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Author Topic: Which religion?  (Read 2635 times)

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Kodama

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Which religion?
« on: February 12, 2013, 11:01:53 AM »

Lately I've been baffled by my own religious beliefs. I feel a sense of inner peace when it comes to Christianity, until I actually research the beliefs and realize that none of that applies to me at all. Thus, I'm starting to question myself. When I was 11 years old, I become extremely interested in magic and witchcraft. I loved the ideas of spells, and (albeit this may sound like appropriation, so apologies) various shamanic practices appeal to me too. I've looked into Voodun in the past, and that appeals to me a lot, but I'm white, and unsure if that's even allowed in the practice of Voodun. Community is an important part of religion for me. I need other practitioners to really get a feel for anything, unfortunately too. So in that sense, I like religion to be semi-organized. I have found that I'm connected to various Gods, such as Hera, but I don't quite know if I believe in Her.

Yet, my beliefs are strange, and I will label them in order according to importance to me:


#1. For one, I am not sure that I believe in gods so much as spirits. I don't see gods as humanoid at all. They are more spiritual than human. I believe that there are spirits for everything. Not only inside of everything (like animism), but also larger spirit representations of things. For example, a tree may have a spirit, but there may be a larger spirit representing trees in general. A wolf may have a spirit, but there may be a main wolf spirit. Ect.

#2. I'm not sure what I think about the afterlife, however, I do believe that when we die, we have some form of "awareness". I do believe in ancestor reverence and respect.

#3. I believe in reincarnation, but I believe that depending on the particular case, it may be voluntary or involuntary. In other words, sometimes a person must learn a lesson by reincarnating. Other times, a person may not need to reincarnate, but may choose to on their own. I believe that reincarnation is not just limited to humans.

#4. Magic is something I believe in, and I believe that things close to a person can carry said person's energy, including hair, blood, clothes they frequently wear, jewelry, ect.



Lastly, I want to make it clear that these are beliefs that I have found resonate with me. I don't really know how consistent they are with any religions, and I do not actively practice anything at the moment.



-Kodama
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earthmuffin

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 06:18:48 PM »

I can't tell you what religion fits you best but for the most part your beliefs seem to be consistent with a shamanistic worldview, from what I know of it (--which you can take with a grain of salt as I am also white and only have some experience with modern neo-shamanic practice). That worldview could fit with a number of religions as well as atheism. Sounds like you are on a path to finding yourself and your spirituality, which is good. In the end, it doesn't really matter if or where you fit in exactly; I think it is about knowing yourself and what gives you fulfillment.
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dragonspring

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 07:39:29 PM »

I agree that those beliefs seem consistent with what I know of shamanism - of which there are many varieties.  If Christianity still appeals to you on some level, you might want to investigate Gnosticism or look into Christian Mysticism.  In my experience, it has always been helpful for me to pursue what piques my interest.  If you are interested in Voudon, don't worry about the color of your skin and pursue that interest.  There may also be some folk religion (and magic) that seems closer to your cultural background that resonates.  As EM says, it is the journey of self discovery that is important for spiritual development.
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Kodama

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2013, 11:07:04 AM »

Thanks for the suggestions!

Out of curiosity, which shamanic religions exist that allow white people to practice, and do not involve cultural appropriation?



-Kodama
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earthmuffin

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2013, 11:55:12 AM »

First off, shamanism isn't a religion; it's more of a worldview and vocation for the practitioner. There are probably number of forms of indigenous shamanism that would allow tutelage of a white person, though I am not sure how you would find those easily. However, if you trained under an indigenous shaman you would still likely get some people accusing you of cultural appropriation, but the same likely would be the case if you trained under core shamanic practitioners. Core shamanism is a creation of Michael Harner, who is a Caucasian anthropologist who studied indigenous shamanism and then synthesized what he saw as the core components into training for non-indigenous people interested in shamanism. This brand of shamanism is much more accessible to you, but you may still find those who will criticize it as a cultural appropriation and scoff at its authenticity. I suppose your best bet if you are really concerned about cultural appropriation is to delve into your own genealogy and ancestral roots and see if there is still a surviving form of shamanism practiced, then try to get into that. But you might be out of luck as to being able to establish a clear link to an existing shamanic practice, depending on your ancestry, as the shamanic roots of most whites have been obliterated over time with the rise of Christianity.

Editing to add some additional thoughts (was interrupted earlier by family members):

I think I went off topic of the original question a bit above and fixated on the cultural appropriation issue of practicing shamanism, forgetting to emphasize that because shamanism is a set of beliefs and practices more than a religion, you can subscribe to a number of compatible religions and still hold the same views. There is nothing to say that you must practice shamanism if you hold beliefs similar to shamanism. In fact, in some forms of shamanism, the practice is handed down by a shaman to his/her descendents; in other forms, the shaman is considered to be called to the practice by a spirit or spirits, usually through a horrific near death experience or mental illness. In either case, the shaman is called to the practice of shamanism. All in all, I think you would find it easy to fit into any number of pagan religions with your shamanism-like beliefs. However, hold no illusions that Wicca and other forms of New Age paganism are free from some folks viewing them as appropriating other cultures ideologies.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 01:38:44 PM by earthmuffin »
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vordan

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2013, 10:30:30 PM »

You can be white and practice Voodoo, I lived once in New Orleans and many white people practice it and simplier Hoodoo practices. The way I describe my beliefs simply to others is that I am a pantheist, I believe that the divine energy is inherent in all things and manifests itself in all things. Everything is connected, everything is made of energy which is why magic works. Energy can not be destroyed just change form, we are eternal
.
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crystal wolfstar

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2013, 11:22:06 PM »

True, as long as you can find someone to initiate you, there's no race requirement. But do it with the right motivation, because you love the Lwa and not the magic.

If you just want to do magic, Hoodoo is better, since it's African American folk magic, not a religion. Be warned, though, it's done with Judeo-Christian prayers and whatnot. If you're uncomfortable with this, then it's better to find something you ARE comfortable with. A lot of spells call for recitation of Psalms, etc. TONS of Hoodoo info here: http://www.luckymojo.com/hoodoo.html
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Kodama

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2013, 12:28:18 PM »

True, as long as you can find someone to initiate you, there's no race requirement. But do it with the right motivation, because you love the Lwa and not the magic.

If you just want to do magic, Hoodoo is better, since it's African American folk magic, not a religion. Be warned, though, it's done with Judeo-Christian prayers and whatnot. If you're uncomfortable with this, then it's better to find something you ARE comfortable with. A lot of spells call for recitation of Psalms, etc. TONS of Hoodoo info here: http://www.luckymojo.com/hoodoo.html


Though I believe in magic, I am not very talented, nor interested in it. I revere spirits, more than practice magic.



-Kodama
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Ghost Wolf

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2013, 01:20:23 PM »

Thanks for the suggestions!

Out of curiosity, which shamanic religions exist that allow white people to practice, and do not involve cultural appropriation?



-Kodama

Seidr.  http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/seidr.html
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DisreputableMog

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2013, 05:11:10 PM »

I thought I might offer a little bit of a different opinion here; the biggest problem that I have with mainstream religion is that everything has to have a name and be quantified and labeled. But why? The way I see it, you have very good and positive beliefs that will lead you to good karma and happiness. Who cares if it doesn't have a name or a long detailed history?

If I was in your spot, when people asked me what religion I was, I'd just tell them it's complicated. If they want a name and badger you, tell them you're agnostic to get them off your back. It doesn't matter what you call yourself, or even, I think, what practices you mix in together. As long as you're doing good, for yourself and for others, that's all that matters.
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earthmuffin

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2013, 07:48:32 PM »

Oh, I totally agree-- the label in the end doesn't matter. Some of the struggle to define what you believe and how it fits with others is sometimes an important part of the self-discovery process (I wrote a bit about that here http://www.paganjourneys.com/index.php?topic=1423.msg19230#msg19230), which I think is where Kodama might be coming from.
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DisreputableMog

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2013, 07:09:46 PM »

I dig, but what's helped me the most (with anything, of anything) was coming to terms with the idea that I didn't have to really explain or quantify my ideas to anyone. They're just as valid, whether or not they're easily expressed.
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earthmuffin

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2013, 08:19:44 PM »

I dig, but what's helped me the most (with anything, of anything) was coming to terms with the idea that I didn't have to really explain or quantify my ideas to anyone. They're just as valid, whether or not they're easily expressed.

Very true and same here. :)
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vordan

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2013, 10:00:43 PM »

I dig, but what's helped me the most (with anything, of anything) was coming to terms with the idea that I didn't have to really explain or quantify my ideas to anyone. They're just as valid, whether or not they're easily expressed.

Very true and same here. :)

Yes, I love words but they have their limits, some things are past mere words.
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Stormjester

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Re: Which religion?
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2013, 04:39:42 PM »

I'm new here, but I thought I would put in my 2 cents. If you are unsure what religion you should be, maybe you could just begin some simple practices that seem to be a part of most religions. This includes simple insight meditation, energy work (chakras) and visualization. This way, you are actually doing something and not merely wrestling with ideas.

Be Blessed!
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