A way that had previously been barred by tangled vines and broken trees became cleared and I was able to see the path clearly. The fog and darkness that had been plaguing my mind is gone now and I feel free.
We were talking about paganism and our different beliefs...as we often do... and we got on the topic of ecclectics and such. I mentioned that I haven't really been comfortable taking a step in any direction because I had grown afraid of inadvertently "insulting" or "showing disrespect" to the gods. This was a feeling/idea that I'd actually gotten through discourse with another individual who made me question a lot of my beliefs. For this I am grateful because it got me to look hard at what I was doing, make sure it was consistent, make sure I wasn't just following the herd. BUT it also damaged my beliefs in a way because of the way it was presented. It was presented in such a way that indicated the way I had previously been doing things was wrong, inaccurate and pretty much not something the gods would like. It took a bit of time to realize that this individual has taken his religious beliefs so far towards academics that he has lost (in my opinion) a lot of the personal, deeply spiritual, mystery of religion/spirituality. Even after I realized this, it wasn't enough to "fix" my own beliefs because I agreed with some of what this individual had said, but I couldn't figure out where the line was. How can I make sure I'm approaching these gods in a respectful way? Do I have to make sure I read up on each one of them and how they were worshipped historically, what they symbolized in the culture, etc? Last night I found my answer and finally feel ready to rebuild the bridges with my gods.
(this is my own personal gnosis and I don't pretend to believe it is the only interpretation):
Gods and Goddesses are much like us in a way. They are individuals and should not be used willy-nilly for ritual/spellwork etc. Kali, Innanna, Venus, and Brighid are NOT all the same Goddess (unless you mean they - and us - are all part of the greater whole of the cosmos - I won't get into this as it's my own personal interpretation of the universe). They should be treated with dignity and respect, just as you would treat your friends with dignity and respect. HOWEVER, this does NOT mean you have to know every little iota of information about them before ever approaching them. Just like a friend, you can meet them because you both like "ice cream". Because you know this about them, you are able to interact with that person and know that "going out for ice cream" would be an appropriate thing to do. You don't NEED to know that they also like "dogs" and "rollerblading" and "ice fishing" and "bananas" in order to begin a relationship with them. You CAN and probably WILL learn many of these things as the relationship grows. Your relationship will be enhanced with each new discovery, but again (yes I know I'm repeating myself) I is not necessary to know ALL of these up front before you ever say "Hi". In my opinion, it works the same way with the Gods. On the other hand, you wouldn't give that friend an "ashtray" as a gift before knowing whether or not they smoke. This can be applied to the Gods too, it would be wrong to just give offerings willy-nilly without any thought. I believe that you can find out what IS appropriate either through study OR through personal meditation/revelation from the Gods. I DON'T think that you should just assume that something is appropriate because you read it in a Wicca 101 book (because unfortunately a lot of those are horribly under-researched and tend to throw everything into the blender and hope that whatever comes out tastes good) or do something without putting any thought into it.
That's it, in a nutshell, and I have to say that I'm really glad that we had that discussion. It helped me so much.
In other news, I went to my first Roman ritual led by my roomie Eumulos. It was interesting and really good for his first Roman style ritual. A few bumps along the way, but that's to be expected. It was fun and I'm glad I did end up going. He was also really happy that I went, which made me feel good.
Today... I'm going to try to get more of this cleaning stuff done. Wish me luck! I'm sure I'll need it!