At 3AM in the morning, I find myself laying in the bed with the thoughts of the day running through my head. Suddenly, some old annoying thoughts enter. Thoughts about faith, religions past, present, and future, god, people, and the cosmos. I formally left the Christian "faith" several years ago, and last night I finally had to come to the realization that I am in a similar lull with my current practice. Or am I? The more Wiccan books I read, the more I believe it's just as silly as some of the things they do in the other religions. Then I will try to hear my own heart and soul speak, I consider some of the events that have happened in my past and I will try to justify god. The thought of not believing in anything at all for some reason bothers me. Yet each day I find it difficult to believe in the religions of man, Wiccan, Christian, or otherwise.
This morning I gave into my struggle to find god and let myself slip into the realm of atheism for a moment. Andrew the atheist? What a simple concept! No more pesky issues pertaining to god and spirits, no more churches to attend or silly rituals to perform, just me and the big bang theory. And I'd sit back and laugh as the world killed each other over over who's god was the real god. Still with all this simplicity there was something down in the pit of my stomach that screamed "NOOOOOOOOO!" I then began to consider some of the events of my life that, while yes could be a coincidence, it seemed to me more probable that it was the work of some hidden power. So I continued to contemplate, not satisfied with simply discarding everything I believed in... just yet anyway.
The case for God... So what is God anyway? Billions of people swear that some sort of God exist, yet nobody has ever actually seen this God! Well let me rephrase that. Some claim to have seen God, I guess we'll just have to take their word for it, the fact is I haven't seen God. Or have I? I continue to contemplate exactly what God is. The universe is vast, beyond our wildest comprehension. I find it hard to believe that this God everyone talks about is some ten foot tall, stocky elderly sage of a man, with a long white beard and long white hair, who sits in some cloudy space up in the sky. In fact, considering the vastness of the universe, I find it hard to believe that God looks anything like a human at all! In fact, if God is considered to be the great architect of the universe, then I find it hard to believe that this God has any particular form!
Perhaps the very being of what exactly God is on the physical level eludes us because our minds can not fathom a being that both exist and doesn't exist. Perhaps it is there and it isn't.
My end of day conclusion on God (a work in progress)... Personally I believe that we are all but tiny specks in the universe. Yet we are all bound by the laws of nature. And nature is God. We are every bit as important, and as unimportant as the individual grains of sand on an endless beach. When our bodies die and perish, the universe lives on. When the earth reaches the end of her life, the universe goes on. When the sun burns it's last ounce of fuel, the universe goes on, and thus the cycle of nature (God) continues. From nature, all things came, and to nature all things must return. God is in all of us, and all of us are in God, and by all of us, I mean everything that is... not just humans. Yes that means when humans become extinct... the universe will go on.
I know that's a hard pill for some to swallow. Nature (God) drives the galaxies across the universe, and yet Nature (God) orchestrates the orbits of the electrons of atoms, and everything in between. We swat flies and mosquitoes, and take their lives. And we think we are enlightened and somehow special and important in the world of the universe, yet in our arrogance we forget that their are forces out there that can squash us with the same amount of consideration that we have when we step on an ant hill.
The purpose (meaning of life?) The purpose is to be. The meaning of life is to be alive. Life is not a right, it's a gift, a privilege. It is up to us to live our life to it's fullest. From the moment we are born, we have but one right, and that is the right to die. Nature does not discriminate, nature does not care how cute you look when you're a baby. Cute babies die too. None of us are entitled to be alive. We are only entitled to die, it is a fate that none of us will escape from. And it cares not how nice we are, or how much money we have, or how important we think we are. This paragraph will be considered taboo and blasphemous to conservative Christians, and liberal minded people alike who somehow have this notion that we are special and actually have the right to clean water, and plentiful food.... No we don't. If you're needs are met daily, than be thankful, NOT ARROGANT. Our blessings can vanish in the blink of an eye.
I'm reminded of the soldier returning home a war hero. He was a good brave man, one who would have probably made a good father, husband, and citizen. A rock rolled off a mountain on the interstate and landed on his car on his way back home from the service. He was killed instantly. Did he deserve to die? No. But in the laws of Nature, he no more deserved to live. I can only pray that he didn't waste his life. As you can see here from this demonstration of Nature, she does not discriminate, when your life is over, its over. She cares not how good or bad you were, how many, or few friends you had, our days are numbered. Enjoy your life, and make the most of it. Take nothing for granted. Give thanks daily. If you have a good job that provides for your needs, thank your employer. If you eat, thank the spirit of the plant or animal that gave it's life for your nourishment.
The case for religion: Religion is a construct of mankind. His attempt to understand what is probably by it's very nature is not understandable. It is uncertain if advanced life on other planets has a concept of God the way we do. Perhaps they do, maybe they don't. But I'm sure in their evolution they too will come to understand Nature in their own way. Mankind does NOT hold the trademark on God. All religions are false, and all religions are true. No one is more accurate or better than the other. No one person, or group of people have the complete picture of God. No one person, church, or group of people have all the answers. No religion has all that answers. And there is something to be learned from each of them. Remember: COEXIST.
Church, rituals, candles, circles, magick and other things.... One item on my spirit list is the matter of rituals, church, and so on. What is prayer? What is magick? Why to Christians go to church, why to Wiccans cast circles? Why to people anoint candles and wave flashy objects in the air in some effort to invoke God, spirits, or work magick? I have been to a Sunday morning service probably hundreds of times in my life, and I've probably cast just as many Wiccan circles. Yet neither church services or circles ever seemed to manifest a single miracle in my life. Yet that is not to say that my life is without any sort of out of the ordinary (miracle?) taking place. I can think of about five major life situations off the top of my head, and a good amount of smaller ones that seemed to be a direct result of my needs "magickally" being met. On a few occasions I have simply prayed for what I needed, other times my heart just filled with the need and it suddenly manifested itself. So what am I saying here? Are circles really necessary? Is going to church really necessary? Well, I believe that to manifest magick, then the answer is no. The mind has a way of communicating with the forces of Nature (God) whether we realize it or not. Yes the most profound magick I've ever worked, was those "spells" that I never really knew I cast. Church is what Christians do to engage in fellowship with one another, it helps them to hold onto that closeness to God that they depend on to get through their daily lives. In many ways, the Wiccan circle is the same. Some Wiccans do it with a group (like a church), other go it alone. Yet it has the same end result. It brings the practitioner into a state of oneness with their higher power. But is it necessary? Yes for some, no for others. If having some sort of ritual like casting a circle, or going to church helps the practitioner in their spiritual journey then by all means go for it, however if these dogmatic approaches hinder the spiritual development then don't go through with it. Sometimes it may be just a matter of balance, between strict ritual guidelines and more a more eclectic approach. The bottom line is, that just as church shouldn't feel like a chore to the Christian, a formal ritual should not feel like a chore to the witch. There are well learned Christians of strong faith that do not attend church, just as their are well learned witches who do not perform the standard Wiccan style circle.
As for me, I find that the more formal the circle, the less spice it seems to have. Simple circles work best for me. Perhaps employing only an athame (dagger), or sometimes not even that. Often times I find myself without my supply of witches tools when I'm out and about, yet I may happen upon a site in nature, or simply feel myself falling into a "spiritual mood" that calls for some kind of blessing of thanks, or other prayer/spell. Often times I may only have the clothes on my back. It helps me to find something strong of nature, such as a rock, or a tree. Lean on them, or sit beneath them and communicate my thoughts to Nature. I've had more apparent magickal success simply thinking out my desire, over all of the fancy bells and whistles (no pun intended) that comes with a more mainstream Wiccan practice. I think sometimes with magick, like many other things, you can try to hard, you can over do it, and kill the desired result. Sometimes it's just best to jettison the flare pop and just do what comes naturally. Personally I feel magick has less to do with strict adherence to centuries old dogmatic "hail Marys" fancy tools, and so forth, and more to do with instinct. Your subconscious (soul) will do the work for you. That's what it's there for. All your brain has to do is not get in it's way.
EUREKA! Magick works when your brain DOESN'T get in the way! No matter what religion, faith, or craft you practice or believe in. Don't let your logical brain muddy the waters too much. Perhaps the concept of God isn't eons beyond the comprehension of our brains. Perhaps this concept isn't even meant for the brain to comprehend at all. Perhaps the ultimate level of evolution is the evolution of the soul, the subconscious understanding of what God is. It speaks to us constantly, it is all around. It's answers are everywhere and nowhere. Is it a mystery? Or is it just so simple that our brains can not wrap our minds around it? Remove the politics of religion! Bring the soul home to its roots. It's not about who's the most popular, it's not about money, it's not about politics, or who's right or wrong. The long end of it is we are just one small piece of a greater puzzle that spans forever. The end advice (to myself) Andrew.... stop thinking about it and start experiencing it. My subconscious will drive my soul in the same way my brain drives my heart beat, and makes my lungs fill and expel air without me even thinking about it. We don't have to think about it, it will happen regardless. It is the magick of the universe. No fancy flare required... But I do think the robes are cool though!