All too often, witches see parents teaching their children to follow a specific religion or spiritual path. Many spiritual paths believe that this is the only correct way to raise a child. From personal history, as well as study, I know that those on the Abrahamic paths, (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) for instance, consider this one of their major tenets. They believe their children should practice the same faith they follow without question. Just as their parents’ taught them by rote, so they teach their own children. These children learn not to question their path, not to study other paths. They learn that they must not abjure or deviate from this path, from an early age, as it will imperil their very soul. Does this make sense to you? As witches, I feel that this is doing the children a serious disservice when it comes to their souls. Just as not all paths are alike, neither are all souls.
For myself, I disagree with this practice for one very basic reason. There is nothing more personal than a religious or spiritual path. The path we choose to follow should lift us up spiritually and emotionally. It should empower us and feed the craving that each person feels in his or her soul. It should make us feel at home within ourselves. However, I believe that we should also be willing to study all other paths. Without study, we may never know if we are on the correct path that suits our soul. What if we were not taught the path, which truly speaks to us deeply in our soul? What if we study a path, two or three and “settle” for the one that seems best at that point? What do we do then? Do we allow ourselves to “settle” on a lesser path for want of study? Can you be happy with that?
If the path one learns as a child is able to satisfy you, if it meets your every spiritual need without question, even after studying other paths, then that is excellent news. The time spent studying other paths is well spent, even if it only serves to lead you toward tolerance of those other paths. Just because those paths were not right for you, does not mean that they are not just as valid as your own and right for others. It simply means they are different from your own.
If, after study, if a different path calls to you, makes more sense, as far as you are concerned, spiritually, intellectually and emotionally, then you can look back on all previous paths you may have followed or studied as learning experiences for tolerance, as well. You can use the knowledge to understand followers of each path. You can learn to understand what it is they believe and why they believe it. You can accept their path for what it has to offer to their soul.
I cannot imagine anything being more personal, can you? What if you were not permitted to study, but forced to learn only one path your whole life. Would you be satisfied? What if you felt you were still missing something? What if you felt unfulfilled, but did not understand why? This is a fate that many are required to suffer in distant lands. Many cultures do not have the ability to research in private, as we do here in the USA and other countries where religious freedoms are a fact of life. We are granted those freedoms through our Constitutional first amendment and through easy access via the open Internet, libraries and book stores stocked with a multitude of choices. This is a privilege that we should not take for granted.
I believe that many people raised on one path, or another, do feel that something is not right. They are seeking something, which will complete them and make them feel whole. I think this is why so many people have problems in their lives, problems in relationships, or with jobs. They are searching but do not search for the right thing. They put too much emphasis on material possessions, gain and wealth. They put too much emphasis on what their job says about them. They think that if their significant other is not exactly as they want, then something is wrong with that person or inside themselves. This sort of disquietude, this restlessness is something, which all too often needs to be addressed on a spiritual level.
Finding the right path should be the first focus in adulthood, perhaps the first focus in life. Unless you know what is deep in your soul, how will you know what you want to do with your life? Unless you are at peace with yourself and your soul, how can you expect to find and share happiness with someone else?
What is your current path? Are you certain it is the right one for you? How do you feel about where you started and where that path has taken you? I know that my path is ever rising, ever changing. It is still forcing me to learn more and experience more. It does not let me rest on laurels but encourages me to develop and grow each day. For me, this is the right path. What does your “right path” do for you?