Since this is my first blog post, and much of this blog will deal with my spiritual journey, I suppose it makes sense to describe the journey so far.
I was raised Lutheran, and my family went to church on a pretty regular basis. I went to Sunday school, served as an acolyte, attended youth group — all the typical stuff. My parents tried their best to raise me Christian, or at least went through all the proper motions. We never talked about faith, though. To this day I’m not actually sure how much of it they really believe. Still, it’s hardly their fault that it didn’t stick. Then as now, I was always questioning, always skeptical. Why was God only referred to as male? Why did we follow some things from the Bible but not others? Why was the concept of sin so stupid? (maybe that one was more opinion)
The real journey began in the mystical land of AOL 3.0. It was 1997, and I was thirteen years old and discovering the internet for the very first time. I’d come across a magazine called The Web, and it had an article about witchcraft on the internet. I’m sure it was highly questionable journalism, but regardless, my mind was completely blown. People who worshipped a goddess? And practiced magic?? I remember distinctly reading this in the cafeteria of my middle school at lunch time, and I could not get home fast enough to satisfy my intense the need to know more. That evening was spent devouring every scrap of information on Wicca that I could come across.
(Actually, yeah, I did kind of think it was like that.)
Despite my enthusiasm, in the beginning I was still sure that I was going to hell. I would lay awake at night and beg God to forgive me. Thankfully, that stage eventually passed, and I even found out (much to my delight) that my best friend was also Wiccan. As a convert to a new religion, things were pretty black and white, and there was a kind of peace in that certainty. It wasn’t until later that the questions began again: Why did the circle have to be cast clockwise? Why did the Goddess always seem to be elevated at the expense of the God? Why was the concept of the three-fold law so stupid? (okay, opinion again there…) Combined with the anxieties of simply being a teenager, religion fell to the wayside.
Around the time I was eighteen or so is when I really began to explore my faith in earnest. I was living on my own for the very first time, and the world seemed alive and full of possibilities. I went on walks around my neighborhood to appreciate nature, and would stop by the Catholic church to say prayers to Inanna in the face of Mary. I read about pantheism, and explored the mythology of different cultures. I no longer considered myself Wiccan. I wasn’t sure what I was. I even explored Judaism for a while, but ultimately rejected monotheism for the second and final time.
Eventually I found a coven, and completed the “year and a day” of training. I thought I’d finally found my home. Unfortunately, the very month after initiation the coven was put on indefinite hiatus, to my extreme disappointment. Looking back, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing — I still needed room to explore, and I was given plenty of it. I read about Buddhism, and women’s spirituality. I took a short course on Hinduism. I attended a regular full moon circle for a while. I explored Asatru. For a couple years I had a strong interest in Hellenic Reconstructionism, although I found that approach did nothing to allay my fears of “doing it wrong.” For all of the exploration that I was doing though, I wasn’t doing a lot of, well, *doing*. The gods seemed distant. I didn’t talk to them, and they didn’t talk to me. Sure, there was the occasional attempt at ritual, but I was never sure what I was supposed to feel. My pursuits were intellectually fulfilling, but spiritually I felt hollow.
(Hey gurl, I'm game to chat if you are.)
A few years later out of the blue, Sarah, the priestess of my old coven, contacted me and the other members and asked if we were still interested in being a group. Needless to say, I was thrilled! Better to feel spiritual malaise as part of a group than to feel it alone, eh? Fast forward to the present day. In the time since then, our coven has had some ups and downs, and seen old members leave and new members become initiated. In the past year especially though, it feels like we’ve really come together as a group, and my coven sisters have become some of my greatest sources of strength and inspiration.
Don’t get me wrong though, I’m definitely still wandering. I definitely still struggle to feel connection to the divine. But I’m much less concerned with labels than I used to be. I consider myself pagan, but I have little use for trying to define what that means. I’m content to continue learning and exploring and letting my path evolve organically over time. At least now I have a few good friends to travel the road with me.