Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Never mind the whys and wherefores..."

(Title courtesy of Gilbert & Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore", which was the first musical I ever went to see. It contains some of what is still my favourite music after all these years.)

I'm posting this on the off-chance that I might ever need a FAQ page. Stranger things have happened, after all. :)

Why do I call myself a "Surprised Christo-Pagan?"

I call myself a Christo-Pagan because while I do involve myself in things like Goddess worship, divination (more as a means of seeing what's in my subconscious mind than what's in my future), Reiki, meditation and rituals I've constructed based on information gained in my "Wicca 101" days, I also find great comfort and spiritual benefit in things like saying the rosary and being involved in Christian worship. I can't turn my back on either system of belief because they are both a powerful part of who and what I am.

I spell it "Christo-Pagan" rather than "Christopagan" because I don't want to privilege one side of my path over the other.  (I could probably try to even them out by alternating the letters in "Pagan" and "Christian," therefore calling myself a "Pcahgrainstian" or a "Cphargiasntian," but that would be silly.)  And although I may use the term "Christo-Pagan" more often than "Pagan Christian", largely because it's not quite so cumbersome, I will probably use the terms interchangeably—much as I use the terms "violin" and "fiddle", which refer to the same instrument, depending on which kind of music it's used to play.

Please don't think it's ever been easy to reconcile the two. I'm very much aware that I'm on very shaky theological ground here on at least one side of the equation—Christianity traditionally disapproves of pretty much everything I do as a Pagan; if it weren't for a core belief of mine, the belief that all deities are faces of a "God behind the Gods", I would be violating both the first of the Ten Commandments and rejecting the very statement of faith that I make every Sunday when I recite the Apostles' Creed (or the Nicene Creed on the Sundays when we use the Book of Common Prayer), and even so, I am quite arguably still doing those things because "All the Gods are one God" still isn't a Judeo-Christian belief, strictly speaking. I pray for guidance every time I take communion and every time I celebrate a Sabbat or an Esbat. I'm not picking up any signs of disapproval yet, but I'm aware that it could very well be because I'm not listening the right way and I'm still looking for a lot of answers.

Neopaganism may be more lenient (in theory, at least) because "Neopaganism" is really just an umbrella term for a collection of various modern faiths that have been influenced by what's known about pre-Christian religions (and in many cases, a heavy dose of Gerald Gardner), but from what I've seen online, a lot of Pagans must be allergic to Christians—I've lost track of the times when, while I've been looking at the news on Wren's Nest over at the Witches' Voice, I've seen an article relating to Christianity where people have left comments ranting about EVIL HYPOCRITICAL XTIANS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA. Much as the GLBTQ community tends to look askance at bisexuals, even if they're part of the name, and much as the medical community apparently hates fat people, Pagans and Christians alike tend to look at those of us who try to blend the faiths as if we're unnatural and threatening freaks, fence-sitters who should just place ourselves on one side or the other. After all, two paths that are (ideally, at least) dedicated to compassion, love and making the world a better place are bound to be mortal enemies. *sigh*

I call myself a "surprised Christo-Pagan" because the world is full of surprises—and because I'm still very surprised that I've managed to make a spiritual life that's as complex and downright strange as mine has been actually work for me.

Why do I choose to talk about such a personal subject in public?

I've always found that I do my best thinking when I'm just writing my thoughts down. I figure that if I can benefit from muddling through like this, why couldn't my ramblings be helpful to other people as well? Should anyone chance to stumble upon this blog, I hope that even if they think I'm crazy/stupid/weird/going to Hell/anything else, I still hope that I'll give them something to think about.

Why do I call myself "Zillah"?

Because I may write about things here that I wouldn't necessarily want people in my daily life to know about, a pseudonym was obviously necessary. I chose "Zillah" not just because it's a fairly obscure Biblical name (Lamech's second wife, whose son Tubal-Cain was apparently good at making tools) but because of the first context in which I ever heard it—Zillah Grey was a character in Victoria Holt's "Snare of Serpents", and she was not what she initially seemed to be.

Now, human beings rarely are what we appear to be on the surface, so in that respect neither she nor I can really be said to buck the trend, but I feel that the name is an appropriate one for me to take for the purposes of this blog. The Zillah in that story had a past she wasn't proud of, and her actions caused years of suffering for someone she was close to, even to the point where that other person had to leave Scotland for South Africa for a time. On a strictly spiritual level, I also have a past I'm not proud of (see the bit on my "Wicca 101" phase in my first post) and although I haven't done anything that caused that much trouble for other people, I did end up with a significant split in my spiritual life for a number of years, almost like a split personality. I was in denial about it for a time—I think that's the main reason for my outpouring of vitriol towards Christianity in general, because although I thought I wasn't Christian anymore, I still felt a pull and I didn't like it. When I finally allowed myself to admit that the matter of my spiritual life wasn't as simple as being one thing or the other, I felt like the exiled part of myself was finally being allowed to come home, just as Zillah's step-daughter Davina Glentyre was.

Zillah dies near the end of the book, true, but then...eventually, we all do. If I recall correctly, Zillah made peace with herself and with Davina before the end. And in the end, that sort of thing is really what this blog is about—reconciling with myself and achieving a spiritual balance that will allow me to go forward and, for however long I'm going to be alive, help me to be the best person I'm capable of being.

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