Catholicism was always a theme in my life. I was raised Roman Catholic and for my mother faith was everything. She was brought up in an Irish-Catholic family that left the practicing part pretty open. But she clung to her faith and God as a way to anchor herself. This was reinforced by her Sister and the devoutness that she would embrace throughout her life. So, it became the model in which my mother would emulate but in a more realistic fashion. Catholicism is a strict religion with many rules, rituals and rights. Very patriarchal rights that left woman feeling shame and not valued. I would go through all the rituals from baptisms to confirmation excluding matrimony -at least up to the point of this publication. We were raised in faith and Religion and I make this distinction because the faith I have always prescribed to, however I became disenfranchised with the religion and that was the part I left behind. My Catholic or religious people struggle with spirituality. Being spiritual is being connected with nature, the elements and all that is. For most people they think that they are mutually exclusive. They do not have to be. But to incorporate religion, it can be dicey because of the rules and the patriarchy. Religion is governed by rules. Those rules are specific, and most are designed to control the devotee. However, spirituality opens up the path for individualistic thought and belief. Opening up the flood gates to acceptance and inclusiveness in a way that Catholicism tries to control the narrative of what you can believe and how you practice your faith. Telling you what to believe and how to practice that belief. A very structured and controlled method to control, script and progress the ideals of the Church. And for half the population this leaves us out: women. We are not celebrated or respected for the contributions that we make life. We are kept down and in our place in the Church, therefore we are made to feel less than our male counterparts. We have no voice and our needs are not considered unless they are in direct relation to the male. In spirituality we are open to standing and owning our power, displaying it and being a valued member of life. With all the rights, rituals and progress that we want in being a part of the conversation and affecting this area. Religion is organized and not to say that being organized is bad, but by not having rigid rules allows the faithful to have freedom in the way we express our faith without the negative connotation that religion can bring. I chose to leave the religion behind to be able to express my connection and faith as I felt was right for me. It has also allowed me to be open to what to believe in and the experiences that I have had in meditation, through empowerments and attunements, I have realized this journey has and is taking me places that I never imagined. My faith and the exploration of it has taken me places that are far behind this 3D physical realm. I grew up experiencing intuition and claircognizance that allowed me to “know” there was more involved than the Catholic religion was explaining or exposing me to. For some organized religion provides the safety of having leaders to be responsible for the information of what to believe in, whereas spirituality leaves things wide open where belief truly is belief because there is no one to point to. We are all exploring and developing the ideas and the information together. There is nowhere to lay the blame and trusting your instinct and intuition and the unknown completely a personal experience. To this day rituals in the church are taken from many other belief systems. Not realizing that sitting in the chapel with “our Lord” on the tabernacle for an hour is a form of meditating. Or using Holy Water for blessing is Shamanistic. Or following gut is intuition, which is inspiration from your spirit guides.
Having faith in God was so important to me. Knowing there was something bigger than me and my parents was so helpful. I was so lonely and lost as a child. I did not feel like anyone in my life was safe. Having been sexually abused as a young child, age of 3 or thereabouts, I did not feel safe thereafter. But, I had God. In those very early years, it was my connection to my spirit guides and the Divine that I was able to feel love. When I was in bed by myself or left to my own devices in our apartment and felt unimportant, unlovable, unsafe that I was given the feeling to the All. I knew I was not alone and I knew that I was loved unconditionally. In my early adulthood, I would forget these feelings and make decisions based on wanting connection that would lead to abusive relationships. I would be through these abusive relationships that I would remember this connection and start to harness it to use it for myself and then subsequently, others. Looking back, I believe now that the deep isolation and emotional neglect lead to the development of my connection-claircognizance that allowed me to know my connection to the higher dimensions and beings that would lead me to my connection. This connection that brings me in alignment to my purpose and journey in this life experience. I was called a “know it all” growing up and now I realize that I was adamant about what I knew is because I was receiving information from my team of guides of angels and higher beings, ascended masters that was allowing me to have information for myself and those around me that was for our highest and greatest good. It wasn’t that I was seeking attention is what that I did know on a psychic level what to do or what way to turn. And I used this in many instances for myself especially in traumatic, dangerous or uncertain experiences. I learned to trust it early in my youth so that I was got older and the stakes were higher I was staying in alignment to my journey or life path and being lead through the maze of choices. When I deviated from the path or chose against my instinct, I began to feel consequences that were devastating. Relationships that imploded or chasing relationships that were not mine to have or staying in jobs to long because of the security that they provided. Being in alignment means that taking a leap of faith will be asked of you over and over again. Learning to trust yourself with your knowingness will make all the difference in your life experience. Then taking a Leap of Faith is not as terrifying when you know what the safety net is and who will be there to catch you.
Spirituality vs Religion
“Religion can be good or bad—it is spirituality that counts” -Pat Buckely. For millennia, religion has permeated this planet. Religious affiliations of every kind indoctrinating people around a prescribed set of beliefs. Many religions are practiced around the world. The oldest religions of Christianity are based on Jesus’ teachings, Islam based on Mohammad’s teachings, Judaism based on Abraham and Moses’ teachings; and Hinduism and Buddhism based on the Buddha’s teachings. With many variations of smaller scale religions around the world. On the other side of the coin is spirituality, which is believing in a higher power but believing and practicing in your own way without the interference of rules, doctrines or retribution. Taking the fear out of believing in a higher power that will hurt, you are freedom to live and love in a way that is authentic to the individual. Knowing that yes there are negative consequences and energies that need to be respected and dealt with but not allowing those fears to hinder you from being authentically you.
Throughout my childhood I clung to the belief in guardian angels. I started having experiences early that I held on to as support from my guardian angel. I was so lonely and hurt that I needed to believe in a higher power, but also a support system for myself; someone or something that would love my unconditionally. Religion gave me that. As I got older, I could not believe in systems that used fear and retribution to keep you in line or “good.” Western religions all agree on the idea of a heaven or hell after-life scenario. The knowingness that I was getting from my guides (for all intense and purposes throughout I will refer to my guardian angels, archangels, and ascended masters as my guides) was that there was not “hell” like place, no Dante’s Inferno. We would have consequences but that they would be lessons.
Religion also gives legitimacy. It comes with a hierarchy of laws and people to govern with those laws. We are a culture of relationships. Humans like to have other humans who prescribed to and agree on a set of standards. Religion gives you a set of standards. Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism and Hinduism all have a reference book written by or from their prophets. It gives you a place to reference the ‘rules.’ Where I had to diverge was, especially for me in Christianity, information was left out. The picture was not complete and most of what was left out was the mystical and feminine aspects of the early texts that directly related me. “In 1945, a group of farm hands digging for fertilizer in the Egyptian desert made a discovery that would dramatically change our understanding of the early church. They had unearthed several early Christian texts including gospels of Thomas, Philip and Mary that had been buried away for around 1,600 years. These gospels were some of the many alternative books about Jesus that weren’t included in the Christian Bible. They had been side-lined by the early church as it worked out what became the official version of Christianity.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/teach/what-do-the-lost-gospels-tell-us
Trusting a religious organization becomes more and more difficult when you are not getting all the facts or information to be able to draw your own conclusions but must go along with the information being given to you. As I grew in my life experience and started reading books and exploring other options, in 2008 Oprah selected A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life Purpose byEckhart Tolle. In this book Tolle uses many Buddhist tenants to discuss ways in which to grow as a person. He references many teachers and teachings from my religious faiths. While taking out the religious tradition and referencing the teacher(s). Showing me that I could still learn through the teaching but not necessarily the religion.
I had been struggling with religion and I had stopped practicing it. I never waivered on my faith. I believed in God. I knew that I knew truths. I had no idea where to go or what to do now. Once I read this book, I had found life changing ideas that I could implement and change my life. I thought of it was new age. It was the Buddhism quotes and the idea of the Buddha that I was later drawn to because though Buddhism is a religion, it is also spiritually based. Based in spiritual practices that began to validate my beliefs in the mystical. The otherness that I had been experiencing since childhood. That I could know what and why ‘forgiveness’ is so important at the age of ten, hearing what it was and why I had to forgive or continue to be so hurt as to not be able to feel relief and love from others. I had been receiving information like that my whole life, but I could not understand it to be real. Religion did not give me a basis and actually discouraged any mystical talents or gifts. I was developing a relationship with my guides and I needed guidance.
Before 2008 I was not really practicing anything except prayer and meditation. Except that I did not know that I was practicing meditation. In childhood when I received the information about ‘forgiveness’ I had been crying very hard for a while and during the intervals of the crying I would watch the shapes and patterns the light created inside my eyelids. It was that meditating that allowed me to ‘hear’ my guides give me that message. In moments like this throughout my early life, I would ‘know’ that I was not alone in my darkest, deepest loneliness. Being exposed to the tenets of Buddhism brought spirituality into my consciousness as a way to explore my connection to spirit without the mandates and restrictions of organized religion. Knowing that I was not alone and that what I had always known was liberating. It allowed me to trust the information and act on it more than ever before. The trusting and acting on the information, knowingness, that you receive through words, feelings, taste, and feelings is the hardest part of living in a spiritual existence. To be spiritual is to be of Spirit. We all have the ability to tune into the higher consciousness. Belief and practice are all you need.
Tuning into your higher consciousness takes effort, practice and commitment. Through meditation you develop your ability to raise your vibration to allow connection between you and your team of angels, spirit guides and ascended masters. A meditation practice is meditating intentionally and consistently to attain connection with higher consciousness.
I do not think of the two mutually exclusive, but I do think that there is room for both as we are spiritual beings having a human existence. Your soul will move on to the next phase after this human experience and we have to be prepared for that not in the fear based idea of retribution, but in the acceptance that this in not it and we are headed for the more that is offered in the next life or realm; however you want to perceive it.