Imagine the goddess of your understanding for a moment. Holding the universe in her mighty hands as she contemplates us mortals. Our disbelief, though common, never fails to fascinate her. She thinks, “you’ve got to believe in something…so why not believe in me?”
Indeed. Why don’t we? Why is it such a struggle to believe? How about those lovely side effects of belief – faith, love and hope – which so many of us, including me, struggle with. As practitioners of magick, you’d think it would be easier for us to believe and embrace these ideals. We should know that the unseen is as real as the sunrise. Wouldn’t our lives be so much better if we just believed? The benefits far outweigh any costs, but we continue to disbelieve. Is it because we don’t want to appear weak or foolish? These are questions I’ve grappled with my entire life.
There was a time when I didn’t believe in anything, let alone the gods. I was sitting alone on a park bench, late at night, sneaking a cigarette, completely despondent as I sat there staring at the playground. Belief was not sharing that bench with me. Nor was it anywhere to be found. The Goddess sighed and wished me well.
Being a psychologist, I knew that I was in a very dark place. Belief is what keeps us going when the shit hits the fan. It’s faith that will see us through the fires of hell. Without hope, we’re doomed. If we can’t feel love or receive it, we’re screwed. I decided that I needed to find something to believe in. I determined that I could believe in my family. I could have find faith in my son’s faces. They looked like they believed in me, too. Maybe I could borrow theirs until I found faith in myself. That was a good place to start.
I’m a Believer
Fast forward through ten years. I’m driving home from the Catholic university where I taught. I’m have the internal argument that I’ve been having my whole life – it wasn’t just that night in the park where I suffered from a lack of belief – about the existence of any type of god. My scientific mind would postulate that believing in deity is a silly thing. My soulful self would exclaim, “don’t be so foolish! God is everywhere! Look around you!” Plus, my higher self would add that believing in the divine is very good for your health according to research. My scientific self rolled her eyes. I was tired of this debate. Let’s be clear that “God” in my case is the feminine divine, particularly the Goddess Hekate. “What if I just believe?” I remember asking myself. On that long drive along the twisting coastal road that leads to my doorstep, I decided to become a believer.
I Believe in Miracles
For the sake of clarity, I don’t believe in that the Gods, or God, or Hekate even, are actual humanoids floating around in the ether. Nope. I believe that I can’t truly understand the divine because I am human, after all. My powers are rather limited in terms of comprehending all that lies beyond. The God of my understanding, Hekate, is real because I know that divine energy is real. Miracles with no other possible explanation than divine intervention have happened to me. I also believe in hard work and determination. That’s not always enough. This is where the magick comes in. Those inexplicable blessings. They come from somewhere.
If You Don’t Believe, Then You’re Doing Witchcraft Wrong
I’m a witch, so if I don’t believe in divine energy, then I’m doing witchcraft wrong. I believe that the stories we make up to describe the divine are powerful. They help us understand our lives. If we are practitioners of magick, then we can use the symbolic energy in these tales to help with our workings. Believing in a god, the gods or any type of consciousness greater than our human one is necessary to my understanding of witchcraft. They are not only a source of energy, but give us hope. We identify with their stories and we can find faith in their ability to intervene on our behalf. Belief is good for us even if we aren’t into manipulating natural energies to reach a desired outcome (because that’s exactly what witchcraft is). It is the light in the darkness where we find faith.
Belief Has Nothing to do with Religion
I’m not talking about being religious. That’s a whole different kettle of fish than believing in the Gods. Religiosity (yes, that’s a term) is about practicing a standardized set of rituals, following certain rules, conforming to expectations and associating with people who follow the same religion. Certain aspects of religiosity are good for you, others not so much. The most important indicator of well-being when it comes to all things spiritual (including religiosity) is believing in a higher power.
“Religion is for people who fear hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve been there.”
FYI, I’m not a religious person at all. But I am a believer in something greater than me. And I believe in hope, faith and love.
Hope, Faith, Love
While we were watching The Shawshank Redemption the other night, I was struck by the fact that this film is very much about belief. The main character refused to give up while his sidekick urged him to give up on hope. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but I’ll say that hope won in the end. That’s what hope does – it gives us the drive to survive and hustle. Hope propels us to manifest our dreams. If you don’t believe in something, then I have no idea how you could be hopeful. I certainly wasn’t that night in the park.
You Gotta Have Faith
I’ve been told a few times by the Pedantic Puffy Pants Pagans (4P’s) that faith doesn’t belong in paganism or witchcraft. Excuse me? Why would you do a spell if you didn’t have faith in the outcome? For the fun of it? At least for me, rituals and spells are tons of work. I build my belief into every word, movement and ingredient. That’s faith. I also have faith in the divine energy that I understand as Hekate (because this makes the most sense to me) that I can call upon her for assistance in my workings, guidance and saving my sorry ass once in a while. I have faith in her. I’m not into one-sided relationships so I show her my belief through devotion and worship. These are acts of faith. The 4P crowd don’t like this sort of talk, either. Maybe it’s some sort of post-Christian hangover. Could be that they don’t want to admit that anything is more powerful than them. Who knows? Let me tell you, being a devotee of Hekate has absolutely nothing to do with being subservient. It’s about respect. It’s about honoring what is greater than me. And having faith in it. There’s no greater power than faith, except maybe love.
The Greatest of These is Love
There was this fascinating discussion in one of the Hekate groups a few weeks ago. A newcomer asked how she would know if Hekate loved her. The ensuing debacle left me saddened. Because she was attacked for asking this question. I’ve never been one to seek love from anybody. I’ve tried to find lots of other things, some not in my own best interest. But, love? Nope. Her question was valid because love – not the cute-kitten, happily-ever-after sort – is what fuels belief. Love as a force of creation. That force is the energy many practitioners try to manipulate in workings. So, love your deities as you see fit. If you need them to love you, then they do. The Gods reflect back upon us what we need to get by. The greatest gift of the gods is that we can give and receive love.
Believe in Something
This leads to my final point, but maybe I’ve already kind of made it when I wrote about how I understand the divine. Don’t let anyone tell you how to believe in the gods or anything else. But, believe in them. Practice hope, faith and love. Believe that all this is in your own hands to create as you see fit. Believe that it’s those very hands who represent the divine. Believe that it’s those hands that use these energies to create magick. If you can’t wrap your head around the gods, believe in those hands and the person that they’re connected to. You gotta believe in something…so why not believe in that? It’s a good place to start. Who knows, you might even end up believing in Her.
* I’ve totally appropriated the title for this blog from the Pointer Sisters, who are goddesses in their own right. Speaking of them and the gods, if you need something to believe in…watch this:
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