Where are the Firekeepers?
Our culture is in transition.
More and more people are claiming no religion or an openness to all religions.
A recent report by The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life states: "More than one-quarter of American adults (28%) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion - or no religion at all." (1)
In other words, a LOT of us identify as spiritual-not-religious.
If you're among those who see the beauty and value of sitting down at the table with many religions and traditions, or maybe better put, if you see the value in studying and living by underlying spiritual principles rather than a single doctrine, YOU ARE A SPIRITUAL PIONEER.
I feel that the discoveries of science and our increased exposure to many cultures and belief systems make it impossible to intelligently and honestly believe and live as though any one of the traditional religious doctrines has a lock on fundamental truth.
So what now? Well, there's a problem.
There's a problem for people like me and you: the spiritual-not-religious.
People like us still feel a call to cultivate a spiritual life and community and framework, but don't feel right buying into or confining ourselves to one of the Big or Small Ones.
- Big Ones - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism which is more a philosophy than a religion, but let's not split hairs over that
- Small Ones - Wicca, Scientology, Zoroastrianism, Shinto or any other native religion, etc.
...what do we do?
At this point in time, we kinda have two options.
The Two Options for the Spiritual-Not-Religious
One: The WooWoo
The first option is affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) called "woowoo." Other names for it: New Age, airy fairy, hippie holy. And, I welcome your synonyms and related terms in the comments.
It's a colorful stew of quasi-metaphysical pseudo-scientific ingredients. Ingredients full of crystals vibrating spiral rainbow auras. Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about. There are a lot of shiny sparkly objects in this bowl of lucky charms, and it can be magically delicious, but speaking honestly here...
For me personally, it's painfully lacking in substantive nutrients.
Obviously for some other people, it's great. And for them, if they're happy with it, awesome!
But for me, not so much. For me it's like a seasoning, a spice. A nice trip to the Renaissance Faire. Happy, quirky, cool. Sure it enriches my life. But it's not the spiritual food I can really sink my teeth into.
Fortunately there's another option. Which I was chewing on for over a decade.
Two: The Standard Spiritual-Not-Religious
The second option is what I call the "standard spiritual-not-religious." Standard, because it seems to be taken more seriously. It bleeds over into the corporate culture of motivational speakers and appears regularly on Oprah and the New York Times Bestseller List.
This option is a quasi-psychology stew that touts the power of thought to improve your quality of life, general success, and feelings of fulfillment. It teaches things like we're all one and our thoughts create reality.
Overall, this was a better fit for me.
I finally had to get real, come clean, and admit: I need something more.
It only took me, like, ten years.
What Finally Happened After Ten Years
For much of those ten years, I knew something was missing. I felt it. Something didn't feel right. Didn't completely make sense. Either that, or I was a SPECTACULAR screw up. Because I just didn't get it. Couldn't completely buy it. I could buy some of it; it wasn't that it was untrue. I wasn't sitting there thinking you lie! Because it wasn't really a lie.
But still...something was missing.
What I FINALLY realized, after years of soul-searching, praying, journaling, waiting, observing, and reflecting was...
I had been trying to fit into other people's teachings about what a spiritual person’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes were. AND...those OTHER PEOPLE were way more feminine than I was. They see things through feminine eyes. They have a feminine perspective. And they generallyprioritize feminine aspects OVER the masculine.
The teaching is UNBALANCED.
AND THE TEACHERS DON'T EVEN REALIZE IT.
I Bet They DON'T EVEN freakin' REALIZE it.
(To be fair, most of them are probably simply teaching what they themselves were taught.)
When I finally realized it for myself, though...it just explained so much. I mean, it felt RIDICULOUS, HOW MUCH it explained.
Also ridiculous is the fact that I'm female and am here going, this stuff is too feminine. Aren't I supposed to be feminine? Well, I'm a lesbian. And a dyke. So no not really. I actually think me being a big lezzie and having reason to think about gender stuff is what helped me tap into this whole too feminine thing. Anyway, back to the topic...
The whole realization that the "standard spiritual-not-religious" option was OVERLY FEMININE clarified a lot, and filled in a big missing piece for me. (Not the whole puzzle, but a huge piece of it, nonetheless.) It felt like Spirit healing me a second time.
(The first time would be when I was 18 years old and a Christian. That was before I even knew I was gay. But even then, while still considering myself a Christian, that experience made me see there was a Truth and Spirit beyond any single religion. It was that experience that gave me a deeper understanding of what is meant by "the peace of God which passes all understanding." - Philippians 4:7)
So, a lot has been healed, a lot of confusion cleared. And a lot is still ongoing, but I am so much more fulfilled and strong now in my spirituality than I have ever been in the past ten years.
It's helped me so much, I'm loving it, so of course I want to put it out there for others. Not to convert anyone. haha! Just to offer it to those who feel the same hunger I did.
And like I said, it's not that I think the standard spiritual-not-religious is wrong per se. I'm not saying it's whole hog UNtrue. I'm saying if you feel something is missing, or wonder if you're doing something wrong because it's honestly not working for you...then maybe what I have to share can help.
Or, maybe you're simply curious about what I mean by the whole feminine/masculine thing, and wonder if you really could agree or not.
I'm working on posting a short 3-part blog series next week that explains it in more detail.
If you have any passing experience with the "standard spiritual-not-religious" teachings, you'll be able to relate.
UPDATE: The series has now been posted in its entirety. Each post in the series takes on a typical teaching from the Standard Spiritual-Not-Religious textbook. The posts are:
So What's My Gig Here?
In closing, here's something I've written to declare my core values. It helps remind me what I stand for. Reminds me what I want to be in the world. Who I am and who I aspire to be.
I call the whole spiritual discovery and framework that works for me: Firekeepers.
It kinda captures the spirit of the thing.
So this is what I call The Firekeepers Creed.
Awareness - I am Aware. Awareness is my responsibility, and a powerful weapon in my fight for all good things. I use and develop my awareness.
Integrity - I have Integrity. Integrity is attitude, decency, and diligence; fairness, honor, and honesty; trustworthiness, courage, and work ethic. In public and in private, I live with integrity.
Discipline - I have Discipline. Discipline is mental toughness. It fuels my results, and my self-respect, regardless of my results. I strengthen my body, mind, and spirit with discipline.
Compassion - I have Compassion. Compassion is the mark of human nobility. It has the capacity to behold another's spirit as one's own. I fiercely protect my heart's compassion.
Wisdom - I prize Wisdom. Wisdom is the fruit of experience, reflection, and humility. The truest and deepest success is to live wisely. And so even more than success, I chase wisdom.
Awareness, Integrity, Discipline, Compassion, Wisdom.
Live The Creed.