Spiritual Vs. Religious
"I believe in something greater than myself, but I'm not sure what. I guess I'm not religious."
This comment is one many of you are likely familiar with; people often feel something beyond themselves, but very few choose to define it these days. Studies that have been done in the past few years are showing more and more young people identifying as "non-religious" or spiritual, in favor of traditional organized religion. For many of us, it is not so much a lack of faith, but more so a wider view of it that cannot be confined by the dogma of our ancestors; but that leaves us wondering, "so what does that make us"? In the article below I will go over different aspects of spiritualism, various views on religion, and give tips on understanding the two!
Something I often hear from people is, "Well, I was raised Christian, and I definitely believe in angels, but the bible doesn't sit right with me". Many people, especially those raised in religious upbringings and areas are indoctrinated with the beliefs of the community, and it isn't until moving somewhere new that they start to consider their teachings. Often times there's a "heart feeling" as I've heard it put, that Christianity "just isn't right", but that "I believe in/work with angels. I've always been close to them". Some people look at the separation of the two as blasphemous simply because of the old "well what about god?" teaching, but this truly isn't anything new. You see, angels have been seen as harbingers of peace in many cultures for hundreds of years, whereas the word of god has been corrupted by man, so it is quite common for those who are open to accept what they perceive as light, say angels, while not accepting the whole doctrine. This type of belief, (And those similar), are often referred to as "Christian spiritual" or in some cases "Abrahamic Spiritual".
Agnosticism is defined by Mariam Webster's as Definition of agnostic. 1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (such as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god. And is often used to describe people who choose not to delve into religion, but merely accept that somethings will not be known in this lifetime. This particular belief system is very common among Millennial's, and moderately common among Gen Xers as we were the first generations (more or less) after the hippie movement, and many of us were encouraged to think for ourselves, or explore religion instead of sticking to a doctrine. Often times those who identify as agnostic also identify as spiritual while still choosing to neither confirm nor deny the existence of a higher power. Many are happy simply existing.
Persons who identify as eclectic spiritual gather their beliefs from multiple religions, traditions, and pantheons therein. For example; near to where I live, there is a yoga sanctuary that incorporates both western and eastern teachings in a sort of hybrid spiritual way. One moment you may be connecting with Jesus, but others perhaps with Ganesh, and any other that you'd like. It is common for new agers to be drawn to eclectic spiritualism because it is freedom within freedom, and there is no definite doctrine.
Wicca and Eclectic Wicca
Wicca: a religion founded by Gerald Gardner, is defined by Webster's as Definition of Wicca a religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (such as magic) and of both male and female deities who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles. And while different practitioners and covens choose different pantheons with whom to work, it is not uncommon to come across eclectic Wicca(ns) who incorporate deities and practices from different pantheons. Often times, especially with younger Wiccans, you will notice that they have been called by deities from all over the world, and as such, they choose to sculpt their craft to incorporate all the teachings of these deities. As the Wiccan religion has no set guideline or doctrines, it has been labelled a "build your own" religion by many, but don't let that dissuade you, this is perfectly ok!
All on one clouders
So there exists a group of people, (I am one of them), who have never truly been able to accept or deny things. While we are, by some means Agnostic, we tend to have a slightly different view on things. Instead of "there is" or "there isn't" when discussing religion, it's more of an, "Ok but". See, (and to be clear this is my personal experience, I don't speak for the collective), I have walked many paths and known many gods as well as their teachings, and for the most part none seem inherently untrue. At a young age I came to accept that there doesn't have to be "one way", and there doesn't just have to be one god or group of gods; there can be many! As a child, we're talking like 4 by the way, I drew a photo of what appeared to be Jesus, sitting on a cloud accompanied by Buda, Ganesh, Nefertiti, Gaia, and as I recall, Mr. Rogers. When asked about it I very matter-of-factly explained that, "Well Nana has one god, and Mama has a bunch of gods and lady gods, and Grama has different gods and lady gods, and Lita is a Buddhist, and that's nice so I wanted them to have a playdate". Amused, my mother asked, "well which one do you think is real", to which I responded, "Well, all of them. Grampa says that it is our belief in god and stuff that makes it real, so if people believe in a god then its real to them. Everyone is different and that's ok, and I think that all the gods and lady gods are ok with it! That's why there's choices". At the time it was of course much more lighthearted; but it still rand true for me. I have walked with Cernunnos, I have called upon Freyja in circle, Hekate has come to me in dreams, and even the Archangels have been present in my life, and as such, I have accepted that there is more than I know. This is often the case for "one clouders", as we simply view our spirituality as unknown but endless. Rather than dissuade ourselves against the teachings of spirituality and religion, we accept that while the paths to the cloud are different, and we may end up at the doors of different deities, there's no reason to decide that one is real over another.
While these are only a few examples of different kinds of spirituality, religion, and otherwise, I hope that these may shed light onto different paths that aren't often in the main stream. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions.
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Lady Wynnie is the ArchPriestess and founder of Covenant of the Rose. She is also a talented writer who will be blogging about the coven and it's happenings!