I had an online argument once about spirituality vs religion with a person who was the leader of a very large multi-level-marketing group. I was part of this group at the time and felt that the whole experience was wonderful until religion, specifically Fundamentalist Christianity, became something we were being expected to participate in at every event and meeting. All implied of course, because otherwise it would have become a legal issue for them eventually, but the glares we received for not praying and saying 'Amen' were pretty obvious. They were also preaching misogyny in their gender roles based on their interpretation of the Bible and I found that off-putting to say the least.
The argument began as a question regarding why the religious aspect was necessary for a business selling non-religious household items. I clearly stated that I was not a Christian and had no interest in being one. He basically told me that I could not possibly have any morals or values. I explained to him that it is not only possible to have morals and values without religion, but that it's a reality for millions of people the world over. I also mentioned that many people are spiritual without being religious. He persisted. He told me straight up that you cannot be spiritual without having a religion because they are the same thing.
The ignorance and closed mindedness was surprising to me for someone as successful as he was. (One of my blind spots, I know.) Even the dictionary has different definitions of the two words, although there is some overlap. He also went so far as to delete our entire conversation from the forum we were posting in.
I bring this up because it had never occurred to me that anyone would think the way he thought regarding spirituality vs religion, but apparently there can be a whole lot of blindness when it comes to beliefs, and if your are new to magick, just be mindful of that. I never sought to attack his religion, I was simply offering another point of view in the hopes that I could continue in this group without having to participate in practices I don't believe in. Needless to say, we left the group entirely, and in hindsight, it was for the best.
While you cannot be truly religious without being spiritual, you absolutely CAN be spiritual without holding to a specific religion.
Spirituality is the search within for a higher meaning and connection to those things we cannot sense in the physical plane. Some who are very spiritual will look to religion to find that connection and higher meaning. However, it's not required. There are millions of people all over the world who turn to their own experiences to connect and find meaning.
Religion is basically institutionalized spirituality, meaning an institution or group will tell you what to believe. Not everyone follows everything they're told of course, and many religious people seem to only use their religion as a basic guide rather than following every letter of every edict. There are also those who proclaim to be religious but have absolutely no interest in being spiritual. They are not truly religious, but are rather pretending to be in order to fit in socially or to gain power of some kind.
Which brings us to the question...
Do you have to be religious in order to use magick? Or, do you have to completely remove all religion from your belief system in order to use magick?
The answer is no to both questions.
Let's define magick first. Paraphrased from the dictionary, magick is the use of charms, spells, enchantments, or incantations that are used to gain power over natural forces. Ever hear a priest do an incantation? :)
Wicca is a religion, but you don't have to be Wiccan to use magick or to even call yourself a witch. A magick user of any kind can also be Catholic, Christian, or any other religion they feel called to be a part of. I know a Wiccan High Priestess who is also a Catholic. I know a lot of people who call themselves a witch, but they do not follow the Wiccan religion.
So, if you feel that you are betraying your original belief system by practicing magick, just know that is not the case. Because when it comes to spirituality vs religion, they can exist independently of each other, or simultaneously. The choice is yours.
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