|Hello, my name is Jude Mireille Naka Austin, I am female, 26 and I am NOT a devil worshipper.
That's some introduction, huh? But it's also something that I've been accused of more than once and I want to set things straight.
I got a visit from a religious organisation a while back. I won't say which one, partly because this really isn't written with a view to offend and partly because to this day I'm not 100% sure (though I have a very, very good idea). Usually, I'm polite enough to door-to-door preachers; in a way I almost admire them. It takes more guts than I think I'd have to knock on a perfect stranger's door when you know only too well what kind of reaction you're likely to get. And usually, they're polite enough back to me and I take the tract to try and hasten their departure. I do read them, more for curiosity's sake than anything, and one or two of them have made me think.
Getting back to the main point though, I'd seen this particular couple before. Middle-late aged women, nice enough. Maybe someone's aunt or even grandmother.
They said something about religion - I can't remember exactly what now - and I said what I usually say. "I'm sorry. I have my own faith."
"Really?" one of them said, sounding astonished. I guess they didn't get many people in their early twenties saying they had a definite faith.
"Yes," I said, "I'm a spiritualist."
I might as well have waltzed into Ancient Rome and shouted from the top of the Coliseum that I was a Christian for the reaction this produced. I think I'd have stood a better chance against the lions as well. Certainly they'd probably have been easier to get rid of.
"Oh my goodness!" the other one said, in pretty much the same tones she would have used if I'd stripped in front of her.
"You mustn't be a spiritualist!" First-Woman said. "Don't you realise that you're talking to demons?"
I raised my eyebrows. Actually, that sounds a lot more cool and controlled than it really was; the truth is that I raised my eyebrows and dropped my mouth.
The other one smiled at me and patted me on the arm.
"We're not trying to frighten you," she told me in the kind of tones you'd take to a three-year-old, "but it's important you realise what you're doing. I know you think you're talking to spirits, but they're devils. By talking to them, you're inadvertently worshipping Satan."
It was at this point that my jaw actually hit the floor. Her accusation wasn't entirely new to me, but she was the first person who'd been so blatant (and so condescending) about it. That was the other thing; why were they acting like I had the mental capabilities of a concussed penguin in the Sahara?
I shook my head.
"You're not frightening me," I told them. I thought about adding, 'you're insulting me', but unfortunately this was about two minutes after I'd shut the door.
First-Woman started to say something else, but I cut her off.
"Look, I'm happy with my religion, it gives me comfort, okay? Goodbye."
I shut the door. Not something I do very often, even with door-to-door preachers, but I'd never been patronised and insulted in such a fashion before. Just for the record, I don't worship or talk to either demons or devils. But I am and was raised a strong spiritualist.
Particularly narrow-minded people might be excused for believing I'm a devil worshipper from my penname. It has nothing to do with any religion and wasn't chosen for religious reasons either, but that's a whole 'nother story, and not the one I want to tell here.
So, if admitting to spiritualism causes such a reaction, why do I keep doing it? Fair question, and I admit I often wonder about it myself. But why should I deny or renounce it? What is there to be ashamed of? I'm proud of my beliefs and I've done nothing to warrant hiding them. Would you expect a Christian to deny Christ, or a Muslim Allah? It's no different with spiritualists, although you're not damned if you decide to turn away from spiritualism.
I did pretend to renounce my faith once though; I got a woman come by at about ten o'clock at night, who had hair so filthy and tangled it was like dreadlocks. I went through my usual spiel (Sorry, I'm a spiritualist, etc etc) and she launched into me (big surprise *yawn*).
"Yes, I used to be one as well!" she exclaimed in a somewhat hoarse voice.
I blinked. That was a new one on me, I had to admit.
"But that was until I died and I was raised again by Christ," she added, eyes now glittering hard.
Oookay. That was also a new one on me, and not one I much liked. She then tried to get me to kneel down with her (and the hallway outside my flat is, erm, somewhat grubby) and beg for God's forgiveness.
I told her I would, just to get rid of her. Religion is one thing, but mania is another entirely. I'm not kidding; this woman looked like the kind who'd take a claw hammer to anyone who didn't agree with what she wanted. I don't know what happened to her; she started going up the stairs to the next flat and I never saw her again. I remember that it took a good few minutes for me to stop shaking. It's not every day (night?) you come face to face with a bona fide maniac.
It seems to me that the beliefs which come under the most fire (off the top of my head, I'd name spiritualism, Islam and Wicca) are the ones which seem to mind their own business the most. I live in Woking, which is known by many people as the Muslim capital of England (I think it was the first place besides London to build a mosque, although as one reviewer pointed out, you can find them in almost every city now). Yet I've never had Muslims come around insulting my beliefs.
Let me explain the basic tenets of my faith, just to help clear things up. First of all, there are seven planes in the afterlife, with an eighth 'communal' plane...or at least, the eighth plane is how I always think of it. More on that later.
The First Plane
This is for people who have committed horrific crimes against humanity; serial killers, sadists...people like Hitler.
The Second Plane
Almost identical to the first, this is for people who have committed similar crimes to those mentioned above, but who feel remorse.
The Third, Fourth and Fifth Planes
This is where most everyday people end up. Again, which one you go to after dying depends on what kind of life you led.
The Sixth Plane
The plane where either very good or very innocent people end up. Children are most likely to go here, or to the seventh.
The Seventh Plane
Home to saints. There really isn't much more to say.
The Eighth Plane
This one could take a little more explaining. When I receive messages to pass on, I'm always here. I think of it as a communal plane, where spirits who want to pass on messages wait for their psychic to come along.
There is considerably more to it than that (I'm working on more articles that go into spiritualism in greater depth) but those are the basic principles. Spiritualism is concerned less with life and more with what happens afterwards. I believe that what goes around comes around, but that's just me; I know a few spiritualists who don't. There are no rules or laws governing what our religion or faith demands; we don't need rules or laws to tell us how to be ourselves. There are guidelines, sure, but if you can't or won't follow them, that's fine. It's not even an exclusive religion; I've seen Christians and Muslims at the church I go to occasionally. Plenty of spiritualists believe in Christ and God. We communicate with the spirits of people who have passed on, and people pass on no matter what religion they are or were. A person's destination in the afterlife isn't judged by their religion, but purely by what sort of life they've led.
Which brings me onto another point (stick with me, this is almost at an end); that of psychic ability. I've heard that denounced as a gift from the devil as well. As someone with strong psychic tendencies myself, it's nothing of the kind. Psychic ability is just that, an ability. It's like a talent for music; everyone has it to some degree, but there are very few with absolutely no talent, just as there are very few who are budding Mozarts. Whoever you believe is responsible for giving people a talent for music or drama or maths is also responsible for giving people a talent for psychic activity. I get a little scepticism on the whole psychic front. That's okay, but if you don't believe in psychic ability, please don't clutter up my inbox telling me so.
Given what I said earlier about not preaching, this probably does strike people as being preachy, but it's not meant that way. I didn't write this to try and convert people but to try and clear things up. Maybe if people understand spiritualism a little better, they'll be less eager to preach against it. There are parts of most major religions that I don't agree with or don't fully understand the reasoning behind, but that doesn't give me the right to preach against them and I wouldn't dream of doing so.
I'm aware (or to be perfectly accurate, I was made aware by a reviewer) that this also seems to be generalising. Believe me, that's not my intention, so let me just clear it up now; by and large, I have no problem with any religion that's not my own. Most of my friends come from different religions. They respect my faith and I respect theirs. This article wasn't meant to launch into one faith in particular or to say "All people from this faith hate spiritualists." It's aimed at two audiences; firstly, those who are curious and who want to find out a little more about spiritualism and secondly, those few (and in fairness, they are few when you think how many followers of a religion there are) who are preaching, insulting and generally giving the other followers of their faith a bad name. Hope that explains it a little better
Bottom line, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, spiritualists included. We don't try to ram our beliefs and everything we disagree with in all other religions down people's throats with a pointy stick. Is it asking too much to expect the same respect and courtesy from the followers of those other religions in return?
Thanks for reading.
Author's Note: I welcome comments and feedback on this, but not sermons. Thank you.