The debate of spirituality versus religion is something I’ve heard time and time again. “I’m spiritual,” people say. “But I’m not religious.”
Sometimes, when people sit down to define religion and spirituality, though, they tend to get stuck. “What is spirituality?” they question. “And how does it differ from religion?” It’s a question that I’ve dug into over the years, one that I still don’t have a definite answer for, but I’ve started to get a framework down for it.
I practice nature spirituality, though “practice” isn’t really the right word for it. “Practice” entails a physical, active component, but spirituality has always been more ethereal than physical, to me. It is the belief in something Other, the acknowledgement that our physical existence is not the end-all, be-all of the Universe. With spirituality, there is more to life and living and our experience in the world. In nature spirituality, I find divinity and the Other in nature, in the natural world, from the faint blushing of autumn leaves to the first frost of winter. It is the sense of wonder and amazement I feel at the natural world, being able to create such tiny details in such a large world and how they affect so many things in our daily lives.
Religion is different. It is the trappings and actions that we take part in to bring our spirituality to the physical plane. Lighting a candle to drive away the dark in winter, offering incense and khernips to certain deities. Religion is the practice, the physical component of belief. And there are, usually, set guidelines within certain religions. How to make offerings, do rituals, what taboos to avoid.
But when I say I am spiritual and religious, I mean that I have a sense of wonder and belief in the Other and I manifest my belief on the physical plane in ways that make sense to me and that I have developed over the years. A set religion has yet to truly grab me, but I have a deep belief in my gods and my worship of them that transcends spirituality and delves into the religious realm. I am not simply spiritual, but religious.