Hello! This is my first post, so please do let me know if I err in any way.
I am 28, and I'm just starting to get into paganism, after many years of recovering from the very problematic Christian environment I was raised in. For a long time I just considered myself agnostic, but was frightened of going any further. Not that I was afraid of paganism or witchcraft or anything like that - I've always been interested in paganism, but was just so turned off of any sort of spirituality at all. My partner was already pagan for a few years before, just a few months ago, it was like a switch in me was suddenly turned on - I was ready to start. I've been going slowly, experimenting with things, and feeling my way into a path I'd like to follow.
My full question for the rest of you is: How old were you when you started identifying as a pagan (or whatever term you'd like to use!), and what lead you to that moment?
If there are already posts like this I apologize - I looked back a few months and didn't see anything recent, and think it would be a fun way to get to know people!
I suppose that for some people it's a subtler process. A transformation rather than a revelation?
I would say the two are both transformation...
One however , like the butterfly and cocoon...
Gentle , unfolding , with time for process orientation...
One like the snake , intense , forced open , immediate ,
and a shock to the system...
Both revelation , and initiation , just one allows one to
build one's ability to hold and run a higher current , the
other forcing you to , now , or fry the circuitry...
( excuse me , may I cook breakfast on your crown chakra ? It's smoking )
*nods* I can really relate to this. I was raised Catholic, which (I'm not sure which "brand" of Christianity you were forced into, so you may/may not know) is a very rigid and structural religion. There are particular ceremonies you have to complete, particular ages you have to complete them by, prayers you have to memorize...even a Catholic mass is a series of back and forth memorized recitations between the priest and the congregations.
I digress - I started questioning the legitimacy of the religion when I was VERY young, maybe nine or ten (I mean...being crucified for your sins and saving all of humanity? That's some crazy Aztec blood sacrifice stuff man) and I initially discovered Paganism through Wicca when I was around 12. I practiced on and off from there on out, but often kept backing away because I was so confounded as to the amount of freedom this religion allowed in comparison. I just didn't know what to do with myself!
As I grew older, and by proxy discovered more, I was able to practice more seriously and find the correct path for myself, although even now I'll be the first to say that I'm learning more and more every day and am incredibly grateful for it.
I was raised Brethren Baptist. So, far fewer rituals, but a lot of rules. Women were to wear skirts and cover their hair when in the church. They weren't allowed to preach or speak up in Bible Study. Just horribly sexist, and my mom hated it, but that was my dad's childhood church so he was super loyal to it. Church activities kind of filled our lives... There was church on Sunday, and afterwards a lunch (women did ALL of the cooking and cleaning), on Wednesday there was a Bible Study, and at various times throughout the week there would be different activities. I was a kid so usually once a week there was some kind of extra bible school that we were supposed to invite our friends to - I don't remember what all the adults had to do. (And, I actually met my partner at Bible Camp... so that's ironic I guess.)
I remember once when I was about eight or nine, there was nobody upstairs, so I went up onto the stage and stood at the pulpit and pretended that I was preaching. One of the elders came in and saw me, dragged me downstairs, and slapped me across the face. He thought I was mocking him. That's kind of the attitude a lot of them had - people, especially the men, always seemed to be angry and hypersensitive. But, I know that was just MY church, and a lot of churches aren't like that.
And I totally get what you mean about the fear of freedom thing! When your life is so controlled by rules and ritual (especially if you've been raised Catholic), it's incredibly daunting. We're not used to actually having power over ourselves. In my case, when I first stopped going to church, it was hard to throw off all the hundreds of little rules of morality and self-control that dictated whether or not I would go to hell. Kind of like a constant existential dread, haha.
When your life is so controlled by rules and ritual (especially if you've been raised Catholic) it's incredibly daunting.
Actually many Catholics have few problems converting because a lot of pagan paths are very ritualistic and since many if not most Catholic rituals were based on pagan rituals, the transition is easier than you think.
Were you Catholic , Aurelia ?
I was not, but half my family is. Most of them, in fact.
Thanks for the reply , Aurelia...:)
However , on this one , I am going with Laurence's statement :
"In my case, when I first stopped going to church, it was hard to throw off all the hundreds of little rules of morality and self-control that dictated whether or not I would go to hell. Kind of like a constant existential dread, haha"
His Baptist upbringing , sounds more like my childhood ,
raised strict Roman Catholic...and even though I *can* be ,
not all my practices are heavily ritualistic , as a Pagan...
And @ Laurence :
This is the reason , besides fun , and experimentation , I
took all those drugs , including psychedelics , during the
early seventies...to break out of the mindframe you mention...
I was told "you are going to hell"...
Years later , one of my favorite songs :
Interestingly, some members of my church also thought that Catholics were sinful. Now that I'm thinking about it, I remember there were these really graphic comics in the church library from the 70s or something, about how Catholics self-flagellate with barbed whips and do Satanic sex rituals and such. Those comics were pretty intense, I'm absolutely certain that the church lady who took care of the library didn't realize what the content was when she put them in the kids' section.
That's a good point.
At age nine I sat in the Methodist Church and thought, "Why does none of this make sense to me? Am I evil? They want me to come forward for Jesus and I can't even understand what that means. I feel like there is god or spirit everywhere, and what I do in this church is irrelevant."
Wow, I was right. Then I graduated highschool in 1968 and stepped out into an acid-soaked revolution, blew my mind, dropped out, became an organic anarchist peasant warrior, and discovered Hinduism and Taoism. The Hinduism made sense to me. And it is by far the most pagan of major "religions". Quickly I realized I was "pagan", very Hindu-oriented but not really a Hindu, and finding that Native American, Celtic, Yoruba, Wicca and other pagan belief systems made sense to me also.
So I acquired some teaching from actual Mayan, Purépecha, Wiccan, Hindu, etc., sources and over time increasingly oriented to the Earth. I am in no group. I could be said to have strong affinities to pagans, counter-culture, the Left, and music, but do not interact with any of those people, only with my trans-incarnational partner and we attempt to make the Lotus of our mutual interactive dharma blooming with many petals and to come out of this life in position to rightly fulfill more dharma in the next. This lifetime has been an ordeal in extreme ways. So I do firmly believe that our purpose does involved a struggle against evil. Love is stronger than evil. But when concerted evil comes at you, you best be rightly aligned to combat it. They caught us off balance.
If you know about these things, you are then vulnerable to them.
And if you know there is a viable path to wisdom and relief from karma, then you are susceptible to that.
Now I'm green, eclectic, shamanist (trained by a real shaman, not a white hippy selling workshop places for $85), anarchist, peasant, pagan, kitchen witch, green witch, grow & gather food, medicine and magick.
The Revolution is in the Garden.
Om Namah Shivaya
Good to meet you, Michel. I do like that phrase you used - "The Revolution is in the Garden". I think it's important for us to make spaces that are green and healthy, ideally that provide us with food and medicine, and that good change begins at home. That reminds me, I have to clear out the old annuals from my balcony before spring arrives...