I am an agnostic. What does that mean?
Basically if you ask 5 agnostics what they believe, you'll get 5 completely different answers. But at the core of their belief will be the simple statement... "I really don't know." In it's simplest terms an agnostic is someone who readily admits that they don't know if there is a God or a sentient being or anything out there and some even go as far as to say that no one can really ever know for sure.
My personal spiritual journey has been a long, windy and difficult one. I was born into a very religious household. My family was spirit-filled, pentecostal, non-denominational, but we also spent time in Baptist, spirit-filled Lutheran, and "seeker-targeted" churches. I could speak in "tongues" about as early as i could speak in english. All though I was homeschooled for educational reasons, most of my friends were extremely religious. My father was very traditional in his "values" and extremely dominate and controlling as well as very anti-feminist. This boded well with the "head of the household" teachings of our church and he used it to his advantage. During highschool I was involved with christian dance groups that hung over my head a suffocating sense of humility and an overwhelming sense of guilt in any pleasure we took in performing or "drawing attention to ourselves" instead of to god. When I graduated from highschool I spent a collective year and a half dancing with a christian conservatory run by an artistic director who held to a very strange, very controlling flavor of christianity. She believed and readily taught that anyone not dancing with her group or who left the "ministry" was out side the will of God. The second time I left that ministry it was under great duress since my dad forced me to come home. (I was about 20 at this point).
This was around the time that I finally moved out on my own and really marked the beginning of a slow and difficult walk away from everything I'd ever been taught. The more I thought it all through the less it rang true to my spirit. After a few years of struggling I ran across Sue Monk Kidd's book "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter". Reading about her difficult journey away from a world she had been so engrossed in really freed me to see that I was hanging on for all the wrong reasons, mostly fear of judgment or of the fire and brimstone hell I'd heard so many sermons on. I finally gave myself permission to let go and, for me, it was a wonderful and freeing transition.
At this moment I would have to say that ultimately I really don't know what's out there and I'm ok with that. I love the "intrinsically good" view of people from the Buddhist religion, the female empowerment of the ancient goddess cultures, the earth based religion's view that every living thing has inherent worth just because it does, and the permaculture (a philosophy for creating and sustaining communities and communes) teachings that if we are quiet and let the earth lead, we can create healthy communities. I don't consider myself to be a Wiccan because I find it disrespectful to those who have actually studied the craft, plus I don't really identify with the magical aspects of the spells. I love to participate in full/new moon rituals. Although, I do not in any way pray to the moon. I find that celebrating the stages the moon goes though reminds me that I go through stages as well. Sometimes I need to rest and sometimes I need to grow and being able to give myself permission to honor those stages is helpful to me. I love the ancient Celtic holidays of the solstices and the equinoxes and the crossquarter days. It reminds me that, for instance, just as we celebrate the life of those who have passed on during the Saimhan (Halloween) holiday, we need to take time to examine our lives and realize what we need to let die. At the Spring Equinox we celebrate the balance of the masculine and the feminine in our lives as well as in all life and I take time to celebrate the balance I've achieved and review my efforts to bring other parts of my life into balance.
I find my path to be very empowering for me. But the key phrase there if "for me". I don't like the word "tolerance" because it still implies a judgment on my part of your beliefs. As in I am tolerating what I consider to be a bad, incorrect or misguided decision on the part of another. That's not how I feel. I try (don't always succeed) to celebrate with others in whatever form of spirituality/religion that they find helpful in their life. Why would I ever want to take something away from someone that they felt was helpful for them in their journey? (this is opposed to my ex-husband who was a evangelical atheist. He didn't believe in a god and nether should you!) Jeremy is a Christian and we've talked about this extensively. He will take our children to church, which i will wholly support although I will stay home. When they get old enough they can choose. He'll never speak ill of my beliefs and I'll never speak ill of his. And even beyond that I want to encourage him in his path and help him grow in it as I know he wants to do for me.
So that's me. It's been a long journey and I by no means see this as the end. I am just so thankful to be with a man who will encourage me to learn more and more about myself and become who i truly am.