America is a society obsessed with self-help. It's a billion dollar industry that exceeds weight-loss in sales.
That's saying something, because apparently Americans are also obsessed with weight-loss.
Numenism can't particularly help with the weight-loss, nor can my skills as an herbal apothecary (although if your weight has a bacterial origin, herbal supplements to make you healthier might also make you slightly thinner), but it has plenty to offer in the self-help category.
Because Numenism is a new religion/lifestyle/belief system, we spend a lot of time discussing and reflecting upon what spiritualism, spirituality, divine goals, personal goals, our place, and other such topics mean to us and how they fit into Numenism.
We've investigated a lot of the self-help books, seminars, and motivational speakers, sifting through them to find out what works and why. We've read plenty of the spiritual self help books, too, and spoken to the gurus of the various self-help spiritual movements. We've visited the Sedona spiritual and metaphysical sites, retreats, and counselors.
We've come to the conclusion (for now) that the reason so many Americans are seeking these experiences is because our Declaration and Constitution arose from the convictions that we should pursue our happiness and do so in religious freedom, or perhaps freedom from religion (the two are not exclusive). Technology promises to provide us with ever escalating realms of sensual and material satisfaction, and we want that accompanied by a spiritual blessing as well.
Part of it is the roots of the sin-based religion that still permeates American culture. The mono-theistic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) teach that sin is the root of our being and prescribe body-negative, world-shunning, transcendence that denies or lessens our physical lives for a post-mortem life in heaven. We are adjured to accept the misery of life because it will make us more fit for heaven. The message is control the world, not love it for what it is and could be.
Amid all the bounty and technological wonders of today, those messages no longer reach us. This is particularly true as we move away from a dominance paradigm to a more wholistic paradigm. We see the connections more clearly, the patterns of living and how this act affects those people, how this research broadens our understanding, and that disaster isn't an isolated one. We are all affected.
Our founders saw this back in 1946 and built Numenism to embrace this whole-hearted embrace of life, to seek the patterns that connected us all and to strengthen them. Our spirituality isn't something that will happen "later", after death. It's here and now. It's not going somewhere else, it's coming home.
In Numenism, we marry the secular and the scared. We integrate the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental aspects of ourselves, and we do it through a variety of individualized ways.
In Numenism, there is no One True Right and Only Way (OTROW). There is no central authority figure. There is no single leader. There are guides (ministers) and researchers (priests) and people who pull it all together and disseminate it (elders), but each Celebrant is encouraged to find their own practices and their own way, to customize and map their paths themselves.
We aren't abandoning the thousands of years of spiritual history behind us, we are utilizing them in ways we believe are meaningful to modern life.
Our focus is on immersing ourselves into life and living in ways that emphasize our connectivity and sanctity. Everything is sacred, everything is connected. We are each of us individuated corporeal beings with our own unique (and yet common) views and experiences that we can share and relate to and extrapolate from. We are not treading new ground, but we are walking it from different angles and with new perspectives.
Dea Nutrix, that which is, is always present, always a part of everything (or rather, everything is a part of Dea Nutrix). Whatever state we are in, Dea Nutrix is ever there. How we deal with it is what Numenism is about. Spirituality isn't something we do on Sundays and Wednesday nights, or something we have to leave the world for (although for some people that's the path they need to take, it isn't the only way). It's something we integrate into our entire life. It's not the message so much as it is the method.
All religions teach pretty much the same message, it's the path we take to get there that's different. Modern Americans have so many tools and so much knowledge available that we don't need authority figures to tell us "Do this and it is good, do this and it is bad" - we can figure that out for ourselves. We can see how others handle things and either emulate them or use them as an example of what not to do, but we do so from our individuated perspectives.
I admit it's easy to let others tell you what to do and what not to do, and to hold your hand to keep you moral. It creates one type of community glue and it helps you stay part of a particular moral community. You don't have to think about it or grow as a divine person, you just do this and not that and you're golden. You do it because someone else tells you to do it, because you're afraid if you don't, you'll go to hell or be punished, or awful things will happen, or you do it to make someone else happy. For some people, that works.
For an increasing number of Americans, accustomed to thinking independently, of living in a country where freedom is a constant ideal (even if it's not always a reality), being told authoritatively what to think and how to live is stultifying and ultimately spiritually crippling.
We believe that's why so many New Age practices and gurus and such are gaining popularity, why so many people are appropriating the trappings of other religions in the hopes of gaining spiritual enlightenment.
Numenism says we can seek those gurus and those other spiritual traditions not from fear or a desire to please someone else, but because we truly have an inner heartfelt longing to discover the sources within ourselves.
What differentiates Numenism from being a totally free-wheeling, anything-goes religion is the process we apply to our spiritual explorations and integrations. We encourage an open-source style and are willing to consider (or already have considered and refined) different methods and practices (such as yoga, meditation, mediation, Sufi, Integral Transformative practice, sweat lodges, vision quests, tai chi, weight-lifting, nature hikes, Zen therapy, crystal therapy, community service, and more) that can guide one along one's own spiritual path within a Numenist framework.
In the end, in Numenism, you find you are your own best guru, but it sometimes takes time to get there and meandering visits to other methods and guides along the way.