Experience Versus Faith

The beginnings of a thought have been trying to bubble up to the surface of my consciousness over the past few days, but I can’t quite get clarity. I figured that by writing down the snippets that have drifted up, it might help me to sharpen the focus.

I suppose part of it stems from the oft repeated phrase that you can’t prove religion, which is why it’s called faith. But there is more to it than just simple faith. Raised as a Catholic for a while, I was told to believe this and that, that the bible was ‘the last word’ and that I’d be damned to hell if I didn’t conform. That’s not an over-simplification; I spent three years in a Dominican convent and they weren’t what you’d call liberal.

A couple of years later, I gave up on Christianity and I’m still un-learning guilt – I don’t suppose I was ever cut out for orthodox religion, as I’ve never been very good at conformity or doing what I’m told. So, having embraced the Pagan way and become a Witch, is it all about faith? I’d say no. In running the Whitewicca.com forum, I often see people writing about faith in very much the same way that a Christian would write about it; many of us came from that background, so perhaps it’s no surprise. Paganism, to me, seems to be much more based on experience than taking a set of concepts and deciding to believe in them.

Another thing contributing to these bubbling thoughts is that I have been having what a Christian would call ‘a crisis of faith’ though it’s not as extreme as that. I’ve had little opportunity or privacy to do any ritual in the past couple of years and it’s caused a problem. While I lived on my own, it was easy and the experience of circle, the energy and the altered state reinforced the concepts I embraced making it an experiential belief system that worked for me. Of late, each time I have tried to arrange a short time on my own to do ritual, or even meditate, something seems to happen to prevent it. I’ve also been challenged by my previous inability to get out of the house and go elsewhere – once upon a time I had a place in the woods that served as my open air circle, but it’s been over three years since I could get there. The last year, getting up and down the three steps at the front of my house would reduce me to tears.

So, here I am, amid the hurly-burly of daily life, but feeling that there is no spiritual dimension to it. What I believed in, and did so because I felt it, whether through healing, ritual or any other experience, isn’t there any more – I feel detached and saddened that this has happened. I hope that, as I can now get about better, that I shall be able to once again get in touch with those feelings, but for now, they seem like a distant dream.

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