Wednesday, 15 February 2012

C is for Choices and Connection - Chrysalis and Community!

How many Cs can one pagan write about? I was going to write about cats but lots of people wrote about that. What else? Charms, crystals (I did that last week), Celts (as I'm Irish), Chronicles (of the Anglo Saxon variety), casting the runes, chanting (lots of people did that too), crone, Cailleach, Chaos, Chrysalis, candles, community, Christianity, Catholicism... So many choices. Choices. That's it.

Becoming pagan and being pagan involves so many choices. When I first left Catholicism ( that dreaded C-word) I looked into a variety of alternative paths - Spiritualism, New Agey stuff, Wicca, hedge witchery, goddess spirituality... and after dabbling in bit of each of them I finally discovered the perfect meld of shamanism and gods and goddesses which is the heathen shamanic tradition of Seidr. Ever since becoming a heathen I know I've made the right choice for me.

One of the things I found hard about leaving Catholicism is that it provided a sense of community. You were born a Catholic, you went to a Catholic school, you met the same people at mass every Sunday. In particular growing up in Ireland, the whole village or town would have that sense if community or belonging. When I was really involved in Charismatic Catholicism I went on something called a Choice Weekend, which I then subsequently helped to run as part of the team. I see now that these were structured to bring you down to a low point in laying bare your emotions and becoming aware of yourself and your needs - and sins - and then brought you back up again to realise how much you were all part of the Catholic family, which was aimed to bring you a sense of belonging and keep you there!

 I think all of us search for that sense of belonging, to family, to people, to places and to a religion or spiritual path. At that point in my life it was Catholicism, along with habit and guilty fear of letting go of those deep-rooted beliefs.

Whatever path we choose in paganism, once it fits and feels right, it's like coming home. The deep sense of connection to the land, the gods, the wights, the ancestors gives that feeling of finding that which we have been looking for all our lives - and even better when we find a supportive and loving pagan community to belong to.

This year's We'Moon diary has the theme of Chrysalis, by which is meant "a protected creative state of being resourced from within, that allows deep-rooted transformation to take place." "Chrysalis is both the birth-place and the death-place where old forms disintegrate. The old orders are in decline. The Chrysalis stage is a necessary precondition for total transformation, where life as we know it is completely overturned and we have to give up who we think we are to empower who we are becoming.  In the process of dissolving the structures that formerly contained our spirit, we enter intot he unknown, a formless state out of which a new form emerges."

This, I feel, sums up perfectly that process of change when we make the choice to move from one spiritual path to another. It's a difficult process to undergo, like the shamanic transformation into  new being, we emerge a new, stronger person, into a community where we have probably always belonged in this life and in many previous lifetimes. It just takes that awareness that we need to make the choice to change and connect to the old gods and goddesses and to the sacred landscape upon which we live.

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