Many and Varied....

sent in by Bernard Fields
"To all the varied peoples of the world, nothing is so out of reach, yet so deeply personal and controlling, as the concept of god. My experience in my homeland showed me little of these supernatural beings beyond the influences of the vile drow deity, the Spider Queen, Lloth.

After witnessing the carnage of Lloth's workings, I was not so quick to embrace the concept of any god, of any being that could so dictate, codes of behavior and precepts of an entire society. Is morality not an internal force, and if it is, are principles to be then dictated or felt?

So follows the question of the gods themselves: Are these named entities, in truth, actual beings, or are they manifestations of shared beliefs? Are the dark elves evil because they follow the precepts of the Spider Queen, or is Lloth a culmination of the drow's natural evil conduct?

Likewise, when the barbarians of Icewind Dale charge across the tundra to war, shouting the name of Tempus, Lord of Battles, are they following the precepts of Tempus, or is Tempus merely the idealized name they give to their actions?

This, I cannot answer, nor, I have come to realize, can anyone else, no matter how loudly they -- particularly priests of certain gods -- might argue otherwise. In the end, to a preacher's ultimate sorrow, the choice of god is a personal one, and the alignment to a being is in accord with one's internal code pf principles. A missionary might coerce and trick would-be disciples, but no rational being can truly follow the determind orders of any god-figure if those orders run contrary to his own tenets. Neither I, Drizzt Do'Urden, nor my father, Zaknafein, could ever have become disciples of the Spider Queen. And Wulfgar of Icewind Dale, my friend of later years, though he still might yell out to the battle god, does not please this entity called Tempus except on those occasions when he puts his mighty warhammer to use.

The gods of the realms are many and varied -- or they are the many and varied names and identities tagged onto the same being.

I know not -- and care not -- which.

--Drizzt Do'Urden" (Quoted from 'Sojurn', by R.A. Salvatore)

My faith journey began upon reading the above quote, nearly 10 years ago.

My, how time flies.

I was fourteen years old at that point. I never really considered myself 'Christian'; going to church was what my parents expected of me, so I went.

Soon after that, I stopped attending. This was to be the start of my 'Faith Search', an attempt to define what I wanted a 'god' being to mean to me.

When I read the essay above, I had -- dare I say it -- a spiritual 'renaissance' of sorts.

Like Drizzt, I had come to realize that what some view as 'god' is, to others, merely a shell -- a mask, to justify our actions, whether good or bad.

Soon after, I declared myself a 'polythiest' (without really understanding what that term meant), and spent six months coming to terms with another troubling issue: If I wasn't a Christian (which I had already decided) and I wasn't an athiest...what was I?

At first, I embraced pacifism. I would not squish even a single ant, and I would not harm a living being unless I was at risk of death.

Somehow, 'pacifist' (though I didn't actually *call* myself a pacifist until much, much later) didn't really fill the kettle.

I wanted something more.

Abandoning my 'polythiest' phase, the next step was to spend several years as a non-thiest. I was not an athiest, I was not a Christian, I simply did not consider myself 'religious' one way or the other.

Fast-forward to my 17th year of life.

My brother is moving out, and since I am a voracious reader, he gives me the books that he won't have room for in his new apartment.

Among them was, of all things, Scott Cunningham's 'Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practictioner'.

Finally, it was time for my journey to end. After many years of self-doubt and confusion, this one book clarified all that I had been feeling, codifying it into one simple volume.

After I'd read it once, I read it again. I imagined myself sitting before an altar in my room, or meditating under the light of the moon, and it felt *right*.

These days, I'm not 'out of the broom closet'; only my closest friends and family know, or at least suspect.

My room currently doesn't have room for the dreamed-about altar, so all my ritual gear is sitting in a drawer waiting on the day.

Every so often, though, I look back at my bookshelf and remember that one essay that started this entire journey.

Perhaps my faith journey *has* ended. Perhaps it's only changed tracks for a while.

I know not -- and care not -- which.

British Columbia
Parents raised me as Christian.
Left when I was 14 years old
Was Christian
Now Pagan/Wiccan
Converted because of Parental guidance
De-converted for Personal reasons


brigid said...

Bernard, hi. I get to be your first comment.

Perhaps I am trivializing your quotes, but we create gods in our own image. Tell me the god you believe in, and I'll tell you what kind of person you are. It takes about 5 seconds.

I am a former catholic, and I quit when I found the truth about christianity's bloody history; the persection of jews and heretics; the murders of witches; the torture. These things come out of twisted minds, and are called gods. I still shudder inside when ever I pass a church.

I am an atheist and a lesbian, and happy to be both. Oh, and I have more wiccan friends than you can poke a stick at. I do hope you will be comfortable here. Bye.

Dan (Rationalist) said...

Every time I'm about to utter a silent prayer to God to make something happen, I remind myself that the breath spent talking to an imaginary being, could be better spent telling myself that I will try with all my might to make it happen.

We don't need crosses, symbols, icons, alters, costumes, chants, rosaries, churches, creeds or religions. Everything we need is within us.
Dan (Rationalist)

Lsettr said...

"Everything we need is within us."
Dan had a very good point. I have friends of many faiths. I consider myself a practicing druid, though I know some that are different than myself and call themselves the same. I see the spirit as the source of all divine. In all of my readings of religion, even in the holy books, the authors express an inner feeling of their deity (including Christianity). As my mother said, "Jesus is knockin at yer heart."'s my own conscience and my own feelings. You just give it a name, mom.

I suppose my post comes down to this: The energy around us and the divinity around and within us - it all comes from us. That in and of itself is wonderful, no matter how you want to label it : God, Goddess, etc. Considering you seem young to this, my biggest advice is not to get caught up in names.

And yes, I have found Salvatore's philosophical musings through his characters to be amazingly close to home for a lot of people. Glad to see another enthusiast out here.

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