Under is one of my little one’s favourite words at the moment.  When thinking of topics for the letter ‘U’ for the PBP, all I could think of was her little voice chanting “Unda!  Unda!”

When we’re small, under is pretty cool.  We play Hide-and-Seek, trying to squeeze ourselves into the smallest places we can find.  Later on, we build forts with blanket ceilings and tree houses under a canopy of green.

These small under places are our own.  Our first understanding of separate and private space are in these little caves and duns. Under is safe.  Under is secure and strong.  As we travel the road of life, we look to people to provide that feeling of security – from parents to teachers, bosses, priests.

While in our adolescence we chaff at being under the control and protection of our parents, when venturing into unknown territory, we instinctually search for someone who has walked the path before to tell us where to step, and what to watch out for.

It’s a comfort to give up the stress of responsibility. This is, I think, one of the things that draws people to congregational forms of religion.

Those of us who were raised in Abrahamic faiths will remember the feeling of being a faceless member of the crowd. Back when I left Christianity, it was due to the fact that no one was interested in listening to my ideas or answering my questions (I grew up in a very sexist small town).  I was a strong-willed girl who was unwilling to be set in the corner to watch the men do the heavy thinking.

Gender equality was one of the things that drew me into learning about my family’s history and Celtic mythology.  It was through the lens of the warrior queen that I came to Paganism.

I have walked a solitary path for sixteen years now, and there have been times, especially when I was new to Paganism, when I have longed for a solid, centuries old tradition at my back.  Not only to lessen the responsibility falling on my shoulders, but also to lessen the insecurity at choosing my own directions and venturing into the dark unguided.

But we don’t grow spiritually by sitting in a pew.  Growth takes introspection and hard work no matter what path we follow.  And while it is a wonderful thing to have a teacher, a community and a tradition to follow, there does come a time when we all need to step out from ‘under’ and onto our own personal path.

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