Teach Me To Be Religious

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By Rhoda Baer (Photographer) – This image was released by the National Cancer Institute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health, with the ID 7451, Public Domain

There is a fascinating trend among the conversations I have had with other polytheists lately. We all move in circles dominated by “naturals.” People who hear the voices of the Gods and ancestors without effort. People who know the Gods exist with a certainty from experience. People who can just turn it on, like a light switch.

And then there are the rest of us.

See, the rest of us don’t really get to talk about how difficult it is to make that connection, to hear the Gods and feel their presence. There’s this idea that if it doesn’t come natural, then it shouldn’t come at all. Despite the fact that ancient priests of almost all cultures had a training process, there is this notion that you either got it, or you don’t. As if concert musicians come out of the womb playing Stravinsky.

Mention that you struggle, that it takes more effort for you, and that it is harder for you to get there, and you are often encouraged to give up or treated like you are inferior. None of this is new information. But what people are doing about it is new, at least to me.

Right now I know a few people who are actively involved in religious organizations that seek to teach you to interact and build a relationship with the Gods, land spirts, and ancestors, or at the very least looks for ways to bridge that gap. Most religious organizations in the polytheist or Pagan communities teach trivia, history, writing and conducting ritual, and metaphysical trivia, but most don’t actually teach you to make that connection at your own speed.

I am lucky if and when I manage to hear the voices of the Gods or ancestors. It’s not due to lack of trying or effort. Like with meditation, chant, and ritual, it simply takes me longer to get there, and often it seems like I only get there when the way is smoothed for me from the other side. I’ve been reading a lot of material on tribal structure, and shifting much of the weight of spirituality from the individual to the group. We are more than the sum of our parts when working in harmony towards mutually desired goals, and sometimes that push from the group helps some of us bridge that gap.

I find this inspiring. A sign of maturity. We are moving away from merit badges and arbitrary hierarchy to becoming fully functional faiths. Where everyone has a place, exactly at their own pace, and no one gets left behind.


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