Misconceptions of the Non-Traditional

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Sspirituality, in every sense of the word, has many different meanings. For some, this may describe their faith in mainstream organized religions. Others see spirituality as a way to affirm their belief in a higher power but rejection of dominant religions. When it comes to those who identify with these, alternative religions and expressions of spirituality, some may mistakenly believe that their spirituality carries a lighter weight than that of people of “conventional” faith.

Unlike modern definitions, astrology and astronomy were similarly compared in ancient times, defined as the divination surrounding the impact of planets and stars on humans and the Earth. Astrology was established in Mesopotamia around the third millennium BC. In Greece, between 323 BCE and 31 BCE, also known as the Hellenistic period, it took its western form. Greek tradition said that the 12 constellations of the zodiac divided the heavens and the stars and that each constellation had a spiritual impact on humans.

In recent years, interest in astrology and the use of crystals among younger generations has increased while worship of a particular God has declined. From January 2018 to March 2019, a steady stream of coverage of these practices made its way into pop culture, specifically noted in Atlantic, the new yorker and The New York Times.

Women and homosexuals have long been considered the majority of astrology users. He is generally looked down upon, often by men, who believe he does not have enough scientific research to back up his conclusions.

Courtney Archibald, a fifth-year interior design student, said astrology helped her learn more about herself and her relationships with others and the world. After joining the Ohio University Astrology Club in her freshman year, astrology became a daily practice in her life. She says learning more about it has been very eye-opening, especially because she comes from a small town where things like astrology aren’t taken very seriously.

“If you look at it and you still disagree with it, I feel like that’s one thing, but some people will completely dismiss it because of the culture around it,” said Archibald. “Understanding and learning about this really opened a lot of doors for me and it’s unfortunate that people potentially miss out on this experience.”

Archibald added that she previously only understood astrology to the extent of pop culture references and magazine horoscopes, but now she recognizes that it is a complex area of ​​study that many many people devote their whole lives. While she grew up in a Baptist church, Archibald no longer practices religion because she sees many faults in it.

Beyond astrology, tools like tarot and oracle cards are used in readings where the user seeks knowledge and/or a new perspective of the divine. The difference between tarot cards and oracle cards is that tarot decks have a traditional structure, with each card having a unique meaning. Although each oracle card also has a meaning, it is broader and more interpretative. Interpretation is always necessary with tarot, but oracle cards have a much broader perspective. Metaphorically, tarot cards are binoculars and oracle cards are a telescope.

Archibald said she was taught that alternative spiritual methods like tarot cards are wrong, but through re-education and application in her spiritual practices, she now believes that is incorrect. However, it is judged for it by those who are part of organized church spaces. Archibald also said that people are reluctant to step out of their comfort zone because they’ve spent so much of their lives creating a belief system out of a religion and they’re afraid to question it. .

“Understanding and learning about this really opened a lot of doors for me and it’s unfortunate that people potentially miss out on this experience.”-Courtney Archibald, Astrology Club Member

In her practices, Archibald said she prefers a casual approach, including reading her and others’ birth charts from time to time. She also reads tarot cards for herself and her close friends that resonate with crystals.

Archibald and Rylee Pare, a second-year nursing student, share the sentiment that people are drawn to unconventional spiritual practices because of an inherent curiosity.

Pare said her parents are both Wiccans (someone whose practices are of a nature-based religion), but were never pressured to follow in their footsteps, identifying as pagans (someone who belongs to a community whose practices revere nature). However, as a child, Pare had strange dreams, and their mother helped them use tarot cards to interpret them. A friend also gave them their own deck of oracle cards. Pare said younger generations are increasingly interested in minority religions because they have a more curious perspective.

“I was usually a little secretive about (being pagan) because paganism isn’t always widely accepted, a lot of witches call it being in the broom closet,” Pare said. “Once I got to college, I became a little more open about it (and) was more willing to read (the tarot) for friends.”

Along with curiosity, Pare said there are many different ideologies among pagans, which opens up a lot of exploration. Since there are no rules to follow, many opinions and perspectives are shared in their conversations.

Pare has a particular love for tarot cards and Greek mythology. Regarding the latter, Pare disagrees with the common idea that tarot cards must be gifted to an individual and cannot be purchased. She said that connecting with the energy of a deck is more important than how one acquires the deck.

When it comes to mythology, Pare finds it easier to talk to a deity or god or divine goddess, like Aphrodite, than to talk to the entire universe. In the same way that saints in Christianity provide spiritual guidance, mythological depictions of deities aid digestion and understanding of how the universe works, they said.

In essence, Pare said that some beings have more abilities than humans. Unlike mainstream religions, however, the beings in question are not all-powerful like the Christian God, for example.

Pare grew up just outside of Athens and said from their experience there was definitely a clear sense of what ‘normal’ religion and spirituality is in rural areas of Athens County. . Similar to Archibald, Pare sees opposition to “conventional” religion and the idea that spirituality is rooted in a place of uncertainty and fear, like the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.

Dr Brian Collins, professor of classics and religious studies at OU, said people from mainstream religious traditions generally feel that their practices require drastic personal change within a particular rule system, which is difficult in the modern world. Because non-traditional religions tend to be more personal to the individual and don’t have strict rules that can be broken, traditional religious people may view such practices as cheating, he said.

Collins also said that there is an increased number of Pagans born into Pagan families, which means that just as the average person interacts with Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu ideas, they will now interact with ideas heathen.

“Paganism is part of what we call the New Age movement, which involved focusing on different types of healing: spiritual healing, different types of food, different diets, astrology, different forms of omen reading or telling the future like astrology and tarot and also psychic reading,” Collins said. “It’s a big category that includes a lot of things that wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves to be related.”

Some spiritual people argue that organized religion often justifies violence in the name of faith, according to Roger S. Gottlieb, professor of philosophy at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and author of “Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters.” For example, the Catholic Church covering up years and years of sexual abuse or “religious nationalists in raging mobs,” Gottlieb said. He said that the attention of spiritual people shifts from metaphysical principles to moral principles; they reject organized religion not because it is full of intolerance, but because “it doesn’t tolerate bad things.”

Kelly Lawrence, owner of local Athens store Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium, 400 E. State St., said restrictions within some organized religions often turn people away from them. While some churches welcome everyone, it’s difficult for many LGBTQ+ people to find safe spaces within organized religions, she said.

“I work really hard to build a community here (at the store),” Lawrence said. “I really want people to feel like they’re part of something…they don’t even have to be religious, they don’t have to be pagan per se, they can just be curious and wanting to have a pretty crystal to put in a window.

As a pagan, Lawrence said that many people who identify as feminists, for example, see goddesses as focusing more on goddesses and find more solace in paganism. Just as one would in a church, there are times as a pagan that made Lawrence feel like a true part of the universe, that felt a heightened sense of oneness with the divine, a she declared.

Understanding spirituality is complex. Yet all religions share the belief that people should take care of each other or do to others as you would have them do to you, Lawrence said. She said Chosen Pathways was named so because each faith shares the goal of arriving at a place of kindness to one another; they just take different routes to get there.

“People don’t realize you have the same connection to paganism as you do to any organized religion,” Lawrence said. “Some people see God as ‘other,’ and the more I learned about all the different religions, and that includes all organized religions, the more I realized that God is within us.”

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