And no, I do not mean this in any way of “let’s mess with their beliefs”.

I mean…enjoying a great conversation about religious and spiritual beliefs with full respect. See, I went out this last Friday and hung out with 2 of the women in my study abroad program. They’re both wonderful and I really enjoy spending time with them, we all kind of get along and are quite different from most of the other kids in our program. So that’s another fun thing. But, we went window-shopping, searched the local Münstermarkt (I guess farmer’s market is probably the correct thing to say in English), and then had a wonderful German dinner and chatted for several hours. And by several, I’m pretty sure it was about 4. But it was great.

We were discussing college, our majors, life experiences, tattoos and if we want them or not (I already have 3 and am planning/saving for my 4th, neither of them do, but 1’s planning hers), and religion. Usually I shy away from religious discussions with people my age, they usually end pretty badly. Because, for whatever reason, people my age seem to think that while normally they would be all for “total equality and respect”, when it comes to their faith they have to be boors about it. And I’ll admit, if someone’s disrespectful to me, I do get proud and I will get back in their face, if they’re my age. I’ve learned to not do this nearly so much…but there’s 1 or 2 people who I still instinctively will argue with, no matter what, and they know it. We both are at fault for that, I know. But, for the most part, I try to remain respectful, no matter what. Which is why I avoid the discussion with people my own age, because most people my age can’t be respectfully disagreeable about spirituality. Or rather, that’s just my experiences in the most part.

But we had a wonderful discussion, the 3 of us.

We were discussing relationships, and whether we would date someone not of our spiritual beliefs. I would, but then, my experience with the people I know always has me as one of 2 or maybe 3 self-identified pagans. So I’m very open, as long as my partner will respect my beliefs. Both of them want to date someone in the same faith, which I can understand. It makes sense, and their reasoning, I can accept, even if it’s not for me. But then we were talking weddings, and just other girly things. But I admitted that I’d never get married in a church. See, I don’t understand the whole marry in a church fantasy. For me (and this is me alone), if you aren’t Christian or aren’t marrying a devout Christian, it’s disrespectful to get married in a functioning church. Because by getting married in the building, you’re marrying “before God”. And if you aren’t Christian, I feel like that’s an insult to that God, and to those who worship him. Again, my opinion. Besides, I’ve always wanted, if I get married, to do a fast ceremony – I mean as short as possible, I seriously wish I could get the ceremony over in 5 minutes – and then just have a huge barbecue. I’m sure one of my grandparents would let me have it at their houses on the lawn. Just a huge party, that’s my plan. No church involved.

But of course, they asked why I said I thought it disrespectful to get married in a church. So I explained that I’m pagan and a witch. I was kind of expecting a bit of shock and disdain. Actually, both of them were fascinated. So I had to answer a lot of questions, which was both a bit strange and really nice. It’s a bit weird trying to explain what I believe to people who are raised Christian and don’t really know anything else, but I think I did pretty well. I explained polytheism, and that I’m what you’d call a “hard polytheist”, and what I’m studying at the moment. Of course, because I’m also having this prod to look into specific deities, I explained a bit about that. It’s fun to explain and have a civil conversation. So they asked questions, I answered. And we compared different parts of my belief to Christianity. We have some major differences of opinion, but it was all very respectful.

We talked about ghosts, and what we think they are. Spirits, things that are unusual that we’ve seen or experienced. I sense ghosts at times, I’ve only seen 2. One was my grandma the day after she died. That one almost scared me at first, because here I was, 19 years old, and I see a ghost. The last time I’d seen one I was 7. So I almost dropped everything I’d been carrying, because I thought for sure I was crazy. But, I’m not. And I think my grandma did that so I could see her happy again. Because it was peaceful, a tiniest bit of closure. I also grew up sensing them though, which is what I’m more used to. I can handle feeling ghosts’ presences, even if it startles me at first. So we had a ghost and paranormal discussion.

All in all, I had a blast. I’m not used to enjoying myself in religious discussions. Usually I end up defending myself against attacks. While I don’t mind explaining my beliefs, I will admit I grow tired of the mockery. As one of the girls pointed out “Well, you can’t be any crazier than other people who see things.” Which made me laugh. Because, I had to say that my own personal code is that believing in my gods and accepting their existence is no crazier than any Christian who believes that their God speaks to them. It’s a nice way to end a conversation, just agreeing that we clearly have different beliefs, but we can get along and not have it be a huge deal.

So Friday was a great day. Fun time seeing more of my own beliefs. It’s really a wonder (and I always seem to forget) how much I can learn about myself by trying to explain my beliefs to others who don’t believe anything similar. So it was fun, but I also learned a bit more about myself. All in all, an excellent day.

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