Hello everyone, Greatly looking forward to listening and discussing, especially on such interesting and relevant topics as religion and spirituality bring up. I grew up in a dogmatic Christian family (my father a pastor), but when I was a teenager, began to seriously disagree with many of their beliefs and moved more towards a mystical approach. I'm a university student (right now working on BA in Welsh Studies but am hoping to start a BA in Psychology next autumn) and divide my time/life between North Wales, UK and North Carolina, US. I like having feet in both worlds and the different opportunities and experiences this presents. I am involved in a number of different groups, and feel very pro-active about the world at large. I regularly go to Friends' Meeting (Quakers) and love the Quaker values of integrity, mutual respect and deep listening. I have also been heavily involved in the Celtic spirituality community, mostly from a pagan perspective. Meditation is an integral part of my life and so I find a great deal of inspiration from reading Buddhist and Zen authors like Chogyam Trungpa and Charlotte Joko Beck. I also have a lot of respect for Sufism and am fascinated by Hinduism and indigenous shamanism. To complicate things, I also find the works of Alice Bailey stimulating, although I admit that I shy away from most "New Age" things. One of my major interests is comparative mythology and religion, not just from an anthropological point of view, but also psychologically. How does one's native perception of the cosmos interact and affect our core sense of self and soul? It can be hard having so many diverse interests, and so I can't tell you that I am any one particular religion or path. I am aware though of the dangers of cultural and spiritual appropriation, so I try not to make assumptions or merge practices together and pass them off as "authentic" to any one particular tradition. They are all puzzle pieces but more like they fit with me as an individual, not with a single religion or worldview. I'll also say right out that I have the curse of long posts ... but this is usually because I spend a great deal of time thinking what I want to say beforehand, so when I do post, it's not just an instant gut response. As for my other interests, well they are also numerous! gardening, cooking, singing, poetry, genealogy, word etymologies, astronomy and astrology, yoga, swimming, hill-walking, Celtic Studies, self-sustainable living, fantasy books (that have a more folk tale flavour), Welsh language (Cymraeg), incense, herbalism, beekeeping, dancing, clog-dancing, horses (big time!), Celtic, Arabic and Indian music .... I could go on lol. Anyway! Nice to meet you all *shakes hands*. You can see a picture of me below, so you know what I look like when you read my posts, hehe. I think I'll close with a poem that I feel sums up my approach to life and people in general. "Self-Portrait" by David Whyte: It doesn't interest me if there is one God or many gods. I want to know if you belong or feel abandoned. If you can know despair or see it in others. I want to know if you are prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change you. If you can look back with firm eyes saying this is where I stand. I want to know if you know how to melt into that fierce heat of living falling toward the center of your longing. I want to know if you are willing to live, day by day, with the consequence of love and the bitter unwanted passion of your sure defeat. I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even the gods speak of God.