How do you navigate interfaith relationships?
I have many interfaith relationships. I’m not just talking about my marriage, but also my friendships. I don’t really know any other self-identified pagans, although I do know a few people who incorporate earth-based spiritual practices into their own paths and call themselves whatever they damn well please because I don’t get to tell them who they are. I used to be part of an interfaith group at Mills that included some pagans, and I’ve been to two Beltane celebrations there, but I don’t really know anyone on a personal level. Most of my family would identify as christian, and many of them go to church on a regular or semi-regular basis– some of my family are quite devout and can be really conservative which puts me in an uncomfortable spot. And not just as a pagan, but as a queer woman. So yeah, sometimes Thanksgiving dinners are a bit uncomfortable.
I try to not step on too many toes. Familial harmony is sometimes more important to me than being a flamboyant pagan. I also really believe in interfaith work, so I don’t get uncomfortable around other people’s traditions or practices most of the time– I’m not a fan of any isms, so as long as we stay clear of those I’m fine with whatever. So being open is my approach to my interfaith relationships. Another thing is using my past as an advantage. I was raised in a Christian household, and I still remember many of the traditions, rules, and teachings of my childhood so I can relate with people who practice them, if that makes sense. And honestly, my history with Christianity shapes the way I approach paganism and how I choose to worship, so it’s no surprise that I can still relate to Christians. I didn’t leave Christianity on bad terms, so unlike some who experienced a lot of trauma because of the church I don’t feel any animosity or anger towards it. I choose to remember how it helped me rather than how it hindered me, and I especially keep that in mind in my interfaith relationships.
I do sometimes with that my friends and family took more interest in my practices and beliefs, but for selfish reasons. I mostly just want someone to share my faith with, and ultimately I can’t ask my family for that because in many cases they feel that paganism is in direct conflict with their own religion. I get it. It’s just that sometimes it gets lonely. There are many resources out there for the solitary practitioner, but it just really nice to be in a group, to celebrate with others. Humans are interdependent, the majority of us were not meant to live life isolate from one another. Because I don’t identify as Wiccan it can be hard to find others who want to worship and celebrate like I do. I try to make the best of it but sometimes I feel lonely.
I think this question got away from me a bit. But that is honestly how I feel with the relationships I have now.