Monday, June 19, 2006

Conversion

LAPaganChick left a comment a couple of weeks ago saying that she was surprised that I hadn’t converted to Paganism and that it seemed like my path. It was a question that I found myself not able to answer on the fly and had to take some time to think about it.

The question got me thinking about the process of conversion. How does one convert? What are the reasons for conversion? What information does one need to know to convert? At what point are people able to call themselves a Pagan/Christian/Buddhist/Muslim/etc?

To my mind, this is a complicated process and rightly so. One would need to decide to make the conversion, know their reasons for converting, and dedicating the time to study their intended religion. I believe that part of this process also has to do with communicating with the people around you about your intentions. Each person’s decision to convert is going to be a very personal one. The common reasons that I could think of include being dissatisfaction with something in your current belief system, converting before or after a marriage, or after finding information through the process of be a “seeker.”

Although I could write more about the process of conversion, that is not my intention with this post. I will try to do my best to explain why I don’t consider myself Pagan.

I tend to consider myself a seeker as I don’t adhere to a particular set of beliefs that are considered to make up a religion. Don’t misunderstand; I do hold certain beliefs just not a set of beliefs that make up XY or Z religion. As such, for me to convert to Paganism, I would first have to state my intention to do so. Sure I could do that. But so could anyone. I think that what is more important then intention it is what you do after stating you them. You have to be willing to follow through with your intentions by taking the next step.

For most people, the next step would be dedicating time and energy in study of the religion that they will be converting to. In my mind, this would entail talking to someone already involved in the religion, reading about the religion and attending their religious community meetings. Sure, I’m learning about Paganism and posting what I have been learning about this set of religions but I do not consider myself learning for the sake of converting. If I was considering, I would be seeking out those in my larger community who could guide me through the process so that I learn all the important aspects of the religion. I have not done this.

I cannot say that I will never be interested in converting to Paganism, but it is currently not my intention. Truth be told, many of the beliefs that I hold do seem very similar to Paganism and maybe that is what LAPaganChick was picking up on. I tend to stay open to ideas and consider myself more spiritual than religious. I do, however, have a deep respect for those who do follow a particular religion, be it Paganism or another. Maybe someday, I will call myself a participant of a particular religion, but for now, I choose to continue to be called a seeker.

8 comments:

Katherine Ayala said...

Wow! Thanks for the link!

I do pick up an interest in paganism. I, however, was asking simply out of curiousity because you definitely supply alot of information relating to paganism and rarely have I come across any long time pagans who come up with the info that you supply.

Being part of any religion is completely unnecessary to live a good and happy life. Not everyone feels that need to convert to any religion ---who knows what your path may be? Only you.

Keep seeking. Keep searching... learn and be happy.

Samhains said...

Here is some "proof" if you will in Paganism, The Forest God The Greenman is a celtic God, but he has been spoted in British Columbia, three days ago.

Here is a link to my blog where I posted photos of the spirit taken and a little info.

http://samhainsis.blogspot.com/

Cosette said...

That's funny because I thought you were Pagan!

This is a very interesting post. I've never met a Pagan who's used the word convert to describe his/her experience. Usually, it's more like found, discovered, learned. Also, you don't need anyone to guide you through it. That can be great if you find the right person or coven and community can be wonderful, but there are many, many people who learn about and practice a Pagan religion alone. Besides, I don't think any religion can offer a person everything. There are aspects of Wicca that drive me nuts!

I like learning about religions in general so I think I understand what you mean. I wish you the best on your journey. The important thing, I think, is that you feel fulfilled. I really enjoy your blog. You bring up so many good things that I haven't thought of before.

soleclaw said...

"Conversion" is a strange word. I think it is only considered conversion if you are leaving one spiritual path for another. I converted to Paganism from Christianity, though I was never a very Christian Christian...ya know? I'm very liberal in my thinking compared to the rest of my family, so I've always had a different view of things than everyone else. Paganism just fits.

I personally haven't had the pleasure of having a guide in Paganism, but perhaps I could use one. I'm not looking for anyone, but if I found someone I wouldn't turn them away. I don't think a guide is necessary in becoming a member of any religion.

Sojourner said...

LAPaganChick - My info comes from my avid reading habit and making connetions between different aspects of Paganism and other subjects.

I do have an interest in Paganism, but you brought up a point that may be part of my problem when it comes to identifing as Pagan. ...Rarely have I come across any long time pagans who come up with the info "that you supply. Maybe it's because I have no one to answer some of my more "deep" questions. (If that made any sense.)

Cosette - :) I hope you don't feel that you've been misled! I try to state that I don't consider myself pagan every once and awhile so that people who read know what context the information is coming from.

Good point about the word "convert." Now that I think about it, I don't remember hearing that word being used in regards to Paganism.

You bring up so many good things that I haven't thought of before.

Thank you for the compliment!


Soleclaw - I would still think that you could use the word "convert" because you are still changing your thinking from one set of beliefs to another. Even if you are not a part of a religion, you still have certain beliefs. Maybe I'm a little off on my thinking there. :)

Samhains- I am not looking for "proof" regarding Paganism. It doesn't need to be "proven" in the way that any other religion needs to be proven.

Chell said...

Your blog and the reason behind it are unique and very interesting. Enjoyable and thought provoking- thank you for sharing. I think a person might be drawn to a particular set of beliefs even while considering himself something entirely different. Labels don't really mean anything. It's what's inside, and whether or not you decide to follow a path you've been pulled towards or discovered, that matter. Hmm.. Conversion... For some it's not a matter of leaving one religion for another. It's a matter of recognizing a faith that was already there. So "conversion" wouldn't really describe it. Cosette mentioned that studies can be done on one's own. Sometimes this is the best thing, either because no mentors or groups are nearby or because the practices of a nearby group do not quite "fit." OK, to avoid cluttering yer awesome blog, I'll just say here that those agates in a later post are so pretty! I had no idea hunting for them was such a huge thing- but can see why it is. :)

Sojourner said...

Chell said:

I think a person might be drawn to a particular set of beliefs even while considering himself something entirely different.

I never thought about it that way before. Maybe this is the reason why so many Christians are worried about the rising interest in Paganism. It may be that they see an interest in a different belief system as an interest to leave their current one.


OK, to avoid cluttering yer awesome blog, I'll just say here that those agates in a later post are so pretty!

I love to get comments from people, so it is never considered clutter. Feel free to leave a comment whenever you would like, even if you disagree with something I have to say. When people are able to discuss differences, we can learn a lot from that discussion.

Kathleen said...

I am the managing editor of Patheos.com, and we are running a series of articles on religions and conversions. We would like to reprint your blog on Conversion. We would provide your bio information and a link back to its original publication on your site.

Please let us know if this would be acceptable.

Kathleen Mulhern
kmulhern@patheos.com