Creideamh a' Bhata Bhuidhe: The religion of the yellow stick. A Coll priest of former times was accustomed to drive recalcitrant natives to church by a smart application of his walking stick, those who yielded were thus said to come under “creideamh a' bhata bhuidhe.” Another version says Hector, son of Donald Maclean of Coll, was the one who applied the yellow stick. Hector was laird in 1715 and as the religion of the yellow stick was introduced into Rum in 1726, it is beyond dispute that Hector was the author, or propagator of it. He was dignified in appearance and stern in manners and could no doubt wield the yellow stick gracefully and with efficiency. - Dwelly's Illustrated Gaelic to English Dictionary
I was raised a Jehovah's Witness and forced by my parents to attend Kingdom Hall three times a week. So you'll understand if I confess a visceral reaction to the prospect of being beaten with a stick for the sake of piety. In fact, I still deliberately linger in bed on Sunday mornings, and it's been nearly thirty years since I had to attend a weekend service. But that's one of the lovely things about being Pagan, isn't it? We don't adhere to a rigid belief system, so we don't punish our members when they fail to think or do what such a system might dictate. Rather, the religious beliefs of Pagans are diverse, perhaps far more than members of mainstream religions. Around the circle at any given public ritual, we might have Dianic Wiccans, Celtic polytheists, Heathens and others, each nurturing an internal spiritual narrative unique to her needs.
Of course, that's precisely what faith is, an internal narrative about the way the universe works. In some religions, that narrative is externally prescribed, which helps to create unity among practitioners but also leaves them vulnerable to manipulation. In others, the individual is expected to function as his own guru, which helps to foster spiritual resilience but can leave him feeling isolated. However, in both cases, people of faith are receiving or creating sacred stories overlaid upon the unknown. No Christian actually knows if the serendipity in her life belongs to God or chance, no Wiccan is certain whether or not his magic is working, and no cartomancer can tell you why her efforts at divination are more than random but never wholly reliable.
Simply put, we tell stories to heaven, and sometimes we think heaven answers.