Hello, and Merry Meet!

Please be warned, this is going to be quite long!

 

I suppose with so many other members here, it would be a great place to get some wisdom . . . as well as giving others a chance to know a bit about me, since it would be helpful in accessing my situation. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

 

I'm Cherokee by birth, a musician by occupation, a husband and father, and (please don't hang up on me yet!) a member of a baptist church. I am a student of the historical Jesus, as opposed to the one that was created by the earliest christians. And I dare say that modern christians, in our church at least, are practitioners of magick without realizing that's what it is they are doing. Jesus has become an archetype for the God, and the Holy Spirit is much like the Goddess . . . in some traditions even personified by either Mary of Magdala, or Mary the mother of Jesus. Although no circle is cast, individuals with special needs are joined by others in a "prayer circle" where (in our church) Jesus as the archetype of God and the Holy Spirit are invited to join in. The individual concerned will be annointed with oil, and positive energies are raised in the form of prayer. Let me say beyond a shadow of doubt that this works! The members of our church are mostly ignorant of (the root of my usage is "to ignore") aspects of science that disagree with their interpretation of the bible, which I know is very common. I know that there are progressive churches who understand how the traditions were born; and are tolerant of other faiths to the point of acknowledging other paths as equally valid. Those churches, however, are most certainly in the minority.

 

As a student of historical Jesus research, I have learned, mostly through the work of the Westar Institute and The Jesus Seminar, that the true teachings and many of the meanings of those teachings of Jesus are recoverable when viewed through the lense of first century Judea. An itinerate sage and satyrist, a non-observant Jew, and a practitioner of what was probably folk magick, rose to mythic preportions after he was killed, probably for speaking against the commercialization of the temple; the accepted center of his people's faith. When Rome (who assimilated everything) also assimilated christianity under Constantine, many ancient pagan traditions were merged with christianity, as long as they did not disagree with the edict that the holy church had become God's kingdom here on Earth. All other traditions were squashed, including many beautiful pre-Constantine christian traditions, and a reign of terror began. We all know the rest.

 

My church is in rural Appalachia. Our food pantry feeds hungry people by the hundreds every month, and I am proud to say that I am a supporter of the program. Nobody is pressured to come to church when they need help . . . they just get it. We also have a program to repair vehicles for those in the community who cannot afford it and need that vehicle for their families. We have a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that is a year long, and is totally free. I have taken part in that for almost three years, both as a participant, and as a volunteer musician in the praise band. The friends my family have made within this church are more like family than some of our own relations have been.

 

Now . . . I am filled with Cherokee traditions. They are, and have always been a part of my life. I was able as a young child to manifest dreams into reality using visualization, but didn't understand what it was that I was doing. I probably don't need to give any examples to you who already know what I am talking about. Seperated by all that water and countless aeons, Cherokees . . . like the Celts were casting circles, and calling quarters. Colors are associated with the cardinal points, and even the dress and culture was similar. Over the last few months I have come full circle. Thanks to some very good books and a very good wiccan friend . . . a friend that I have called brother for close to 30 years, I find myself so immersed in paganism as a belief system that I cannot escape, nor do I want to. It is truly where I have been all along, only I've had to hide what I knew was my true self.

 

This is very difficult for me. For while I feel a need to break with most of my church's traditions, I will never give up the core teachings of the sage from Gallilee. I am a scientific minded person, and I hold a B.S. (no jokes, please) in music. Yes, music is indeed a science. I was a prof. for 4 years at an acredited university, so when I say that I am a musician, don't think that I am deluded. I have taught music in this area for twenty years, as well as performed in many states and in Europe. I am a thinking person, and I am an evolutionist. I believe that any "miracles" that Jesus may have performed had to be in accordance with the laws of nature. That excludes alot of the biblical narrative that was created by those who had faith in him. I believe that the universe is much older than the 10,000 years my church believes it is, and expects me to feel the same.

 

So, I am in a quandry. While I have truly been enriched spiritually by these many paths, they have all led me here . . .  Within wiccan traditions I find the culmination of all I have ever believed or felt comfortable with. There is Deity in a way I have always understood it. There is my native beliefs, without all of the political ramblings. There is acceptance of other paths. In short, I feel that this is most certainly where I need to be. Yet, breaking with my church is an obstacle which seems almost insurmountable.

 

Please send wisdom my way. I don't want to be in the broom-closet for the rest of my life.

 

Blessings, and blessed be!

Larry

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I should add some more to this (as my wife called it) novel. Perhaps at some point after the post has been allowed to run its course some of the finer points will find their way into my personal page.

All that's left of my immediate family is a brother. My wife has no other family members to speak of either and the people in our church are very close to us. Our kids have no "elder" leadership (think Grandma or grandpa) away from the older members at our church. My wife and I are very much on the same page about wicca at this point, her also having cherokee blood. We don't normally attend Sunday church service, but we do attend our adult Sunday School class where the emphasis is on love and community. I am very quiet about things that I disagree with, my major tenent being to "harm none" by causing the discord which I know speaking out will cause.

I am certain that if I were to break with the church's doctrinal traditions I would still be allowed to participate in our food pantry program. I doubt that I would be accepted as a "brother" any more, although some degree of friendship would still be there . . . it certainly wouldn't be the same.

I have searched for Wiccans in my community, and am convinced that the power of fundamentalist christianity holds almost absolute sway over this area; My old friend being the exception (he has been a solitary for decades, once belonging to a coven quite a distance from here).

My family and I prepared for days to celebrate Litha, and in our back yard did just that. It was a return to the time that we used to gather with cherokee families when the kids were younger. The cherokee group we met with was taken in by a charlatan who promised them status within the state of Ohio as a nation. He also took a married woman from her husband, and when the leader of the group confronted him about this he led almost all of the group away, except for a few elders who we have maintained some contact with.
At our private Litha celebration we had a magick meal, paid reverance to the God and Goddess, and did all of this in a way that felt so right that my 17 year old daughter said: "Is anyone else wondering why this all feels so normal?" My 14 year old son wrote his greatest wish on a slip of paper, and lit it with a candle. He dropped it into a cauldron which I had annointed with the proper oil, and I watched as he smiled with the hope that his dream would manifest. It was the best time I have had with my family in many years. I was very careful to follow the traditions as best as I could and I felt assured that it was good enough.

I've had my own private dedication/initiation ceremony, and although the God was present, the presence of the Goddess was almost overwhelming. For years I have been taught to think of God in the masculine only, even though that teaching was always subliminal; still, it held great power over me and had stolen the balance which could have been there. I feel complete . . . happy . . . complemented (with an "e", not an "i") by the presence of the Goddess.

Books I have read are Scott Cunningham's Wicca, A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner, Wicca Spellcraft For Men by A.J Drew, and An Introduction To Paganism by the Higganbothams. I have studied some of the Garderian Book Of Shadows, as well as the Alexandrian Book Of Shadows. I have also studied some of Crowley's works, but have some serious issues with some of his ideas. Still, I can see that some great contributions have come from him and I accept that as such. I have much more reading to do, but am on a solid foundation at this point.

My point is that this is not a passing whim for me. It will not just "go away". I have thought this out, and studied carefully. Perhaps at this point I'm not really asking if I should break with my church family's traditions, but how to do that without destroying important relations. I know that anyone who will not accept me as I am probably wasn't worth worrying about, but its the others I do not wish to hurt. The ones who have been there, not only in my time of need, but that of my family . . . day or night. To say the right thing the wrong way could damage those relationships.

I'm sorry for such a lengthy post, but I really need good advice. Whoever you are who has read this entire thing: may the God and Goddess bless you.
Welcome!

Feeling a connection and desire to maintain a relationship with the church that has given you so much and the community that has become family to you is natural. It is hard to follow your heart's path when so much that you love follows a different one. You may find that you loose fewer relationships than you expect the day you come out of the broom closet!

I think most churches/religions practice magic of some kind. What is prayer? Why do we gather and sing/ chant/ commune etc... if not for magical reasons. I was a raised catholic, and although our services are more "serious" in tone and less "exciting" there was real power when the Priest said "May god be with you" and 100 voices boomed "and also with you". There was real power in the midnight mass on christmas eve... and I felt real solace when I knelt beneath the statue of "our lady Mary, mother of Jesus" and lit a little votive with a prayer. Those are fond memories and I do believe that i was connected to the divine then.

Like you, i had enough issues with our modern interpretation of the bible, and its practitioners, that I was no longer finding solace in the catholic church. For me wicca gives me personal power over my destiny. "It" says that I can have faith and hope as well. I resolved at a young age that I couldnt live a life tormented by fear and guilt, in which my gender was the proliferator of all evil in humanity.

I don't think that Christianity is inherently bad. We disagree on a lot of the finer points though. If you can, maintain your relationships with your church through charity and philanthropy. Try to tie back into your cherokee heritage to find commonality within your wiccan practice. We are all following our hearts and minds to find hope and wisdom... certainly some of your community will understand that.

I live in "Mormon country" and I really don't have a local pagan community. I am a solitary and have been for 11 years of practice, except for online groups. I have found that although there are virtually no pagans, there are many like minded people among the "green community". You might find others! Put a profile up on witchvox so others can find you, and maybe see if there is any Universalist Unitarian churches around. In a few years, my family hopes to attend one of the "witchcamps" or Pagan Gatherings around the country to make connections with others. Traveling is really our only option...

If you do think you are going to "come out of the closet" you will have to start phasing yourself out of church-specific activities. It will hurt others if they feel you are "living a lie". After you back off a bit tell people who you think it is important to tell. Tell them honestly that you find comfort and spiritual hope elsewhere. Some people wont be ok with it, others will. You'll probably have some people think you are in crisis- and they will try to "save you". It is a hard road, and the fact is that you may end up burning some bridges to get where you are going.

What is great is that your family is with you.! A family divided is difficult, but when a family is united they can weather almost anything. Love each other, rely on each other, and help each other. Research your heritage and reestablish that inner connection. If possible, start celebrating "coming of age" ceremonies, Sabbats and Esbats, and more. Connect with the earth and instill that in your children.

I hope you find what you are looking for!

Blessed Be and Good Luck on Your Journey!
-Megan
Thank You, Megan

I sense a very old soul in you, and I thank you for sharing your thoughts/time/wisdom, as I know that this must have been a whopper to read and sort through.

That said, this was very thoughtful advice. I'll probably always be a follower of the core teachings of Jesus, with the one objection being to constantly refer to God paternally. (I believe his true meaning is that the Divine loves us as good parents love their own children)

I have indeed researched (for most of my life) my Cherokee heritage. My cherokee language, history, and spirituallity are indeed a part of my life, and I made an interesting discovery today here at Witchschool: the Corellian traditions taught here are indeed a blend of Celtic and Cherokee spirituallity. No wonder I feel so at home.

To break clean a bit at a time seems the way to go . . . a little less like pulling teeth without anesthesia. I want to be open. Wicca is becoming too great a treasure to me to keep it hidden.

Your wisdom is, no doubt, from your Goddess.

Many blessings, and blessed be.
Larry
I personally do not see where there is a conflict. My personal beliefs are as follows in a item I wrote for people around me who did turn on me or questioned my beliefs. Perhaps it will help you. also as a person who has studied the life of Christ and practices of such I am sure you see so many simalarities between his life and the life of the various dieties varios pagans hold high (Horus is a major one that comes to mind). What you might do is during a study group or with a few close ones you feel will listen and be open minded discuss the simalarities and items I mention in my writing. Test the waters so to speak. there are a number of Baptist in my area who understand my beliefs and see they are actually simalar just called different words by the diff faiths.

How are my beliefs different from yours?
You are a church going God fearing Christian. You turn your head at people like me. You claim we are ok as a friend or acquaintance but would not accept someone you love or in your family practicing as I do why? What is it you think I practice? Is it possible you could be confused? Or are you basing it on the preaching of a preacher who does what the establishment says instead of the Bible he claims to preach from?
Let us compare our methods and see how different we truly are.

You read books on home remedies and think they have some clout. You use herbs and spices for cooking. You plant herbs and spices to keep bugs and insects away. You burn herbs, spices and plants and call it potpourri. The medicines you take are derived from herbs, spices and plants.
I use herbs spices and plants to cook with, to heal with, to keep bugs and insects away, and I make some of my own home remedies. I drink herbal teas just like you to help me sleep, clear the digestion, relaxation etc. The only difference is I believe there is bad in this world we cannot see so I use herbs spices and plants to ward of these as well.
You condemn my use of candles and an altar in my home. Yet you have a bible, crosses, and angels in yours and it is ok? What is the difference?
I use my candles to help me focus when I pray or speak to God is that any different than your praying?
I use oils to anoint my candles and altar tools. Your church consecrates their tools too. They use oils and incense during services and purification rights. They anoint heads with oils. What is the difference?
You think Reiki is some new great way of massage with rocks and crystals yet crystal healing and help has been around for centuries.
You approve massage therapy, acupuncture, aroma therapy, meditation, yoga, karate and ninjitsu, use of incense, and prayer to angels and saints. Yet you disapprove my prayer and use of the same things?
You say it is because of my thoughts about God so let’s look at those
You call him God, Heavenly father, the divine one, the almighty
I call him father sky

You call her the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus
I call her mother earth
You call the angels by names like Michael and Raphael.
I call them angels, or spirits, helpers to God, fairies, pixies or sprites.
You pray for healing, help when financial times get rough, to fix arguments and bring peace.
I do the same only difference is I light candles or burn incense when I do.
You use mind over matter in order to force yourself to push thru pain or sickness.
I do the same and you call it magic.
Everyone says if you put your mind to something you can do it. It is proven day after day by people lifting enormous amounts of weight, hitting balls farther than the last, breaking records without the aid of drugs. You call it great heroes and stars.
If someone is persecuting you do you not pray for relief? How is this different from me lighting a candle and willing them mentally to stop?
Does not the Bible say we all are capable of performing Jesus’ miracles?
If I say I can use my mind and willpower to change my circumstances you call it magic and bad?
You have faith in that if you pray for something it will happen
I have the same faith that what I ask for during a ritual and it is called bad or magic?
Explain to me how it is different? How what I do is wrong but for you to do it mildly different is not?
You have friends of different denominations who have different words they use for God. It all depends on their religious denomination and country of origin. This is all fine and dandy with you. But because a friend of mine chooses to call him Zeus, or Jupiter you say it is wrong.
By definition Zeus and Jupiter means King of Gods therefore the Almighty one, The Leader of the pack. What is so wrong with that?
Is this any different than someone saying something in a different language? If not, then why the taboo? Why the feelings of fear with us?
So how is what I do so different than your way? What makes my way bad or evil and yours not? Why can’t your loved ones follow my path?
Now let us consider history in this. Jesus was born in a time where there were no hospitals or doctors with pills. They used herbs, spices and plants. It is in the bible they used olive oil to consecrate items. So how is what I do different than what he did?
The Catholics in New Orleans have no problem with practitioners who use voodoo and still attend church, Why do you think they sale all those saint candles you see all over the place?
I believe what makes a person good or bad is how they use their abilities. WE each have those abilities given to us by our creator (whatever name you choose to use). If we use them for good such as healing, peace, happiness it is fine. But when one uses them to cause harm to another out of anger, jealousy, or spite then that is wrong.
Might I suggest the next time you choose to turn your head on someone because they are different be it by skin color, religion, beliefs, or language? You remember the story of Babylon. God was so angry that he tore down the temple, changed the tongues of the people and sent them to the far corners of the earth, thus creating various races and languages. They would all still have the same knowledge now they just call it something different. That would mean no matter which way you twist it we all came from the same group of people who started out at that tower.
Last but not least I suggest before you judge me or assume what I am doing is wrong you speak to me, find out what I am doing and why then make an INFORMED opinion instead of jumping to conclusions without knowledge.
Oh yea my final thought. If you still think it is strange to go by pagan ways, Read Exodus 34. In which the other Ten Commandments say to keep certain holidays holy and those holidays correspond to the solstices that pagans celebrate. Also look at how the farmer’s almanac and other farm instructions use the moon and planets to determine when to plant.
Thanks for taking the time to re-post your essay, Teddy. Most everything you had listed has been considered by me, but not in the context of a reasonable discussion with those of my church. I may print this out to refer to later (if you don't mind).

I think the real problem isn't really my own . . . the problem is that, no matter what I say, I will still be associated with the those "pagans" who Jehova destroyed for worshiping deities represented by Ashterah (Astarte?) poles. Those who "Baked cakes for the 'Queen of Heaven'". Never mind the real reason that the Hebrew God was angry was that they were performing human sacrifices on their own children, which is clearly stated in the bible. No, I will be viewed as a worshiper of false Gods.

Also, we are living in great times of scholarship. In 1945 the Nag Hammadi library was unearthed containing a coptic version of the Gospel of Thomas. The authenticity of this document is verified by a fragment written in coine greek dating to the late first century CE. It contains sayings of Jesus which were recorded independently of the four cannonical gospels which can be used to cross-check sayings of the historical Jesus. (Yeshua/Yehoshua, or in modern English, Joshua) The scriptures tell us more about the faith of the first believers than they do about Jesus himself. However, its very easy to see what his teachings were about if you remove the anachronistic, moralizing, and allegorizing work done by the gospel writers. My views on this issue alone are enough to get me "grounded", so to speak, from alot of the charitable work in my church, even though my views come from valid biblical scholarship and represent a consensus from the most prestigious experts on the subject in the world.

So what I am coming to realize is that there will always be people without tolerence or understanding. That needs to be their problem, not mine. But, as you and Megan have pointed out, there will probably be more understanding than I would have thought possible from those we love the most.

Thank You, my friend, and blessed be!!!

LR
Feel Free to print it out or share it all I ask is you leave me as author with my copyright :) and I definately understand your feelings I live in NW Tennessee middle of the bible belt so my heart and thoughts are with you as you go thru this tough time for decisions. Keep in mind if you follow your heart, soul and studies then you have done no wrong those who judge are the ones who are wrong as per the bible :)

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