How I came to paganism (and how did you? :-)

Since it’s been a while since we’ve had this kind of conversation, and there’s a lot of new (or new-ish) faces around, and since it’s a reflective time of year, I thought this might be a nice place for we pagans/heathens/whatever you want to call it to tell a bit of our stories.

And also, for our Christian and other fellow prophets to get a glimpse into the rich tapestries woven by our many and varied threads :-).

I’m not going to take up a lot of room with mine — I covered most of it back when I first joined, so you can read that.

Update to my 30 Sep 2005 diary (aside from everyone being a year older *g*): Hanging around here has taught me to use “fundie” more carefully. What I was trying to say is that I don’t like close-minded extremists of any religion, faith, or lack thereof. I recognize that there are people who fall under the label of Fundamentalist Christian who are not wingnuts who want to force everyone to live under their narrow vision of Truth. I make an effort now to not reflexively use “fundie” as a snarl word, out of respect for the decent Fundamentalists. So recast that sentence as, “I don’t care for extremists of any stripe, be they Christian, Islamic, or pagan….”

I still can’t quite wrap words around what drew me to Druidism in particular and paganism in general. I’ve come to realize, though, that the commonalities between druidry, wicca (lower-case “w” — I do realize the difference between “wicca” and “Wicca”) and other such paths are more important than the differences. Maybe one of these days I’ll diary on that, since it’s something I’ve been researching and poking at on and off.

I know that I can never go back to monotheism, because it just doesn’t feel right to me. And in the end, isn’t it all about what speaks to our hearts and souls? 🙂 While I recognize that Christianity has a lot of good ideas (all those good “liberal” “Christian” values we debate here *g*), few if any are unique to Christianity.

I started this diary with the idea of us telling what brought us to paganism, but in a way I can’t answer my own question. Because, as seems to be the case with many of us, I didn’t so much “convert” as realize what I’d always been. In my case I can trace that back to at least the age of 8, when the only image I had of witches came from things like the Wizard of Oz and the only goddesses I’d ever heard of were “ancient myths,” but I was still attracted to the idea of “white witchcraft.”

So, who else wants to add their threads to the tapestry? 🙂

13 comments

Candy cauldron 😉 (4.00 / 16)

by Morgan on Sat Oct 21st, 2006 at 15:33:59 PDT

I Be Witch (4.00 / 8)

I do not know how to answer this question. I was born a Pagan…

Oh I was born into a Christian family but Christianity did not fit me, it left me with a big hole, I felt different from the other kids…I was shy and very quiet, reflective.

I was 13 when I stopped going to sunday school and church…I did not run from Christianity but to something else…Goddess, God, the Universe, I was not sure at the time. I did not know the name for what I was…I did not know it had a name.

Then I met my first Pagan and the word scared me. I picked up my first “Witch” book when I was 31…Starhawk’s Spiral Dance. Before that I found other books, like The Golden Bough by Fazier, written in 1894?…or When God was a Woman by merlin Stone, and I found teachers. The word Witch scared the crap out of me. But the definition of what that was described what i believed. I came home.It was

There is no “conversion” to Paganism. You are or you aren’t…I was. I can not think of being anything else, it’s like being born with red hair and brown eyes.

It’s a way of viewing the world, of how things work and how you fit in with it. I can not be anything but what I am…
A Priesess, A Witch and the daughter of the Gods.

 We are called, it’s not like there are bill boards, or door to door witnesses that bring us the good news of Hecate or Diana. We see an unseen light that leads us.

Blessed Be…

by Keir on Sat Oct 21st, 2006 at 21:25:19 PDT

The basic story (4.00 / 8)

is here for me, but I agree that I’ve learned a lot here.

I find that my own path is less classically Wiccan now and more a mix of that, my own basic inclinations towards what is comfortable and uplifting on a daily basis, and my husband’s Red Road practice. He says that though none of the Elders will admit it, there’s a heck of a lot that Wicca and Red Road have in common. 🙂

I was also one who found it and recognized that I’d been there all along. I think it’s relatively common in the pagan community.

She is the One who melts us down and reforges us/Hammers us into the shape of our destiny/Whether that be plowshare, scalpel, or sword.

by Alexandra Lynch on Sat Oct 21st, 2006 at 16:33:35 PDT

I think that I might have mentioned it earlier… (4.00 / 8)

but maybe not.  

I was born and raised as a United Methodist, but left (was driven out of) the church due to the fact that both my theology and politics were “too liberal.”

After that I found a home in the Unitarian Universalist movement.  Since coming to this wonderful tradition I have found the freedom to explore the complexity of my own path and the explore what can make it richer.  In doing so, I have incorporated all sorts of Pagan beliefs and practices.  I especially enjoy celebrating the rhythm of nature in a way that reminds us hoe interconnected we are, not only to each other, but to our sustaining mother as well.  

So would I call my self a Pagan now?  Probably not.  But I am not strictly a Christian either.  I let the two traditions (and others as well) weave together in a way that makes sense to me.  Some of my good friends from CUUPS have decided that maybe I am just a “Non-orthodox, anti-authoritarian, Christo-pagan, pan-theist.”  I just like to be called Carter!

CM

I have “sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
— Th. Jefferson

by cm1165 on Sat Oct 21st, 2006 at 18:47:44 PDT

I guess I’m not a pagan… (4.00 / 8)

but I feel a strong sense of the equinoxes and solstices. I have a need to acknowledge those days of the solar cycle. It may be related to doing some astronomy research in college, but it seems more of an emotional reaction, not a rational impulse. What could possible be a better holiday than the longest day of the year?

Black cat, white cat – if it catches the mouse, it’s a good cat! –Deng Xiaoping

by Lefty Mama on Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 00:37:20 PDT

Thanks so much Morgan (4.00 / 7)

for posting this.  I love hearing about others at SP and their faiths and traditions.

Although I am a Christian, I guess I’m one of those “liberal” ones you were talking about above.  I hold a lot of beliefs and understandings that many would call Pagan.  Mostly because of my understanding and celebration of nature, its rhythms and systems.  And then of course a of my beliefs and understandings are also Buddhist.

So I’m sort of a melting pot 🙂

There is a famous spiritual guru (I am blanking on his name right now) who said something that struck me about his own beliefs.  He said something along the lines of “my belief systems are rooted in Christianity, but I see it like playing basketball.  When you hold the basketball, sometimes you must hold one foot down and use the other foot to pivot around to protect your position.  For me, my first foot is rooted in Christianity, which allows me to use my other foot to pivot and explore and incorporate other beliefs.”

He said it MUCH better than I just did.  But it describes my belief system perfectly 🙂

by Sarea on Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 09:00:22 PDT

My path to paganism… (4.00 / 6)

When I was VERY young, my mom still attended Catholic mass every week. It was pre-Vatican II and mass was conducted in Latin, with tons of incense and candles and a wonderful space crowded with images of the Divine, in both genders.

This really stayed with me as a proper way to worship: honoring both genders as Divine, and filling the worship space with light and scent.

Sometimes when I tell this story, people say I should just return to Catholicism, but… it’s not like that at all. I don’t believe in sin, or hell, or the need for redemption. I DO believe that I was created with the capacity to make good or bad choices, and to ask the Gods for help in making those choices. I believe that the Gods truly love me, as They love all their creation. With Their love for me on one side of the equation, and my love for Them and their creation on the other, there is no space in which I can get lost.

What stuck with me from my Catholic toddlerhood was a shape, a template, a way-to-walk…

Thanks for this diary.

Blessings!

by LunarEclipse on Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 12:44:24 PDT

I’ve never been able to take the step (4.00 / 3)

into Paganism proper.  I did have one dream where the option was offered to me, very clearly, but I didn’t make a decision in my dream.  I have trouble with decisiveness, I guess.  

In any case, what burst open my world in completely unexpected ways was the thought of Mary Daly.  I sought her out my first year in college.  I’d seen her quoted in Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza’s In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins, which I saw at a used bookstore and read that year without understanding a word of it.  (It later became one of my favorite books, when the meaning of it sunk in.)  I also came across a reference to Daly in a student essay I’d liked, and at that point I started looking her stuff up in the library catalog.  Everything except Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy was checked out.  I was extremely into denying my sexual anything and everything at that point, so I waited for some of her other books to be returned.  (Somehow, recalling an item didn’t occur to me.)  After a few attempts, I thought, well, I guess it’s going to be that book.  And so, I checked it out and started reading it.  Nothing could have prepared me for the shock I was about to receive.  It is truly a brilliant book.  

Daly left the Roman Catholic Church and explored a woman-centered spirituality that isn’t explicitly Pagan.  Still there’s a lot of overlap in issues and themes that are important between the two.

The Wine of Youth ferments this night in the veins of God – Alfred de Musset.

by dirkster42 on Sun Oct 22nd, 2006 at 21:27:40 PDT

Dirkster, (none / 0)

Can I ask you a question?
What do you think Paganism is?

It’s a question I have been wanting to ask others.

Blessings,

by Keir on Mon Oct 23rd, 2006 at 11:03:55 PDT

You can always ask me a question, Keir. (none / 1)

The question of how to define Paganism is definitely worth a diary.  I think the answer exists on several levels.

The immediate answer I have to give you is in terms of the dream I had – and that would be a spiritual path into unknown territory – that is, I wouldn’t really be able to define it until I’d traversed the area to be defined.

From the conversations I’ve seen on SP, it seems there are as many definitions of Paganism as there are Pagans!

I will need to think about this a lot more, but my general sense is that I have no problem at all with Paganism as a spiritual practice, but I do often find it frustrating when it’s used as a tool for historical investigation.  I can only report a general impression, because it’s been a while since I’ve picked up books from a Pagan perspective, but I remember getting impatient with historical narratives that looked way too simplistic in terms of painting the issue real black and white in terms of a patriarchal church crushing folk cultures everywhere.  It’s not that the story isn’t true, but that once you start looking at details in any historical investigation, the categories start breaking down.  I felt, from the literature I saw (and I can’t cite it, because it annoyed me and I didn’t spend much time with it or make a note of it), and from some conversations with Pagan friends, that the categories were too strongly in place to admit to the fullness and complexity of the historical data.

Hoo boy, did I just get myself in hot water?

The Wine of Youth ferments this night in the veins of God – Alfred de Musset.

by dirkster42 on Mon Oct 23rd, 2006 at 11:48:57 PDT

dirkster, (none / 1)

lol..No, no hot water.
I know exactly what you mean. I get frustrated also.

I am a nut about history and I know that most things are in the gray. When you look to history  you have to look at all the factors, not just religion, but the politics and culture of the people, and what different cultures have brought to those people, like the migration of people and their trade routes.

Read history books, not the pop Witchy books if you want to know about history. Read Witch books on how to be a Witch…then you still will get only part of it. A small part.

Pagans are all over the place. It very much depends on what Pagan religion you follow, and then what( Gods) time and culture you align with. It makes those of us that are Wiccan as diverse as those who are Christian, more so. We have core beliefs the same, but also beliefs that make us individual and unique. But it is the core beliefs that make us Pagan. That is why I as a Wiccan that call on the Titans can worship with a Druid or a Dianic.

 Being forced underground has fractured our knowledge and we have had to research what our particular paths were.  

Those of us who follow the Pagan faiths are still learning our way. But then Christianity is 2000 yeas old and still changing and re-creating it’s self. We are so independent that we have arguments on if we should have more structure. We are modern folks growing and learning while we have beliefs many thousands of years old.

You have to realize that there are books written by those who know what they are talking about, and those written for a buck. There are those who have delved into different facets of their faith and those who like to spout what hey have heard others say.

Paganism is complicated, that is why I worry that when people say Pagan or Wicca others have umteen different understandings of what that is.

I have leared one thing…to take the seeds of the future from the roots of the past, and leave the weeds out.

keir

by Keir on Mon Oct 23rd, 2006 at 13:42:27 PDT

Woo! (none / 0)

History, archaeology, and complexity rock!  Fluffy foolishness and a lack of real polytheism were part of the reason I ran away from Wicca.  Not that everyone practices or believes that way.  Reconstructionists tend to say they follow “a religion with homework.”

“As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats.”
– horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

by lonespark on Mon Oct 23rd, 2006 at 15:51:08 PDT

lonespark, (none / 0)

I am not into reconstructionists. We can not reconstruct what was 6000 years ago…we are not those people living in those times. We can choose too much, what to eat, what to wear, what computer brand. We do not fear going hungry because winter is coming…or have a dozen kids so that one will survive. We do not have to fear the storm or the wild animal…we live in 2006. It takes more then learning the language or wearing the robes…that is not religion.

I get frustrated with the shallowness of so much that is Pagan behavior according to some who call themselves Pagan. The religion is complicated and it is layers upon layers of knowledge. But you do not have to reconstruct 1500 BCE either.

It’s like your signature…which I like.
Blessings,

by Keir on Mon Oct 23rd, 2006 at 20:16:38 PDT

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