Kestrel's Nest

My Spiritual Journey

I wrote the following originally in response to a Christian minister who asked me to explain my path. Since then it has been amended and expanded as my awareness and my understanding increased.

I was brought up somewhat half-heartedly within the Church of England. My father, bless him, had no religion except that he felt society expected him to be CofE so he was CofE though he saw no reason why that should extend to him actually going to a church except on social occasions. My mother, on the other hand, saw to it that I did go regularly with her on Sundays, attended Sunday school &c. By the time it came for my Confirmation I had serious doubts. I didn't want to go through the ceremony but my mother, clearly concerned for me, virtually coerced me into doing so on the grounds that 'I couldn't get married if I wasn't confirmed'. I reluctantly agreed but my heart wasn't in it. For a while I paid lip service to the ideas but I had real problems. Firstly the whole thing was so alien to me. This was about a preacher from a different culture and a far away place. It didn't speak to me. I never accepted the control either - that was the worst. I don't enjoy being told what I can and cannot do. The whole guilt-ridden control-freak aspect of Christianity turned me right off. The Pagan concept of 'An it harm none' speaks to me. I couldn't see anything better in other religions either. They all seemed to have the same ideas of guilt, fear and control. And they all believed they were the only true religion and all their opponents would have eternal torments in the fires of hell or whatever the equivalent was. Lovely. My studies of history only showed that the proponents of the major religions all spent most of their time fighting against other religions and between themselves, and that was continuing up to the present day - Ireland, Palestine, Armenia, Serbia, the Sudan - need I go on?

But I always knew there was a truth at the centre. I felt a divine presence at times and I understood it to be that. But I felt it was here - it was now - not 2000 years ago in Palestine or 5000 years ago on Mount Sinai or 1400 years ago in Mecca or however many years ago under a bodhi-tree. It is here - it is now. So for a while I had the intellectual conceit of being a sceptical deist, a phrase I got from my studies of eighteenth century history. That fitted for a while until not so long ago - just over a decade - though it seems more like a century - my world collapsed round my ears and forced me to face myself - what I was - where I was - and what I believed in. It took me three years of that decade to get to find my path, and I'm still learning.

It took me a few years to find my feet, gather knowledge, and gain understanding. I went through many stages, exploring different Pagan traditions, finding what worked for me, what made some sense and what didn't. My final revelation came when I broke through my dualist upbringing and finally understood the key to my understanding of the universe, in the primary concept of Animism, that spirit and matter are simply forms of the one energy that pervades the whole of existence, the conscious energy of life itself.

So what do I believe in? What I can feel, literally and metaphysically. I have opened myself to the web of life. I know that humanity has no special place of control in the universe. Each being, whether man, animal, tree, rock or insect has its place in the web of life. Spirit and body are both forms of energy and are indivisible. Gods, if that's what you want to call them, are beings a little more powerful than others; but the divine is the whole, the web of life, the Goddess as some call it, Universal Consciousness itself. We are all part of the divine, we all contact one another in the web. 'What loves, loves me, What kills, kills me'. Some Pagans declare 'Thou art God(dess)!'. The implication being, that being part of the divine whole we are all divine. There is truth in that. Now, being in connection with the web, I know I have found my spiritual home. My practice only increases that connection with time. I am not alone, I am not a unity of my own, I am a part of the divine whole. What I do sends ripples through the web as a stone in a pond. We are all interconnected. If I do harm I do harm to myself as much as to others. If I act well, then I do good to myself as well as others. That is true karma. There is no death, only dissolution from one form of energy to another. There is no heaven and hell. Both are here and will be found in such measure as the way we live our lives. And if this life is painful, by having a good connection the next may well be better. The chain of birth, death and rebirth is endless. That is why I am a Pagan and an Animist.

Blessings of Land, Sea and Sky,
Angela Kestrel

© Angela Grant 2009-2012

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