Understanding your personal path
(Byers, CO, USA)
The Circle Within by Dianne Sylvan
We come to a point in our lives (whether we're pagan or not) when we start to wonder what our own beliefs are. You can only learn so much from books and the people around you. Eventually, we must make our own decisions and walk our own path. It's called growth and journey.
This book came to me at that point. I'm now on my 3rd copy. I keep passing it along.
I've never had what I would call formal training. I've been solitaire for almost 7 years, whether by choice or by circumstance.
I've read books, I've researched on the internet, I've even attended a brief blip of a Wicca 101 class.
I've heard opinions, and tried out other people's suggestions. When it came right down to it, I no longer knew what my particular views were.
This book is one way (not the only way) to find out. Broken down into chapters (Stepping Into the Circle, Living the Path, Building a Practice, etc)
I'm lead through a dance of discovery. In a voice that gives and takes, Dianne prompts you to journey.
In each chapter, she sets forth some of her views and opinions on different matters. At the end of each, you’re prompted with questions to assist you in finding your own view.
Several things stuck with or intrigued me, including:
At the end of chapter one, Stepping Into The Circle, one of the things to ponder, is how much thought have you given to your personal path...have you been running on instinct, following books, or a combination...does your altar face East for a particular reason or because a book said so?
I thought long about it, and still do several months later.
I started writing down why I did the things I've done, what is my understanding of my god-views, why is my altar in the West and not the North or East, and on and on.
It also lead me to pass this book on to two other people I know. One has been practicing her own Path for several years and one was a recent member of the community who was a Greek Orthodox monk for 7 years.
It has lead to some interesting discussions.
In chapter 2, In Search of A Mystery pages 22-26, she proposes a third concept for understanding Deity.
As an alternative to transcendent Divinity and immanent Divinity, Dianne suggests manifest Divinity.
The idea that
"Deity is all things, all places, and all times, but because we are human and limited, we cannot have a full understanding of it.
Therefore, we create images for our gods to inhabit and faces and names and natures that we can grasp. The Divine force that permeates the universe can then enter into those symbols, and for us, they become real.
...these are emblems we have created, not the totality of Goddess and God. That totality is made up of everything in the universe and its interactions, the eternal dance of probability and causality that comes from evolution, choices, love, and our lives."
This brought back memories of discussions with friends about the nature of God. That God/Divinity/Deity/ All Spirit is like a multi-faceted diamond.
We are so small in comparison that we only see one facet of this Concept, but that is not Its entirety.
In Chapter 3, "Living The Path", on page 45 Dianne says,
"Bad things happen. ..... We suffer for things we didn't do, and we get hurt for stupid reasons---it's a fact of life. The important thing isn't so much that shit happens, the important thing is what we do with the shit afterwards. We can choose to remain victims.....or we can choose to stand up and grow."
Talk about a slap in the face! But sometimes we need that. I love the fact that she's blunt and to the point. No dancing around.
I do not recommend this only to the pagan community. With slight changes in language, people of many faiths and walks can dance their own journey through this book.
Published by Llewellyn Worldwide
Available at Amazon