauty of the ritual aspect (and still do, for both Wicca and Catholicism). I stepped down the Path, and found that I could really embrace the Nature and polytheistic frameworks. During this time frame, I had a full coven to help me with the support that I needed when I stumbled. A few years later, thanks to the United States Air Force – I lost a majority of that support when I deployed overseas to Germany.
When I got there, I found a local Pagan community that was even more fractious than the one I had left behind in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I also found people who had been trained in the same belief system I had – Wicca – who practiced it far different from what I had been taught. I also began to recognize my aversion to formal ritual practice. I found more spiritual feeling in taking a walk in the woods then I could in a formal circle. And trust me – I’ve heard the statement that this is merely because I hadn’t experienced the formal circle and ritual with the “right” people. That’s pure bull-smeg in my eyes – but that’s another posting at another time in another mindset.
When I started to notice the difference in what I felt about the ritualized aspect of Wicca – I started checking to see if I needed the rest of the framework. I don’t do spell-work, so that didn’t matter much for me. The formal structure of coven member ranking never sat well with me whatsoever – and I certainly didn’t need Wicca to get my spiritual experiences that I got from being in the woods. So, prior to me coming back from Germany, I decided to ditch Wicca and apply the more generic term of “Neo-Pagan” to myself. In other words, I checked the expiration date on the package – so that it was no longer good, and took the appropriate measures.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I hate Wicca or Wiccans. Hardly. Some of my best friends practice that belief system. Its just not a valid framework for me. it works for them, and that totally thrills me beyond belief. It not only works for them, but provides them the solid groundwork for what they need for themselves.
Not long ago, one of my coworkers asked me about my religious beliefs. I held out my Awen pendant, and stated that I followed this. And its true. I do follow the Path of Inspiration. Each and every day starts a new adventure. On some days, that adventure is rather slow and somewhat mundane. On other days, its extremely exciting to walk my Path. But I recognize that each day is unique. I still believe in the Gods, and every day they show me something completely new. I couldn’t tell you which God or Goddess was near or had manifested themselves to me, but I knew they are there. For lack of a better way to put it – I can feel their presence. I couldn’t explain it, and I’m not so sure that I would want to.
For me, following my Path through Life is a daily experience. Each moment is unique. Each moment is precious. There are days that I would love to follow my Inspiration down the rabbit hole, but I also know that there are responsibilities that I have to fulfill. I have classes that I have to teach at specified times and locations. Thus, there are times when I can’t just follow the pull of the Gods to a place I’ve never been. And sometimes, I get those unexpected moments from my students. Their sense of wonder at trying to understand the material can sometimes lead the instructional moments into areas I would never have dreamed of connecting. Seeing the world through their eyes – full of curiosity, wonder, amazement – and their thirst for knowledge….all of that reminds me of where I am in the world around me. Constantly and continually drinking from the stream…