Timeless Spirit LogoWICCAN VOICES

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. November's Theme: "Faith"
Volume 3 Issue 1 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Wiccan Voices
with Anne Ellis

I have some pretty strange beliefs. At least that's what I get told a lot. I believe all Gods lead to the same ultimate source; a Higher Power or Universal Divine. I believe there are more similarities among the religions of the world than differences, and I believe part of my reason for being alive is to share these beliefs with others.

Enter the tricky, often frustrating, and occasionally rewarding world of Interfaith Dialogue. Most of my conversations have been with Christians who live in the southern United States. They take place at my blog (web-log). At first, I started my blog as a place for me to publish rituals and other information about my Shrine. I soon began to get nasty comments from Christians about my evil ways and I realized this could be a forum for writing about the true nature of paganism. My cyber-shrine became a place to demystify misconceptions. I share my beliefs and thoughts about the Wiccan faith and in return others share their faith with me. We look for commonalities between our faiths and for a time set aside differences. This is in a perfect world of course.

Over the past year many Christians have come and gone. Some just staying long enough to warn me that I'm too stupid to know the danger I'm dabbling in as Satan's Hand Maid, while others have asked intelligent questions and we have had some meaningful conversations about faith.

What always seems to surprise these friends of mine is the fact that I did indeed grow up Christian, but left the faith. (That's how they see it, I however have a different view, but we'll leave that for a different article.) I grew up going to the United Church of Canada, but found it lacking and sought spiritual fulfillment elsewhere. I filled that void with Wicca. Yet I have always maintained a respect for my Christian upbringing. I do not see the two as mutually exclusive, which gets me in trouble on both sides.

To me, essentially, religions are paths to the same source and the ultimate goal. I see the similarity of the "Golden Rule" and "Harm None", not the differences.

Even having grown up Christian doesn't make these conversations any easier. The Church I grew up in is very 'liberal' and open-minded; their views on Sin and Hell are vastly different than the concepts I've come up against in my cyber-discussions. Many of the Christians I have conversations with focus upon what I see as the negative aspect of Christian Doctrine, ideas about being sinners and going to hell. They worry about causing the Higher Power displeasure and fear His wrath.

This is not the concept of Christianity that I grew up with, and dialogue is tough. My Christian background has a loving, peaceful God. One, who loves everyone, makes the sunshine and the flowers grow - very idyllic, and comforting.

Of course it also doesn't help that within Paganism and Wicca there are as many if not more differing concepts between groups. How I answer a question about Wiccan Doctrine, or Deity is different than how a pagan of a different Tradition would answer.

Because of all these differing concepts Interfaith Dialogue is not always easy. I often ask myself why I feel the need to engage in often-futile conversations. There are good reasons to venture back in to the Lion's Den. (The irony of that statement is not lost on me.)

Recently, I have been having a great discussion with a Pastor from Georgia. He labels himself a Conservative Christian, and his beliefs are as strict as what one would expect from such a label. But he does not fit the stereotype because he is open minded and curious. His beliefs and mine contradict on many levels, and we will always disagree on many spiritual issues. But regardless of that our conversations have been respectful and wonderful to be a part of.

Through my talks with him I have come to a better understanding of "fundamental" Christian beliefs beyond their stereotypes. He in return has challenged his own beliefs that "all Witches are in league with the devil" and has gained a deeper appreciation of Modern Wicca Traditions beyond its stereotypes.

Neither of us will ever convert, but that is not the point of Interfaith dialogue. Simply sharing ideas and concepts in an open environment has furthered our respect for our own faiths and brought acceptance towards each others'. He said to me one day, "You come across much kinder than I previously thought a "witch" would be. And, it appears to me, your faith is much more sincere than I first envisioned, I've learned a good deal. I'll never be a convert, but I can respect Wicca as a valid religion." When I think about why I bother, I think that's why.

These discussions have helped me gain a deeper understanding of Wiccan Spirituality. I have been asked questions I don't have a solid answer to; often about concepts I've previously taken for granted, or have never really given any thought to. So answering their questions assists me to delve deep into my Wiccan spirituality.

We are afraid of things we don't understand and our society of fear-based media encourages this. We fear the unknown, especially other people and Cultures. Being a part of this Dialogue has given me an opportunity to break down this wall of misunderstanding and fear. It is a challenge, and a joy. Two people of the world looked at their faith a little deeper today with more respect. I believe a butterfly has flapped its wings and the world will feel it's current.

An accomplished RuneCaster, Spiritualist/Medium, Consultant Herbalist, freelance writer, and 10-year practising Eclectic Witch, Reverend Anne Fairmoon Ellis is also a certified Reflexologist and Reiki Master/Teacher, and as an ordained First Degree Priestess/Mentor in the Correllian Tradition, is also the Shrinekeeper for The Raven's Moon Shrine in North Vancouver, B.C.

Her current delightful priority is working as a Domestic Engineer for a vivacious two-year-old. You are also invited to visit Anne's website.

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