Can I be a Quaker and still follow my earlier religious traditions?

(Even if I’m into pagan or New Age practices?)

When we discussed Quakers and Christianity, we acknowledged that there are many Quaker meetings that are resolutely Christian, some of whom take an evangelical approach to faith and practice. In such communities, you might experience some pushback if you were to openly advocate for other, non-Christian religious practices and traditions.

On the other hand, most non-evangelical Quaker meetings will just be glad to welcome a spiritual seeker into the fold, and would accept a pagan’s presence, or message, as fully as they would one from an atheist.

Though we walk together, we each have our own path to spiritual communion—if you relate more easily to “Goddess” than to “Spirit,” to take one example, so be it. For that matter, “An it harm none, do what ye will” seems well in alignment with the Quaker testimonies of peace and equality. So, although Friends might not let you hold a solstice ceremony at the meetinghouse, there would always be a welcoming place for you at meeting for worship.

Look at it this way: When George Fox rejected the spiritual authority of the church, and declared that communion with God was possible without performing rituals like the Christian Mass, he wasn’t saying that it was impossible to have a direct experience with the divine through ritual. Rather, he pointed out that the churches of his time had become places where ritual was performed for its own sake, or to reinforce the institutional power of the priestly class, instead of facilitating spiritual communion.

When performed with sacred intention, ritual can be a meaningful tool for opening oneself to revelation. And though many Quakers might instinctively flinch at this suggestion, silent worship is itself a ritual even as it rejects the outward form of ritual. The key is to perform it with conscious and deliberate intent each time, never simply going through the motions.

This principle applies to all religious traditions. If praying the rosary beads, or fasting for Ramadan, or observing the High Holy Days, leads to a deeper connection with Spirit, you should feel free to continue such customs, or others like them, for as long as they provide genuine spiritual comfort. We hope you’ll find, though, that joining Friends in silent worship offers great spiritual benefit as well.

Next: Do Quakers celebrate Christmas and Easter?

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