A couple of times in the last few weeks I have had to explain my beliefs and practice. Have you ever had to do that – explain what your beliefs are from scratch – to those who have no concept or frame of reference that allows them to understand what it is you are saying. And I don’t mean a throw away comment, but a detailed explanation.
It’s tough, let me tell you.
As you know, I have had thoughts for a while about serving my community and how, as a Pagan, that can be quite difficult.
I have a couple of things on that go that are helping to seek to address that and I will explain about them at a further date.
But today, I went to the Chaplaincy at my university for the midday prayer. Why did I do that? You may ask. If you were thinking that it would probably be an Anglican service you would in fact be right. I want to engage with people from within a religious context is the answer. I did have trepidations about going, but I really shouldn’t have – Adele the Chaplin was welcoming, as was the other person there for the prayer. They even welcomed me during the prayers, which was a really nice feeling!
None of them (we were joined by a man later) had had any contact with Pagans and so I had to explain what my beliefs were and what my practice was. To very puzzled and bemused faces in one case – not from judgement, but from a lack of understanding. It was a real challenge for me to explain myself comprehensively.
They asked me why I went to them today – and I explained my reasons – most, you know, but also because I believe that at the root of most religions is love and a belief in a higher power- most of us are heading towards the same point, just with different language, texts and clothes in some cases (looking at the Chaplin’s dog collar). I am happy to worship with other people – my practice is solitary and it is nice to be with other people who are reaching out to the higher power – however they see it.
Worship – now there’s a tricky word for most Pagans, who refuse to have anything to do with it. And I understand – there is a lot of baggage attached to the word. But more and more I am coming to terms with it – it is a word that many faiths can understand. I do not prostrate myself, nor am I obsequious in my dealings with the Gods. Let’s face it; I am not a grovelling person. But I like to look for similarities between religions, let’s find ways for us to have things in common, not differences. And if working with a word is the way to do it, so be it.
As part of explaining my beliefs I explained my daily practice (which I promise I will write about soon). The Chaplin said that it was very grounded. I laughed- what a great summary for my Paganism. It is grounded – as I have said many, many times I am a highly practical, pragmatic person. I am not airy-fairy and my faith is such a huge part of who I am – it is not a mantle that I pull on at ritual time, in the form of velvet and frippery. In fact when I do ritual it is often wearing my jeans and trusty docs.
Before anyone gets offended – people practice how they want and that is fine, I am just trying to articulate, on (virtual) paper, my feelings and practice. And that’s not to say that I don’t like making ritual a special time with special clothes (or not as it were), but my Paganism is such an integral part of me.
So, there we go, a long, rather waffling response to a challenging 75 minutes, which really made me think about myself and my practices. I will be going back to Chaplaincy room for more time there – in amongst the chaos of an Arts university it is a really nice place to ground and think on different things.