When I first told my then-boyfriend that I no longer believed in god and hadn't for some time, he blurted out "but you're so...good! And you're so...intuitive!" We were still very young, and as suburban Christian kids we had been taught that atheists were extremely scientific, overly rational, and cynical. I was truly none of those things, and yet any belief I had in a god had totally dissipated. And, honestly, I questioned if it had ever been there in the first place. Luckily, several of my close college friends were also atheists, or some variable of the non-belief, and I was introduced to a wonderful group of campus secular humanists.
The secular humanist label sat on my soul much more comfortably than atheist ever did. Never mind the stigma associated with the word "atheist," the definition and practices involved in secular humanism fit me perfectly: act and speak in ways that help and support humankind, respect the earth, and work against intolerance and inequality. It was also a space that didn't shame emotional responses, fostered community, and emphasized topics outside of pure science and logic (although there were plenty of interesting physics lectures).
Building this part of my identity was a huge step towards my affinity for magick. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, my Catholic upbringing had fostered in me a profound enjoyment of ritual and tradition, especially symbolic items and rituals that included multiple senses as well as the mind. I missed these tactile practices even though I was happy to be separated from the belief system that incorporated them. Now I was on a journey to reconnect with Spirit, the energy force that pervades all things living and not and connects our thoughts, experiences, dreams, fears, and emotions.
To me, connecting with Spirit (or whatever you like to call it) isn't a religious or divine practice, but an intuitive one that all humans have the capability to do. We all have an innate desire to find patterns and connectedness, even struggling to see patterns that aren't really there. Without a mindful connection to our surroundings and other people, we become hard, regimented, focused on material gain, and deeply unhappy. While there are many ways to connect to Spirit, magick is the one I am most personally invested in, and sparks the most energy and valuable connections when I dedicate time to my practice.
Lately, Spirit has been coming to me most poignantly in new people. I have become desperately lost in a sea of putting together new routines and practices, and amazing new people have been illuminating my hazy days in bright flashes of light. Whether it be striking up an unexpected friendship with a 70 year old baker or having a full moon dinner with a swathe of new friends, people have been my saving connection to Spirit lately. It has been such a wonderful reminder that, when I myself and my practice are weak, Spirit finds other ways to find me and provide for my soul.
In some ways, I do struggle to give names to the energy that I feel, the thing I've chosen to call Spirit, because the world is also so loaded with religious and divine connotations. The main thing I've learned from magick, however, is that letting go of inhibitions or previous biases is the key to finding the practice that deeply roots you in the essence of what makes magick so important. Honestly, who really cares if I choose be secular and also Spirit-ual? It's my unique truth and connection to the earth and universe that brought me into existence, and finding a belief that shortens the distance between myself and my unique truth is the most important thing I can do in this life. I've felt so far from this truth for so long, and it feels wonderful to be able to declare myself as the secular, spiritual witch that I am.