I’ve come in late to the Pagan Blog Project, a year-long blogging experience that challenges pagans to make weekly posts relating to their paths and spiritual/religious life. The weekly themes are based on the alphabet with each letter being featured for two consecutive weeks. I’m running a bit behind and need to make up for four weeks – that’s the letters A and B if you’ve been paying attention. My plan is to be caught up by next Friday, which is the due date for the next on-schedule posting. So without further ado, here’s the first post.
“All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want.
But once you learn your answers, you can never unlearn them.”
~Neil Gaiman, American Gods
I sincerely wish that this gem of wisdom had been around at the time I started skipping merrily down a path of my own making. Not that I would have paid a bit of attention to it even if I had heard it in those days. I was on the search for some sort of divine bliss, enlightenment, nirvana, or at the very least, a basket full of sparkling rainbows and adorable kittens. I wanted in on the greater secrets of the universe, the keys to the cosmos, the question that goes with the answer 42.
What I didn’t understand was a concept that so many of us fail to grasp as we start looking for answers to all of those big questions – the answers we find may not be the ones we wanted to hear. Sometimes, if very lucky, we find answers to our questions that perfectly align to our existing worldviews. When the answers don’t align to our beliefs, we have to decide what to do with this new information. Do we accept it and allow it to reshape our worldview? Do we dismiss it as irrelevant to ourselves and our path? Do we agonize over the dichotomy between what we believe and what we know?
However we respond, there is no taking back what we’ve learned. It can’t be unlearned, whether pleasant or painful. There is no return to our innocence (or ignorance as the case may be). So I refer you back to the quote from Mr. Gaiman as the most sage advice* that I can give to someone who is heading down a spiritual path. You will learn things on your path, but they won’t always be the things that you expected to learn. Good, bad, or indifferent, once learned, they will not be forgotten.
*The second most sage piece of advice I can think of is also a quote from a writer: “Don’t Panic” – Douglas Adams. Granted, he wasn’t talking specifically about paganism or eclectic path forging, but it’s still most excellent advice.