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My Transition From Christianity to Spirituality

Let me first say that there doesn't have to be one or the other. For me and this journey I'm on, however, the choice was very clear. Here's my story.

I have always had a curious mind since my early years. I never accepted the first answer for my questions, rather, craved more knowledge...more understanding. I have early memories of attending random church services with friends and family as well as Kingdom Hall worship ceremonies with my father and grandmother. I was always so captivated by the energy and presence of it all. My parents never forced me to worship, or even believe in a God at all, but I always knew there was one.

When I was six years old, my maternal grandmother passed away. Sitting in the front of her funeral procession besides my weeping family, I remember having this light, airy feeling of contentment. I didn't get to know my grandmother much (that's another post for another day), but I felt more connected to her than ever, as she laid, lifelessly in the church sanctuary. After the repast, when my mother and I returned home, I remember saying to her "Do you know why I didn't cry today?" "Why not?" she asked, "Because your mom will always be with us, even though she's dead."

I smiled at my mom, expecting her to fully understand the sentiment but instead, she burst into tears and told me never to say that again, so I didn't... at least not for many years to follow.

It wasn't until I met my grandmother again, at about 21 years old, that I understood that feeling of contentment I experienced at her funeral.

For years to follow, my family honored her at the anniversary of her birthdate. Although I didn't feel extremely connected to my grandmother in her physical life, I always enjoyed gathering with my family and would often attempt to understand the pain they relived each year after her death. This was a ritual, that even my extremely Baptist Christian family dare not bring to the church that outcasted our beloved grandmother, mother and sister.

My grandmother's story of disassociating from the church was nothing like mine. My reasons were rooted in changing perception and thought expansion, whereas she was shunned for having gotten pregnant at an young age.

I was quite the church girl, dressing up every Sunday and making sure to be present for Thursday night Bible study, Sunday school and any church related events throughout the week. I enjoyed the community of it all--everyone I loved, gathering to worship the man I loved most, God and Jesus Christ. I felt that I'd finally reached a point of understanding within my spiritual boundaries in the church. I'd read the Bible relentlessly, picking out lessons from the stories, taking notes and making them relate to my own life.

When my mom got married, we began to go to church more frequently. I remember being in my 8th grade biology class, listening to theories of evolution and the "Big Bang" with an insufferable question lingering in my head "How can all this be true AND God at the same time?" I knew I could not ask my teacher or pastor, who, I felt were at extreme opposite ends of the spectrum in this matter, so I took my curiosities to my mom. Surprisingly, she didn't yell at me for questioning God or his authority. Instead, she encouraged me to continue researching all that I could and go with whatever felt best for me.

So that's what I did, I researched (what felt like) all I could on Charels Darwin and the scientific theories of life until I grew bored and restless. I then began learning about Bhuddism, Islam and the understanding of these different ideologies in historical context. "If Charles Darwin already explained this to everyone, why were people willing to risk their lives, families and freedom over religion?" I'd ask myself in history class.

All this felt like too much for a 13 year old girl to worry about but I was hungry to know the answers. I didn't want to worry my family that I was questioning God and felt like if everyone knew what I knew and they all chose Christianity, that must be the right answer, right?

Well, after months of taking on my academic pilgramage, I decided to take the bold walk to the front of the church after one of my pastor's sermons. "The Doors Of The Church Are Open," is what we heard every week before someone devoted their lives to Christ and would be set for baptism. This was seen as a major accomplishment, we'd clap in glee as people one by one, ushered themselves to the Altar of God, to turn over their lives over to Him.

Now, it was my turn.

I was shaking when I went up there but I knew this was the right choice for me. I mean, the textbooks literally BORED me and my entire family was here cheering me on! It was a celebration! Of course I wanted to do the right thing.

The same day, I took my divine dip into the pool of Christ where I was officially baptized into Christianity. Still cautious about my worldly appearance, I remember tying my hair up in two different scarves, stocking cap, a plastic bag and a swim cap to ensure the 30-second dip didn't ruin my silk press blow out.

And it didn't! I was able to rise from the pool with my hair flowing like a goddess to take my seat in the front of the church as a new member. This was all ritualistic, but at the time, I just knew the recognition felt good.

Fast forward seven years and I suddenly was able to empathize with the pain my family had felt every year on my grandmother's birthday. To a tough battle of the heart and a medically induced coma, I'd lost my father in the most unforeseen way. The night before his passing was the first time he came to me in the spirit realm. I dreamt of his body, lifeless, smelly and cold. I woke up in a panic and could not sleep the rest of the night. Later, I would learn that he was trying to comfort me but didn't know how to, just yet. Just 20 years old and in my last year of college, I knew that I could not let the end of his life be the end of his story. I considered myself his legacy, and needed to continue school to live up to his expectations.

I returned to Washington, DC for my last year at Howard University just three days after burying my father. In "King" fashion, as he would say, which was when I began to feel him the most. I slipped into a deep depression, considerably the darkest time of my life. I relied heavily on the use of marijuana, drinking and partying to distract me from the fact that I was no one's little girl anymore. The smoking had gotten so bad that I was threatened to be kicked out of my dorm on several occasions. But none of that mattered. As long as I didn't have to feel or deal with the fact that my dad was gone, I didn't care about anything else.

It was in those moments of extremely high sensations that my dad began to come to me. I would be crying, folding clothes or just standing in my room and would feel the warm presence of a tall, manly energy that I knew so well. Was I going crazy? "Nah, probably just the drugs," I told myself.

My dad's sister and I, got closer than ever during this time. Not only did we lean on one another for support through dealing with the loss of my father, but we also both grew an affinity for astrology and studying tarot readings. I continued to attend church services regularly and kept my tarot interests a secret from most of my family.

I didn't begin to question my Christian faith much, until I delved deeper into my spiritual practices. I knew that communicating with my father made me feel good and I wanted to go further. I'd seen those who were fully submersed in spirituality living lives of veganism, spellwork, adventure and reading--which piqued my interest the most. I always wanted to read but felt too tied up with school and work. I decided to begin reading as my introduction to learning about spirituality. The first book I got was a manuscript of religious instruction for Black people by a white slave master reverend entitled "How to Make a Negro Christian."

One chapter in this book had me like:

I couldn't believe what I was reading about my beloved Christianity. I won't explain too much of it for y'all, rather encourage that if you are interested, you should certainly read this book as well. It is my understanding that no one [African-American] who takes the time to do so, could possibly align themselves with the beliefs and practices of Christianity any further. If you choose to do both, more power to you.

I'd always known about the discrepancies of Christianity in Black history, especially after having graduated from a Historically Black College, but this book did me in. Something about reading it right from the horse's mouth changed my entire perspective on the religion as a whole.

Still, I knew there was a higher power out there and more for me to learn. I continued my studies, less in private, opening myself for free tarot readings under the pseudonym @celestialknowles on Instagram. My page garnered over a thousand followers and dozens of loyal clients, none of which were connected to me, my church or my family.

I loved the clarity tarot readings brought myself and others. As I got deeper into the online spiritual community, I began hearing about the Orisha, Ioa and other deities. I continued to learn and grow, under the soil of secrecy that I labeled "privacy."

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had the perfect excuse for my fleeting church attendance. After missing a few in a row, my family began questioning me less and observing me more. My presence on social media changed through my language--I was no longer talking about God or ending all my posts with a Bible scripture. Soon, I felt confident enough to post about my tarot readings and even offer them on my own personal page.

I lost a LOT of Facebook friends after doing that.

As my third eye expanded, I could hear the chatter about me and my practices behind closed doors but I kept on going. When I would go Live and offer readings, I noticed my ex-church members, youth pastors and associates watching, viewing the videos to see what it was all about. Honestly, the curiosity fueled me. Because I was a devout member and so true to my practice in religion, I knew this shift would raise eyebrows. I hoped to help expand the consciousness of those around me by being myself doing tarot, showing that there were no demonic or evil ties related to what I now believed in.

Although I didn't continue to share my spiritual journey on the Internet for much longer, the deeper I went within, the clearer my beliefs became. As I healed from past hurt, trauma and pain, I received the understanding of life through the knowledge of self. For me, the church was an attachment, like many other things that could help define me before I defined myself. Like school, a job or a shiny car, adding "church girl" to my resume was nothing more than an ego boost, to add to the polished apprarance I so desperately fought to maintain.

That polish was tarnished, so, so tarnished, I learned on my healing journey.

When I was the most depressed, at my lowest points in life, I remember calling on [Christian] God for help. Crying and praying relentlessly on my hands and knees, waiting for the miracle that I'd been told would come, my "savior."

"I don't believe that Jesus' death had anything to do with my life."

I never got the chance to meet Jesus as my savior. Some Christians reading this may say that is exactly why I am the way I am now. But I simply don't believe Jesus exists in that concept--I don't believe that Jesus' death had anything to do with my life. Sure, Jesus died for all of us. Jesus died as an example of the lives we may all live here on Earth. A prophet of many but most importantly, a prophet of self, Jesus shows us the power we all have within as humans. I believe we can all walk on water, turn water to wine and feed 5,000 people with 5 fish and a loaf of bread. I believe all of us have the properties of God, Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit within, as well as the spirits of Shango, Oshun, Yemaya, Obatala and all alike.

The divine entities work with us, not for us. Understanding that my ultimate savior was self, has been the most freeing concept to grasp since beginning this journey--a feeling I never got from the weekly church sermons.

Again, this is just my testimony and yours may differ. If you've had the pleasure of being possessed with the Holy Ghost or seeing God as a Man come to you in bright light, then I am happy for you. We all have a Creator and yours will be fit in the image best for you. I am content in understanding my role in this Universe, taking accountability of my life and giving honor to those who did so before me.

I am immensely grateful for the foundation and lessons given to me through the Bible, the church and church family. I am also grateful for remembering my true journey and staying aligned on its path. That is my only hope for each and every one of you. We are all trying to figure something out but true understanding only begins when you understand yourself.

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