I remember a time when I believed that being religious was the same as being spiritual.
I was not raised in the church. My family did not attend Sunday services. We did not break bread or pray before our meals. There were no nightly Bible readings.
Religion was not an intricate part of our lives.
However, there were a couple of statements that my mother and grandmother used to often say that, for decades, put the fear of God in me.
Whenever it rained while the sun was shining, my mother would say that the Devil was beating his wife.
Another doozy. they would utter whenever somebody did something wrong, was, “God don’t like ugly.”
That was the beginning… and the end of my religious upbringing.
I never knew what to make of people who were always going to church for one function or another. I always found it a bit odd that folks spent so much time “in service to the Lord”.
What did that even mean?
My mother told me that my religious path was my own. In other words, I was literally on my own to find my place in this world.
When it came to finding my place, or the day I decided to embark on a spiritual journey, I found myself migrating from one belief system to another.
First, I traveled the “traditional” path.
In ‘98, I was dating someone who was involved with the Church of Christ. When he told me that he could not date me because I was not a member, I just knew I had to check this place out.
There is something that fascinates me to no end about people who will literally do what they are told, even when they know better.
Anyhoo, I spent my first meeting with the senior women being judged for my past. Eyebrows were furrowed for my wicked ways, and I was instructed to read several verses of the Bible as repentance.
I also had to be baptized into their faith. Since I cared about the guy I was dating, I went through with it… twice.
The first time was just so we could keep dating, then I felt guilty and confessed my wrongdoing. They graciously offered up another baptism opportunity for me to “right myself with Jesus”.
The study groups took a lot of my time, and I was immediately asked to drop all vices. My days in the Navy had given me quite the sailor’s mouth, and I was also a “more than just social” drinker and a smoker.
So, it was bye-bye potty mouth, and hello “Praise Jesus”.
I was also advised who I could and could not befriend. If they were not members of the church, I could be tempted to stray. Therefore, I was to sever all personal ties that “did not serve me well”.
I was tithing at every meeting, and not just on Sundays. And my personal time was spent hanging out with church folk.
I felt controlled and out of control.
Two months later, I was running for the hills.
Now, I am not going to knock anyone’s religious choices, BUT I learned very quickly that the Church of Christ was not for me… on SO many levels.
It took me several years before I was able to “step out” again. By this time, my view of Christianity was tainted, and I wondered if I would ever heal from that experience.
It was not until I was older when I discovered that I actually had Sunday Christians in my family.
“Oh, the humanity!”
My grandmother had become an avid church goer, and my mother’s first/second husband had become born-again sometime during his 4th marriage/3rd wife.
What I found interesting about their behavior, which was typical of my family, is that being Christians did not make them less judgmental, or more compassionate, empathetic, and affectionate.
They still talked about folks behind their backs while still tithing on Sundays and following that gesture with a hallelujah.
It was all very contradictory and tainted my views even more.
With traditional belief systems placed on the back burner, I traveled another route.
In ‘05, I began playing the role of Witch, or to be politically correct, study the ways of the Wiccan faith.
I had the books, the candles, the pentacles, the oils, the herbs, the alter cloth, whatever I needed to make things happen.
I also started watching movies with witchcraft themes.
Two movies I have seen more than a few times are The Craft and Practical Magic. The latter being my absolute FAVE!
Back then, whenever I watched The Craft, I would think, “This is going to be so cool. I get to turn someone into a frog.” Or better yet, “I get to rearrange the universe so it brings to me, without any effort on my part, all of my heart’s desires (i.e. lost loves, riches, and other material wants).
But casting spells turned out to not be “my thing”… quite yet.
Because my knowledge was limited, I believed that “harm ye none” meant if I wanted to cast someone from my life or break someone up because he was “my man” (Yes. Those thoughts actually crossed my mind.), then that bad karma would come back to me three-fold.
Having had enough unpleasant karma return to me, I decided to let The Craft go.
SIDEBAR: It is now ten years later, I have a deeper appreciation for The Craft. I understand the difference between protecting myself (loved ones, home) versus messing with someone’s free will. I am now VERY comfortable playing in this arena.
In the midst of my Witchy adventure, I picked up books on Voodoo.
“Why”, you ask again.
Being a “Black” woman, I actually thought I was supposed to know something about the religion. If my people of olden days were doin’ it then I just had to get on board, right?
However, the moment the books mentioned animal sacrifices that pretty-much ended that little adventure with a-quickness.
SIDEBAR: Ten years later, and I have a deeper appreciation for the Voodoo tradition. I have also found that I resonate more with Hoodoo.
Tarot cards, Runes, and other metaphysical avenues seemed flaky to me, and consulting the cards or the oracles did not feel right either.
I think the reason for my discomfort was because nothing was tangible; I could not touch what I was doing nor see it. The whole “seeing is believing” mantra rang true for me… big time!
I was stuck with the idea of an “out there”.
It was tough for me to grasp that I was more than my body; that there actually was not anything outside myself because of the interconnectedness of all life.
As far as I was concerned, when we died, that was it! There was no afterlife. My Spirit did not live on; all that I was would no longer exist.
What I have since discovered is I that I was just afraid of the great unknown we call, Death. I was afraid of not knowing where I was headed next.
Being afraid of the Great Unknown kept my claws clinging to people who no longer added any value to my life. Not by their existence (on the Spiritual plane), but by their actions in their Personality body.
I was afraid of trusting anything I could not see with my physical eyes.
I was afraid of letting go!
I was looking for something to believe in… because I did not believe in myself.
Thankfully, the tattoo on the underside of my left wrist, “Let It go!”, is a welcome(and constant) reminder of the state of mind that would better serve me whenever I am looking out when I shold be looking in.