In recent weeks, I have been engaged in an effort to dramatically increase the role of faith and piety in my life. I, sometimes, struggle with both of these things because my academic training and intellectually analytical nature are occasionally at odds with my more spiritual side; leading me to drift away from my practice. In general, I have found the ancestors, spirits, and Gods to be receptive to my renewed overtures; though, I would be lying if I said It didn’t take a few days of consistent effort for me to begin to actively feel their presence around my altar. I cannot blame them for being hesitant. Who wants a fickle friend?
The past couple of days seem to have marked a turning point in my efforts. For my part I have maintained a habit of daily prayer and meditation and of more formalized ritual offerings multiple times a week. In response, I have felt, if not forgiveness, then an understanding and acceptance of my general human fallibility. More importantly there has been a slow renewal of the blessings that I have generally derived from my worship; these are increased clarity, greater self-discipline, and an eagerness for life that can be overwhelmingly intoxicating.
My academically trained, intellectually analytical, self consistently makes the argument that these benefits are largely psychosomatic in nature. My spiritual side is convinced that this is complete and utter bullshit. In truth, I spent years practicing secular self-help style spiritualism and always found it devoid of significance and a pale imitation of real devotion. For me, I did not see real benefits until I turned to the ADF practice of including Ancestors, Spirits of Nature, and the Gods in my practice. In short, moving from a philosophical approach to a religious approach to druidism.
If I deny the role of the Kindred (the ADF term for the Ancestors, Spirits of Nature, and the Ancestors) play in my life then I inherently weaken my relationship with them. I would offer insult to beings that I have never found to be anything other than helpful and tolerant of my weaknesses. Perhaps it is my Southern upbringing, but when someone is kind to you then you don’t deny them, insult them, or otherwise do anything to harm your relationship with them. Instead, you go out of your way to build a relationship with that being.
In the end, the dissonance that exists between my analytical nature and my spiritual side is the quintessential struggle of faith. It is inevitable that our logical natures will question the nature, even the existence, of Gods, spirits, and ancestors. In overcoming our doubts, we are inherently taking steps to strengthen our relationships with the Kindred. It can be a painful process at times and no one walks the path perfectly, but I remain convinced that it is a journey that I must undertake.