“You are led through your lifetime by the inner learning creature, the playful spiritual being that is your real self.
Don't turn away from possible futures before you're certain you don't have anything to learn from them.”

~ Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull ~

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Response to a 'Dear Teresa' Letter

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. I received a letter from a friend, who, because of my new beliefs, decided that she couldn't be my friend anymore. I'm hurt. I'm disappointed. And at one point I even questioned what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. At the same time, I understand her concerns and her fears. And I understand that I have to let her go because despite the loss, I also realized that I have to follow my own heart and I have to feed my soul in a way that honors me, the Goddess and the God.

I'm more at peace; more in alignment; more fulfilled; more loving; and more understanding of the world and the people in it ~ although admittedly, it is a huge learning curve and there are moments when I think it might be easier to fall back on my old Christian beliefs. But it would be just that, easy.

I'm more conscious of treating the Earth in a respectful manner and have upped my efforts at recycling, even so much as picking up trash on my daily dog walks. I have a hard time killing spiders in my home and where I can I gather them up and whoosh them out the back door. And I don't run the water when I brush my teeth.

I didn't come to Paganism overnight. It's been a long, long process that, if I look back over my life, I believe started when I was a child. I never fit in. I always did the opposite of what other people did or wanted me to do. I was always empathetic to the point of crying over other people's spilled milk. I've also been able to intuit events in my life and I'm very intuitive about people. I've always been in touch with nature and more than anything else, want to be out in the garden or walking in a beautiful conservancy with trees surrounding me.

The real changes started about a year and a half ago. I bought some Pagan and Wiccan books, began reading and after a few months the old fears caught up with me and I put it all away. I delved back into Christianity with a vengeance. I went back to church, joined the choir and even joined a Christian weight loss group. But it never felt right. I was living a lie and I felt like a fake.

In February of this year I made the decision to listen to my heart and to follow it wherever it led me. It led me to Paganism and Wicca in particular. I make no apologies and offer no excuses. This is who I am. This is where I stand.

To those of you who claim to be 'afraid' for me, that I've gone to the dark side, let me try to rest your fears. I am not a Satanist (in fact I don't believe in the devil or 'Satan'). I do not do black magic or voo doo or hoo doo. I am not a necromonger (which means I don't worship the dead). I do not sacrifice goats or any other living creature. I have not joined a cult ~ I am a solitary practitioner drawing elements from all religions, all faiths and from the world around me. I don't live in the dark.

What I do believe are the 13 principles of Wicca:
  1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters (Sabbats and Esbats).
  2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with nature in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
  3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called ‘supernatural’, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
  4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity – as masculine and feminine – and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and functions through the interaction of the masculine and the feminine. We value neither above the other knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magical practice and religious worship.
  5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, the Inner Planes, etc. – and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magical exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
  6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
  7. We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it – a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft – the Wiccan Way.
  8. Calling oneself ‘Witch’ does not make a Witch – but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and without harm to others and in harmony with nature.
  9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.
  10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be ‘the only way’ and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
  11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
  12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as ‘Satan’ or ‘the Devil’ as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
  13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
Wicca is a natural religion, grounded in concern for the earth. Some Wiccans believe that all living things (including stars, planets, humans, animals, plants, rocks) have a spirit of some type. Many Wiccan rituals deal with bringing harmony and healing to nature. The vast majority of Wiccans share a great concern for the environment.

Wiccans celebrate the sexual polarity of nature. For example, the fertilizing rain is one manifestation of the male principle; the nurturing earth symbolizes the female. Females are respected as equal (and sometimes at a slightly higher rank) to males.

Sexuality is valued and regarded as a gift of the Goddess and God, to be engaged in with joy and responsibility, and without manipulation or coercion. Wiccans generally accept the findings of human sexuality researchers that there are three normal, natural, and unchosen sexual orientations: heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.

Wiccans have a wide range of beliefs about life after death, but this is what I believe ~ that the soul goes to Summerland after death. Here, we are met with others who have gone before, review and integrate our previous lives on earth, and are eventually reincarnated into the body of a newborn. I believe that after many such cycles ~ perhaps some as female and others as male; some lives with a high standard of living and others in poverty; some in positions of power and others suffering oppression ~ that the individual accumulates sufficient experience to go on to another level of existence about which we know nothing.

I believe in the Three-fold Law (a.k.a. the Law of Return) The law states that:
"All good that a person does to another returns three fold in this life; harm is also returned three fold". This belief strongly motivates each Wiccan to avoid attempting to dominate, manipulate, control, or harm another person.

I believe in The Wiccan Rede ~ the prime Wiccan ethical teaching:
"An' it harm none, do what thou will", which means to say: "As long as it doesn't harm anyone, including yourself and future generations, do whatever you want to." This has been criticized for being too permissive. However, the Rede is actually quite demanding because it requires a Wiccan to carefully evaluate all of the effects that each of their decisions have on themselves, other people, future generations, the environment, etc.

So there it is, and there's plenty more where that came from. Do your research. Don't judge on what you believe from Hollywood or religious radicals. Think for yourself and most of all don't live in fear. When you learn, when you understand, when you've walked in the other person's shoes, when you've asked the questions ~ then we can all do what we were sent here to do . . . LOVE each other, RESPECT each other and to live in harmony with the Earth and all her creatures.

Excerpt from 'Wiccan Beliefs and Practices' by Gary Cantrell
"I elected to reveal my practice of witchcraft publicly simply because I personally feel that the time for intentionally hiding ourselves has come to an end. We are practitioners of a kind, gentle, and peace-loving religion. We are not the bloodthirsty or depraved, orgiastic fanatics all too often portrayed by the entertainment and news media. The general public has been misled about witchcraft for over a thousand years, and now with our numbers reaching an all-time high, possibly in excess of one million people worldwide, we need to stand up and set that record straight.

We are out there by the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands. We are in the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. We are law enforcement officers, engineers, builders, doctors, and farmers. We are a legally recognized religion under the protection of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and our isolation from the rest of the religious community should and must come to an end. With the phenomenal growth of witchcraft since the 1970s and with the free and easy interchange of information afforded to us by things like the Internet, that time will come to pass and it will happen soon. It may be happening now."
So to that friend . . . I wish you Love and Light on your journey through life on whichever path you choose to follow.

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Incipient Wings said...

Good for you...great post!

andrea said...

Honey ,I know that pain but is GOOD pain , the Goddess will bring you better friends and more in tune with your energy and believes .Blessed be .

Faerie Sage said...

Teresa, you have great courage. There are very few people who could take a letter such as the one you recieved and wish the sender Love and Light. You should be extremely proud of yourself. The fact that you can look back and know you are being true to yourself and your spirit is what will get you through any hard times you may wheather. Maybe next week you can work through this in Tam's art class.
Bright blessings to you.

Sara said...

I think you are a true friend for letting her go with the good grace that you have. I have found that my friends have changed during the course of my alternative thereapies when I became a reiki master. I think we all outgrow certain friends in our lifetime and make new ones that are more intuned with our ideas and beliefs. People that dont like our ways are only doing so because they dont understand. I like to inform them and then if they still dont want to be friends at least they might have a better understanding of things. Hugs Sara

Kiki aka Victoria said...

Theresa!! HUgs ad blessings to you! I am sorry you are going through that! You are never alone..! What people are not yet seeing..is that we should truly celebrate one another and accept one another for who we are..it should not matter what one beleives or path one follows. when we truly love eachother..we dont see the differences or preferences..we simply just see the power of love and the beuaty of life and the gift being here..! I have friends from all walk , paths and faiths..Love should be the universal thread that connects us all as one..it should not be about the differences! Keep Shining...be true to you and your path always! people are afraid of what they dont understand. and it is truly what is in the "heart" of the person...you carry goodness and light..so dont worry what others think!

Plumrose Lane said...

This was extraordinary dear friend and you only have my utmost respect and admiration ~ bravo!!
Light & Love to you always♥

Lisa said...

I'm sorry you had to go through that. You've handled it so beautifully and in a way that shines a light on just what your faith means to you. Your description of going back to church is so familiar and also the way you describe yourself as a child. I feel a real sisterhood with you. I hope that I can be as brave and loving. ♥

Den said...

I'm sorry you had to go through this with your friend, but I think you handled it beautifully. (Honestly, I keep expecting this to come up with another friend of mine and if I do, I hope I can handle it with as much grace and love and dignity as you have).

Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Hi Tereza,

It's such a great feeling to discover who we really are inside, and let go of all the baggage from the past and embrace our real selves. I'm so happy for you! I followed your old blogs, and I will follow you on this new journey. Although I'm not a Wiccan, some of my friends are. I have friends from all types of religions, and many atheist friends like myself. People should do what's right for THEM, as long as they are not hurting anybody else. There are so many heavy-duty Christians on a lot of the blogs, and I would feel uncomfortable commenting in this way with them. Sometimes, the mainstream religions are the most confining and judgmental!

And welcome to the Over 50 crowd! It's not so bad now, is it? :-)

Take care,


Lady Caer Morganna said...

Beautifully put. Comming from someone who has "been there" and had friends and family turn themselves away from me, I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you for sharing and Blessed Be!