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, inspiration

“Am I There Yet?” 5 Signposts That Indicate You’ve Arrived at Your Spiritual Home

Millennials have been on the receiving end of many forms of ridicule, including the idea that they are spiritually “flaky”—permanent seekers dabbling in a multitude of religions and spiritual practices, with no real awareness and understanding. As an “Xennial,” I disagree with these viewpoints for several reasons. First, I think spending time in the wilderness is an authentic part of the developmental process of forging a spiritual identity. Second, while there may be an exploratory period that appears shallow and superficial, for many people, this is followed by a rooting into a particular framework by which they view the world. Lastly, at least for some of us, the only way to find our spiritual home is to look for it, as the one in which we were born is ill-suited and unfit for us.

As we continue on our spiritual journeys, I think at least some of us arrive at a place of feeling like the trek has arrived at its destination. Or at least a destination for the time being. Some signals I’ve found that have let me know that Goddess Spirituality is my home are the alignment that’s happened to my beliefs and behavior, the desire I have to share what I’ve learned with others (more on how to handle this below), an ability to see outside my own situation, a passion to better the world, and an understanding that, although I may have found my place, I’m now at the station of creating hearth and sustenance from the dwelling in which I find myself. I’ll be examining each of these signs on today’s #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday.

1. Coalescence of Beliefs and Behaviors

When we are in harmony with our beliefs, our behaviors naturally start to align with how we see the world. We may find ourselves making lifestyle changes or decisions that simply didn’t occur to us or seemed out of reach previously. As I’ve settled myself into Earth-based Goddess Spirituality, I’ve begun to reconsider my relationship with the natural world, including the foods I chose to eat such as red meat. I’m also paying significantly more attention to the seasons, moon phases and the outdoors. I’ve wasted less money and spent less time binging on TV and movies. All our vices do not magically dry up the moment we find ourselves spiritually, but I do think they are less reinforcing because our energy is devoted to things that flow from our heart-center.

When we’re at our spiritual home, we may feel like we are being true to ourselves and authentic in our stance. My previous religious path forced me to condemn many people who I really didn’t see as evil, which felt unnatural and judgmental. I felt sheepish at times as I tried to “pretzel” myself into explanations that lessened the harshness of what I was taught. Now I feel no shame in holding up my viewpoint to the light. The spiritual framework by which I live aligns with my philosophical and moral views of the world, which has led to inner tranquility.

2. Evangelizing Tendencies

Much to the chagrin of those around us, we may be so excited by our new outlook on the world that we decide they also need to come along for the ride. Even though I know how annoying this is, I still find myself engaging in it at times. Please note that I see this as totally different from trying to tell people they need to believe something or their mortal souls are at risk. What I’m referencing here can even apply to things like lifestyle improvements such as what we eat, how we exercise and where we travel.

We find something that seems a bit off the beaten path but so “us” and so satisfying that we wish everyone could feel as good as we do. If we play it out long enough, this is typically followed by realizing that whatever we discovered still has some rough spots and scratches and maybe doesn’t look brilliant from every angle. To me, a genuine spiritual home lends itself to at least an initial burst of thrill and joy, with regular boosts of excitement from time to time.

3. Moving Beyond Self

One phrase that’s always brought a twinge of guilt to me is “navel-gazing,” mostly because I’m pretty sure I’m great at doing it. When we find our center, I don’t think this inward focus stops, nor do I think it should. Most things that get labeled as “navel-gazing” could also be conceptualized as the labeler’s failure to empathize. Knowing our own wounds, needs and desires is healthy and life-giving. From our home base of self-care where we acknowledge these things and seek to address them, I think the natural sequence is then to look up and out, to take in what others’ experiences also are, and to respond with kindness and compassion.

I’ve always felt defensive in reaction to religious doctrines that preach a loss of self or that self is evil. When I speak of going beyond self, I see it as an act that encompasses and is actually rooted in our Self—our highest Self that has let go of ego and seeks greater values than human adoration.

4. The Greater Good

Reaching further than our own self-interest naturally begs the question of where our focus gets directed. In small or in large ways, I believe the firm ground underfoot upon which we come to stand when we’ve uncovered our place provides a platform from which we can draw on our resources and respond to the needs we see in the world. Some of us are naturally drawn into community and action-based movement; others may do this work in a more solitary, contemplative manner. In either case, our firmness in who we are spiritually leads directly to our strength in responding out of love. An image that flickers through my mind here is of the counter-protests in Charlottesville recently, where people of various faith traditions linked arms and stood together against hate. Taking time to know who you are and what you represent can only deepen the commitment you’ll have to express your voice in an uplifting way.

5. Tending House

Nothing in what I’ve shared is intended to give you the idea that finding a spiritual home means the work’s done. Instead, I think this is where things get really interesting. I actually see a house in my mind when I think about this concept, and it’s in a bit of disarray as I neglected it for quite some time. When we know what’s right for us, and the spiritual part of our identity feels settled, we get to learn, grow and develop in place. I have no doubt that my viewpoints will evolve and gain significant complexity over time, and that the final version of my dwelling will look almost completely unrecognizable once I’m done crafting and letting it be crafted by Goddess. Allowing ourselves the freedom to continue to explore new nooks and crannies, dust off some unused shelves, and declutter can take our sense of spiritual presence from one of stagnation to a lively, bustling enterprise.

Please feel free to share whether you feel like you’ve reached home yet or not, and what your signposts have looked like along the way!

goddess spirituality, inspiration

Four Signs of Unmet Spiritual Needs

I recently identified nine spiritual needs that I think relate to our spiritual development and growth. I’m calling this #SacredSpiritualGrowth Saturday; I originally was going to make it specific to spiritual needs but I love studying human development and I think there will be more to say on this broader topic. When we neglect our spiritual needs, they have lots of ways of making themselves known. This can include feeling out of touch with a deeper meaning to life, rejecting others’ spiritual pursuits, engaging in unhealthy decision-making, and spending unnecessary amounts of money.

1. Lack of Meaning and Purpose

A few years ago, I began to feel that I was putting in time instead of enjoying my life. Even though I wasn’t objectively overwhelmed by obligations, it felt like each day was filled only with adult responsibility and no time for fun and play. I see now that I wasn’t addressing very many of my spiritual needs, leaving me drained and uninspired.

If you find yourself struggling with feeling like your life is meaningless and has no purpose, untended spiritual needs are one possibility. This attitude could also be a sign of depression. The interesting thing is that seeking out experiences of gratitude, compassion and other spiritual needs can be part of working on mental health concerns as well as spirituality.

2. Eye-Rolling at All Things Spiritual

This is straight out of Sigmund Freud’s playbook, which is one from which I don’t normally read! But I am on board to an extent with his idea of projection. Projection involves seeing in others the things we feel shame about in ourselves. I’ve been there with this where I found my mind immediately rejecting what others had to say when they shared their spiritual ideas and practices. I didn’t want to listen or take in their experiences.

If this happens to you, it’s certainly possible that their spiritual walk is so different from yours that relating to it is challenging. It is also possible that they are tapping into a spiritual necessity that is unfulfilled in you, and it’s unconsciously pressing on you. This could make your mind dismiss their experiences without really fully considering them.

I sometimes suspect this for myself when I just can’t let go of something another person shared that has no immediate impact on me; I find myself arguing against it again and again in my head. I want to highlight this doesn’t mean it’s wise to go jump on the bandwagon of whatever the other person’s belief system is. Instead, consider what the unmet need you have might be from within your own spiritual focus.

3. Indecision or Impulsiveness

When we are disconnected from Source, we tend to struggle with decision-making. Some of us, myself included, strike out in every direction at once, attempting to solve our issues by moving through them without much consideration. When I was renting an apartment, the furnace went out one cold winter day. I spent about $500 buying space heaters because I decided that a bit of chill would immediately lead to every pipe in my house freezing and bursting, and that there was no way my landlords would take me seriously or respond in time. Let’s just say I do have some issues with anxiety! I felt chagrined when the problem was fixed in a timely manner and I was left with way more heating power than I knew what to do with.

At other times, a lack of attunement to our spiritual needs may leave us feeling unable to render life decisions. We may delay our dreams because we don’t trust ourselves enough to step out in boldness. I believe that listening to what we need on a spiritual level, and taking time to make sure we get it can allow a groundswell of creativity, inspiration and energy to burst forth. In the times where I’ve nurtured myself spiritually, I feel a sense of inner groundedness from which I can elevate my intentionality and sense of purpose.

4. Increased Consumerism

As weird as it may seem, this for me has been a sign that I’m getting warmer. I suddenly must go to every hippie/witchy/metaphysical store in the area and buy all the pretties. I also went through a short spate of buying about 40 books on Goddess Spirituality! Owning a lot of spiritual items or taking seven online courses at once does not a spiritual person make. There can be a lot of mockery of people who engage in these behaviors, but I actually see it as a hopeful sign that spiritual needs are activated and are, like a little kid in a candy store, trying to find their nourishment.

When this occurs for me, I eventually settle myself down and take a hard look at what I’m really trying to accomplish. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I’ve made more of an improvement in my budget since I began this blog than pretty much any other period of time in my life. I knew there was something waiting to be birthed in me, now that it finally gestated, I am spending much more time in genuine spiritual practice and having a lot more fulfillment in my needs, leaving my wallet to the side.

Getting a Handle on Unmet Needs

I will likely have more to say on this topic in the future, but I want to share a few places to start if you found yourself relating to several of the items I listed. First, check out resources from within your faith tradition that delineate what our spiritual needs might be. As I mentioned previously, I have a list I developed for Goddess Spirituality. Second, take time in your inner work to listen to yourself and to Deity to explore what your unmet needs might be. You can also seek the counsel of trusted spiritual companions. Lastly, if you are able to identify some needs, pace yourself in how you respond to them. For instance, if you find you’ve been neglecting your need for awe and wonder, you don’t necessarily need to sell your house and spend the next decade RVing in order to fulfill this desire. Start small through acts of self-care and moments of showing grace to others, building on your budding sense of fulfillment to continue to go deeper with the needs you may find you have.