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Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

Spirituality Or Religion?

What is the difference between spirituality and religion? Is there a difference or are the terms interchangeable? Why do some people claim to be religious while others call themselves spiritual? Am I spiritual or religious? What defines these terms and really how can you tell which is which? Are all pagans spiritual and all Judeo/Christians religious? These are the questions that I pondered and wanted to find some answers to. I asked friends, co-works, online buddies, family as well as my husband. After many discussions I found that people had a different opinion depending on where he/she was on their own life path and what spiritual beliefs they held. I meditated. I researched. And finally I had an answer that felt right and true to me.

The main difference between spirituality and religion is the freedom to choose a path towards enlightenment and ultimately, recognize of our sacred selves. Neither is better as it really is a personal choice. In fact an individual can be both spiritual and religious. As spirituality is the spark or the core of religion though it can be a form of religion on its own. Spirituality embraces oneness and seeks to find a balance between our physical manifestation and our sacred self. Spirituality is a private and personal path while religion tends to be more organized utilizing public rituals and formal doctrines. Spirituality is not. It is something that is lived each and every day.

Religion can be spiritual and should be spiritual although it isn’t for every individual. Religion without spirituality is empty. These are the individuals who attend Church on Sunday but live a hypocritical life every other day of the week. A spiritual person can also be religious though this person would be more sensitive to matters of spirit especially when religious dogma contradicts his or her own understanding of deity and the eternal now. Religion generally takes its inspiration from the past focusing on sacred texts as a way to reach salvation or enlightenment. It is concerned with the fear of displeasing deity as well as worshipping the deity who is believed to be transcendent (residing on another plane of existence). Religion believes that their path is the true path to reach this salvation while spirituality teaches that we can connect to deity through love of ourselves as others. Spirituality understands that all paths to deity are valid and embraces all world religions however it is not restricted by any of their doctrines or practices.

I am comfortable recognizing that I am a spiritual person. I have always been regardless of what religion I practiced. I was always aware of my relationship to deity and understood that it was important to seek oneness with other sacred beings regardless of what religion they practiced. At the present time I am Wiccan. That is my religion but I am also a spiritual being.