Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ruby Sara

Hello and Happy Saturday!

Thank you so much to AnOceanofJoy for sharing his journey with us. I enjoyed learning more about the Buddhist faith. Thank you AnOceanofJoy!

Today we have a new post, so please welcome Ruby Sara.
Ruby is a Pagan and I know you will enjoy her journey as well!

Here Is Ruby Sara's Introduction:

Poet, essayist, theologian, and performance artist, Ruby Sara is currently a member of the Chicago performance collective Terra Mysterium, a regular columnist for Witches and Pagans magazine, and the author of the blog Pagan Godspell. Some of her most recent writing can be found in the anthologies Datura: An Anthology of Esoteric Poesis, and Devoted, both published by Scarlet Imprint. Ms. Sara holds a Masters degree in Theological Studies, and has academic interests in poetry, ecotheology, and comparative mysticism. She lives in the pretty-damn-wild urban midwest with her intrepid spouse and their demon-monkey-cat, Pinky.

Pagan Godspell -
Terra Mysterium -
Witches and Pagans -
Scarlet Imprint -

1) What religion do you practice?
I practice an Earth-centered religion, one of a set of religions that are often called Pagan, or Neo-Pagan. My personal theology is animist and polytheist, and posits a living, sentient and divine planet that is so beautiful, complex, mysterious, awe-inspiring, engaging and full of wonder that it is only natural to put it at the center of one's praise and worship. I am also a syncretist, and therefore my personal spirituality is further influenced by protestant Christianity, Gnosticism, Hellenic Paganism, bioregional animism, Feraferia, and land-based witchcraft and folk magic.

2) Did you convert or were you born into this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was not born into my religion per se, though I have felt a deep connection with the natural world since I was very young. I discovered Pagan religions when I was an adolescent, experienced a profound and intimate sense of "coming home" at that time, and I have identified that way ever since. I was raised in an atheist / secular humanist home, and my parents fully supported my spiritual searching, even though they do not subscribe to my beliefs themselves.

3) Would you consider yourself a moderate, conservative or other.
If you mean theologically, I would say that I am more liberal than not - I believe that syncretism happens and is a natural part of engaged relationship with spirituality and with the world. I believe that religious and spiritual beliefs are not static items, and they should be challenged and struggled with, naturally evolving in response to changing ideals and new information. However, I also believe in the incredible importance of tradition and the continuity of cultural integrity, especially in its role as a "binding agent" for authentic community. So...maybe that makes me a theological moderate.

If you mean politically, I am an anarchist and an eco-feminist.

5) In your opinion, what makes someone conservative? What makes someone moderate?
Theologically, I think the prime marker of conservatism is the desire to conserve the tradition as it either is now or was once in a "golden" past (whether this longed-for past is real, exaggerated, or entirely fictional). Towards this end, one might employ methods such as literal or static interpretations of a scripture, strict behavioral codes and social norms, clearly delineated boundaries between what is correct and what is incorrect, etc.

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral posits the idea that the four pillars of theological authority in a religious life are scripture, experience, tradition, and reason. This is a useful theory when talking about what makes a conservative and/or a moderate. In my opinion, theological conservatism places the locus of authority in tradition and unchanging sources such as set scriptures. A theological moderate then might acknowledge the authority of individual experience more and tradition less than the conservative, and may take a more flexible approach to the interpretation of scripture and/or have differing approaches to the use of reason in theological discernment.

Pagans in my experience tend to give the most weight to the authority of individual experience. I probably fall somewhere in between moderate and liberal according to these definitions, as I think the empowering of individual experience is important, but I also believe that it should be balanced by tradition and authentic community - i.e. I think an individualism that is not rooted in engaged relationship with the Other leads to the unhinging of community.

6) What's your heaven/paradise like?
I don't have a ready answer for that, as the question assumes that I believe in a heaven/paradise, and I don't know that I do. I don't presume to know what the afterlife is like. I do believe in some kind of afterlife, only because I really cannot personally imagine the no-afterlife Full Stop, and I'd like to imagine that good people experience good things after they die - to be reunited with loved ones, etc. But, I'm not against the idea of the Full Stop either, and I will readily admit that it certainly could be exactly that. Truthfully, I'm fine not knowing what it's like after we die. I don't want to die anytime soon, but I try to consider it an inevitable adventure, and concentrate on where and who I am right now, here on this planet in this body and in this time and space.

7) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
As I said, I don't know. There's a lot to unpack in a question like that. I suppose, like I said above, I'd like to believe that those who have lived lives in service to love, giving, joy, art, and authentic relationship will experience an afterlife that is peaceful and joyous, and that those who have committed wrongs go somewhere where they are made to realize what they've done, are made whole, and that restorative justice, if not served here, is served in the afterlife. But again, I don't know. And I am much more interested in how people interact here and now, in this life on this ground.

8) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
It gives me a form of expression for the Beauty I see in the natural world all around me, and the sense of awe, fear and trembling I feel in the face of the enormous, amazing complexity of the planet and the universe. It celebrates the body as the miraculous communicator, mediator and information receiver that it is (i.e. body as priest), and it affirms my belief in the existence of real magic, the divinity inherent in mystery and unknowing, in the miraculous and the fantastic. It holds art, relationship and ritual as some of the highest functions of the human animal, and it sees storytelling as the bedrock of being. It's also messy, colorful, anarchic, ecstatic, and me.

9) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
I generally recognize the "Pagan Wheel of the Year," which is a combination of a set of days celebrating the agricultural cycle, as well as the solstices and equinoxes, for a total of 8 holy days a year. I spend them usually with my community, either in a large open ritual setting or in a private observance with a small group I practice with. I also have a growing number of feast days for what I and my co-ritualist Johnny Rapture call the "People's Saints," and I personally observe some other holidays from the folk calendar, like Michaelmas.

10) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
I have many friends who are of other faiths and I believe strongly in the importance of interfaith dialogue.

11) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Yes, and I have done so on many occasions. I find all religions to be deeply interesting, so I enjoy seeing how others celebrate their faith. Also, if a friend of mine invites me to their religious gathering, I am happy to attend, because I want to honor their hospitality in inviting me.

12) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
13) What are your thoughts on women not being allowed to become priests?
These are both intensely complicated questions having to do with religions that are not my own, so I do not feel that I have the authority, experience or knowledge-base to comment on them, though I can say that I respect the opinions and work of women in these religions in regards to these issues, and as a feminist I unequivocally support the movements of women toward the realization of their rights to make empowered choices and live full and authentic lives.

14) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
No, the groups that I practice with do not segregate on the basis of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. There are some Pagan groups and organizations that are gender-specific, or that serve communities that are of specific genders and sexual orientations, and I support their right to create those safe and supportive communities, especially in a world that continues to restrict their rights to, as I said above, live full and authentic lives.

15) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision?
My religion deeply affects the choices that I make, and the choices I make deeply affect my religion - the two are inextricably tied. My political opinions inform my religious opinions and vice versa. For example, my belief in a sentient divine planet informs my views regarding the environment, and the more I engage with my landbase through environmental practices such as composting and other activities, the closer I feel to Her.

16) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
If I had a child, and that child found a good partner and was happy with them, the religion of that partner would be of no consequence to me. Interfaith relationships can be complicated, I am well aware, but in my own personal experience (I married outside my religion), if both partners are committed to the relationship, those complications can be incredibly educational, interesting, and dynamic.

17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Even presupposing that I believe in "hell," which I am not sure I do depending on the definition of such a place, the answer would be no, absolutely not. If I believed in a hell, I'd probably have ideas about who would be going there that would have little to do with their religion of choice/upbringing, and a lot more to do with their actions.

18) 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?
Those who claim identities in Pagan religions are an incredibly diverse and complicated lot. No one can say that they speak for all of us. In some of my recent writing, I have questioned whether or not one can even say there is an "us," at least in terms of talking about "Paganism" as any one thing. So there are those I agree with in the public sphere and those I do not, and the question of "who is Pagan" is actually much less relevant to me than the question of "what is Paganism" and whether or not it is useful to use the term as a religious identity since there is no single unitive story or even shared set of values to which one could say even most of us adhere. I'm still working out my thoughts on it.

19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.

20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
Sometimes. I think one function of religion is to give solace and comfort in times of need, but I also think that another function of religion is to challenge us to continuously evaluate ourselves in relationship to each other, our world, and all the Others in it. This latter function doesn't always lead to "peace of mind," but is in my opinion an incredibly important, if uncomfortable, aspect to living an engaged spirituality.

22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
I neither believe or disbelieve in reincarnation. I find it to be a pretty reasonable idea, and a fascinating one, but like my previous thoughts regarding the afterlife, I simply don't know, and my beliefs regarding embodiment and theology necessitate that I concentrate much more on this life and my relationships with Others on this planet at this time in this body than on what may or may not happen after I die.

1 comment:

  1. this was such a great post ! There is so much info about your beliefs ! I had to read it twice and may a thrid time yet ☺
    I really like how you spoke of seperating theology & polotics there .
    thanks so much for sharing a bit of your personal spiritual life & beleif