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Author Topic: Labelling or giving my religion or path a name...  (Read 5102 times)
Tj
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« Topic Start: June 21, 2008, 05:07:33 am »

There are some question that you just don't know how to answer sometimes. Most of the time they are things like "how do you know her?" or smthg of that sort. To me it is "what religion r u?" or "what is ur spiritual path" or smth, really.

the issue is not that i have a confusion about my beliefs and where they lie, on the contrary. I have a very nice and fully developed spirituality, I am a phil major and read a lot of religious and philosophical stuff. The issue is i am afraid to step on toes.

Let me explain. After a long search, i finally arrived at what seemed to be a spirituality that is my own (in some sense) and made sense to me.  If i where to "label" my religious beliefs i would say 'Daoist Shaman' is the closest i can get. The Daoist part i do not have much of an issue with, since when i read daoist philosophy it was like the guy was writing was was in my head, it was scary. (Note: as a student of the ancient eastern philosophies i see religion as more of a spiritual practice of philosophical beliefs or smthg of the sort).

My issue is the shaman part. I am afraid to step on a LOT of toes here, and be misunderstood at best (i have poorly designed RPG's to thank for that). I am an animist at heart, left to my own will i follow a daoist way of life, and i converse with spirits as a part of my daily rituals etc. I ask them for advice, help anything. My oldest and dearest friend is the wind spirit. Or one of them, i have strange feeling there is more than 1 there. And i think this plays an important part in my spirituality. Closest thing i can find is "shaman" so should i continue to use it. What should i tell people i am a "shaman" a "daoist shaman" a "pagan" i have no idea, anyone like to help?


Note: two things, i realise that a) labels are not important and b) i seem to be confusing religion, philosophy and spirituality. for (a) i say i am aware but i like to have a lable anyways. and for (b) i say, yes yes, i promise you its not a confusion, this arises from the fact that a lot of my core beliefs stem from ancient eastern tradition of philosophy. Most of whom do not differentiate between religion and philosophy. To me religion = spiritual sytem build on philosophical belief sytem and its practice. or smthg close to that.

-Tj
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« Reply #1: June 21, 2008, 06:10:07 am »

There are some question that you just don't know how to answer sometimes. Most of the time they are things like "how do you know her?" or smthg of that sort. To me it is "what religion r u?" or "what is ur spiritual path" or smth, really.

Hmm, for whom you really need a label?
I know that especially on this board there are a lot of very different paths and people are very creative to name them or to explain themselves via this label.

But honestly? Is it so important?

If somebody asks you: What is your religion?
The answer depends imho from the fact who is asking.

If somebody just wants to know if I'm christian - I answer 'No.'
If they want to know what I'm then - I sometimes say: 'Witch' or 'earthspiritual'
If then they still want to know more, then you can explain in detail.

All the details of your path will never fit in a single short description. Plus to a lot of people - outside this board - terms like: Daoist - Shaman - Wicca - Witch and so on don't make sense anyway or are associated with something you don't agree on. Thus you would have to explain even more.

Just my 2 cent Smiley
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« Reply #2: June 21, 2008, 08:35:38 am »

My issue is the shaman part. I am afraid to step on a LOT of toes here, and be misunderstood at best (i have poorly designed RPG's to thank for that). I am an animist at heart, left to my own will i follow a daoist way of life, and i converse with spirits as a part of my daily rituals etc. I ask them for advice, help anything. My oldest and dearest friend is the wind spirit.

On does not need to be a shaman to talk to spirits. Shamanism is a specific way of dealing with spirits, not the only way. Many religions have methods for doing so. Shinto is one an example of a religion with lots of spirit interaction (with probably millions of spirits) but that is not shamanism. In other words, just because you pray to/talk to spirits does not mean you need to put "Shamanism" in your label.
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« Reply #3: June 21, 2008, 09:06:09 am »

The issue is i am afraid to step on toes.

There will always be someone who takes offence at something, usually something you wouldn't think would cause offence.  My advice is to be comfortable with what you call yourself and know the reason why.
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Tj
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« Reply #4: June 21, 2008, 02:07:21 pm »

On does not need to be a shaman to talk to spirits. Shamanism is a specific way of dealing with spirits, not the only way. Many religions have methods for doing so. Shinto is one an example of a religion with lots of spirit interaction (with probably millions of spirits) but that is not shamanism. In other words, just because you pray to/talk to spirits does not mean you need to put "Shamanism" in your label.

I realise this, as someone who has searched through various religions for a way to validate or explain my beliefs and experiances (in the end, is that not what religion is all about). On this board most people know the subtle differences between the various paths, since we have all gone through such explorations. Who is the name for, of course its for me. You know its funny how dependent we are on names. For 19 years i gave no name to the spirit that helped me through everything (i know him for as long as i remember anything), but to me naming is a way of vailidating things, so now he has a name. I know it's strange, trust me I do. The spirits make fun of my dependance on names enough for me to know.

As for your point with shamanism. You are right, but primitive shamanism is pretty much how i practice my path, without the whole "my tribe depending on me" thing. My first introduction to the spirits was via shamanism (anthro class). And it made so much sense. Of course I practice my own way of conversing with the spirits. But my first exposure to the world of spirits was via shamanic techniques (albiet probably poorly performed ones) that i still use. Thus the label. Plus it cushions the blow somewhat, rather than telling people "my praying involves talking to the trees and nature and all the spirits" or something like that.

I tend to be am honest person, and a lot of times I find a need to tell people something the spirits have told me, simple stuff like "it will rain tommorow pretty bad". More often that not, weather network does not say so, and I was right. So when asked "hey howdja know?" i wanna tell people the truth. Maybe if I do this with a lot of people a couple will start to appreciate the intelligence outside humanity. Maybe some of them will start to respect and feel for the trees as they do a fellow human. i tried "the cloud told me" that was taken as a joke, most of my roommates now understand my spirituality takes me close to paths like shamanism, that involve seeking aid and guidance from spirits, so i say smthg like "i was praying and i got told so". Strangely enough this is more acceptable to people, probably due to the exposure to today's youth of techniques and spiritualities like shamanism.

Anyways sorry for the ramble, my point is in there somewhere i promise...lol.

-Tj
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« Reply #5: June 21, 2008, 07:54:41 pm »

You are right, but primitive shamanism is pretty much how i practice my path, without the whole "my tribe depending on me" thing.

If you take out the "my tribe depending on me" part of the equation, you've lost a very fundamental part of shamanism.  The traditional role of the shaman goes far beyond simply communicating with spirits.  Depending on what culture you're talking about, shaman may serve as healers, mediators, preservers of history, storytellers, resource managers, psychopomps, mediums, and/or religious leaders.  Regardless of which of these roles a shaman fills, they are both serving and preserving the community in which they live.

For 19 years i gave no name to the spirit that helped me through everything (i know him for as long as i remember anything), but to me naming is a way of vailidating things, so now he has a name.

/snip/

My first introduction to the spirits was via shamanism (anthro class).

I'm just a little puzzled by this.  If you've been interacting with a spirit as long as you can remember, why do you say that you were introduced to spirits in an anthropology class?  Are you referring to specific spirits here or the spirit world in general?

Of course I practice my own way of conversing with the spirits. But my first exposure to the world of spirits was via shamanic techniques (albiet probably poorly performed ones) that i still use. Thus the label. Plus it cushions the blow somewhat, rather than telling people "my praying involves talking to the trees and nature and all the spirits" or something like that.
 
I use shamanistic techniques on a fairly regular basis myself and on occasion, I have to fill some of the same roles as a traditional shaman would (particular those involving contact with the spirit world).  However, I am not a shaman. I was not trained as a shaman, I do not fill those roles in the way that a traditional shaman would, nor does my general culture accept shamanism as a legitimate societal function.  Nor would the vast majority of cultures who have shaman consider me to be one. Calling myself a shaman would be misleading and a misappropriation of someone else's term. 

Borrowing techniques or methodology does not make one a practitioner of a particular path.  It's pitfall that eclectics need to be very wary of when naming our paths.
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Tj
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« Reply #6: June 21, 2008, 10:56:34 pm »


I'm just a little puzzled by this.  If you've been interacting with a spirit as long as you can remember, why do you say that you were introduced to spirits in an anthropology class?  Are you referring to specific spirits here or the spirit world in general?

/snip/

Borrowing techniques or methodology does not make one a practitioner of a particular path.  It's pitfall that eclectics need to be very wary of when naming our paths.

I have been interacting with him, but did not know how, or why, or even WHAT he was. All i knew was i could converse with an entity that was not me, i knew it was the wind by physically confirming it ("could you please blow for me" = strong sudden wind etc). I was introuced to the IDEA of shamanic practices in the class, and through exploring it i managed to explian my experiances, and so on.

As for ur second point i agree whole heartedly. thus my confusion. I tend to call it shaman-ic (meaning shaman LIKE practice). Thats the best i have come up with, i thin that shd be good enuf im not sure. Since i am not calling myself a shaman but rather saying that my spiritual practices are similar to those of one.

-Tj
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« Reply #7: June 22, 2008, 03:24:58 am »

i thin that shd be good enuf im not sure.

Tj,

Please try to avoid slipping into netspeak and non-standard usages here.  TC has a large number of members for whom English is not their first language, as well as a lot of older members (more than most forums, actually), for whom netspeak is just plain annoying.  This is in our rules, which can be accessed from the menu bar.

We try not to harp on spelling and grammar in general, but when it comes to constructions like 'ur' 'shd' 'enuf' etc. we prefer you to use proper English.  I realize you are not doing this a lot, and may not even realise you're doing it at all, so this is not an official warning, just a reminder.

Thank you

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« Reply #8: June 22, 2008, 09:19:24 am »

I tend to call it shaman-ic (meaning shaman LIKE practice). Thats the best i have come up with, i thin that shd be good enuf im not sure. Since i am not calling myself a shaman but rather saying that my spiritual practices are similar to those of one.

Shamanic still carries a lot of the same implications as calling oneself a shaman.  The average person is not likely not going to recognize the fine differentiation that you're using with your definition of shamanic (shaman-like) versus the more standard definition (of or pertaining to shamanism).  If your practice is "shaman-like", why not use that description?

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« Reply #9: June 25, 2008, 10:40:14 am »



What should i tell people i am a "shaman" a "daoist shaman" a "pagan" i have no idea, anyone like to help?


 



Labelling seems to be an issue for everyone in an alternative religion or even in a major world religion. Labelling gives a sense of identity... so I can understand your angst in the situation.

I think you should choose whatever label you feel truly resonates with you and accurately reflects what you feel to be your path.


It is often difficult not to step on toes, but you can not please all of the people all of the time.


when someone asks me "what religion r u?"

I turn it right around and say "what religion r u?"

That is a very personal question and it gets asked by alot of people that I would not want in my personal business. If they answer first then they realize how personal the question is and tend to have a bit more respect whe it comes my turn to answer.


As for my answer, I am always straight forward with it and reply "Pagan." That is the label that resonates with me and that I feel accurately reflects my path.


If they want to know more after that I am happy to oblige with info, if not then that is fine as well.


Smiley


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« Reply #10: June 27, 2008, 12:54:57 pm »



Labelling seems to be an issue for everyone in an alternative religion or even in a major world religion. Labelling gives a sense of identity... so I can understand your angst in the situation.

I think you should choose whatever label you feel truly resonates with you and accurately reflects what you feel to be your path.


when someone asks me "what religion r u?"

I turn it right around and say "what religion r u?"

That is a very personal question and it gets asked by alot of people that I would not want in my personal business. If they answer first then they realize how personal the question is and tend to have a bit more respect whe it comes my turn to answer.


As for my answer, I am always straight forward with it and reply "Pagan." That is the label that resonates with me and that I feel accurately reflects my path.

I agree with Jennifer.  When asked, I ask back and give my answer based on I'm told.  Most times the other person will not just give the religion, but give a little detail, too.  It's the detail I'm after.  If the person doesn't seem open-minded, I say I was raised Mormon.  If they are, I say pagan.  If they are very open-minded, I say witch (mostly because I'm not sure which path I do follow.  I think the closest one would be neo-Wicca, but don't quote me on it.)
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« Reply #11: June 28, 2008, 08:50:34 pm »

I agree with Jennifer.  When asked, I ask back and give my answer based on I'm told.  Most times the other person will not just give the religion, but give a little detail, too.  It's the detail I'm after.  If the person doesn't seem open-minded, I say I was raised Mormon.  If they are, I say pagan.  If they are very open-minded, I say witch (mostly because I'm not sure which path I do follow.  I think the closest one would be neo-Wicca, but don't quote me on it.)


I think Shandowbody is right in that it also depends on how open minded the person might seem to be in your encounter.
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« Reply #12: June 28, 2008, 09:45:13 pm »

My issue is the shaman part. I am afraid to step on a LOT of toes here, and be misunderstood at best (i have poorly designed RPG's to thank for that).

Thats so true it's funny, especially with Captain Kirk on that World of Warcraft commercial.

I always had the same dilemma about labeling my beliefs with a name.  I needed that feeling of identity.  The problem I have now is that most people I interact with are christian of sorts or just dont believe anything.  The problem is with the person you're talking to.  If they are familiar with pagan or alternative traditions then use the label you believe it to be.

In my case now I just say "whatever I feel like at the time".  Makes them think "huh, ok you're weird".  I'm trying to drop the labeling because it is a function of ego conciousness not the true spiritual nature.  Also what works for me is to use a symbol and say that is my religion.  No name just the symbol that best represents my beliefs.  But again, if you talk to certain people, you may get labeled the wrong way because of those RPG's.  (on a positive note, the RPG's mean that pagan beliefs are still so influential in our world even if people don't want to say they believe, kind of like the pagan gods are secretly running things under the mask of mainstream religions Wink

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« Reply #13: June 29, 2008, 08:03:49 am »

But again, if you talk to certain people, you may get labeled the wrong way because of those RPG's.  (on a positive note, the RPG's mean that pagan beliefs are still so influential in our world even if people don't want to say they believe, kind of like the pagan gods are secretly running things under the mask of mainstream religions Wink

Sorry, I'm not following you.  As far as I'd ever heard, most RPGs don't have anything to do with actual Pagan beliefs (of any stripe), deities, or magic.  Incorrect labelling because of them, I can sort-of understand, because I know there are people (usually people who don't know much/anything about actual witchcraft) who believe they're a gateway to witchcraft and all sorts of evil things and that's really not the case.  What I don't understand is how that means Pagan beliefs are "still so influential" or how it's anything like Pagan gods "running things under the mask of mainstream religions" (since RPGs typically also have little to do with mainstream religion, as I understand it).

Can you clarify, please?
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« Reply #14: June 29, 2008, 08:16:20 am »

But again, if you talk to certain people, you may get labeled the wrong way because of those RPG's.  (on a positive note, the RPG's mean that pagan beliefs are still so influential in our world even if people don't want to say they believe, kind of like the pagan gods are secretly running things under the mask of mainstream religions Wink

I don't get what you mean here. I've been involved with tabletop RPGs since 1975 (never got into the online ones as they focus too much on combat as computer programs make poor GMs for anything other than combat), but the RPGS I know of seldom have anything to do with actual Pagan religions and certainly do not demonstrate that Pagan deities are running anything, let alone running everything under the guise of mainstream religions.
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