A few thoughts on faith

Faith in paganism doesn’t have any highly clarified definition. Like with many other religious concepts, we’re left to our own devices to figure out exactly what terms like faith mean and how the definitions relate to our life and practice.

My experience is that faith is not the absence of doubt, but the acceptance of doubt while going forward with whatever endeavor is in front of you. Often I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t have faith but that I trust the Gods to behave as my experience leads me to expect they will; I expect them to be true to type, so to speak, even if I don’t always know what They’re up to.

If I’m being exceptionally honest I might even say that I don’t want to have faith because I don’t want to be let down or disappointed. I also don’t want to constrain my vision out of an expectant hope that the Gods will act in a manner that I find beneficial or advantageous.

See, faith can be a lovely and noble thing but it can also be a rather naive expectation that circumstances, especially spiritual ones, will work out the way we want them to. When people say, “I have faith,” they often mean, “I feel confident that circumstances will turn out in my favor because the Gods love me and I love them.” But that’s not really faith (unless your personal definition includes that, I suppose). That’s just a narrow field of vision that generally includes putting constraints on what actions you are likely to recognize the Gods as taking. (And I’ve been victim of this thinking too, so don’t feel like I’m not including myself.)

I have faith in the sense that I trust the Gods to act as they will. I hold my confidence in Them quite delicately and I try very hard not to feel attached to any particular¬†emanation that proceeds from the circumstance about which I am trying to feel comforted and confident. I hold this trust lightly because I don’t want to be hurt, like I said. I also hold it lightly because clinging to faith that arrests my ability to proceed (since I’m so busy trusting Them in uncertain circumstances) is not really part of my path. I don’t think I’m supposed to hold on to faith instead of doing something relevant and productive. Perhaps I can do both? Perhaps I can trust Him and also act in my own self-interest?

Hiccups happen on this path; the devotional path is not smooth and without interruption. It raises questions and not just as a result of the work being done. The questions arise because I am embedded in a polytheistic universe that accepts the presence of unexpected things and unknown Powers. But since faith can be a false gloss covering simple familiarity, it is fitting that such a mistaken be corrected.

And My Lord’s ability to correct a mistake? Well – that’s something I do have faith in.

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