Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Let Go of Your Former Religion?

I guess here are a lot of people who haven't been born Pagan, but in another religion. Did you ever do or felt the need to do a goodbye ritual or anything similar for your former religion?

What are your passage experience from one religion to another anyway? Like something breaking apart with violent eruption, fading silently away or did one path smoothly go into another?

I've grown up a Catholic. Have questioned that faith early and became an atheist as a teen. But even though I don't believe in the one God anymore who would punish me for every petty misbehaviour (that's how I've been taught Catholicism) I still discover sometimes that some mental structures of that faith are still there. It's like I have to tell my inner child on some occassion that 'God won't punish you, remember you don't believe in hell anymore'. I know it sounds weird, but the thinking habits of a mind don't change automatically.

Also I have a lot of hard feelings concerning specific Catholic family members. It's not really because of the religion itself, more because they abused it to teach me with threats how to behave. That's why this past faith is so painfully knotted together with people I have hard feelings for.

I know I'm already on the way of letting that aspect of my past be past. I think my former atheism was just sort of a defense against Catholicism, but I still have a lot of hard feelings concerning that religion or any Christians who share specific thinking habits with Catholics. And while I go along finding my way in Paganism, I still often imagine what this and that person would say if she/he found out about what I'm doing.

For example I've broken up with one acquaintance over a religious argument, but I still hear her accusing voice in the back of my head sometimes. I'm really glad about the break up because I had a bunch of other problems with that person as well, but I have trouble to let go of that particular argument and keep rethinking it over and over. And I often react a bit over top in some religious discussions because I feel the need of defending myself or other non-mainstreamers.

I just feel the need for some kind of formal goodbye so all parts of my mind get the message that it's over. I have worked through my family issues with a counselor 3 years ago in my 'atheist phase'. These wounds are already licked and scarred. Just needing to do the last step to go on like removing the bandages.

Any experiences? Any suggestions?

What I've already tried out is a suggestion for newbies out of Higginbotham's introduction to Paganism. They call it 'beliefs braid'. In a nutshell you knot three strands together representing new ideas, new resources and new actions while your repeatedly saying what they stand for and that you're open to them. I've knotted them together when the moon was waxing and unknotted them again when it went waning. I've adapted the words to 'I'm able to let go of old thinking habits I don't need anymore...' for the waning phase. As I've just done the last step yesterday, I've no idea if it's working.

What do you think? What is this exactly anyway? Higginbotham say it's a prayer bead, but what makes it different from (maybe primitive sorts of) spellwork? Or maybe my adaption of it is improper?

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