goddess spirituality, pagan

Developing A Personal Spiritual Philosophy of the World

As part of my own spiritual evolution, I decided to create and then answer a series of questions in order to help me further articulate my faith journey. My goal here on this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday is to promote individual self-exploration, not to proselytize. I’m quite nervous to share my take on things, in part because I want to ensure the environment I create on my blog is welcoming, inclusive and diverse; statements of faith can quickly steer things into a more divisive and charged space. At the same time, I felt a sense of reclaiming my spirituality as my own when I articulated the specifics of it, knowing full well 99.9% of what I’ve written would be rejected by the religion of my youth.

I would love to see your responses to the questions I’ve proposed; feel free to select a few questions that most deeply resonate with you and respond in the comments, or create your own post by tagging this post and then describing your own spiritual philosophy by answering each question in response.

The Big Questions

What is the purpose of life? Why are we here in this time and place? I don’t have inner clarity over whether life has a purpose or not, but, if it does, I think it has something to do with our lives unfolding as an expression of love to ourselves and others.

What happens after death? I felt certain for years that death was the end and there was no afterlife. Through theories like quantum physics, I’m willing to speculate that there may be more after we die in some sense. I do not believe in karma or heaven and hell, but I’m can wrap my head around reincarnation on some level.

To what extent do humans have free will? I think we have varying degrees of free will, depending on the extent to which our frontal lobe functions properly as adults. I think there are many, many factors that influence the effects of our will.

Are humans basically good/bad/something else? I do not believe humans are inherently good or bad. I think we have varying degrees of healthy or unhealthy behaviors and characteristics. I think many of our behaviors are the result of our natural tendencies. This is contradictory to what I just wrote, but I do think some people are at least very close to being evil as I’ve been on the receiving end of behaviors I can’t classify any other way. I hope I develop a more nuanced view in these instances as I grow and heal.

What are the implications for those who view the world differently than you do? I think it is none of my business how others choose to conceptualize the world, with one exception. I believe in certain absolute human rights, and I think we need to do all we can to change beliefs that undercut basic freedoms all humans should have.

Can people control their circumstances (such as will something to happen or not happen) through mental intention? I do not believe we can directly control our circumstances through willpower, although I think we can subtly influence our own unconscious mind in ways that may lead to different outcomes than would have otherwise occurred. I have experienced a few moments of coincidence that really made me think magic is possible.

What is the nature of justice, and what is the role each of us plays in ensuring it occurs? I’ve blogged about my thoughts on this. I do not think the world is just and I’m not convinced true justice exists. I think we can each hold each other accountable if we are in close relationship, but I also think there is a place for letting go and accepting the unfairness life holds.

If you conceptualize Deity…

What is your conceptualization of Deity? Who is Deity? I believe in Goddess as a reflection of my Inner Wisdom and the collective human unconsciousness. I think we are all intricately connected through Her. I celebrate Deity in Her feminine form, but I also see avenues beyond this. I do not rule out masculine divinity, but I also do not give energy towards it at this time. I also envision gender-fluid or gender-less spiritual practice at some point in my future.

I do not adhere to a particular viewpoint on Goddess but am eclectic in my approach. I see nature as a direct reflection of Goddess and do not see an inherent difference between the inner and outer worlds or the natural and spiritual worlds.

To what extent is Deity involved in humans’ individual lives? I think Goddess pervades all of human experience but allows us to make our own choices. She provides guidance to the extent to which we are open to receive it.

How can you communicate with Deity? I believe each of us can approach and communicate with Goddess without an initiation or training. At the same time, I think we can learn from each other the ritual and practice that most easily and deeply connects us with her.

What affects your relationship with Deity? I think my relationship with Goddess is affected by my relationship with self and others. I will experience alienation from Goddess to the extent to which I experience alienation from myself and those around me. I also think that carelessness towards the Earth and natural resources will disconnect me from Source.

Can your Deity directly change your circumstances (miracles, etc.)? I feel ambivalent towards this idea. If it occurs, I think it is a highly unusual and rare experience and does not occur for personal gain.

If you do not conceptualize Deity…

              What elevates your beliefs and practices to the level of the Sacred?

What are some areas of areas of your spirituality over which you have less clarity? How can you go about growing in these areas? I do not have a lot of exposure to some of the more traditional pagan viewpoints, such as Wicca. I have a general conceptualization of Maiden-Mother-Crone, but when I’ve attempted to write about it, it falls flat. I am going to be doing more reading and seeking Goddess on an experiential level to deepen my understanding in this area.

Another area of disconnect happens when I read the original mythology of a Goddess; it is a struggle at times for me to see Her through a contemporary lens. I want to sink into the stories in Her presence more fully so that I can emerge with a richer understanding of Her journey.

Personal Values

What labels, if any, do you give to your faith journey? Why? I consider myself to be a practitioner of Earth-based Goddess Spirituality. I consider myself part of the community of Pagans. I am currently a Solitary Practitioner but I am exploring the role of Priestess in my life. These labels help me to identify others with whom I share common beliefs.

What are the spiritual values that you espouse? The core spiritual value I strive to uphold in my life is to do whatever I can in my life to become the best version of myself, with the knowledge that this will then lead me to relate in the healthiest possible ways with those with whom I come into contact. My best self is loving, kind, graceful, patient, bold, wise and balanced.

Articles of Faith

How do you show your affiliation with your Deity, and with the community of like-minded individuals? What are the implications of these behaviors for those who think differently from you? I am starting to both wear and surround myself with symbols of Goddess. I think the more important identification is the way in which I present myself and my participation in Pagan/Goddess events. I try at all times to speak about my experiences in a way that makes clear I do not see my path as the only path, while also honoring the deep impact it has had on me.

What rituals and rites do you celebrate to mark important holidays and moments of transition? I celebrate the Pagan Wheel of the Year. I also want to become involved in celebrating certain aspects of womanhood such as pregnancy, birth, and menopause.

What sites are sacred, and how do you show them reverence? There are some places I would love to visit such as the White Spring at Glastonbury. My practice is to see every place as potentially sacred, especially in natural settings. I think ritual to honor Goddess, as well as a simple mindfulness practice in a sacred site, are acts of reverence.

Relationship Implications

How do you share your views with others? What is the purpose of sharing your views? I share my views here on this blog as well as with those I trust in person. My main reason for doing so is to create a conversation, because I know that I have much work to do to reclaim my faith as my own, and I need to bounce ideas off others and hear their perspectives to grow.

How should you treat others? How should you expect to be treated? I would tend to follow the Wiccan Rede here: “An it harm none, do what ye will.” I believe I should respect others’ ability to make decisions for themselves as well as support them, and I hope for the same from others. I do not believe in sacrificing who I am or what I stand for in order to maintain a relationship.

What is your responsibility to nature? How can you uphold it? I have a long way to go here. I want to respect nature and conserve natural resources. I’m trying to take small concrete actions and make incremental changes that reflect my beliefs in this area.

goddess spirituality, pagan

Goddessing Our Personalities

If someone asks you to describe your personality, how do you explain who you are? I tend to discuss my personality from a psychological perspective (introverted, conscientious, etc.), but I’m also beginning to think of who I am and where I’m at in my development from a spiritual viewpoint. I believe the easiest way to do this is to start with an understanding of who Goddess is. For today’s #Thealogy Thursday, I’ll be discussing traditional views of Goddess, as well as newer conceptualizations; I’ll also interweave ways we can see ourselves in Her form.

Traditional View

The most familiar way of viewing Goddess to me is the three-fold model of maiden, mother and crone. I’ve referenced Starhawk’s classic The Spiral Dance for my explanation here. The maiden relates to the beginnings of development. She is free-spirited and filled with possibility. There is knowledge and experience she hasn’t yet tasted.  The mother is found in creativity, in new life, in fullness. She loves and lives out her destiny. She knows herself and satisfies her desires. The crone shows up in wisdom and inner work.  She intuits that which is needed, even if it means loss, because she knows loss leads to renewal and rebirth.

I conceptualize our personalities as consisting of all three at once, in various forms and expressions. I don’t think this viewpoint is consistent across practitioners of Goddess Spirituality, but personally I want to find a balancing point between each expression in me. Others may take these three typologies more directly, focusing their practice within one aspect of Goddess, and conceptualizing themselves in one of the three visages at different points as they age.

Alternative Presentations

In The Spiral Dance, Starhawk also refers to a pentagram of life aspects, including new life, opening, fertility, inner work, and dying. The main difference between this and the three-fold Goddess prototype is the addition of the second stage, which involves self-definition and autonomy. I appreciate this addition because I struggle with Goddess models that place the group above the individual as the ultimate “feminine” way of being in the world.

Goddess can also be seen as nature, not just in nature. She is the very earth itself, and the moon above. I’ve deepened my practice of viewing myself and humanity through the metaphors presented in nature. My understanding of concepts tends towards the practical and the concrete, so this practice is extremely appealing to me because I find myself returning to the stories to make sense of various situations.

Lasara Firefox Allen’s Fivefold model, laid out in Jailbreaking the Goddess, is a way to view Goddess that is less strictly tied to female biological processes than the traditional model. Her typology includes Femella (Goddess as innocent), Potens (Goddess as warrior), Creatrix (Goddess as creator), Sapientia (Goddess as wisdom), and Antiqua (Goddess as aged one). I will need to spend more time with this model to determine how well I think it captures Goddess’ essence.

Goddess Archetypes

We can also use specific archetypes or mythologies to connect to expressions of Goddess at particular moments in our lives. I’ve found correspondence books to be helpful in this regard. I also use Goddess tarot and oracle cards to select the aspects of Goddess that I need to embody to handle specific situations.

Part of the beauty of myth is that it gives us a narrative to which we can attach our own comings and goings. I’ve perused the Women Who Run With the Wolves book by Clarissa Estes, and I’ve found that the story of Baba Yaga pops into my head in some situations. There may be certain stories that you find interweave themselves into your life, perhaps because you identify with one of the characters.

Goddess is much more than our individual personality and characteristics. She exists whether we see Her in ourselves or not. My perspective on Goddess spirituality is that it blends the esoteric and mundane, and that it has meaning for our personal lives. Somewhere in the many myths, visions, and conceptualizations of who She is, we are.