This past year I’ve undergone a crisis of faith. This isn’t the first time this has happened.
Freshman year of college, I had a mini-breakdown and afterward I couldn’t stand to even think about my Gods, let alone pray or practice my faith. I was hurt and broken and lost.
At this point I feel I should clarify one thing. When I say that I had a crisis of faith, I don’t mean that I stopped believing. Not at all. Over the course of my short existence on this planet, I have had too many experiences that proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my Gods exist and they were looking after me. No, it wasn’t that I didn’t believe, but rather that I had reached such a point of despair that I no longer felt the comfort of their divine presence. Lacking this comfort I felt hollow and dead inside. I no longer wanted to pray and hold ritual. Although on a deeper level, I knew my Gods would never abandon me, I felt abandoned.
This feeling didn’t last very long. After about a month, I found myself on a Samhain retreat with the Pagan student group at my college. The evening’s ritual changed everything. All the anger, pain and despair that I was feeling was carried away by the transforming powers of ritual. I was reborn and I came out of the crisis more faith-full than ever.
I hadn’t had another crisis until this last year. Again, it’s not that I stopped believing, but that I’ve felt a distance between myself and my Gods. For awhile I couldn’t discern why I felt so far away. So I asked myself, what is the difference now and then? What changed?
It took me a while to figure out what it was. And it wasn’t just one thing, but a combination of things.
The main difference was that I had ceased to observe the Sabbats. Prior to starting college and after moving out of my mother’s house, I celebrated my new-found freedom of religion by actively practicing my faith and I religiously (heh heh, see what I did there?) observed every holy day. I regularly hung out in nature–praying, meditating, and engaging with the Divine. But all that ceased once I started school.
Major holidays always fell around midterms and finals. There was also the fact that there weren’t a lot of private places to practice. Several times I tried to go out to the woods or some other semi-secluded spot, but people would just show up everywhere. Needless to say, my rituals turned to quiet acknowledgments which turned to “oh, is it the equinox?” and “Imbolc snuck up on me yet again! I used to think that it didn’t matter. Ritual is nice and all, but a modern Pagan’s life is busy and the Gods’ll forgive me and it’s okay as long as I keep them in my heart, am i rite?
This brings me to the next bit. I took my relationship with my Gods for granted. My relationship with the Goddess was strong because I nurtured it. Through prayer and ritual I kept it alive and when I felt distant from Her it was because my neglect created the distance. It’s all so simple, but it took me several months to figure it out.
Even after college and acquiring my own apartment, I never managed to return to that level of devotion that I previously possessed. I became too lazy, too complacent. Never mind that I felt wretched in my soul.
So now that I identified the problem, what is the next step? How do I rebuild that connection with the Divine? Can I really just pull my altar out of storage, light some candles and begin over?
In my next post, I will lay out my current plans to reconnect with the Earth and tap into my dormant spirituality.