Dare We Question Our Faith?

Late last month, I attended an interfaith festival in my city where I ran a table on Daemonolatry. Although the organizers encouraged visitors to step outside their comfort zones and talk to people who might challenge their religious views, I’d estimate that less than ten people asked me anything about Daemonolatry at all. Far more were interested in the plastic cauldron filled with candy that I’d set in front of me—or the life-size, cardboard Pope planted right beside my booth. The Catholic meant to defend the Pontiff’s honor from nasty photo ops was busy most of the day, so I enjoyed the irony of explaining how His Holiness wasn’t mine for six hours.

I also took home all the free literature I could and received invitations to numerous places of worship. I wept (discretely) thanks to an amazing hip-hop poet, and I realized that the Sikh children performing their traditional martial arts could kick the ass of nearly everyone present. In short, I’m glad I went. I believe interfaith events can benefit us all. Meditate for a moment on the idea behind this year’s celebration: myriad faiths united by shared human experience, learning from one another and growing because of it. How inspiring!

Of course, I jump at the chance to go to and host non-denominational spiritual events. What I see posted on Facebook makes me suspect others may not be as excited as I am. Perhaps they worry that mingling with followers of other religions will test their beliefs. Well, so what?

We hear all the time that deity works in mysterious ways, and the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac indicates that at least the Christian god likes to test our faith. I don’t work with that aspect of the divine, but I’ve definitely felt tested by my patron. I’ve gone so far as to scream at the sky and demand a sign from him. That doesn’t mean I haven’t squeezed shut my eyes as tightly as I could to avoid seeing one of his signs when it suited me too. The longer I ignore him, the bigger his billboards always become.

I’ve learned the hard way to listen when my belly begins to knot and twist. I’m lucky that my body provides me with such clear signals, but it was only through carefully going over my ritual notes and journal entries that I figured out what my ‘tell’ was. My stomach acts as both my conscience and my bullshit detector, and woe betide me when I listen to the opinions of others rather than it.

I wish I had understood this about myself sooner. My parents impressed the importance of maintaining ‘decorum’ in public at an extremely young age. Because of that, people compliment me regularly on my poise during speaking engagements. No one has ever noticed the sweat dripping down my body under my clothes or my shaking hands. They have occasionally not believed me when I have pointed these signs of anxiety out. Unfortunately, I haven’t believed my own anxiety at times, either, and dismissed ill feelings that crept up repeatedly as stage fright rather than my gut warning me. As I’ve watched my loved ones struggle with their own stress and nerves, I’ve sometimes wondered what their bodies are trying to tell them. We can never completely know a person until we at least attempt to understand what they are going through.

I try to learn about other religions because I have felt misunderstood because of my faith in the past. Some of what I have read over the years has undoubtedly changed me—and for the better, as far as I am concerned. After all, I started reading about Paganism with Raymond Buckland and am now a Daemonolator. I suspect most readers here will view that positively, though I know not everyone will agree.

Change is by its very nature unpredictable, and humans fear what we cannot control. Just watch any parent’s face when they watch their child ride a bike for the first time, go out on their first date, or move out of the house. We worry about these things just as much as we look forward to them. I think interfaith activities frequently have such low turnouts for similar reasons.

Yet we cannot stop change from happening. Children eventually move out whether we count the months to their departure or try to barricade the doors. Similarly, members of other faiths will continue to immigrate to our countries. More burkini incidents will occur, or situations like them. Transgender individuals will continue to demand fair treatment from religious organizations that have never had to deal with them before. The wheel will keep turning, as it always has. We cannot halt time.

In the end, I suppose each of us must tackle the interfaith conundrum on a personal level, from within our current belief systems—whatever they may be. As for myself, I left the festival wondering where Daemonolators fit in the grand scheme of things. Do we see ourselves as part of the larger Pagan or Occult community? If so, is that where anyone wants us to be, including ourselves?

I can’t answer these questions right now. Realistically, I’m not sure I ever should—at least for anyone but myself. The All may be One, but I refuse to believe there’s just One path to the All.

May this season of renewal revitalize you and yours. Naamah.

About William Briar

William Briar discovered Paganism through Wicca in his early teens and has studied everything from ceremonial to pop-culture magick in the thirty years since. He specializes in shamanic journey-work and is the author of Daemonic Shamanism, available now. He is an Initiate of the Temple of Atem, where he is a member of the clergy team. Will paints and plots for a living, with the majority of his work published in the science fiction and horror genres. He often burns finished art ritualistically, making no prints whatsoever. It keeps his relationship with his muse—and with his gods—fresh and exciting. Connect with William and keep up with his spiritual writing onFacebook at https://www.facebook.com/thebrassvessel.
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