All religion should be open to enquiry
On my lunchbreak one day last week I was scoffing my soup and sandwich (and maybe a brownie) whilst watching a bit of day time TV, a series called Father Brown. A light hearted period drama set in the 1950s and featuring a Roman Catholic priest who likes to get involved in detective work. (Loosely based on the books written by G K Chesterton).
It is a bit of harmless entertainment but something Father Brown said in the episode I was watching resonated with me. He was being questioned about his faith and his reply was “all religion should be open to enquiry”. He was being asked if he ever doubted his religion or his beliefs and he confirmed that he did.
It made me think…
My journey on this Pagan Witchcraft pathway has been a long and winding one, veering off in different directions on occasion but always within the loose bounds of Paganism.
But I started my ‘religious’ journey as a child, joining Girl’s Brigade in my early teens, which was part of the Baptist church. I loved the weekly meetings and activities and even began to enjoy going to church every Sunday. At one point I became very devout in my Christian beliefs. But there was always a sticking point for me, and it was the question I raised regularly in Bible study classes – I could not wrap my head around the idea of there being an evil deity i.e. the Devil. I absolutely accepted the idea of God and Jesus but when it came to the ole fiery horned guy, I just would not believe that anything of such pure evil could exist in my belief system.
I did indeed question my religion during my Christian years, perhaps more than once when something horrific happened but it was the Devil part that really was a sticking point for me.
It was my eventual undoing as a Baptist…although the discovery of boys in my late teens may have also had some influence…ahem…
I do believe my foray into Christianity was a bit of a foundation for me finding and falling head over heels with Paganism later on. Being a Witch made so much sense, it just felt as if I had ‘come home’ and that horned guy? Yup, see I knew he wasn’t evil, I just knew it!
Father Brown’s comment made me think about whether I have questioned my religion since I began my Paganism pathway. This journey has been infinitely longer than my Christian one.
The funny thing is, looking back over all these years I don’t think I ever had such a big query with Paganism as I did with Christianity. I have had periods of time when I have felt a little disconnected, on occasion a lot cut off from my faith. Usually when life got hectic, but I knew it was always there in the background.
I have had cause to question the actions and words of others on occasion that’s for sure! More than once I have heard myself say “how can a Pagan behave like that?” but I guess the answer to that is “because we are all human”.
Then I realised that I had queried it. The pathway I chose to study originally began to feel, not uncomfortable, but not quite the right fit. Parts of the teachings didn’t sit well with me personally, not that there was anything wrong with it, it just wasn’t quite right for me. But that’s the wonderful thing about Paganism, there are so many different pathways under the one umbrella. And you can pick n mix to create your own journey. So, I moved away from Wicca and found a cubby hole within the Hedge Witch realm. Although even then I have jumped out of the hedge slightly and into the kitchen.
Over the years I have also worked with many different deities from various pantheons. Together with quite a menagerie of spirit animals. Accepting each one as they have presented themselves and working with them for periods of time until at some point, I realise they have taken a back seat. I then moved on. Seeking, asking and working with them to see what they wanted from me or what they could share with me. But never really questioning why they were there, just accepting that they were because I needed them to be.
Apart from the Cailleach, who has been with me for many years and never left (and I really hope she never does). Although I have questioned her methods and advice, even ignored it on occasion, to my detriment…
I have been challenged by others occasionally, asked why I am a Pagan or a Witch – and I answer from the heart. They can either choose to listen and accept…or not.
I guess I am very thankful that I haven’t had any real big questions for my Pagan faith, the little queries are easy to work through and find answers for. But questioning my own faith and beliefs, really doubting them? At first, I struggled to think of anything in particular. Wondering if that made me a bad pagan? I suspect (and actually really hope) that it just means I am on the right pathway.