Another newbie question - how do you know?

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SullivanSC
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Another newbie question - how do you know?

Post by SullivanSC » Fri Jul 15, 2005 5:13 pm

How do you know if there's a god/goddess, many gods, etc, etc? I know the standard Wiccan view is the Horned God and the three faced Goddess. Druids see more of a universal life force, right? I've been reading of different people on this board that "hear" many different gods. The book I'm reading, called "Restoring the Goddess" admits that "goddess" is an archetype for the spirit that it in us all. I'm starting to get frustrated because so far being a pagan doesn't seem much better than being a Catholic. Yes, the two are similar, I know. :) I guess I just wish I could have some strong sense of divinity in something. As a Catholic, I believed as Teresa of Avila taught, that God is at the core of our souls. Our journey is becoming pure and holy in order to grow closer to Him, and thereby become deified ourselves by His grace and unconditional love. Sounds good, but felt impossible to me. And I was never sure if my "encounters" in prayer were real or just imagined. So how do you know you're really encountering a spirit guide or a god/dess? Is that what faith is? Just jumping into anything you want to believe? Sorry to sound so cynical.

Any advice or words of wisdom are greatly appreciated.
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Post by morgana » Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:07 pm

Well, to answer your question with blunt honesty, I don't know there's a god, gods, or goddesses any more than anyone else. By this I mean that we pagans don't have any more scientific data for the existence of diety than any other religion. Faith is just that, faith. It's not that you just randomly pick a path to follow blindly without any prior knowledge or experience, it has to do with what you've seen, done, learned, and experienced in your life. I can't PROVE to you that my deity exists, (in fact there is even a topic in paganism about creating your own deity but that's another topic) but I HAVE experienced certain things in my life that have lead me to believe what I believe. I feel no greater peace than when I am around horses, and through them I communicate to Epona, and have the very real belief that she does listen. But this alone wouldn't prove to YOU that she exists, and for you she may not. It is up to each person to find what they believe in personally, even if it ends up being only yourself. I know where you're at right now, I've been there myself a few times, and no doubt I'll be there again sometime. It's hard when you start doubting things and question the reality of just about everything. But there comes a time when you'll pick up a book, read an article, or a comment from someone here, and something will poke at you to look into it more. As you do you will be surprised to find that you are again finding faith in something.
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Post by Kystar » Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:22 pm

Honetly, I believe that the different names and everything are all different aspects of the same divine force or being.

Finding your diety is a lot like finding your perfect house...bear with me...you have to ask all the right questions and look in all the right places until you find what is perfect.

When you find the aspect of hte Divine that works for you, you'll feel it...like a puzzle piece just fell into place in your soul. That's what it feels like when you find your spirit guide too. It just clicks and you understand...you feel and you KNOW. It's more an awakening than a concious thing...you'll FEEL their presence when you go into a meditative state. You'll hear their voice nudging you when you need it.

I guess it is a faith thing...but its one of those where even though you can't really EXPLAIN the connection, it's there. Like falling in love.
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Post by Crazy Healer Lady » Fri Jul 15, 2005 9:54 pm

At first it is faith - not only in your faith of choice, but in your intuition. Just start with that. When you know yourself you will know the universe and when the Divine are calling you. Well, that is what I have experienced, anyway.

Paganism and Catholicism are very similar, though they are kind of at war. All religions stem from the same source, I believe. The three big monotheistic religions have the same roots as Shamanism, as Native beliefs, as Bhuddism, as New Age. We are all in search of truth. But, because truth for one may be false for another, it is hard to trust what you believe and not see it as blind faith. What matters is if something resonates with you. You'll know because (this is my reaction) your heart will bubble and light up, or you may get tingles (someone else's?) or any number of things. What was the deepest, most intimate feeling when you knew your husband was right for you? Or a best friend? It is something like that.

Hope this helps some. It is a HARD thing. It's something that can take lifetimes ><
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Post by Stormy » Sat Jul 16, 2005 5:46 am

This is a tough one for me to try to explain from my point of view and make sense, but I'll give it a go.

When I was Christian, the emphasis was always on you MUST have faith, you MUST believe. No questioning was allowed, you were just supposed to accept it. Like you appear to be, I am not wired to "just accept it" - I question everything, I search for answers both inside and out. Christianity did a pretty good job of brainwashing me into believing I was a wicked person if I didn't stop myself from doing that with Christianity.

But I have always communed with nature, spoken to plants and animals, FELT the living spirit within all things, including rocks, soil and other supposedly inanimate objects. I have always had strong empathy, strong "sixth sense", deep intuition and a little voice that will tell me "don't go that way today, go this way" which has kept me out of accidents and worse. The Christian religion said these were evil, demonic things. In my heart of hearts I did not believe it and eventually I mustered the courage to say to myself and others I DO NOT BELIEVE IN CHRISTIANITY OR THE CHRISTIAN GOD AND I AM NOT EVIL BECAUSE OF IT! It took me years after that to find my way to the Pagan path because I had never had any exposure to it, didn't even know that what I had been and what I had been doing all my life were Pagan.

But Christian brainwashing can run deep. I was ecstatic when I found Paganism and shortly there after the Pagan library. I was so excited, felt so much like I had finally "come home" - to quote Cindy Lauper "the altitude of freedom" went to my head. But the old ways reared their ugly head in a way that at first I didn't recognize - I felt I HAD to pick and choose Goddesses and Gods right away - go through all the different aspects and just pick out what I felt would work for me and then follow them and their ways to the T - in essence, I was doing the Christian thing, just on a multiple Deity scale - I was picking out names that appealed to me or that I felt were right and expecting myself to connected to them.

It took me many months to realize my mistake - the Goddess and God are not chosen by us, we are chosen by them.

It can't be rushed, it can't be forced, you can't pick names from a book. You have to have faith, yes, but not in the Christian sense - you have to have faith in yourself and in the Universe, you have to have faith that when you are ready, the aspect(s) of the Goddess and God which are for you will show themselves to you in some way. It didn't happen as fast for me as I would have liked, and the aspect of the Goddess/God which chose me (and made it very clear they were the main ones for me) were not the ones I would have picked for myself. I have also, over the months, built relationships with several other aspects of the One that I wished to get to know, but my "personal" Goddess/God chose me, not the other way around.

I still find, even after all this time, that I am not completely free from the danger of falling into the old habits of Christianity - namely the emphasis that Christianity put on having to say things in prayer JUST SO, having to be SERIOUS and GROVELING - always on time for prayer or worship, always with a structure that is strictly adhered to as a way of worship and honoring. To fall into those ways as a Pagan is to miss the whole point of having a personal, dynamic relationship with ones Deities and the Universe.

Hope this makes sense to you and helps you in some way.

Stormy
Last edited by Stormy on Sat Jul 16, 2005 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Crazy Healer Lady » Sat Jul 16, 2005 10:14 am

WELL SAID STORMY!!! Actually, except for choosing deities and such, your story is very similar to mine O_O
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Post by Stormy » Sat Jul 16, 2005 11:46 am

Crazy Healer Lady wrote:WELL SAID STORMY!!! Actually, except for choosing deities and such, your story is very similar to mine O_O
:toothy4: Thanks - I'm so glad it was understandable lol - sometimes it's hard to tell if what makes sense to me will make sense to anyone else :confused4:

I find it very interesting that many of us have similar stories about how we came to Paganism - a sort of common thread that binds us as surely as our relationship to all things.

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Post by scoia » Sun Jul 17, 2005 4:09 pm

You're freaking me out Stormy, that's me not very long ago. Learning not to be so structured has been the most difficult thing for me personally.

I've mentioned this in another thread recently, but meditation clarified all things for me, brought about a deeper understanding of what I wanted, what I was doing, who I was attempting to commune with. I can't say that extensive reading hasn' t been a large part of it as well. Nothing can replace experience or personal insight, but it cuts down on time wasted, and makes you more able to communicate your questions.
First they ignore you.
Then they laught at you.
Then they fight you.
Then you win.
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Post by katsu » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:11 pm

I couldn't have said it better Stormy :heart:
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Post by Draconia » Wed Jul 20, 2005 8:54 am

Faith is definitely a big part. I also believe if there is any hope for mankind there has to be a higher power for us to survive because we wouldn't make it on our own ;) . Also if you look around you at nature and all the wonders in the world you can see the Lord and Lady, If you truly look into yourself you can also see them. No one can show you the God and Goddess for everyone needs to find them themselves and in their own way. May they bless you in your search.
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Post by Ragnar » Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:04 am

Surely when talking about religion "faith" ie "belief" is the most important thing. If you do not believe in something why do it? To me that is the creed of the christians; it does not matter if you "believe" so long as you turn up at the theater and do what the nice man on the stage sais. (and give him lots of money!).
The main difference between Heathen/Pagan and christian, is that we (Heathen/Pagans) do not burn you at the stake if you do not want to turn up to a meeting, or have a slightly differing point of view on an asspect of your faith.

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Post by Kendrah » Wed Sep 07, 2005 7:22 am

I'm sorta different from most in that it's not a matter of "faith" or "belief" to me. I've had encounters with various dieties in my travels along this path. Untill those times, I didn't really "believe" in the various dieties... Now I do. *shrugs*

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Post by runewulf » Wed Sep 07, 2005 1:29 pm

Ok, I agree with a lot of what I've seen posted ( and sorry about being late to this one, it's been absolutely painful lately trying to get everything done and still be able to stop by the library and what not ).

I'm not sure if you read it, but a while back we had a running post in regards to things like the "Big Bang" and what not. Well, as far as a catalyst, what most spiritual paths will agree on is that, names and faces, singular or plural, etc. aside, life started with divinity.

Now, that is just simply "divinity". What face/s you put on divinity is usually based on your specific spiritual path. If you talk to some folks, they'll tell you "there's one god", or "there's two gods (oak and holly) and three goddesses (miaden, mother, crone)", other folks may talk of pantheons, say the tuatha de dannan, the aesir and vanir, the budhist dieties, Mother Earth/Father Sky, etc.

So, what kind/how many gods are there? As many as mankind can think up. My personal thought line goes something like this, in a simplified form:

Divinity suffers from imposed, multiple personality disorder. If you start at the root, you have divinity itself, divinity is a lot like the asian belief in duality (yin/yang), now, duality is the core basis, but you get enough folks together, believing in a given god/dess or gods/goddesses, then divinity will start to mold to fit those beliefs. Beliefs have power and let's face it, the human mind and spirit, in the form that we are in while incarnate, really aren't equipped to comprehend divinity in it's entirety and pure form, I mean, come on, we're talking core of creation and all that exists within it, on this plane and others. However, divinity is everywhere, so the power of our beliefs can, to one degree or another, shape it.

Personally, I deal with several divinities, the closest are Odhin, Thor, Freya, Lugh, Dagda, Brighid, Morgana/Morigu, Waylander, etc. I can and do interact with them as individuals, but I firmly believe that, among other things (including the links between some of them with eachother through indo-european roots) that if you trace them far enough, you come down to "God & Goddess" and if you could go a step before that, you'd find that it becomes divinity in it's natural duality.

I love Douglas Monroe's books on the lessons of Merlin, well, at least from the point of view of being entertaining... I would advise anyone to cross reference them, especially some of the areas on herbalism, cause there's some nasty screw ups here and there, however, in one of those books, I don't remember which one, he describes the gods and goddesses as something like this (paraphrased): You have the divine, which is like a crystal with many faces, each face is one of our gods or goddesses". I think that's a pretty good description and sums it up, at least at the basic level.

It can get more complex when you start looking at things like cultural branching and genetic drift, but it will, eventually, come back to the above.

Something to think on anyway, huh ?

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Post by auramoonsongs » Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:33 am

i believe that yeah gods have different names but they are the same whether you call it Gaia, God anything, believing in something is better than no belief at all. When i first started out i had the same questions as you and with time and reading listening and asking, I got the answers i was looking for it's a lot easier now to get info and to find others to talk to and you never stop asking questions and you never stop learning I haven't my other half, my shaman he has been teaching me more and I thought i new it all. If you have any questions just ask yeah it's say my point of view but you can get a different side to it.

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Post by Ragnar » Tue Jan 10, 2006 10:54 am

auramoonsongs wrote:i believe that yeah gods have different names but they are the same whether you call it Gaia, God anything, believing in something is better than no belief at all.
I don't think that is entirely correct.

Take, for example the Australian Aborigionies;

1) The ones living in, say, Alice Springs, have NO need for sea Gods. Wheras those in Darwin or Sydney obviously do.

2) O.K, so is a "desert" God the same in all deserts? No, an Arab would be just as lost in the Australian desert as us "whiteys" would be. The Aborigionie the same in the Sahara. A tribe that live in an Oak area have a totaly different "Lore", than those in the Swedish Pine forests.
It is from Lore that the Gods develop.

3) "Major Gods". Such as Odin, Zeuss, etc, We (my tradition), always see as not one God, rather a pesonification of ALL the Gods spirits, a sort of "focus of the will's and purposes of all Gods.

Therefore you may be correct with the major dietys. But not all Gods are the same with other names. Because they have totaly different reasons for their existence.

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