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Author Topic: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.  (Read 5450 times)

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diniesaur

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I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« on: September 30, 2011, 09:40:18 AM »

Before I start, I want to say that this guy is awesome:
 :tongueroll:

For years, I have been wanting to get more connected with Paganism and Earth. I've started meditating again, but I feel like I need to learn more. I have a few books, but I would like more reccomendations and possibly a teacher. Here is my background if you need it:


I have Asperger's Syndrome, which is a disorder that impedes social functioning and may cause anxiety and sensory integration problems. This means that I may do something that hurts your feelings and not seem to care; if I do, please remember that I don't mean to and tell me what I did so I can fix it. Thanks!

I am seventeen, but I am in college and my dad has taken me to pagan groups before despite his Southern Baptist upbringing. My mom is apprehensive about paganism in that she doesn't want me to rush into worshipping something I don't really know about, but she encourages me to study it and use it to gain a better understanding of the Universe and my place in it. She is worried because a few years ago I was dragged into doing something I shouldn't have done by a manipulative significant other; I can't give details because this person may be stalking me and I don't want him to know it was me. I know I won't do anything like that again, though--I've learned my lesson.

I've had a rough time, but not as bad as others have. I love Earth. I don't believe in "worshipping" in the traditonal sense; I see my connection to the God and Goddess as more of a loving friendship I have with someone who is much wiser than I am; I will try to follow what they want since they know more than me and I think I have similar goals to them (to help restore nature, take care of things that can't take care of themselves, spread love, etc.). I want to help creatures, and I believe all life is equal.

I'm not looking for anyone or anything who will try to feed me things I should learn on my own; I'm not looking for anything who will tell me my family isn't important or that my parents don't love me; I'm not looking for anyone who wants to force beliefs on me or brainwash me or anything like that--I've been through that before. I've looked on this forum and from what I've seen I think I can trust you guys to not do any of that.

If anyone has any suggestions for me or wants to help me, I would appreciate it!

Thanks!
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 09:55:26 AM »

To clarify, I just looked at the Cult Awareness post, and I found that I checked seven items on the list regarding my relationship with my former significant other...I feel like throwing up now...
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2011, 11:15:40 AM »

We all make mistakes, particular in romantic relationships  :grouphug: So don't feel too bad. You're doing better than I was when I was 17! So be happy!  :D

I would say your best chance at gaining understanding of the world around you using this extremely broad avenue of paganism is by doing as much reading as possible, always reading more than one source on the same topic (different others, varying perspectives often gives a more accurate understanding) and ask your questions in the forum.

I haven't been here very long either, but I think you'll enjoy the atmosphere and everyone here seems happy to help with any quizzical topics you come across and would like opinions or insight on.

Anywho, welcome to the forum!
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 11:35:39 AM »

Thanks, Zlat! I am glad for the encouragement and advice. I never thought of having to read more than one source on the same topic. I will try it.

So far, I have enjoyed Scott Cunningham's books. I also have one book by Raven Grimassi, but that was more geared towards groups, and I'm alone for now. Another girl at my old school said she used to be interested in Wicca and she gave me some books she didn't need anymore. They were from the older traditions of Wicca, and although I am a biological female, I feel that some of those books were a little sexist.

My dad also told me that some groups of pagans are racist. Although I have never met any racist pagans, I abhore racism, so I'm a little worried about that. Which traditions are more open and accepting?
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Fox

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 11:50:38 AM »

You won't find anyone here trying to force you into something you aren't comfortable with or who would try to make you believe one thing over another.  We (and I say that in a general sense and more in reference to the staff here as I feel I know them well enough to speak on their behalf) honor and respect all paths and that each person has a right to choose for themselves what fits them to the extent that it isn't causing great harm to another person or themselves.  We are all very different and we each choose to practice (or not) in a way that suits us best and we encourage that in all of our members. 

We also do not tolerate racism, sexism or pretty much any "ism" that promotes hate and ignorance, so you won't find that here without a pretty quick backlash from the Admins and staff towards the person being jerk enough to bring that to our home.  That is part of what makes this place so great and why we can keep it that way.

As for guidance, I would suggest looking around here, especially in the Library section where we have a list of recommended reading, and then ask questions as they come to you.  It isn't easy to give broad stroke advice or suggestions, so we do better with having something in particular to address when deciding what direction to point you.
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2011, 11:53:21 AM »

As a college student, the reading several sources on a single topic is the best advice I can give for your higher education studying purposes (particularly for large assignments).

Some paths emphasize the feminine aspect of the deities (because they give life, when males can not, and have an affinity for the lunar cycle that syncs with menstruation-amongst other things), but not all of them and it really does depend on the individuals practicing it. You tailor what information you glean from books and others to sync with what you already know and understand (just don't assume you know everything and try to keep an open mind overall).

Wicca is itself a pretty new path (technically created in the 50's by Gardner as far as I understand it), and it's not one I really follow. That being said, I do have a few Wicca-based texts in my collection for things like herbology, cooking, etc... so I wouldn't discredit that information altogether. I also wouldn't advise to limit your reading to only Wiccan texts either.

There are a lot of free sites that are linked via this forum as good reading material, I suggest you look into those as well.

I haven't met any racist pagans, although I have met a few racist people who practice Paganism (just as there are some racist people who practice Christianity).

I would say read a broad range of subjects, write a list of the topics that interest you the most and then dig deeper into those topics. It proves for much more interesting reading too!
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2011, 11:54:58 AM »

Pardon, Gardner created Wicca in the 60's. I has typo issues sometimes >.>
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2011, 12:28:41 PM »

Some paths emphasize the feminine aspect of the deities (because they give life, when males can not, and have an affinity for the lunar cycle that syncs with menstruation-amongst other things), but not all of them and it really does depend on the individuals practicing it. You tailor what information you glean from books and others to sync with what you already know and understand (just don't assume you know everything and try to keep an open mind overall).

This reminds me of a question I've been thinking about for most of my life. I don't really "feel" female like my biological sex all the time. By that, I mean sometimes I enjoy the idea of being female and feminine, but other times, I find the idea horrifying and feel angry whenever someone assumes something about me based on my biological sex. A lot of times, people mistake me for male, and I get happy when they do. Other times, I feel more connected with femininity. I sometimes think that it would be fun to try wearing makeup and dresses and shaving my legs, but I always think that I would want to go back to the way I am now and not be feminine afterwards. I feel deeply offended when someone suggests that I should wear a dress, especially if they think I should because I am "a girl."

What do you think could be going on here?
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2011, 12:35:56 PM »

As a spiritual person, I would say this is a topic you should probably bring up with your physician-as it's more hormonal than spiritual.

As a biology student, I would say that this is a common phenomena with many people across the world (and always has been), and is usually (not always) accompanied by hormonal/chemical balance variations that are more heavily geared toward testosterone than oestrogen (yes I know the spelling is different in American English, but I was taught in Britain =P).

Overall, probably more of a biochemical phenomena than a spiritual one (as all creatures have both the anima and animus/male and female aspects within them). I would seriously recommend mentioning it to your physician as there are hormonal treatments available to make you feel the way you should if there really is a chemical imbalance.

On another note, ambiguous sexes are not unheard of (in fact they're pretty common) and it's nothing to worry about. Just be who you are and be proud of it.
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2011, 12:42:58 PM »

The problem is my mom thinks I'm influenced by my ex significant other, and she says she'll kick me out if I try to talk to a doctor about anything like that (it's a long story--and I would rather not get kicked out). Also, I feel horrified at the idea of a doctor giving me hormones that would make me feel more "feminine," especially if it would lower my testosterone, which I hear makes muscles big and body hair long (I want that).

I guess I shouldn't bother you guys about it, though. Besides, I have another question. I have no alter supplies, and I'm not sure if my mom would let me get any. Is there any way I can show my caring feelings towards Earth and the dieties without these things? I want to be able to live a pagan life.
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2011, 12:47:45 PM »

There is a whole other thread on how to practice discreetly, and there is no need to have an altar really. It's all in your willpower =). The Thread is under 'pagan journeys', In the Broom Closet category; Living with your parents


Wait until you're 18 for the physician then, if you're happy the way you are then there's really no issue. But gender confusion isn't exactly a pagan topic. There are online support groups you could look into as well for that kind of thing, sometimes it helps just to talk to other people who have gone through the same thing.
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Zlat

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2011, 01:08:43 PM »

As a side note-and I am not actually qualified to say much on this topic since I'm nowhere near being a physician, but from what I understand-most of our hormones average out in our early 20's. That being said, most doctors will not prescribe hormone treatment for minors (much like you can't get lasik eye surgery under the age of 21), because things are still in flux and changing around.

Join an online support group, be happy in yourself and ride it out. If it's still an issue in your later years, then you would benefit more by getting in touch with a physician and/or therapist.
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2011, 01:19:41 PM »

Thanks for the thread!

Thanks for the advice--I know I probably shouldn't be asking you guys about this; I just got reminded of it by our earlier discussion, and people with Autism Spectrum disorders tend to think associatively.

I have another question. Where could I find someone who would be willing to teach me more individually? I don't know if this is bad to want or something, but I have heard that it is best to learn directly from someone. If I meet this person online, though, I don't want to meet them in person due to internet safety issues and my own paranoia.
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Tirya

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2011, 01:25:25 PM »

Hi, welcome to Journeys, and I wish I wasn't on my phone because I can't thumb-type as quickly as the thoughts want to flow! ;) A couple quick thoughts - with regards to reading and research, I like the colander (strainer) visual. Read as much as you feel drawn to, by various authors on various subjects. Dump it all into your mental colander. The parts that feel "right" or "connected" for you, keep and integrate into your path. Those that don't, let them drain out the holes of the colander. They're not necessarily "wrong" - they're just "wrong for you at this point". And that's okay. Spirituality is your personal connection to the Divine. And even two people who follow the exact same path aren't going to have the exact same connection or the exact same experience. IMHO if you're continuing to learn and grow and are open to learning new ideas and new points of view (even of you don't use them or follow them), then you're on the "right" path. :)
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2011, 01:29:42 PM »

You do not necessarily need a physical teacher.  I have never had one and feel pretty comfortable in how I practice my faith.  Almost everything that I know, I have learned by reading books and by participating in online forums like this along with just experiencing life.  There really is no better teacher than Nature herself as all you will get from another person is their own personal experiences. 

That is not to say that you shouldn't have a physical teacher, just that it isn't a requirement.  Many, many people get an awful lot out of having others to help guide them and do much better with that on a face to face level.  Me personally, I don't need that.  That isn't how I learn.  Just some food for thought.

As for your gender concerns, there really isn't a problem with you posting about them and asking questions (about anything for that matter), but there really isn't anyone here that is qualified to advise you on that.  We can do what Zlat has been excellent at doing and give you a few suggestions and to be here to listen to you.  Don't ever feel that you shouldn't post about something here just because it isn't Pagan.  If we can't do anything else, we can at least be something of a sounding board to help you work through your thoughts to help you decide on which direction to go.  ()
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #15 on: September 30, 2011, 01:37:33 PM »

 :yeahthat:
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2011, 01:46:00 PM »

The others have given good advice so I won't bother rehashing any of that.  But I wanted to comment on the teacher thing.

Most teachers in any Pagan faith will not teach minors for a variety of reasons.  And most times they will not teach those who are asking for a teacher.  When the time is right, and you are ready for a teacher, they will be there and an opportunity will present itself.  I'd also discourage asking for a teacher online.  There are a lot of unscrupulous people on the web and I'd hate to see you get hurt by one of them.
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diniesaur

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #17 on: September 30, 2011, 01:53:24 PM »

I understand your point about asking for a teacher online. Also, I am glad for the advice--I like the colendar concept. I also agree that Nature is the best teacher. I'm just very lonely in my spiritual journey. I definitely wouldn't want to meet face to face with anyone I met online, though.

Thanks for being so supportive! I like the huggy guys online even better than I like hugs in real life!

Do you have any suggestions for meditation--good visualizations to use, etc? Sorry for all the questions. I'm just hungry for knowledge and growth and I haven't been able to get to the bookstore in a while!
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2011, 02:01:31 PM »

Meditation can be passive and quite or it can be active.  It really just depends on your personal preference and what you will do best at or what you are in the mood for.  The passive, quiet type works well for those that are good at being able to sit still and quiet the mind.  It also helps to be good at visualization.  Active meditation involves moving to get that level of focus.  You can do yoga, dance, walking, running, anything that gets you into something of a trance state.  You can also do something of both just by sitting out in nature and watching what is going on around you.

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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #19 on: September 30, 2011, 04:17:09 PM »

My dad also told me that some groups of pagans are racist. Although I have never met any racist pagans, I abhore racism, so I'm a little worried about that. Which traditions are more open and accepting?

Since I came late to this party, I get to quote waaaay back from the top!  :crazylaugh: Seriously though, what your father is probably referring to is how several white supremist groups have usurped a brand of Norse-centric paganism, typically under a banner they self-label as "Odinism." It's made some news lately, including a prison killing that was allegedly motivated by a 'lack' of religous zeal on a group member's part.

You seem quite bright, so I know I'm preaching to the choir when I say that these jerks represent paganism, even specifically Heathenism, on the whole about as much as Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist nutjobs represent Christianity (which is to say, not at all).

The awesome thing about paganism is how personal it is, and it will grow with you, and within a group if you ever find yourself drawn to one. A declared path or tradition is little indication of the group's views and dynamics, so for now I would say what everyone else on this awesome forum has told you, read everything that you feel drawn to, and run it through the "Do I like it?" filter.  :D Also, welcome aboard!
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2011, 06:31:04 PM »

Pardon, Gardner created Wicca in the 60's. I has typo issues sometimes >.>

Actually, he started prior to WWI... but there were still anti witchcraft laws on the books in the UK, and those were repealed in the 50s, when he REALLY got public with it.
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2011, 06:52:35 PM »

Thanks so much for all the help!

I'm also worried that there will be hetero-sexist pagan groups; I'm mostly lesbian, and I wouldn't feel comfortable having a strong separation between male and female as there are in some groups. I understand that gender polarity is good for some people, but it is not for me. Based on this, are there any traditions I should avoid?
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #22 on: September 30, 2011, 07:15:20 PM »

Also, I posted in the forum about Esbats and the forum about Gods and Goddesses with additional questions; I think they deserve their own threads.
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #23 on: September 30, 2011, 09:49:13 PM »

Ha! I have a keyboard now... if this gets to be too much, just tell me to shut up. ;)

She is worried because a few years ago I was dragged into doing something I shouldn't have done by a manipulative significant other; I can't give details because this person may be stalking me and I don't want him to know it was me.

Just so you know (and this goes for EVERYONE on this Forum) if you feel that you are being harassed or stalked by anyone on the Forum, notify an Admin. Fox, Crystal Dragon, dragonspring, and I are on the Forums almost constantly. Send any (or all) of us a Private Message and we will address the problem. Please don't ever feel like you're "bothering" us or that we "wouldn't care" - our job is to keep this place safe, and we take that responsibility seriously. :)

Quote
I'm not looking for anyone or anything who will try to feed me things I should learn on my own; I'm not looking for anything who will tell me my family isn't important or that my parents don't love me; I'm not looking for anyone who wants to force beliefs on me or brainwash me or anything like that--I've been through that before. I've looked on this forum and from what I've seen I think I can trust you guys to not do any of that.

:faint: After some of the newcomers I've run into on this and other forums, you have no idea how refreshing it is to have a straight up "I don't want people to tell me what to believe, I'm looking for guidance so I can learn on my own" post! :D

Merging two posts here...

Quote
This reminds me of a question I've been thinking about for most of my life. I don't really "feel" female like my biological sex all the time. By that, I mean sometimes I enjoy the idea of being female and feminine, but other times, I find the idea horrifying and feel angry whenever someone assumes something about me based on my biological sex. A lot of times, people mistake me for male, and I get happy when they do. Other times, I feel more connected with femininity. I sometimes think that it would be fun to try wearing makeup and dresses and shaving my legs, but I always think that I would want to go back to the way I am now and not be feminine afterwards. I feel deeply offended when someone suggests that I should wear a dress, especially if they think I should because I am "a girl."

What do you think could be going on here?

It could be that you're still rediscovering who YOU are, after having been in an unhealthy relationship. I don't know your details, but I know that a lot of times after coming out of any relationship, it takes some time to re-discover who you are as an individual instead of as part of a couple. If the relationship was unhealthy or abusive, figuring out "who I am" can be a lot harder, because you're dealing with the ghost echoes of things you may have been told in that relationship.

Even without the relationship influence, I think all of us have times of "wishing they weren't their biological gender". Mine comes about once a month, when I wish I could rip out my plumbing instead of dealing with my period. ;)  As Zlat said, all creatures have both the anima and animus/male and female aspects within them.

Quote
I'm also worried that there will be hetero-sexist pagan groups; I'm mostly lesbian, and I wouldn't feel comfortable having a strong separation between male and female as there are in some groups. I understand that gender polarity is good for some people, but it is not for me. Based on this, are there any traditions I should avoid?

At the end of the day, pagans are just people, so you will run into racist pagans, and homophobic pagans, and heterophobic pagans, and pagans who seem to thrive on causing drama and division. People are people, where you go... unfortunately.

My advice on this would be not to "avoid" any traditions at this point. IMHO there is something to be learned even in the traditions or paths that hold no interest for you. (You should see me researching LaVeyan Satanism... not a path I would ever follow, but definitely some thought-provoking ideas and beliefs!)

I've found in my own experience, and from others talking about their experiences, when you find the "right" tradition/path/beliefs/whatever you want to call it, there is a sense of "coming home". But it can take a lot of seeking and searching to find it.
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Re: I've been a beginner for a long time--I would like guidance.
« Reply #24 on: September 30, 2011, 11:06:59 PM »

Sorry I am late here-been tied up with a project and work.  I agree with the advice given by everyone but I want to reiterate CD's point about teaching minors.  If someone offers to teach you and you are a minor - you should be very concerned.  I do not know of ANY ethical teachers who would undertake training of a minor without parental consent.  And I know a few who question whether minors should even receive formal training at all.  Answering questions and offering guidance like we do here is not formal training.
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Blessings,
dragon


"The word which shall come to save the world, shall be uttered by a woman." - Anna Kingsford
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