Rant: I’m Still a Pagan… And You’re Still a Jerk.

The issue with loving your home life as much as I do and being so busy with it is that sometimes you just lack much to say on your blog… Also, you other bloggers are so prolific in my google reader, that some days all I do online is sit and read and read and read. I could be held responsible since I follow so many blogs, but for once I feel like passing the blame onto others since it’s because you are AWESOME.

Plus everyone has been discussion about what Pagans should call themselves. If we should all be Pagans. How much easier identifying as a polytheist is, etc. For some reason this discussion kind of caused my eyes to glaze. I guess I’m of the “call yourself what you want” school. Being so solitary in my practice, and not being comfortable with my past experience with face-to-face (or sometimes in-your-face) Pagan community has left me kind of sighing over everything involved with this discussion.

I am a Pagan, though. Differing opinions would put me in as a “soft” polytheist, and some more hardliners would consider my view that all Divine beings eventually lead to one would try to pin me as a monotheist because of it. Yes, I believe in the Gods. I believe they’re both separate beings, but I believe they’re made up of the same unifying Divine we all are, which in turn makes them inseparable. And it’s that all-is-one mentality that keeps me from being able to claim I’m any specific thing beyond a Pagan. Beyond Paganism, my modern American religion, with all the melting pot of my spiritual upbringing and conversing with the gods, has left me without a label beyond Pagan.

So far I think the closest I’ve ever come to finding a group that believes in the same view of the Divine as me would be those practicing Haitian Vodou. A lot of the religion speaks to me, and I adore learning about it – In fact, if I went back to school for religious studies, I’d probably focus on the group of religions that belong in this family. But I don’t practice. No Loa has shown up and demanded I practice, and I don’t feel a particular need to do so.

In practice there is some overlap of belief with Religio Romana that I appreciate. And my ancestor worship is a major part of my practice.

My religion doesn’t have a name, and I like it that way. I love the Roman aspects of my beliefs like crazy. I work towards maintaining Roman values for myself. If I tried to call myself a member of Religio Romana the majority (or perhaps just the outspoken) of those practicing Roman polytheism would chase me around with pitchforks despite sharing quite a lot with them.

For years now I’ve been told that eclecticism is a thing that doesn’t lead to the pure spiritual path that practicing a single religion does. For me I feel like it has. Working with personal gnosis on top of research and education has taught me a very revealing thing about myself: If I don’t believe in it all, I have problems believing at all.

So… I’m a Pagan. I will remain a Pagan. I will continue to resist having to label myself beyond it, and I think in writing this I’ve come to the main reason why…

Because I’m sick and tired of all of these high and mighty opinions coming from everyone else. Glad your religious path is working for you. Glad you are finding meaning in your life. Glad your gods are paying attention to the love and devotion you give them. Really, I am. But please, for the love of all that is right and good, stop and think about what you sound like when you start in talking about the other side.

It is insulting when you consider me a monotheist, because I don’t consider myself one. And stating that I’m convincing myself that I’m not is really pretty self-important. I’m a human, which means that I’m never going to be 100% sure my beliefs are 100% true. I’m always going to be questioning and trying to figure things out… I think that’s part of what the purpose of humans is; I think that blind faith is dangerous. And if you want to consider me agnostic because of it, so be it… Though since I don’t consider myself agnostic, and you’re using it in a demeaning manner, I’m not sure how it is that you can get all bent out of shape that Pagan is a disparaging Christian term when people call you it. Seems a bit hypocritical if you ask me.

(And as a side note, I find the terms “hard polytheism” and “soft polytheism” to be insulting, too. Typically because it’s used by those who speak on “soft” in a way that makes it seem like they consider this worldview less valid. There is nothing soft about my beliefs, thank you. Figure out another way to express your concept of my beliefs when talking to me, because if you pretend ignorance on the derogatory term “fluffy” within this community and how soft could easily be taken to mean that, I’m going to call you on your shit.)

I feel really, really put out of place when I read opinions about eclecticism being a weak path. Like somehow my beliefs not being easily labeled and categorized makes me religiously lesser than others who can say “I am (such and such).” I’m absolutely thrilled (and I’m not being sarcastic) that you are able to find a religion that speaks to you 100% or that you are able to at least overlook the differences. I can’t. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. And I am tired of feeling like my belief system is anything less than yours just because no one else practices exactly like I do, and I understand that most religions are a giant mish-mash of the religions that came before them.

Plus those pants make you look bloated. Okay, maybe I’m just butthurt. But seriously, people, please think before you start writing about what you think of other people. I don’t think I’ve even gotten my point across, because after weeks of this all I can do is rant still.

Awesome. Only not at all.

Life’s Simple Pleasures: The Bird-Feeder

I am in bird heaven right now.  I grew up with bird-feeders, and as a child I was quite the backyard birder.  Recently we put two seed feeders in our backyard against our patio.  I have regained my passion for watching again.  Multiple times a day you’ll find me peeking through the blinds at whoever is currently dining.  I get so excited sometimes that I call my mother specifically to tell her about what’s happening at my feeders.

Today was quite a treat for me.  Everyone thinks about baby birds in the spring, but the real excitement for me has always been the late summer and early fall when they start getting out so I can see them.  Point in case, I didn’t have one family come and visit me.  Nope.  I had three!  While a mother cardinal was still feeding a fat baby begging for food, I watched on of her other children eating on its own.  At the same time I’ve had a goldfinch family discover the feeders, so I had around ten goldfinches eating seed and sipping from time-to-time from my water garden container.  Later I was visited by the titmice, who I find absolutely adorable, and I found myself graced by them bringing their kids along.

Watching long enough has allowed me to learn each individual bird’s personality.  For instance, I have a little male chickadee that is a comical little pig.  Instead of taking a seed and flying away like his compatriots, he will sit at the feeder hanging upside to eat and only righting himself to get another sunflower heart.

Due to the fact that I have no mature trees in my yard and woods about a hundred feet away, I’ve not had to contend with squirrels.  And I haven’t seen any starlings or grackles yet.  Any of them are welcome, though, because I’m not too picky as long as they don’t mind being spied on by a nature voyeur.

Ragweed and moving to a new environment has caused me to have so many allergy problems, and I’ve yet to find a medicine that doesn’t make me sick that takes care of it.  So these last few weeks of summer are being spent indoors.  The birds have given me the greatest gift I could ask for – That of being able to connect on some level with nature.

I plan on introducing suet next.  And this next summer the hummingbirds will be getting a feeder, too.

So tell me, do you have a bird-feeder?  What sort of birds are you attracting, and do you feel like it gives you the spiritual recharge that I find mine giving me?