It’s no surprise to pretty much anyone that I am constantly reevaluating my faith and my belief system, always seeking to improve and learn as much as humanly possible, adapting to fit whatever sings to my heart. I came to the point where I am now after extensive research and soul-seeking, eventually settling in my path as a panentheistic Pagan and witch.
I came to this point as a result of recognizing (and, for sake of brevity, as I have a difficult time naming a “higher power, I’ll be calling it) Spirit in all natural things, from the Earth on which we live to our Solar System and beyond. My beliefs have been this way for a good long while, perhaps even before exploring Paganism in any way. I just didn’t have anything to call it. I’ve never really believed in any pantheon, individual god/dess, or anything other than seeing Spirit in all things, not separated. Once in a while, I’d feel a tug at my subconscious that wanted me to see otherwise, but I never really gave it a second thought.
Recently, I received Shamanic healing from a wonderful friend of mine, Christian, and during that healing, he told me (among many other things!) that I have an orisha at my side and as my guide (hey, I’m a poet!): Yemaya. Cue my utter surprise, considering my beliefs above! A goddess, following me around? Um… why?
After the healing, I set myself to learning anything I could find about Yemaya, and the more I learned, the stronger that tug became. Almost to the point of a yank! It’s only been a few days since the healing, but the signs are literally everywhere, and as I think back, they all have really been there all along. It just took opening my eyes.
I’ve been talking to another wonderful friend, Ellen, about this experience, as I’ve obviously managed to perpetually ignored any tugs or yanks or anything else that would lead me to this point. She’s a child of Aphrodite, and she compared that “aha!” moment to when you buy a new car: Suddenly, you start to see your car all over the place. And it’s true: I am finding bits of Yemaya everywhere now.
What’s also bizarre is the way in which she has taken up space in my brain, and not at all in a bad way. While talking to Ellen, we discussed how this was a very overwhelming process, like an adoptee who never knew her real mother, then one day learned about her and found a deep connection. You know there’s someone out there for you, but until that person makes herself known, you don’t have a name for her. And once you do know her name, it’s always on the tip of your tongue, always in the back of your mind.
There’s also a sense of peace and clarity that has come over me the past few days, similar to the feeling I had when I was thirteen and I had just discovered Paganism (at that time, I was looking specifically into Wicca). It’s as if a light bulb flicked on and the world filled with light, as if sounds became clearer and scents became stronger and my sense of self just grew more confident in this new knowledge.
In my brief study of Her, I have grown to appreciate the bond that many of my Pagan friends have with their patron gods and goddesses. It’s something that I’ve honestly been very curious about, and that I haven’t experienced myself until now, so I admit that I thought the idea of a god or goddess feeling “personal” struck me as pretty silly. As I delve deeper into Yemaya’s story and devotions, though, I find myself as one of the silly ones, creating a bond as described above, and inevitably craving more of Her.
Hm, so this is how it feels.
The one thing I’ve been concerned about is the pervasive idea I have that, at least in my view, the universe and everything in it is still of Spirit, and Spirit is of everything. Can I balance my panentheistic views with the study of and devotion to one deity? Is it possible to believe that all is Spirit and this bit of Spirit wants a relationship with me, also a bit of Spirit, personally?
I figure, if Hindus can do it, then I can, too! Their concept of Brahman, the supreme cosmic spirit which is regarded to be eternal, genderless, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, shows some bit of panentheism as it is described not only as subsuming all-being, but also as the embodiment of non-beings. If read to mean that Brahman also transcends the physical universe and represents a realm inconceivable to humanity, beyond the physical realm of “being”, then it becomes panentheistic.
And this, from a decidedly polytheistic belief system.
As a faith, panentheism is often described as a “bridge” between theism and pantheism, recognizing both a Spirit that is immanent and transcendent, and with those two thoughts as not necessarily separate from each other. This allows for each creature to be self-expressive while still belonging to a greater sense of divinity. If thought about, it could also allow for gods, goddesses, orishas, faeries, and so forth to be a part of the universe, as they would be both a part of Spirit and able to be individual.
THAT all said, to support a panentheistic view of the world while also supporting the belief in the existence of (at least) one separate godlike being is completely acceptable and even feasible.
Is your head spinning yet?!
Ellen: “It’s like learning the Earth is indeed flat.”
Indeed, Ellen. It is.
Erm… like learning that. The earth isn’t actually flat.
… or is it.
As this started to settle in — trust me, it’s been a constant search, both philosophically and inward, to amalgamate the two (and let’s face it, my head had to slow down a considerable bit to even come close to catching up with my brain) — I have become more and more comfortable with the idea that, yes, I can hold steadfast to my panentheistic belief while exploring a relationship with and devotion to Yemaya.
So begins this journey in my practice. Thank You, Yemaya, for showing yourself to me through Christian, and for allowing me to bring You into my life. As a goddess of comfort and inspiration, I hope You don’t mind that, as I continue to learn about and devote myself to You, I come to rely on Your comfort and inspiration. I promise it’ll be worthwhile!
Let Your Sacred Waters wash over me.
Mother, embrace me, Your humble child.
Cleanse me, Nurture me, Sustain me.
Yemaya, Beautiful One.
You Who wears the Seven Skirts of the Seven Seas,
Swirl around me and create a flow of energy
that can wash away all bane.
Yemaya, Mistress of the Moon,
Shine Your light onto me,
And fill me with your magic.
Help me to accomplish my goals
Yemaya, Healing Ocean Mother
I ask You to fill me with Your Healing Energy
Let Your Cleansing Waters wash over me
Heal me with Your Regenerative Powers.