Monday, July 19, 2010

Reading the Label

Whenever I first began this spiritual path, I was horribly caught up in labels: Am I a Christian? Am I a Pagan? Am I an eclectic? WHAT AM I?! My OCD tendency to need to categorize something, as well as a desire to just figure out where I fit in, where I belong. I quickly realized that there were so many labels that could fit me that I would go crazy with it all:

- I could still be considered Unitarian Universalist, because although I attend a Christian church, I do still sporadically maintain my involvement in UU online.

- I am Gnostic, because I seek spiritual knowledge of the Divine, and include the Gnostic scriptures as part of my chosen sacred texts.

- I am Christian, because the spiritual teacher I follow is Jesus, and the sacred texts I use the most(Christian and Gnostic) tend to center around him.

- I am Druid because I attempt to honor the cycles of nature, seek further wisdom of Celtic spirituality, and wish to grow in my nature spirituality.

- I am panentheist because I believe there is a divine spark that resides within everything, and that said divine spark also exists beyond everything as well. Note that this is different from pantheism, the primary difference being that pantheism does not contain that component of divinity existing beyond the material universe.

- I could be considered an animist, because I believe that everything has a 'spirit' or 'soul' - plants, animals, everything.

Finally, I realized these labels don't quite matter so much. They're just a way of describing myself to other people. My expression of animism probably overlaps, and is a form of, panentheism - if I believe there's a divine spark in everything, by extension that means, to me, that everything has a soul. The soul is the divine spark. If I'm talking to a mainstream Christian, I just call myself Christian. If I'm talking to someone more familiar with alternative spiritualities, I may describe myself as one of the other labels. In all, what's important is how I live it out.


Bridget's Fire said...

I follow Bridget, Goddess and Saint, and believe in both or either/or; I follow other deities such as Kali Ma and my great grandmother's witchcraft traditions; I get called druid a lot; I attend a radical Presbyterian church, and I have a M. Div. with a concentration in systematic theology.

I dig your journey!

Chadly said...

That's very interesting! Would you mind talking a bit about the other deities you follow? Does your Presbyterian church know of your unorthodox views? If so, it's good(to me) to see such an open church, I usually only see that kind of openness in Unitarian Universalism.

Angel said...

Chad, I think I'd have equal difficulty pinning one specific label on my own belief system. And like you, it has to do with dabbling in alternative spiritualities. Maybe someday someone will come up with a label for exactly what combination you/we are.

Then again, labels have their cons as well but they're all we have in regards to shortened descriptives.

Interesting post!! I never thought to try and segregate out and fully identify all the different concepts of my beliefs. It's all kind of mashed up in my heart and head. Gnostic, Christian, panentheist... these I do most strongly identify with.