Throughout most of my life — until about 40 or so — I was not religious or spiritual in any way shape or form. When I was somewhere between 10-12 years old, my mom and dad would take me to church and I would pout and refuse to go in. Eventually they gave up and let me stay home. As a high schooler, I was told about being born again and was basically frightened into joining my parent’s Lutheran church. I went to a presentation that told me rock lyrics were evil. I loved music and was now afraid to listen to it. I attended a movie whose premise is that if you don’t become born again, you will have your head cut off. I am not kidding! All these many years later, those images are still fresh in my mind. As a teen, I caved under the pressure and I attended classes at my mom and dad’s church so that I could sign the covenant and be an official member. Honestly, I don’t remember if I ever signed it, but I did attend the classes. Later on, I came to the conclusion that religion was just a way to scare people into being better people. I do not agree with that tactic. It’s just wrong.
In my late teens and 20s, I never attended church and I continued to lack any sort of spirituality in my life. I never had it so I never knew what I was missing. How can you miss what you don’t know exists? I always thought spirituality was religion and since I didn’t agree with religion I opted to live without spirituality in my life. I also didn’t understand the difference between spirituality and religion. I thought they were one and the same, so I steered clear of all of it.
When Randy and I got married, we sought out a Universalist/Unitarian minister who let us have a ceremony with no mention of God in it. It worked for us. Throughout our marriage we continued to lack any sort of spirituality in our lives. The closest we came was at festivals when we were free and happy and listening to music with the crowd all swaying to the same beat. Now that I have a better understanding of what spirituality is, I know that that was a spiritual experience — the wonderful feeling we got dancing to live music with many like minded people.
After Randy’s passing, I continued for a couple more years with no spirituality. Perhaps some people seek out God’s help when dealing with the loss of a husband, but not me. I still had a very bad taste in my mouth about religion. I still felt it was based on fear and I did not want to be a part of that.
Through my drumming experience (CLICK HERE if you missed that blog) I met some people who opened my eyes to spirituality. NOT religion but spirituality. I was invited to attend a Pagan ritual for Samhain (celebrated on Halloween). This is a major sabbat for Pagans. Sabbats are events that celebrate the changing of the seasons. Samhain is a time of the year when the veil is thinnest and we can connect to our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on. The whole ritual is about honoring those who have moved on to the astral plane. I was blown away by the experience.
The ritual took place in a field near the person’s home who was hosting the event. We all walked down a dark and winding road to get to the spot just about dusk. An altar with all the necessary ingredients for a ritual had already been set up — candles, incense, sage, a chalice of wine, cakes for each. We entered the sacred circle after being cleansed with sage and incense. We each entered the circle “In perfect love and in perfect trust.” We honored the four elements — wind, water, air, and earth — and called to the God and Goddess. As the ritual progressed, I realized this was becoming a deeply moving experience for me. This was something I had never been part of before. It profoundly impacted my life. As part of the ritual, each person had time to share stories about who had passed on in their lives. This was the way we honored each of them. I had brought a picture of Randy and our two dogs that had been with us our whole marriage to place on the altar. When I spoke about him I was very emotional. It was healing though. It felt so good to honor his life inside the sacred circle. I was hooked on attending as many Pagan rituals as I could.
Greenman is celebrated at Ostara — the beginning of spring. I made this Greenman several years ago.
This is my Greenman costume for a ritual.
That was the start of my exploration of Pagan spirituality. With this same group, I attended rituals for all the Pagan sabbats and even ended up writing some of them. Each of these rituals were very meaningful to me. While they didn’t always focus on connecting with loved ones who have passed on, they were all focused on honoring nature and were very spiritually centered. I came to learn that Pagan spirituality is all nature based. The sabbats focus on the wheel of the year, planting seeds, harvesting, welcoming nature’s bounty, honoring the darkness as the sun becomes less prominent in the fall and winter, as well as celebrating the returning sun in the spring and summer. Honoring nature was something I could totally connect with and it felt very natural to me. I was able to connect with a nature-based religion at a much deeper level than any God centered religion could do for me. Where had Paganism been all my life? Why was I just hearing about it now, well into my 40s? Better late than never, so they say.
I also learned that there are different kinds of paganism and the one I connected with in the group was Wicca, also nature based. There is a Wiccan Rede that states “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will” This means, do what you like as long as no harm comes to any living creature. I really connected with this statement. I have always been a peaceful person and never want to harm anything. Since becoming a vegan is rings true even more.
I know that Paganism is not for everyone. However, as I have evolved into a more spiritual being, I realized how spirituality has enriched my life so much. If you are grieving, I encourage you to find some sort of spirituality. This can be done in a variety of ways:
Meditation — often this was part of the rituals I attended. Meditation is a great way to tap into your inner knowing to learn and grow as a person. It can be hard, but even just a few minutes a day and help you lead a more spiritual life. Quieting the mind is a wonderful exercise and should be done often.
Read — there are so many books you can find that will help you become more spiritual. There are numerous options available to meet everyone’s needs. Simply do a search for “spirituality” on your local library’s web page or at Amazon and see what moves you.
Journal and write poetry — this can be done on its own or after meditating to document your experiences and thoughts. When you write something down it becomes much more powerful than thoughts floating around in your head.
Show gratitude — every day write down or say aloud at least 2-5 things you are grateful for in your life. This is extremely powerful and it can change your attitude instantly for the better. As you experience the power of gratitude you automatically become more spiritual.
Seek out like minded people — no matter what your spiritual practice, there are people out there who are like you and are interested in developing spiritually. Join a Facebook group or create one of your own. When you start interacting with people looking for spirituality in a similar way, you expand your consciousness and you all learn from each other.
Today, I am no longer part of that Pagan group, but I do practice on my own and will do rituals for major sabbats. My energy and spirituality has now turned to working with an intention group. I do this every day, sending positive and healing intentions to someone in the group and once a week we all get together to discuss our experiences and we all send intentions while present with each other. It has been a very wonderful experience. In my opinion, it is another kind of spirituality. Some might call it prayer, but “intention work” sits much better with me. If you are interested in intention work, CLICK HERE and start by reading my blog about the book The Power of Eight.
Find spirituality if you don’t have any right now. You will not regret it. There is something out there that speaks to you. You just have to find it. And it can lead to healing a grieving heart.
For more information on paganism, you can click the two links below.