Part 1: Discussion and Communication
My fiancé is a recent devotee of the Path. He made the decision over a year ago to explore, and recently decided on the term he'd liked to be called. He has begun reading the myths and stories of the old gods, as well as modern literature on pagan practice. He is exploring the Northern Tradition, though he does not consider himself Asatru, and does not feel it is his path at this time. This means he worships Germanic deities exclusively, recognizing the existence of all gods and holds the same pagan-gnostic principle that I do: while each god is separate and distinct, at some level they are the reflections of the same force.
We have begun developing a shared path, and it has been difficult and worthwhile in many ways. This is our way of establishing a family system, a structure we can raise our children in while still allowing them the freedom of expression.
I don't know what you call me. I'm eclectic, that's for sure, and I've had a few conversations with various deities of different pantheons (Greco-Roman and Norse specifically) and I conduct my practice in much the same way I did when I was content with the "Wiccan" label. I'm not sure I care much either way what I'm called.
I'd like to spend some time with this blog talking about the development of our religious life, as separate from and a part of our more mundane relationship. To do this I will break up all the ideas in my head, focusing on one or two subjects at a time. This time I'd like to focus on the importance of communication.
You absolutely cannot have a relationship that is healthy of any kind without communication. Communication is the only way you can let each other know what is working and what is not working. This can be difficult when you're working with your partner, because you don't want to offend them or hurt them.
Ask questions. Ask your partner to share what spiritual experiences with you they will. Ask them about their thoughts on issues related to morality, ethics, theology, practice, etc. Learn where your ideas meet and where they differ. Talk about these.
Through asking questions you can come to a decision together about when you will worship together, how you will worship together, who you will worship, and work together to establish a ritual structure that is meaningful to both of you.
Communication helps establish boundaries as well. Will you share all your spiritual experiences? Will you share a Book of Shadows/magical journal (if applicable)? Will you each have separate ones and one joint one? Who will write rituals? Who will lead rituals? When will you worship together, and when will you worship individually?
It is important to have moments of private worship, reflection, meditation, whatever helps you to feel spiritual. You are a person separate from your partner, and just as you need mundane time apart on occasion you need spiritual time apart as well.
Through discussion, my partner and I have:
1. Established which holidays we will celebrate. This means the standard Wheel of Eight, for me, the full moons, and other holidays he explores that have meanign for him.
2. Established ritual work. We use the Wiccan structure in general. I act as teacher, at this moment, and it is what I am most comfortable with. We include that which is important to him, including sacrifice/gift-exchange, blot/sumbel, toasting, etc.
3. We write rituals together. He wants to learn how I do it, and I want him to feel comfortable eventually writing his own. We work together to determine readings and other important aspects of ritual.
4. He happily takes the role commonly assigned to the H.P.
5. Determined we enjoy the presence of friends and other interested parties.
6. Have decided together who we will be out-of-the-broom closet with, and how we will answer questions together.
7. Established that on occasion there will be individual experiences and worship times and we do not require or intrude on privacy. If we want to share, we will share, and there is no prying (though honestly there's very little we don't share).
8. Often teach each other things the other does not know.
So, in a nutshell, communication is very important before even getting into the details of all that goes into establishing a shared path. When one partner, like myself, finds themselves in the position of teacher, it is a fair bit easier to set structure. It is important to remember the other person will have their own experiences, and open-mindedness is key.
Next post should be a review of Michelle Belanger's book "The Ghost Hunter's Survival Guide"