Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chapter 2 Exercise from book Paganism, page 57

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Paganism by Joyce & River Higginbotham

Take several sheets of paper and mark them as the following.  Go to a quiet place.  What did you believe as a child?  Areas to include are beliefs about yourself, your body, your parents, God, religion, school, responsibility, guilt, sex, what makes you a good or bad person, and what is expected of you.  Do the same for the "teenager," "young adult," and "me now" categories.  

Childhood Beliefs
yourself: I am very special.
your body: It helped me to play hard.
your parents: I had the best Mommy & Daddy in the world.
God: the Father of Jesus
religion: Catholicism. I knew the "Hail Mary" at 4 and it was my favorite prayer.
school: I loved school until I starting getting bullied all the time. Then I hated school
responsibility: I have to make straight A's
guilt: I thought I was "bad" a lot of the time
sex: I thought that sex was gross.
what makes you a good or bad person: Lying, being gay, cheating, being mean to others, hurting a child or animal, and murder make you a bad person.
what is expected of me: to make straight A's.

Teenager Beliefs

yourself: I don't deserve to live. I came out to my mom once and she told me I was wrong. I gave up arguing with her.
your body: is worthless (post-rape trauma).
your parents: I hate them.
God: I'm not sure there is one. I don't believe in Holy Communion or Reconciliation (Confession). I hate going to Mass.
religion: Catholic, but only by force.
school: I hated school. I tried killing myself at school once.
responsibility: I'm not sure.
guilt: Religious guilt, rape-survivor's guilt. Guilt over being a self-injurer-something I kept praying to be able to stop but couldn't.
sex: I thought it was supposed to be better than what I'd experienced
what makes you a good or bad person: committing suicide, stealing, hurting a child or animal, murder, cheating makes you a bad person
what is expected of me: to get scholarships to college

Rosary and Blessed Virgin Mary
Young Adult Beliefs

yourself: No one would love me if they really knew me.  I came out to my mom and she refused to believe I am not straight.
your body: I gained a lot of body self-esteem back when I lost a lot of weight.
your parents: were massively involved in every aspect of my life. I didn't realize the abuse that was going on then, I thought it was all normal.
God: the Father, Jesus the Son, Mary the Mother of God, and Joseph, the step-father of Jesus.
religion: hardcore Catholic. I depended on God to answer my prayers and to do all good things.
school: I knew I belonged in school but jumped around from college to college.
responsibility: I was responsible for being the best Catholic I could be and making good grades in college
guilt: if I didn't pray enough or trust it all in God.
sex: is supposed to be for marriage, but if I do everything but sex I'm not sinning.
what makes you a good or bad person: someone who pretends to be a good Catholic and isn't is a bad person because they are a hypocrite.  Murder, cheating, hurting a child or animal, and stealing are also signs of a bad person.
what is expected of me: to finish college with good grades and to be a good Catholic.

Me Now Beliefs

yourself: I feel so special because DH tells me all the time that I am
your body: is breaking down from my many disabilities but I love it, because my body is trying her hardest to put up the biggest fight she can
your parents: I had the Order of Protection against them (it's a restraining order on steroids) but it expired. Now I just hope that they don't find me.
God: I know believe in the Goddess and the God, and I'm still learning more about them both
religion: Paganism, not even a year yet
school: getting my Masters degree in Professional Writing
responsibility: I get to take responsibility for my own actions, instead of waiting on the Christian God to fix everything.
guilt: I feel "bad" a lot from the years of abuse.
sex: In a monogamous relationship I finally feel safe and happy about sex
what makes you a good or bad person: cheating, stealing, hurting a child or animal, squatting in someone's house and refusing to leave are the signs of a bad person.
what is expected of me: to graduate with my Masters degree

Blessed Be!

After you have finished your sheets take a look at them.  Are there any patterns?  What beliefs haven't changed since childhood?  Pick one or two of the most important of these and write them down separately.  Where did these beliefs come from, and why do you believe they are true, and what influences brought you and now keep you with these beliefs?  Do you think these beliefs are positive or negative for you?  How do they free you and how do they limit you?

One thing that didn't change since childhood is that bad people hurt animals and children, they cheat, and they steal.  Another thing I noticed is that at any time in my life I'm in school and striving for better grades.  I don't think I'm a perfectionist, I think I'm just an academic nerd.  I think these beliefs came from the environment I was raised in.  I've also had a disdain about any kind of cheating my entire life; though I have cheated on homework a couple of times, I wasn't proud.  I believe that these beliefs are positive for me.  They do not feel limiting; I find them to be moral and ethical beliefs.

Now take a look at the beliefs that have changed dramatically from your childhood to now.  Write them down separately.  What happened to bring about these changes?  What were the people, influences, and events that were relevant to these changes?  How did you arrive at your current beliefs?  Do you think they are positive or negative for you?  How do they free you and how do they limit you?

The most dramatic belief change is going from Catholicism to Paganism.  The other one is the relationship with my parents.  I had been losing faith in Catholicism for quite some time.  Then, when my mother had a priest pray over me because of my "evil" ways I went to another priest and asked him if I was still welcome in the Catholic Church.  It came up that I'm pro-gay rights and that pissed the priest off.  It turns out I'm not welcome in the Catholic Church.  This felt very negative at first.  After quite a journey I ended up being a Pagan.  I find this to be a positive experience, I just wish I left Catholicism on better terms.  I feel much freer  happier, and less guilty, being a Pagan.  The reason I had to get an Order of Protection against my parents was for "adult abuse and stalking."  It was a painful experience, but I'm all the better for having them out of my life.  It limits me on going to my parents town, but I don't want to go there anyway, so it doesn't matter.

Three witches celebrating the full moon

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