When people ask me about my beliefs, I usually struggle to explain my spiritual path.
Most of the time I am able to describe what I am not. For example, I am not a formal initiate of any one particular tradition, and I do not refer to my beliefs as a religion- the term “religion” for me brings to my mind thoughts of a formal, structured organisation usually with a hierarchal priesthood, a set code of rules or religious laws and a definitive or allocated source of reference that governs living and philosophies delivered within a designated framework of worship. I am not suggesting that these methods of spiritual expression are in any way of lesser importance or significance or validity to any other, simply that I have alternative ways in which I choose to express and connect with my spirituality.
And here’s the twist: some of the expressions and practices of my beliefs also do reflect a number of themes which commonly interlink and are inspired by many religions, cultures and traditions. I am not obliged or compelled to follow to a list of moral do’s and don’ts- instead I am encouraged to take full responsibility of my free will, to accept the effects of my actions, my words, my thoughts, my feelings. It is not protocol for me to pray at certain times of the day or pray a set number of times, although numerous times throughout my day I do spend time reflecting and contemplating, or asking for quick, silent blessings or guidance or to give thanks. I do not attend a designated building or site for worship, although there are places that are sacred and special to me- being outdoors experiencing the elements in their rawest, purest form surrounded by Nature is where I feel most connected to Spirit. I may not have a singular book or set of sacred texts to consult for guidance, but instead I read as many as books as I can about a wide range of subjects that I feel naturally drawn too, hundreds of voices sharing their perspectives, ideas and giving inspiration across thousands of pages.
“There are many paths up the Mountain,
but the view of the moon from the top is the same.”
– Ancient Japanese Saying
Just because one does not choose to identify their spiritual path as a “religion” does not mean that their beliefs should be considered any less valid or significant.
I do not think that my personal spiritual beliefs and practices are any more meaningful or less important than anyone else’s, and (in an ideal world) vice versa. In my eyes the various religions and spiritual beliefs that have formed throughout the past and present and in the future to come are all many facets of a whole- each has its own culture, history, customs, traditions, celebrations and values which create a kaleidoscope of diversity, providing many unique perspectives and expressions of the commonly shared core amongst many religious paths and spiritual journeys- the seeking of truth, love, balance and understanding.
The Native American myth of Spider-Woman tells a story of how the universe was created and describes how all things- although different- are interconnected:
…In a time before Time, a lonely Spider-Woman sat down to think. She was suddenly stuck with inspiration and set up her loom to weave. As Spider-Woman wove a star appeared every time one thread crossed another, and after a while she had woven many stars in her web. Although Spider-Woman’s web was intricate and beautiful, she was still not satisfied, sensing that something was missing. She was drawn to one shining star in particular which had planets encircling it in a cosmic dance; it was a planet with blue skies and deep oceans, white clouds and green earth. This time when Spider-Woman wove, a living thing would appear at points where one thread crossed with another. Plants, birds, fish and animals were woven and connected within Spider-Woman’s web, and she added human beings- men, women and children- with more crossing threads. Everything in Spider-Woman’s Great Web was connected to every other thing and Spider-Woman was pleased, and to this day, Spider-Woman continues to weave.
I like to think that each strand of thread can also represent the components and aspects of one’s own path which create a unique and eclectic spiritual web when woven together. Within my personal web, I weave aspects of pagan ethics influenced by the Wiccan Rede, which I also use as guidelines to my workings within the Craft; through the Craft comes an in-exhaustive multitude of branches of knowledge including things like herb lore and uses, energy manifestation, working with the elements and planetary cycles, attuning to our surroundings, protection, healing, cleansing…Threads of science, legend and history are also woven through my web- exploring crystal healing opened up my awareness to working deeper with earth and light energies as well as finding out about the holistic healing practices; I am drawn to Ancient Greek myths using psychological archetypes to help me interpret and understand the history and legends on different levels; from reading the myths and stories of the Hellenic Pantheon, I am inspired to create rituals and offerings for the Gods and Goddesses; I use the Wheel of the Year as the model to plan and prepare my seasonal celebrations and ritual; in order to connect with the seasons and the land, I spend time out in the woods with my dog, enjoying the energies of the trees and wind and rain and sun.
Whatever you are naturally drawn to, follow and connect your threads of experience to weave your own unique web.
As you explore your spiritual path, you will grow in awareness, experience, knowledge and faith. Such as challenges are a part of balance of forces within our lives, the weaving of our webs may also become knotted, but by making a conscious effort to study the tangles, to patch up any snags and rips with new threads of what we have learned, we regain rhythm and direction, strengthening our web of spirituality.