By Stephanie Donald—Editor, LGBT-Today
For everyone in the LGBT community, approaching the subject of spiritual beliefs is always a situation that causes diametrically opposed opinions.
For most in our community, they choose a life of agnostic or atheistic beliefs and that’s fine if it serves them through their lives. The biggest problem with agnostics and atheists, however, is that they tend to poke fun at those who have spiritual beliefs and degrade religious people who have found a balance in their own lives.
Let’s back-up for a minute and define the huge difference between spirituality and religion.
Religion is a dogmatic and designed to force the followers to think, live, act and raise their family in a very strict way, which passes this dogma from generation to generation until questioning, “Why?” to any part of that dogma is lost. You pretty much just do what your minister tells you because your parents taught you to, because their parents taught them to do the same, etc. The Catholic Church is a very good example of how 1,600 of strict dogma can influence a huge chunk of the Earth’s population toward issues like birth control, abortion and LGBT rights.
Spirituality is something that is a deeply personal belief, derived from a lifetime of asking one’s self the questions that are fundamental to walking the path of truth. Any intelligent person should ask themselves, “Does this sound true to me and if it does/does not, then why?”
Over the last year, I’ve seen wonderful YouTube videos by young people who have defined these differences and condemned the dogma of hate-based religions. These are wonderfully affirming glimpses of intelligent insight about their own spirituality while telling everyone that it’s okay to think freely and believe what you want. The down-side is he still wants to use his views to sell you his books and videos.
Most people are probably reading this thinking that I’m going to tell you what to believe in. That’s exactly what I’m not going to do.
I can tell you what I believe in but my path through life is not meant for everyone to travel. I’m a Wiccan. Some people call us witches. I prefer to think of my belief as a deeply spiritual relationship with the universe and our Mother Earth.
How did I come about this epiphany? It began when I was 12-years-old in 1967 and began to realize my sexuality. Here in Florida I was surrounded with bible-thumpers who stressed the evil of homosexuality. Those were the days long before the Christian fundamentalists had taken their first steps into major political party control. I had listened intently to their condemnations of not only my secret sexuality, not having the courage yet to come out, and also the constant and harsh rants of bigotry against the African-American community. As much as their condemnation of homosexuality, I was constantly angered by their prattle of racial bigotry.
One time I was with some older friends in their car (that was being nice because it was a rust bucket that barely qualified as a car) to Melbourne Beach to go surfing and on the way home we broke down in front a quaint, old riverfront house with a curious British woman sitting on the front steps as if she were waiting for us to arrive. She invited us in to use the phone and the inside of her house was like a scene from a Robert Bloch horror novel.
She introduced herself as Sybil Leek and she even had a pet Jackdaw (a large variety of crow) named Mr. Hotfoot Jackson. My friends were terrified and decided to wait out by the car to be picked up. I asked to stay inside and look at her books and other objects of art. Sybil was more than happy to answer my questions and I had many. When my friends’ parents arrived, Sybil offered to take me home herself.
Sybil was one of the premiere witches of our time. She had definite opinions about the Pagan and Wiccan spirituality that would have impacts that are still felt today. She was also something of a media-whore, grabbing headlines when and where she could. She was the only person who accurately predicted the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
From that summer day forward, Sybil and I became friends until her death just before All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), October 26, 1982. I learned as much as I could from her and she set me on the path of my own spiritual awakening.
The concept about a spiritual awakening is that it doesn’t matter if you believe in God, Allah, Buddha, Krishna or Gaia. It’s your journey down the path towards truth and my truth is not your truth, therefore I have no business teaching you my truth. I can relate stories that stirred me toward my truth but it’s up to you to decide if these stories make a difference to you.
The only bit of advice I can relate is don’t let someone dictate your beliefs to you and never criticize someone else’s beliefs unless those beliefs violate yours.
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