First up I wish to thank Renee Olson/Sosanna for her wonderful interview last week. Thanks so much for sharing with us Renee!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Monica Chase.
Monica is a Pagan and I know you will enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Monica Chase's Introduction:
Hi (waves to the crowd). My name's Monica. I'm a modern eclectic solitary Pagan. I'm also a mom, a wife, and a Toy's 'R' Us kid that really doesn't want to grow up.
My Blog Lost in Astral Space is about my personal journey as I try to weave my faith and my hectic life together.
and now on to the questions!
1) What religion do you practice?
And right off the bat comes the most difficult question for a modern pagan to answer, lol. I would honestly say that no two pagans would identify their faith in the same way which is why I tend to nickname modern paganism as the twisted pathways.
Religion can mean many things, but I tend to see it as a way to describe a basic moral code and identify with others who follow that same code. My code is not that dissimilar to many others. My faith leads me to choose to be responsible for my actions and self aware of how my choices will effect me and the world around me, to value the dualities in life (good/bad, light/dark, male/female, etc.) as neither half would have the same worth without the other. My faith also leads me to the deep seeded belief that divinity is present in every moment of every day, and that it is my great joy to recognize that divinity and honor it to the best of my ability.
I call my personal religious choice eclectic paganism. In a nutshell what that means to me is that I am a polytheist that borrows from whatever pantheons and traditions personally connect with me and create a bit of a mash up that feels correct for me. The great thing about paganism in general is that there is no right or wrong other than what feels wrong to the individual which allows for the creation of a very personal connection to the divine.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
For me this question has a bit of a yes and no answer. My family is christian, in fact catholic, but have not practiced since I was a small child. Three years old in fact. Here's where I'll let you in on a hilarious family story that still makes my Dad laugh till he cries and explains how I came to start on the solitary (practicing outside of a "coven" or group) pagan before I became anything else.
When I was young my family went to mass every Sunday and did the whole Catholic thing pretty seriously at a regular church complete with the graphic statue of Jesus (great guy, wish more people would have listened to his message) hanging over the altar. Then one Sunday during mass when I was three I had an epiphany, pretty much the first one I can remember of my life though my Mom says the day I found out I had toes was a pretty big one too. I connected the dots in my little stubborn head that the guy they talked about as dying in a horrible way for my "sins" was the guy hanging up bleeding on the wall. This did not sit well in my mind. See I thought that the statue was in fact, Jesus. THE Jesus hanging there bleeding to death in front of all of us and he was only doing it because he was really really nice. This upset me a bit, and when three year old Monica got upset she was not want to suffer in silence. So I proceeded to wiggle out of my seat in my little sailor dress (my Mom loved them and at some point all of us were forced to wear them which is why I was known to throw up upon immediately leaving the house) and dodged past my Dad's hands as he tried to grab me and put me back in my seat. I then made a run for it and tried to get people to rectify the horrible situation I was seeing. In effect I ran up and down the pews screaming "take Jesus off the cross". The priest was not amused. My Dad thought it was funny as hell, and that's why my family was asked to leave the church and not come back. None of us ever went back.
That's when my parents sat me down and taught me that the divine was something I had to find on my own, and that no man in a funny dress (no matter which man or what dress) could tell me how to connect to that divinity, and that I didn't need any building or group of people to do it. It's about the journey not the destination. Which launched me on my journey to discover who or what God is to me.
3)Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
Nope. Not in my personal path. There are pagan groups that do have a structure to them, but as you could guess, I've never been much of a joiner, lol.
4)Within your religion what degree of observance are you ((ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?
I am the Grand Poobah of Awesomeness! J/k. I'm just a woman walking the path of her life.
5)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
I tend to ascribe to a version of the after life that is similar to the ancient celts. I believe that after the body expires we are left with a final choice- if we feel we have more to learn we reincarnate and start life all over again, if we need a rest we can pause in the Summerlands (not a heaven so much as just a place to chill and catch up with loved ones) until we either choose to reincarnate again or go on to the third choice which is choosing to cease to be.
My spiritual system allows me the freedom to choose. I can be a good person or I can be a bad person, there is no great reward or punishment. I will reap what I sow in this life and that helps me focus on improving the person I am now and not worrying about what will happen to me after death.
6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
I don't know, can you solve for x? Lol. My belief is that everyone goes through the choice and gets the afterlife they want.
7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I am a worrier. I look at a problem and worry it to death. My belief system allows me to find the things that I have to work on to make me a better me. Improving on how I interact with the world will in a small way make it a better one and what better goal is there than to make the world a better place?
8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I tend to follow what is called "the Wheel of the Year". This means honoring the changes in the seasons and the major equinoxes. To celebrate I generally arrange for a family activity that highlights the changes that are going on in nature at that time of year (such as going apple/berry picking in the summer and fall and then using those in a meal or to bake with). I really feel that in the modern world we lose sight of the seasons and what they bring to our subconscious and try to keep myself and my family in tune with them.
9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
Definitely. I have friends of all sorts of faith. Each person has their own path, even if it looks similar to someone else's. As long as you don't try and push me off mine into the mud I won't try and push you off yours.
10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
If they asked me to of course I would. To me all faiths are a personal and important choice. If someone chose to honor me by including me in a spiritual practice that had meaning to them I wouldn't turn them down. Unless of course it involved a virgin sacrifice (which honestly where would you even find one of those these days) or something that is illegal. Me no likey jail.
11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
The burka does not offend me as long as the person wearing it freely chooses to do so. As for Shariah Law I feel that consenting adults can worship in any way that they see fit that does not harm another person, however I would never willingly submit to it and would personally take exception to someone forcing a child into it.
12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
I am perfectly ok with women holding religious offices in any faith, but only practicing my own and as I don't have those types of labels makes it a moot point. I don't personally think that the male of the species has exclusive rights on moral fortitude (anyone remember the Borgia's? anyone?).
13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
Considering my places of worship is any place I am, such as my kitchen I am all for someone else heading in there no matter what gender especially if I get some grub out of it.
14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
My religion is part of every decision I make every day either consciously or unconsciously.
Faith isn't my deciding factor on my feelings about abortion or gay marriage but it does coincide with them. I am not a fan of abortion, and would never undergo one myself if there was any other choice, but I have no right to judge or criticize someone else's choices. As for gay marriage I am perfectly ok with it. Everyone should be afforded the same rights or no one should have them.
15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
As long as there was equality in the relationship and they were allowed to choose which path they wanted to follow (ie. no cults) I would be perfectly ok with it.
16) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Nope. Everyone has the same choices.
17) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
The pagan community at large has a lot of people who speak for different aspects of it and who act appropriately and inappropriately. Just like all the other religions honestly.
18) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
Thankfully no I have never had to deal with that.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
Nope. Because I am a solitary practitioner the group mindset that tends to set dogma above personal worth doesn't sneak into my practice.
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Yes, it gives me the inner peace and strength that I need to navigate a not always nice world.
21) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
Absolutely. There is too much to learn from life to possibly learn it all in a short 80-100 years.