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Author Topic: After the thwap...maintaining the faith  (Read 5046 times)
Aster Breo
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« Topic Start: November 27, 2009, 11:31:20 pm »

Once you've been thwapped or had some other kind of experience that coalesces and solidifies your faith, how do you keep that faith going?

Although there seem to be a high concentration of "thwappees" here on TC, I think we'd probably agree that, even for people who have been thwapped, frequent or constant communication from deity is unusual.

So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?
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« Reply #1: November 28, 2009, 05:39:04 am »

For myself I learned that it's not always important if you have been "really thwapped" or if you just had a getting-to-know-phase with a specific deity. What's more important for me is the question where I need the deity in my life right now, where I'm spending time with her/his kind of work, what I need to learn from the (maybe only subjective-imagined) experience of the deity right now.

I guess if you're considering a dedication it's much more important to ask yourself if there's really a thwapping, but if you only want to spend time with a deity it doesn't matter so much IMO. I don't have to maintain faith in a thwap, enjoying a deity's energy and kind of work can be enough.
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« Reply #2: November 28, 2009, 01:01:19 pm »


The thwap I got from Kwan Yin was mostly a "Yes, dummy, you're Buddhist" message. It wasn't so much a "You're mine, do as I say," more a "you're right, this is what you're looking for, so stop poking around at other things and study, ok?" The very fact that the dream caused me to research tells me that she was more interested in letting me know I was on the right track, than in "claiming" me. She knows I love research and study, so she prodded me into doing more of it--but in the right direction, this time. And, in the process, I solidified my very deep-seated (and repressed for many years) desire to enter the healthcare field. "She Who Hears the Cries of the World" is, in my experience, a patron of those who do so right here on this planet--the medical professionals, paraprofessionals, and others who labor to help and heal.

Whoa. Little soapbox there. Sorry--that's been happening of late. At least this time I twigged to it before I wrote an essay. :-)
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« Reply #3: November 28, 2009, 02:28:55 pm »

Once you've been thwapped or had some other kind of experience that coalesces and solidifies your faith, how do you keep that faith going?

Although there seem to be a high concentration of "thwappees" here on TC, I think we'd probably agree that, even for people who have been thwapped, frequent or constant communication from deity is unusual.

So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?


Excellent question.
I was always a bit sceptic? mmh, no wrong word, reluctant? yeah more like it, when I've read about people and their thwapping stories.
Not that I didn't believe it. I wondered more about the willingness to accept an entity's claim, that said 'you're mine.'

I've never had anything like that happening to me. Not a clear message, not a thunder and lightning thingy.
What I think that She did (and I could be so totally wrong about what I think) is just being there from the start on. And whenever I thought I called on this or that goddess, she stepped softly in the way and it was her (well, one or two exceptions maybe.)

I never knew, I never was sure. It kinda dawned on me very, very slowly and then someday - while driving home from work and pondering about a thread here - I found myself thinking, what I never thought I would think: I belong to Dana. And it felt right and good and ok.

What after that?
Nothing special, like the years before. She is present. Period.
I don't feel her demanding or pushing.

Do I have doubts? Funny thing is - no.
Maybe this is because all this has been this way all my life long - constant and unobtrusive. *shrugs*
(I still try to figure out how to work out a regular practice of devotion/connection rituals or whatever.)
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« Reply #4: November 28, 2009, 05:02:23 pm »

For myself I learned that it's not always important if you have been "really thwapped" or if you just had a getting-to-know-phase with a specific deity. What's more important for me is the question where I need the deity in my life right now, where I'm spending time with her/his kind of work, what I need to learn from the (maybe only subjective-imagined) experience of the deity right now.

This.

Being thwapped does not matter.  Not fundamentally.  Not in the grand scheme of things.  Not any more than whether or not the experience was "real" matters.  The factuality of the experience is the least important part of the experience; the more important thing is reacting to it sanely, in a reality-based context, and genuinely.

If one has a genuine conversion or calling experience (however one wants to call it), it doesn't require handholding and reassurance from the presence of a god; I would think that someone who 'loses faith' or what have you when they don't have that sort of feedback probably didn't have much faith to begin with.

My conversion experience was one of "OH, that's the system I want to work with."  At which point I started working with it, because it was what I wanted.  It's like falling in love; the desire to invest is there after the experience.  And yeah, like love relationships sometimes one slacks off on stuff that feels peripheral to the relationship, like doing the dishes, but.
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« Reply #5: November 28, 2009, 05:48:08 pm »

Once you've been thwapped or had some other kind of experience that coalesces and solidifies your faith, how do you keep that faith going?

Although there seem to be a high concentration of "thwappees" here on TC, I think we'd probably agree that, even for people who have been thwapped, frequent or constant communication from deity is unusual.

So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?

First, my contact with deities is extremely limited, basically one culture and one deity and one doubtful set of assumptions.  I mean, I've encountered others, but not in any concrete more that a nod in passing or message to a relative way.  So I don't mean to apply my views to people with nicer or closer relationships.

But:

In between 'contacts' I am perfectly happy to be forgotten, and to forget.  I believe that people are much happier when the gods don't mess with them, when the gods deal with god-kind and the humans deal with human-kind.  There are few things i would turn to a god for if there were a human available instead - they understand and speak from a not-alien perspective and generally make more sense than gods.  Gods may see the big picture, but the tiny part of it I will see in my three-score-and-ten doesn't require that kind of cosmic perspective.

There is a quote I am probably mangling here, something like 'Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.'.  I believe that those they love they make mad as well, eventually if not immediately.  Maybe you have to be mad to have true understanding of divinity, but I am pretty comfortable with sanity.  People who are 'advanced' in spirit, or rather, the limited group of them that I know (certain elders and teachers I go to for various reasons) always seem to be listening to a radio I can't hear, or looking sort-of past whatever they are meant to be looking at - as if it takes a real effort to be here now.  I've had brief experiences with that state and don't think it's healthy, although I concede that sometimes it's necessary.

So, I never have a problem with loss of faith.  I think it would take a major psychotic break for me to 'not' believe what I do.  Forgettance of faith is a nice vacation I take whenever I can.  I don't doubt or object to the gods' existence, I just don't want them living in my pocket.  (or me in theirs, even though their pockets are probably bigger than mine)

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« Reply #6: November 29, 2009, 04:13:29 pm »

My conversion experience was one of "OH, that's the system I want to work with."  At which point I started working with it, because it was what I wanted.  It's like falling in love; the desire to invest is there after the experience.  And yeah, like love relationships sometimes one slacks off on stuff that feels peripheral to the relationship, like doing the dishes, but.

(This is really a response to the whole thread so far, but I'm going to hang it here because of the other things Darkhawks says here.)

The posts so far seem to break down between people who have been "called" (for want of a better word -- I'm not really so concerned here with the terminology as with the concepts) to specific deities and people who have been called to specific paths or systems.  That's a big difference, to me.

In my case, my calling is to a deity, and there is no specific system that goes along with that calling.  For a while, I tried to be a CR, but it just really doesn't work for me.  So, for me, my faith is in Brighid, specifically, rather than in (for example) the tenets and practices of some kind of traditional Celtic religion or spirituality.  Because I'm dedicated to Brighid, there are certain characteristics I strive to either respect or reflect -- because they are characteristics that are important to Brighid.  But that's a long way from a belief system.

Does this matter?  Is it different somehow to maintain faith in a specific deity than to maintain faith in a religious system?

Or is it even faith in a deity that I'm talking about...?  As I write this, I know that I haven't lost faith in Brighid at all.  But, as Darkhawk hinted at when she talked about doing the dishes, it's more that my relationship with Brighid has changed.  Which isn't at all surprising, of course, but does present new challenges.

I've been married for 25 years, and I totally understand that relationships -- even very intense ones -- evolve.  More to the point, they move past that initial phase where everything is exciting and new, and they settle down into that day-to-day pattern where you know you can rely on each other because you're always there for each other.

The problem is that a spouse is very much visible and audible.  Cheesy  Most deities are not -- at least, not most of the time.

I struggle with that.  And I didn't struggle with that pre-thwap.  I was perfectly happy with my little flametending rituals and prayers and whatnot.  But once I heard Her voice, and then haven't for so long, I struggle with...I guess...wondering if I've failed in some way or if She's displeased with me, or something like that.

Darkhawk also said:
If one has a genuine conversion or calling experience (however one wants to call it), it doesn't require handholding and reassurance from the presence of a god; I would think that someone who 'loses faith' or what have you when they don't have that sort of feedback probably didn't have much faith to begin with.

I'm not sure I completely agree.  For me, I think the question is what I need reassurance about, whether that's a legitimate need, and how to get it.

I haven't lost faith in Brighid's existence or anything like that.  I've "lost faith" -- if that's even the right phrase -- with my ability to know if I'm doing what She wants.  She isn't telling me anymore -- at least, not in the same way She once did.

Probably, I should just trust that She would tell me if I was doing something wrong.  And I should probably just enjoy the "vacation", as Marilyn suggests.

How do others deal with this?
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« Reply #7: November 29, 2009, 09:27:14 pm »


Probably, I should just trust that She would tell me if I was doing something wrong.  And I should probably just enjoy the "vacation", as Marilyn suggests.

How do others deal with this?

Maybe She trusts that you already know what She wants.  You've been following Her for a long time, after all.  Just a random thought  Smiley
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« Reply #8: February 02, 2010, 03:22:35 pm »



So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?

Well, with my coven, I am in circle at least 21 times a year, so a full ritual is never more than a couple of weeks away.

At the rest of the time, I am a big practitioner of gratefulness; so I am constantly aware of the little blessings I have every day in my life, and tend to send my gratitude to the gods on a daily basis. I often kid that the gods are responsible for my good parking karma...... but, who is to say they're not?

Also daily, my other spiritual practices (Tai Chi, meditation, etc) allow me to maintain a certain level of connection to my gods.  Gards kid that we are hardwired to the gods at initiation, and once that bond is formed, it takes real effort to ignore.
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« Reply #9: February 02, 2010, 08:18:20 pm »

What after that?
Nothing special, like the years before. She is present. Period.
I don't feel her demanding or pushing.

Do I have doubts? Funny thing is - no.
Maybe this is because all this has been this way all my life long - constant and unobtrusive. *shrugs*
(I still try to figure out how to work out a regular practice of devotion/connection rituals or whatever.)

This is such an interesting thread to me... I've had a couple really clear, really powerful experiences of a deity (same god both times) with random, rare little moments of "presence" every now and again over the years but didn't consider it a thwapping. I've not deciphered the identity of this god, or even a clear idea of the pantheon. I feel like I should know by now who He is, but it just hasn't been clear. But I absolutely believe He's still there, just not making himself known - I've not felt any doubts about that.

I just posted another thread about an expectation of an intimate and personal relationship with deities, and I'm seeing that I need to reevaluate what a real, meaningful relationship with a deity (or deities) might look like in daily life, or even over the course of a year or a lifetime.
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« Reply #10: February 02, 2010, 08:21:46 pm »

  I've not deciphered the identity of this god, or even a clear idea of the pantheon. I feel like I should know by now who He is, but it just hasn't been clear. But I absolutely believe He's still there, just not making himself known - I've not felt any doubts about that. 

As a slight aside to this thread, would the identity of this god be an appropriate question to ask in divination? Or no?
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« Reply #11: February 02, 2010, 10:20:37 pm »

As a slight aside to this thread, would the identity of this god be an appropriate question to ask in divination? Or no?

I don't see why it wouldn't be. 

I knew it was Brighid in my life because of the way She made Herself known through the research I was doing.  But if I hadn't known, I definitely would have tried divination to find out.

Another way I've "met" Brighid is through a meditation technique called Active Imagination.  I've found AI to be really useful.  (There's a lot of info on the online, if you're interested.)
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« Reply #12: February 19, 2010, 06:08:41 pm »

Once you've been thwapped or had some other kind of experience that coalesces and solidifies your faith, how do you keep that faith going?

Although there seem to be a high concentration of "thwappees" here on TC, I think we'd probably agree that, even for people who have been thwapped, frequent or constant communication from deity is unusual.

So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?

I am sure 100% it was real and I didn't imagine it. I keep the belief strong because, it just is. I definitely feel remiss in not making offerings at all or by not keeping a regular contact, however we make huge headway which holds over a long time which does not change. The approach I take in my life is most important in my success in achieving my goals. The advice and wisdom I gain helps me in my daily life. I feel I ought to honor her, and the god, more frequently and regularly and uphold my promises, however I am always fighting my time management and time-committment impediments, which are my focus in life to correct. My offering to her is the actions I take in life, the way I live my life, my life itself.
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« Reply #13: February 20, 2010, 02:53:01 am »

So, how do you keep your beliefs strong? How do you deal with the inevitable questioning -- was it really real or did I imagine it?

I've never really questioned it too much-the one time that I did, I kind of went deaf for a few days after the telling off I got for doubting. I guess that I am lucky, I don't doubt that my belief is right (for me) and that is a great comfort when things get rough. I know that my Patron is there-I know it mind and body, heart and soul.  Smiley
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« Reply #14: February 26, 2010, 12:40:02 am »

The posts so far seem to break down between people who have been "called" (for want of a better word -- I'm not really so concerned here with the terminology as with the concepts) to specific deities and people who have been called to specific paths or systems.  That's a big difference, to me.

I got a strong thwap from Wepwawet fairly close to when I first became pagan. In my case, there was no expectation of an exclusive relationship, or even an exclusive relationship to His pantheon. In fact, I think it's been quite the contrary. (It's also worth noting that by the time I met him, I was already honoring deities from three different pantheons, one of them being Egyptian.) I do His work in His honor, or at least try to. I would do this work anyway, as I also strongly feel that it's mine.

There has also been mutual resonance with the other deities I honor, including some simply deciding to stick around. I'm closest to Wepwawet, but I don't consider Him my patron. In some ways, He has the first "claim" to me deity-wise, but He's very, very relaxed about it.

My path has been (and continues to be) a process of exploration and synthesis, generally self-driven. Wepwawet seems to think some parts of it are neat, the same way He thinks some other not-path things in my life are neat. Still, the impetus for seeking has come from me.

To answer the actual *question*, faith actually hasn't been much of a problem for me. I don't consider doubt to be a failure, incidentally. I'm used to a certain baseline level of doubt about my general "broke-open-head-ness", and I figure if it's not affecting my life negatively, I'm probably alright. Also there have been assorted shared personal gnosis bits that help.

I make offerings to Wepwawet most of all, and I feel His presence fairly often. I don't get actual directions on what to be doing very often, beyond the overall original thwap. As I said in another thread, awhile back I got a fairly clear (as in took me 3 months to interpret it because I can be silly) message to focus on opening the way for myself for the moment. A couple of weeks ago, I got the sense that it was time to focus on opening the way for others as well as myself again.
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