I do say Goddess, and I see Her as a woman... but I also honor the Horned God, Her consort. He is eternal. In my vision, he has deer antlers, a leather hide covers his head, shoulders and back. He holds the essence of Fatherhood, of Forest, of Animal and of Protection. He overlaps with the Goddess on many of these in my mind. With all, he has a place in my energy, too, and in the great circle that is birth, growth, death, decay, regeneration... You see... in my resonance with the Spiritual Path, there is one great Energy around and in us-- we are all one in that sense-- and the Goddess/God is one. One. We do not "connect with" something outside of ourselves-- we ARE CONNECTION-- because our energy is Her energy. It is up to us to make good use of it.
I see this belief echoed over and over in many religions today. That there is One, that there is Energy, and that feeling that energy within ourselves is our way of having a relationship with that One. Most religions also seem to believe that creating or recreating ritual actions-- ritual songs, ritual books, ritual ceremonies-- is the best way to enhance that relationship. There are many many variations, many ways and words to describe the energy, the relationship, the feeling of connection with something so much greater than just me or just you... Many names for the One... Even many people who can talk scientifically about Energy, and feel it, acknowledge it even where science has not yet proven it to be-- without ever feeling that any GREAT ONE exists. Myself, I am far more comfortable with the idea of Energy than the idea of Magic. I've seen some Pagans differentiate between fake hocus-pocus, and Spirit-Energy by spelling the word, "magick," and sometimes I do the same. Developing the language of my conversation with the Goddess.
One of my favorite aspects of Paganism-- especially the NeoPagan Movement here in America-- is that the vast majority of Pagan Paths all have great respect for the right of each other person to practice their own belief and forge their own rituals of connection with their One or their Energy or their Spirit Guide. True freedom of religion. That level of acceptance-- and the fact that there is still a feeling of community among all these individuals... that really resonates with me.
(Bear in mind that forcing your beliefs, expectations, or your demands, on others in the name of your religion is wrong. In fact, connection and acceptance -- true acceptance-- of a spiritual path CANNOT be forced. Undertaken in those conditions, it will be only a way of "keeping up with the Joneses" --brittle, fake, and for the sake of appearance, so that those so forced might somehow be accepted by their oppressors. I've seen lots of teenage girls haunting the magick shops, trying to find acceptance by wearing the "right clothes" or looking "enough" like they think they "should" to be convincing in the role of Witch. That's just not how it works.)
There are a very few firm statements I hold with so far in my research and my Journey, and even these have had contradictions in my experience of life as we live it:
-The Rede: An' It Harm None, Do As Ye Will
-The Rule of Three: karma-- your actions will come back at you three-fold.
-Meditate on Abundance (You won't find this directive in any well-known guide book or rule book about religion or paganism or even Wicca... It's mine. But you can add it to your way of life if you want. Visualizing what is deeply important to you and what is good in your understanding and your way of life is a great way to generate the energy you need to make it happen, I believe. Of course, you are free to disagree with me, so long as you don't hurt anyone in the process.)
And yet, I read a personal story from a Cottage Witch who acted to protect her children and her neighborhood from a masked stalker. She did this by calling on the great Energy of the Goddess in her protective form to return the stalker's bad actions back on him. She willed him to find no hiding place, no haven, and no pleasure for his bad actions toward others from that time on, until his own karma forced him to stop these bad things. From that day on, he was seen, confronted, and chased away every where he went. She believes that her spell worked, and so do I. And I honor her action. For all that the protective energy she deployed could easily harm this man, and that he did not agree to the magick that she laid on him... I believe she acted within the intent of the Rede. I believe that she called on the forces of karma, and did not work for revenge or for harm on another human being. And I know there are many who would disagree with me on this. But I have also found many who would (or did) do the same.
This brings me to the topic of personal responsibility. I was hoping this post would be a bit shorter than the first few, but apparently not. Hold onto your patience with BOTH HANDS, friend.
I have felt, and do feel, that each person is individually responsible for their actions, or lack thereof. So when guys got drunk at school parties, and did or said bad things-- yeah, they were drunk. But that doesn't absolve them of blame. I believe they are still responsible for what they did because THEY DID IT-- and because THEY CHOSE TO DRINK themselves to a state where they COULD do it. And if I say something hurtful about someone, and they are hurt by hearing it-- even if they heard it because I trusted someone to keep it a secret and THEY TOLD-- I am still responsible for hurting that person because I SAID IT. Personal responsibility.
Another example-- right now, I should be doing homework. In fact, I should have been doing homework for a good eight or ten hours now. I don't have a lot of wiggle room in my Masters Degree program as it is, grade-wise. But I have to take responsibility for the fact that I decided sharing my spiritual journey was more important (or more interesting) to me just now than doing my homework. And I have to accept the consequences of that decision. Which really sucks, now that I think about it.
Of course, it can be a good thing, too. I get to take personal responsibility for my success in the world of fiber arts. I get to take personal responsibility for the choice to take better care of myself and limit the number of responsibilities I take on at any one time. For getting my Masters in Library Science, and for following the budget I set each month. I get to take credit for my intelligence, and my good choices, and for the good works that I choose to do to make the world a better place. Because I am responsible for the decisions I make, and the actions I take.
You see, I've come to the awareness that it is only through action that change can occur. If we will change-- WILL it-- and act accordingly, we give the Goddess room to play and to bring those changes into our lives. To give us our Abundance. We cannot control the circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in, nor the things that others do, but we can control our reaction to them, our decisions and the actions we take because of those decisions. In the Spiritual as well as Mental, Emotional, and Physical realm, our decision to make positive changes in our lives and in the world around us are our own personal responsibility. I feel that this is the basis from which our power springs. It is the power of choice. The power of Whitch, if you will.
We are all living beings, infused with energy, who live and breathe and die and return to our Mother Earth. You do not have to share my Spirit Journey to share my belief, or to have something I say resonate with you. In fact, each of us is in some ways a Solitary Practitioner in that we cannot truly be anyone but ourselves, each individually. And it is only when we each act from our most authentic self that we can feel our connection with the Earth and with the Energy that pervades the people in it. (No, "in" was not a typo-- I count the air we breathe and the magnetic energy holding us to her surface, the atmosphere and the clouds protecting us from burning to death from the sun, etc, to be a part of our Earth. We are definitely IN it, from this perspective.)
So... All who came here, thanks to thee.
Go in peace, and Blessed Be.