Spirituality, BDSM, and me

6 Jan

With apologies to Fiona, who was hoping for fantasy…

i don’t know if this is even the right place to talk about this ~ sometimes i think i need a whole other blog not connected to me here ~ but here i am anyhow.  My blog, i can talk about whatever i want.

i was raised Catholic, but not the kind of Catholic you probably think of when i say that.

Forget the 12 children families and obey the pope mentality.  i was raised in the tradition of Dorothy Day, who worked for social justice, who said, “

“Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair,” 

““I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”  and

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

In the tradition of Thomas Merton, who said,

 “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.”

Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already am. That I will never fulfill my obligation to surpass myself unless I first accept myself, and if I accept myself fully in the right way, I will already have surpassed myself.”  and

“Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.”

So i was never a traditional Catholic.  And the churches i went to weren’t traditional neighborhood Catholic churches, for the most part.  There were periods of time that i didn’t go to church at all, and times that i was deeply involved in a particular church as a way to build and support my own spirituality.

i’ve followed my own path, and i don’t have any regrets.

About a year ago, i decided i couldn’t be Catholic anymore.  Even though the church i attended was still the same radical little group committed to social justice, pro-choice and pro-marriage equality that they had always been, there was more and more pressure for us to conform to things that I believed were wrong.  The things that the larger Catholic church was standing for were too far removed from my own beliefs.  So i quit being Catholic.

Not just quit going to church – not a fallen-away Catholic.  i am no longer Catholic.  i consider myself excommunicated from the church – and i assure you, based on my beliefs and actions, the Catholic church would agree with me.

When i did that, my atheist friends {who are many} welcomed me to their ranks.

And at first, i felt like i might be atheist.  i don’t exactly believe in the patriarchal god who lives in the sky and passes judgment on the mere mortals he created, and never have.

As i’ve grown into being able to articulate my belief, i think it is closer to the Buddhists, who don’t believe in God as separate from us.  And i think i don’t understand enough of their teachings to claim their belief for mine.

But here’s part of what i believe:

God is within each of us, and around us.  The God within us is the deepest part of our selves, that part that we are in touch with when we are very still and have shut out the distractions around us.  The God around us is in nature, it is God the creator, the God of dance and poetry and music,  harmony and disharmony, fertility and growth, the God of death.

So there i am, not quite pagan, not quite Christian.

As my old friend Burford says:

My approach to decision-making is to throw my questions out to “the universe” (is as good a way to put it as any), be patient, listen to the answer, figure out what I think is really the right path to pursue, and act on it. The replies I get have rarely led me wrong – and have faith in yourself and the answers you receive. The clear advantage to this approach is that all answers lie within you.”

And he adds:

I notice the things that are “right” for me to do seem to come easily.

i agree with this too.  My sense is that when the God within me is connected with the God around me and the God within others, things flow beautifully.  But i feel like i have temporarily lost my sense of connectedness with the universe, which i used to call God.

That’s ok ~ or it will be.  But it is another “way” to be found.

Part of the work ahead of me is in connecting more of sexuality and the feminine to my images of God.  i’ve just gotten a book called Vagina, which seems like it might be a good source for connecting spirituality and the feminine, although it got a horrible review in the NY times.

And ~ i come back to this ~  i have work to do that i’m not doing, and my expectations for things coming easily are not realistic right now  Just for example, i have material for a book that i’m not doing anything with, although i could.  i’m pretty sure a publisher is NOT going to call me and ask if i happen to have this material and would i like to publish it. 

i have some other great ideas, but unless i really put some energy into doing something with them, they are not likely to succeed.  And i’m a little lost as to where the energy needs to go.  

And it’s ok that i’m a little lost.  Really it is.  It’s not the first time, probably won’t be the last.  

Sometimes, the journey is the treasure. 

35 Responses to “Spirituality, BDSM, and me”

  1. Sir Charles January 6, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    My view runs a little grander and a lot more scientific, in that we are all made of DNA. DNA is the base code of all living things. DNA has not changed over the billions of years that it has been controlling life here on Earth, it’s just that different triggers and switches have been thrown. DNA, like any computer code, can not rewrite, fix, or evolve itself. Someone or something has been influencing the changes over billions and billions of years.

    We have great purpose. Someone or something has invested billions of years of effort to create this planet, with all of its boundless natural resources, magnetic field to protect us from radiation, and beauty for us to constantly appreciate. It is not a God that is going to rapture us, or throw us in Hell.

    We have been, and were designed, as complex, sexual, and loving beings. Not all of us. There are enough assholes to make life really complex beyond comprehension. No matter how much peace and prosperity you wish for, there will always be evil and the poor.

    Our Creator is complex, interesting, and monitoring our evolution. We are His creation, warts and all. That is my grander and scientific view.

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Thank you, Sir Charles, i always appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. We so often come from very different perspectives, and yet that diversity is part of what makes the world such a rich and exciting experience.

      Thank you.

  2. vanillamom January 6, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    A deep, deep post. And I very much grok where you went here…I “lost” my faith when I was 14 or so, and when I questioned our Methodist minister about some of my thoughts, my father was advised to “take care of” me…i’m not sure if he meant to beat me, or punish me…but I was assured that I was dead on route to Hell…which made me laugh, actually. (and pissed him off). (yeah, I was a cocky teen..hard to picture, eh? LOL!)

    I’m a pagan, but not into any coven or group, I prefer my interactions with my higher power to be private. I do go to a UU church, which has deep humanist leanings, when I feel I want community around me.

    I took a course once when I was deeply involved in church life, about the Praxus (spelling?) model of religion…it’s key point is that we swing (circle?) around both sides of religious life (for one belief, then away from it) and that each circuit takes us towards a higher version of our religious development (maybe you know that already)…I’ve seen it in action with a family relative who is alternately born-again…and pagan!

    Being religious and being spiritual are not always the same thing. And you are one of the most deeply spiritual people I know.

    Overall? I hope you can see all the good you’ve done in the world…and really do stop expecting perfection. You are who you are…perfect in being you…and it’s not like you *not* being perfect means you’re gonna flop on your couch with bunny slippers on, you konw. You’ll always be action-oriented!

    Hugs,

    nilla

    • Wordwytch January 6, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

      You know, we are twinned again. 14 is when I finally discovered paganism. :)

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

      Dear ‘Nilla,

      Thank you so much for this beautiful response. It is vintage “you” – warm and loving and affirming.

      THe Praxus model of religion is very interesting, i’ll have to check that out.

      And thanks for the kind words. Funny, i don’t think of myself as “action-oriented” at all. Isn’t that interesting? But thank you for the support, always.
      <3

  3. jade January 6, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    (smiles) First, i wish i could hug you right now, or…hold you for a moment. And we know i’m not a hugging person other than for children. i was dreaming about you at the same time you were writing this and i’ve never openly dreamt about you before. We were shopping, and we found some pieces that fit together somehow and made a whole garmet. You smiled and said that it all fit perfect..even though they pieces of cloth appeared to be things that do not go together.

    i was puzzled about the dream but then i came here. :)

    i have read several works that helped me embrace the concept that humanity as a whole had always recognized the Goddess and helped me forgive myself, in a sense, for failing to be Mary (perfect). The Apostles Creed, if it must be said at all, causes trouble for me spiritually. i assure you, that on the basis of how i live my life as a lesbian alone, i would be excommunicated. Over the years, i have toyed with the idea of letting a secret of my family out, exhale that nasty filth on a Priest, and then let him excommunicate me for being what i was made to be….who and what i am.

    Instead, i have moved away from the Church, though i wonder how far away any of us ultimately get. It is there in how i live, like background music. Though the ways i act out penitant and confession would be considered….um…..a mortal sin perhaps?

    If you would like me to, i could maybe bring forward a mental list of those texts and books that resonated for me over the years. i suspect we are far, far more alike than different in this regard.

    i am glad you wrote this here. We are not one-dimensional sex objects who do nothing besides suck and fuck (unfortunately). i, for one, wouldn’t mind being chained to the bed sans “existencial crisis” today.

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

      Hey, Jade,

      What a marvelous dream – i love that. When we meet in RL, i’m going to give you the biggest hug…

      Catholicism is indeed a kind of mother archetype, isn’t it? It’s funny, i feel like i’ve spent a lifetime building my beliefs around accepting or rejecting aspects of it, but today i feel disengaged. In a good way. As if i can recognize it for what it is – and even appreciate some things – and stand apart from it.

      Send me your reading list, please. Yes.

      And isn’t that part of the appeal of slavery, or even submission, that somehow it’s going to rescue us from the angst of life? Of course it doesn’t…

      Hug…

  4. Antimama January 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Wow…great post…with lots of great comments too. Funny how religion brings out the best and worst…and the need to share. Well, my two cents….your closer to the original Catholicism than you think…and if you were/ are catholic at heart, maybe something about it calls to you…read “Memoirs of a Gnostic Drawf” by David Madsen. It’s historical fiction…but I think it will speak to you, and it’s a good read. Win/win :)

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

      Hi, Antimama,

      Thanks for the book recommendation – i will have to check it out. i think you’re probably right about me and Catholicism, it is just that current Catholicism as preached by the Vatican and making political strides is not me. Sigh.

      There were amazingly great comments on this post, weren’t there? Thank you so much for weighing in. :-)

  5. Wordwytch January 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    aisha, you are working on being Spiritual. :) And as far as I’m concerned, you’re doing it right. Find what is comfortable for YOU. Whether that is mystical christian, buddhist or some flavor of pagan, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been pagan for um… nearly 40 years. There are a lot of good books out there if you want a list. Most of them are on my shelves. I don’t do the traditional Wiccan path, but am a FamTrad (family traditional) mixed in with Feri, BTW and a lot of hedgewitchery. Many of my beliefs are very buddhist in style. Yeah, I’m the grandma at the end of the lane. :) One book you may like is When the Drummers were Women, bu Lane Redmond.

    Lots of hugs!

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      Well, and i am spiritual, Wordwytch – what is it they say –

      “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.”
      – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

      i always liked that. There is something too about this not being the place to find unconditional love, that we learn about being human here and then return with our lessons to the primordial pool of love from which we came…

      Anyhow. Thanks for the book tip!!

      many hugs back to you!

      • Wordwytch January 16, 2013 at 12:06 am #

        You are so welcome. I have a few others I might suggest too. Must check the shelves.

  6. sirqsmlb January 6, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    LMAO… I didn’t know that we were raised in the SAME church!!! (just different states). I would love to chat with you about religion sometime. I had a VERY similar parental religious philosophy background with a few unique twists. I have found my way through life and theology and it works for me. If you ever want to e-mail about God, doctrine and dogma, feel free!

    I’ll still hold a candle lit for my vicarious living through your dash of fantasy.

    • aisha January 15, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

      Hey, Fiona,

      You are so right – and that makes a special bond between us. For sure.

      And we may have some more fantasy served up soon…

      hugs…

  7. Twisted Angel January 6, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Truth, God never wanted religion. He wanted exactly what you described. Him in you and us in him and all of those around us. Period. I loathe religion with all of its rules and rituals. God sent Jesus, Jesus gave us one rule. Love God, and love your neighbor. Period it really was that simple, we , as a species have tried to complicate it with our rules and personal feelings on certain matters. Like curse words for example. Because ONE person took offense to a word it was twisted to be dirty and rude. Psshht. I say if you are being kind to people, honoring the God in you and in others, then you live exactly how you choose. Period.

    • aisha January 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      Dear Twisted Angel,

      i like the way you think. Yes, of course that’s right. at least it totally makes sense to me.

      Thank you, i really appreciate you sharing your perspective.

  8. night owl January 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    There are so many beautiful thoughts in your post, and in the comments. I especially love the idea of tying our sexuality and spirituality. I have two books waiting on my shelf (well, waiting to be unpacked) right now, one by Thomas More, on that very topic.

    I love a quote from Conversations with God. “I am the profane and the profound.” To me, that says it all. From our basest functions to our highest desires for Self, God is there. There is nowhere God is not.

    In my recent existential pain, I have been reaching out more often to whatever that is that is greater than the sum of us. I am gratified to find that it is there and reliable and always on. I am also grateful to find it has so many wonderful faces. Like yours.

    night owl

    • aisha January 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      Dear Night owl,

      Thank you for the kind words. i’m so grateful that youall leave such insightful and powerful commments.

      i love Thomas More – do you have Soul of Sex?? i think that was my favorite of his.

      And your quote is profound. Yes, God is everywhere, that whole range, and i love that.

      Actually, your post about reaching out was inspirational for me, and i really appreciate the sharing you do in your blog. Thank you.

  9. swan January 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    I have, for years, characterized my way of “doing spirit” as “spiritual backpacking.” I can’t carry everything that all the churches would load onto the relationship with spirit. It is all too heavy. So, I take with me the things I find true and pure and important from the spiritual teachers I encounter. The rest, I leave for others who may find those things important to their journey.

    All the best,
    swan

    • aisha January 16, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

      O, i like that, Swan, “spiritual backpacking.” It gives me a lovely image of it. IRL, i am not one for traveling light when it comes to real travel – lots of shoes to pack – but i also know what a lovely feeling it is when i can reduce the baggage.

      Thank you.

  10. Kitten January 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I am Episcopalian. Some people call it Catholic-lite–all of the ritual, none of the guilt. I know a lot of ex-Catholics who are now Episcopalian. You may want to check us out. One of the main reasons to belong to a church is to have support, community and fellowship while you are on your spiritual journey. Keep praying, Aisha, because God will listen and help you find your way.

    • aisha January 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

      Hi, Kitten,

      Yes, i know a bunch of Catholics who are Episcopalians now too! There would definitely be advantages to that!! i will keep that in my mind, and keep praying too!

      Thank you, Kitten.

  11. greengirl January 7, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    Aisha – i grew up in what sounds like a similar flavor of Catholicism – learning and questioning were encouraged, social justice and doing good were the focus. I’m sure part of my disillusionment is growing up past that naive place, but i believe the church has changed away from that substantially as well. I’ve been very lucky to have found different church homes wherever we have lived – churches that offer themselves as one way, not the one and only way, they offer a structure to work to find answers, not something to feed us answers, and they believe their purpose is to provide a means of outreach that allows people to do more than the sum of their individual efforts.

    I like very much your image of recognizing the God or the light in yourself and in everyone – and following that to discover your way. Reality, the universe, God – it is all so big, and we are so small, there really can’t possibly be one right way to understand it or approach it.

    • aisha January 16, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Hi, Greengirl,

      How cool – so you and fiona and i were raised in the same church! That’s really neat, and explains a lot about who you are. For sure, the church has moved away from that and, imo, is headed back to the pre-Vatican II era! i, on the other hand, was ready for Vatican III.

      Thanks for the support though, and the feedback. In many ways this community supports my spiritual self, and i’m so grateful for you and your feedback.

  12. Lady P January 8, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Again I find myself both on an entirely different planet and entirely connected to the thoughts and discussions here. I’ll just try and chip in with my 50 in local currency…

    What if things were completely different? What if you had to construct your faith from scratch? How would that be? What would you believe?

    Where I live nobody asks you “What church do you belong to” and faith is rarely an identification factor – except when it comes to immigrants who are often labeled religious as part of their strangeness. Where I live the official faith is Protestant Christian – 80% of our population are members of the Church, but few are active churchgoers and the public joke is that most come to church 4 times in their lives: when baptized, when they confirm their faith at age 14, when they marry and when they die. This is – of course an exaggeration, but the truth is that many don’t think of themselves as religious or spiritual, but are unaware of the widespread beliefs founded in Protestant Christianity, that are the basis of our whole society and welfare system.

    My own path to spirituality has been quite the opposite. I grew up in an atheist family and when my spirituality surfaced when I was 6 years old it was laughed about. Naturally my feelings of there being a “Higher Purpose” went underground until my early twenties where New Age was big with all kinds of spiritual beliefs. I have never doubted that there is God, but I have been very confused about the nature of God and also suspicious of the confluence and rigidity of different churches. To me God is an all pervading power – inside and outside people and things. The different religions and churches are just organisations, trying to promote their specific interpretation.

    To have faith in something bigger is very human. All humans at all times create deities and beliefs. It’s part of human nature to want to explain things and find a meaning. When we can not find the explanations we create something that give the inexplicable meaning.
    As an academic I know this – I know there is no scientific proof of a Higher Purpose, but I still believe in God, irrational as it is.

    Where I live, I have become an exotic person. Not only have I chosen to be baptized at the age of 45, but asked about it I confirm that I’m a believer, even though I have no good arguments for God. To me – it just is! It gives meaning to my life to know and believe, that I am never fully alone and there is always a meaning to things, even though I may not be able to fully comprehend the meaning.

    I may be a simple human – fooling myself with my need for meaning – but so be it.

    • Sir Charles January 8, 2013 at 10:28 am #

      DNA is the simple proof one needs that there is a Creator and a great God.

    • aisha January 17, 2013 at 11:55 am #

      Ah, you do live in a different world, Lady P. It sounds kind of lovely – not having anyone care about what religion you are. i bet perfect strangers don’t ask you if you’re born again , or if you’re saved either… AND the way you describe it is actually a lot like the way my mother always described Italian Catholicism. Funny, huh? Maybe there’s something about having an official religion that allows people to ignore it?

      Anyhow, i love that you came to spirituality on your own at a young age. i’m not surprised. i don’t see anything “wrong” with believing although many of my atheist friends would disagree fiercely. But we believe in other things we can’t see or touch – love, for one And ultimately, i think God is love…

      So as it turns out, i’m pretty much with you here. :-) As always, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, i really appreciate it.

  13. mouse January 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    aisha,

    When mouse says that she’s atheist — it’s a shortcut, yes, to the real answer, which is far more convoluted and odd. it breaks down this way — does mouse believe that a god(dess) created the world? Probably not, but we don’t know. Does this mean the Bible is a lie — not completely but mouse doubts it was ever meant to be taken in any literal sense of the word.

    It’s not a historical text, nor a scientific text — moral? Well, not really either. So, when mouse says that she’s atheist she really saying that she’s anti-theist.

    If there were parts of the bible as a whole she could “get behind” she’d probably consider herself a Deist. And this is where things get very convoluted. Does she believe in a personal god who has an effect on our daily life and performs “miracles” no. Does she believe in the idea of “do good works and minimize harm to others”? Yes, actually mouse does agree with that notion.

    People can argue or debate “proof” of god (or whatever their idea of god is), but the simple truth is there isn’t one. What mouse means by that — ‘something’ might have seeded our pathetically small spiral galaxy so that one planet might have potential to produce life — but they didn’t continue involvement past that. We are star dust. It’s likely those same seeds were strewn across the universe — like when you toss seeds on a field, some grow and produce flowers, others don’t.

    Like you mentioned, we are connected by something but it’s doubtful mouse would call it “god” instead mouse feels it’s the universal thoughts that do connect us.

    As far as where this began about not being Catholic — oh ya, mouse can totally relate to those feelings. The long arm of the Catholic Church (Vatican through local Church Diocese) has been trying to crack down on the fringe or rogue churches for sometime now and its something mouse found quite unfortunate.

    Hugs,
    mouse

    • aisha January 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

      Hey, Mouse ~ {waving madly}

      It’s good to see you!

      i love this line: “The long arm of the Catholic Church (Vatican through local Church Diocese) has been trying to crack down on the fringe or rogue churches for sometime now…” It is so true, and that’s exactly what’s happening to the church i used to go to.

      i agree that the Bible wasn’t meant to be taken literally too… And i really appreciate you sharing your beliefs here with me. It’s another beautiful piece in the tapestry of who we are. Thank you so much, Mouse.

      • vanillamom January 17, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

        This reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook with –o Damn–forget his name…Teh guy who was married to Katie Perry for a minute and a half…Russell…Brand? I think so. Anyway, he has a talk show, apparently, and had a few members of that Radical Hate group mascarading as a S.Baptist Church. They were quoting the bible left and right about faggots and what all…and I couldn’t help but wonder how any logical, sensible person could consider the words written in a book as the implicit voice of God. Made me shake my head for sure. With apologies to any readers here that do…I’m sorry…I just can’t believe it is so. And to use it as a foundation for hate? Doubly wrong.

        nilla

      • aisha January 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

        Yeah, they are way out there, for sure. Hard for me to understand too.

  14. Burford February 12, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    I noticed a recent post entitled something like “Sleep” & could not decide to put this here or there. But since it is really more about this subject than sleep though the day you had that topic on sleep I too could not sleep. I too read – among other things until 9am trying to get back to sleep. To the theme spirituality I have been reading a book called “What the bleep are we doing here?” Its supposedly is a book on quantum physics but becomes wonderfully entangled with spirituality along the way. There is also a discovery channel dvd on this I’m trying to get my hands on but Goodwill sales has not come through for me yet. The more I read about spirituality the more i come to the conclusion we have no choice but to be spiritual because spirituality is built into our atoms. Thanks for bringing this subject up. It has provided me many hours of things to ponder on. When particles in the here and now even those inside us are connected to particles in other universes and they all act on each other, how can we avoid being spiritual? We truly are all connected.

    • aisha February 13, 2013 at 6:16 am #

      Hey, Buford,

      Interesting – sounds like a fascinating book. My sister is always telling me (well, often tells me) that i would love quantum physics, but so far i have pretty much just taken her word for it. This sounds like it would be so worth reading {although i also have a long list of other books that i need to read}

      In any case, i appreciate you sharing the ideas here, and love that there is apparently some scientific evidence – or at least some evidence beyond the individual’s experience and insight – that supports the idea of our connectedness. i so totally agree.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Burford February 14, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

        Actually correction to the title – its really “What the bleep do we know?” Get the dvd, less time consuming than reading the book, might even be free in your local library and who knows might tell you about as much. And your sister is right. You are a Quantum Person – its you – you are all about connectedness. Almost done with the book and looking forward to the dvd.

      • aisha February 15, 2013 at 7:16 am #

        Ha, you can actually download it free on the internet! i really will watch it. Then i can go tell my sister about it and she’ll be all impressed. Thanks!

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