Friday, December 17, 2010

What Am I?

When talk turns to religion and I'm asked what exactly I am, in all honesty, I haven't a clue how to answer. I can say I'm a witch, because I am. I write and cast spells, I work with oils and brews and herbal mixtures. I dabble in the metaphysical every day. I cast a circle and work within it. But my Native American ancestors also cast circles and used medicine wheels as tools of their faith and I use the circle in that manner too. I am a practicing pagan who honors and follows the rhythms of the earth as she spins through her calendar year. I live by the stars and the ever-changing moon. I also spent more than ten years of my life seriously studying Buddhism and today in my rituals and my daily life I try to continue to practice the teachings of The Four Noble Truths even though I would not consider myself a proper Buddhist. I meditate, I follow an ayurvedic diet and have dabbled in Hindu beliefs as well. Do I believe in God? Yes, but not in the way a Christian or Jew might. I used to attend a Buddhist Temple, but I haven't been inside an actual church in more years than I can count. So what exactly am I? Does my rather extensive patchwork of beliefs and practices go beyond even what an eclectic follower would term eclectic? Most likely. Some days I think my crazy spiritual smorgasbord is pretty cool and others I feel utterly schizophrenic.

This is the time of year when so many people ask what my plans are for the holidays and wish me a Merry Christmas. And I readily wish them one back as it's easier than explaining that I don't celebrate Christmas, but rather Yule. But then there are those people who like to question things a bit more deeply. When I say I'm not a Christian, they ask me if I'm Jewish, and try to wish me a Happy Hanukah, but I have to politely say that I'm not Jewish either. And that's where it gets tricky. No one wants to stand there and hear a long drawn out, ridiculous-sounding explanation of what I am, or what I'm not. Trying to tell them I'm a wildly eccentric mix of multiple belief systems only elicits even more questions and more than a few odd- and frequently uncomfortable- looks. I'm not interested in hiding what I am, nor in being clever in how I explain myself, but I do wish I had a quick and simple answer to the question of what I am. But since I have yet to figure out the answer to this question for myself, how on earth am I supposed to explain it to someone else?

Photo courtesy of PictureOnTheWall/Nicholas McCollum.


Sydnii said...

I always hit the same roadblock. One can never get away with simply saying "I'm Pagan," because then that usually involves an explanation. Which is quite long, drawn out, and involved, since, like you, I have an amalgamation of beliefs/belief systems that I draw from. It's such a buzz kill trying to explain it all in the small, tidy package that the person wants!! lol But my (overly)simplified version: I believe in That Which Moves the Universe.

Victoria said...

Great response! I'm going to need to think like you and come up with something like that to say when pressed to "explain myself."