Kristen is so awesome. She finds the most interesting things for me to read then sends them to me. Case in point: Today she sent me a link to “These aren’t the gods you’re looking for” by John Halsted, who writes The Allergic Pagan over on Patheos. This is a slightly older post, having been made in Feb 2014, but it cuts to the heart of an issue that I’ve been having.
In my close tribe, I am mostly an exception to the rule. The rest of the Pagans that I am with on a daily basis are devotional polytheists of one stripe or another, where I am decidedly not. I am, in common practice, a Buddhist Druid who is starting to work with Hekate/Hecate. However, unlike the other three, I do not have direct interaction with Hekate. I don’t encounter Her as a distinct and autonomous personality, and she doesn’t speak to or “pester” me (to use a term that Halstead used), for which I’m grateful. I am not “godbothered.”
I don’t know about how our extended tribe perceives the divine, but I know we’ve got a pair of “Pagnostics” (Pagan agnostics), a Native American, a Fey, and some other various and sundry Pagan practices. Like I said, the ones that I share daily life with are all devotional polytheists, and I have wondered if I’m doing things right, since my experience is so different from theirs.
This, in turn, leads me to no small amount of self-doubt and wondering if I’m following a legitimate path, since I have such a vastly different experience. To borrow a phrase from Halstead again, I’ve been “shaking other peoples’ boxes” trying to figure out if their practice is better or more legitimate than mine. I fact, this comic panel pretty much sums it up:
Anyway, this self-doubt makes things challenging, but Nimue Brown had something useful to say in her 2013 “Spirituality Without Structure.” In short (and I’m WAY simplifying my interpretation here), looking to other people to help define and explain personal spirituality is, in a sense, seeking safety and security without being (my words, not hers) brave enough to strike out and make your own path. Again, my words here, looking to others for validation is somewhat intellectually lazy, but not necessarily in a negative way. Some people just aren’t built in a way that allows them to go it alone, and that’s OK.
But here I am, shaking other peoples’ boxes, when I really should just be focusing on my own box, which is decidedly not like theirs. And that’s perfectly acceptable. I just have to accept it and work with what I have.