Someone was asking on mastodon about religion and autism. I answered about my mystical experiences. I’ve had them ever since I can remember, without my consent. So I didn’t feel much of a choice about religion–I needed to engage religion or at least Spirit. It was just a matter of how.
Many autistic people I meet seem more logical or at least critical. So I can feel lonely, to be a super religious autistic person. It might have to do with my trauma and crazy.
But probably I was just born mystical. God likes shooting her light through me–I’d prefer to consider myself blessed, rather than super fucked up.
Mystical experiences have been part of my life since I was a young child. In church as a little one, I was doing something slightly different than I was supposed to. I experienced a white-golden light that shone to me. I had a strong sense that there’s another world about two inches behind this one, a very glowy world that gleams with God. Going into and out of that world was automatic.
I’ve heard voices all my life also. Are they angels, demons, God or gods, earth whispers, the oversoul? Probably just bits of dreams that intrude, at least some of them.
I didn’t have much choice to do religion in that sense. Religious experiences happened to me without my asking for them. So I needed to figure out what to do with them. I’m ever searching for a framework to understand reality with, which means I do religion DIY and explore.
Lately I’m enjoying quiet Quaker meetings. I did a Hindu sect for 20 years, and before that some Soto Zen with my ex-husband. Paganism / earth based has been a layer under everything else. And rogue Christianity as a kid. It’s a life.
The quiet Quakers I love for the shared silence. It feels supportive–we are all loving one another skillfully in this deep pool of silence. We dip together into this pool like a solemn swim. Sometimes someone says something–a message from God as filtered through this particular person.
I accept the pause in the silence, listen thoughtfully with care, and happily dip back into the silence-water, slightly changed by what was just said.
Quaker silence feels like meditation but way more chill. When I meditated with Buddhists, I always felt like I was doing it wrong. Even when I was doing it right, it felt wrong.
This Quaker prayer is easier. My mind roams around. I welcome myself, do some regular praying to Mother God, and set my mind free like a pup at the dog park. Feels good to think my thoughts without phones or much interruption.
I go some new places, with the silent love of these mostly middle aged white people. Poems start unraveling in my mind. A problem that’s been troubling me suddenly seems solved. I like to keep a piece of paper and pen on the pew beside me. I jot down ideas that seem important, so I can stop chewing on them.
religion and autism
How is religion for you? To many it’s just something confining and irrational to rebel against. Yes, I did that, in my own way, ditching Christianity when I was 12. But I never did Christianity right to begin with.
Then I rebel against my own rebellion. My spouse was raised Christian, converted to Judaism as a young adult, and does paganism these days with me. It’s creative, the ritual and the attitudes. I find a lot of healing in religion.
If we can make it our own thing, we can use it like other tools, taking what works for us, and leaving the rest.