A couple of weeks ago I signed up to Dianne Sylvan’s Becoming a Spiritual Nomad Course, partially because I’ve loved all her books, and partly because this year I made a goal to connect with practise. It began this week, and I’ve completed the first week’s assignments (as I like to think of them).
Essentially, it’s a six-week E-course in eclectic spirituality, and this week was focused on Moments of Grace, our Altar, and a Breathing meditation.
I’ve also been writing up quotes to go on my walls and added five books to my Amazon Wish List.
Moments of Grace
When I first read about these, I could think of two. One happened while I was sitting in the library with my partner; back when we’d been together about two months.
The other was my first experience of Druid ceremony; Beltain 2009 where I became one tree in a “forest of women” while the men meditated in a separate circle. The whole day filled with a vibration I still remember: from hearing 80 women cry and laugh, to hold their hands, to stand under/in/on a sacred space on the coast: with the earth, sea and sky surrounding us.
As I began the next activity, drawing a path of a faith (I interpreted this as a timeline expressing our moments of grace, important events and our state of faith), I found others.
I have the Solstice which set my mind on beginning the Bardic OBOD course. I had a wonderful experience at my self-initiations – both of “to the goddess” in 2004 and to my bardic journey last November. I remember my first experiences of meditation. Of my first love. And the many moments of growth and challenge I overcame with a sense of faith in my current relationship.
I remember studying Hinduism in junior school, and drawing a tortoise goddess “Kuma” on my book cover. I’ve since tried to find her and the closest I find is Kurmu, an avatar of Vishnu; or Kumar, a God of War.
From this same time period, I remember having to write down in my RE book if I believed in God. I was about seven, and I wrote somethign like “not God but there’s something out there” and I drew a picture of the world, and a chair outside the world.
Sitting on the chair, I drew a leopard.
Yeah. Your guess is as good as mine. My teacher marked it with something like “oh good” if I remember correctly. I’d like to point out that (as far as I remember) I didn’t think there was a leopard god; I just wanted to express it wasn’t a man, but it had substance and I’d recognise it’s form.
Either way, I remember that sense of knowing. Something’s out there. It is.
My altar here at University is a small area; usually a corner of my drawers; fit around the hair bands, earring box, make-up and cards/photographs/ornaments. When I read this section, I glanced over at it and sighed. I didn’t want to clear it. I decided I’d skip that as it’s not my permanent space.
Yet somehow, throughout the week, I did it.
We were told to clear it, but in my case that means moving the incense and putting my books away… that is my altar while i’m here: space.
1. Spiritual exploration has generally been a positive experience, in that I’ve turned to it and sought it mainly when my life was negative; so in comparison to without it; spirit is comforting and freeing. Joyful.
2. Most negative experiences were my unfounded fear, disgreements with others/institutions and the lack of connection. I learnt that I need connection; that I came into Paganism looking for family when I had no other. And that my spirituality is mine. That’s an important lesson I took a while to learn.
3. As a scientist who sometimes views the divine/god/spirit as a a bunch of conscious energy, but also prays to human-like figures and also uses the individual pantheon names – the question about “what would you generally call it/them?” is a difficult one to answer.
Lately, I’ve been referring to them as “the gods” (with a little g because I realised yesterday that I find it “prettier than a capital G” o.O ) or “Spirit”. Calling spirit by names is something I understnad to shift with it’s purpose. If I need a hug, she appears as a motherly or best-friendly, but if I’m angry and am asking for conversation, I’ll see the warrior (male or female). In formal ritual, I refer to them as “God and Goddess”. So i guess it depends, but “the gods” suits me most of the time.
4. I generally experience them as a force of thrumming energy. It’s a knowing inside, a strength in the air which I’m breathing in, or just a feeling of security. This is what I sought at 13, so this is how I associate the feeling of the gods. For the first 13 years, I experienced a fearful power and I blocked it. It was an emptiness that told me something was there. In times when I’ve used discrete names, I’ve felt a difference in the warmth, the size of the energy (which sounds really weird but it feels more tightly packed than spacious).
5. My minimum “needs” of an altar is “me”. I’ve very happy sitting on my bed and utilising my imagination, or just the air in my lungs and the water in my body. However, my ideal would have the four elements, an image for me to focus on, and some ylang ylang incense. With a lot of space between each item. Space is Sacred.
In love and light,