Thanks to all those with whom I have discussed and debated this topic.
I am a very spiritual person, and am in the process of studying several religions and philosophies in order to better understand my own beliefs. My spirituality is a combination of religion, philosophy, and personal beliefs which I try to follow in all aspects of my life.
Strictly speaking I am a Christian. I was raised in the Anglican Church and believe that Christ was the son of God sent to earth to redeem the world of sin. However, I am aware that humans are not perfect, and that texts and tradidtions can become corrupted over time, so while I hold to the main principles of forgiveness, loving thy neighbour, and respect for all life, I do not follow every tennet of the Christian Church.
I think it arrogant to ascribe physical limitations such as number or gender to any being as powerful as God, but will use the pronoun "He", trusting that God knows what I mean. I also believe that God presents Himself to different people and cultures in the way that they will best be able to understand Him, and therefore believe that there is possibly more than one religion which could at heart be considered "true".
My Philosophy, which is always evolving as I continue my journey through life, is based mainly only the principles of Taoism, Christianity, and Wicca, as well as my personal observations in life.
My study of Taoism has taught me to live in harmony with the universe by allowing things to happen instead of trying to make them happen. Christianity has taught me to love others as I love myself, and to forgive as I would hope to be forgiven. Wicca has taught me to love and value myself, which in turn has allowed me to love others better.
While some of my beliefs pertain to religion and philosophy, there are many which although they are part of my spiritual life do not fit either of the other two categories.
* I beleive that there is a "heaven" a place of bliss and peacefulness, which can be attainned by living a good and productive (spiritually speaking) life, not only by proclaiming belief in a particular god or creed. After all, Christ said that there are those who know the law but do not keep it in their hearts, and those who do not know the law, but on whose hearts it is already written.
* I beleive that there is punishment for those who do wrong. Whether that punishment is hell, or merely to be reincarnated and have to try life again, I don't claim to know, but do believe that God loves everyone, and wants to offer everyone a second (or third or hundredth) chance.
* When I first meet people, and have physical contact with them (to shake hands etc.) I experience something akin to a physical sensation but on a more spiritual level. From most people I feel only a general buzz, like how your lips feel when you hum quietly. From others I feel a warmth which I have learned signifies a kindred spirit whith whom I have the potential to become close. From a few I feel a painful sensation, like "pins and needles" when circulation returns to a limb that has fallen asleep, which I have learned signifies a physical or emotional threat to myself or one I care about. I beleive that this is a gift which, when heeded, provides protection and a greater chance at happiness.
* I beleive that people have what some Native Americans refer to as an animal spirit guide, or what Wiccans call a familiar; a species of animal which will appear to guide them through difficult circumstances or decisions, whether physically or in the form of a dream. My animal is the lizard, and I consider them (not always but in some instances) to be a sign or companion sent to instruct or comfort me.
* I try to always be open and honest about myself. This means that if you ask me a question you will most likely receive an answer, and that makes some people uncomfortable. (ie. "can I ask what those pills are for?" "certainly, they're to treat my chronic depression") However, I have found that those who make the best friends are people who accept and reciprocate that quick trust and intimacy.
* I am vegetarian, and beleive that it is wrong for me persoanlly to eat or use any product that required an animal to die; however, it doesn't bother me that other people have made different choices in their lives.