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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 79 - 9/29/2002
Have You Switched Pagan Paths?
Did you perhaps start out as a Wiccan and now follow a different Pagan or Heathen path/religion? Have you changed from self-identifying as a 'Witch' to something else? If you have changed how you self-identify under the Pagan/Heathen umbrella, why did you change? Did your beliefs change? Did the Pagan/Heathen community change? What do you think of folks who have switched? Is there currently a real shift into more diverse or selective Paths/Religions within the communities? Will Wicca remain the dominant Pagan religion that it now is? Why or why not?
| Reponses: There are 110 responses posted to this question.
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| Change Is A Part Of Learning And Life ||Oct 3rd. at 2:55:05 am UTC|
|vanessa ronsse (Seattle) ||Age: 33 - Email |
i began my path as a child (beginning at age 7 or so) - i was encouraged by my parents explore and find the path that worked for me. i have traveled from a great variety of Christian sects to New Age teachings to the Rosecrucians to my personal Pagan path. i now call myself an Eclectic Witch, but i am not certain any label really reflects my inner processes.
Has my path changed? Of course. i think that it would be impossible for it NOT to have changed. i am not the same woman i was 15 years ago. How could my spiritual path NOT reflect the changes in my life? Life is change and my spirit changes with my life - which is as it should be.
| Excellent Question ||Oct 3rd. at 4:26:26 am UTC|
|Polgara (New York) ||Age: 21 - Email - Web|
Very thought-provoking one too. I was raised Christian, Southern Baptist to be specific, and my spiritual journey has been a long and winding one for me to be so young. When I was around 11, my family started going to one of those Evangelical megachurches (you know, with the TV ministry and the radio ministry and the Woman hating ministry, etc). I became "born again" mostly to please my mom, seeing as nothing I did seemed to. It didn't last very long. From that I drifted to agnosticism, to Tibetan Buddhism, to Zen Buddhism, to Wicca, to...Wicca?, to Wicca. Hehe. :) Honestly, I discovered Wicca about 6 years ago, and it definitely jived with where I was spiritually at the time. I don't really place any value in labels, I feel that spirituality is just too complex for a name, but if pressed I would identify as Wiccan. A Hellenic Wiccan, to be specific (not eclectic--there's a shock for you). However, I've always been involved in some degree with the Martial Arts (specifically Jujitsu, and Qi Gong, as well as a smattering of various other styles) and it was really exploring the spiritual side of them that led me to explore alternative spiritualities. I incorporate a lot of that into my spiritual work. Okay, I guess you could fit me into the "Hellenic Wiccan Guerrilla Witch with Eastern influences" box. Admittedly, it's not a very large box, but I kinda like it that way.
The reason I put a question mark in my little personal odyssey sort of segues into the next part of the question. I am a Solitary by choice. I have almost nothing to do with the larger Pagan community anymore, aside from attending the (rare) public circle, and visiting my old mentor/teacher/personal arse-kicker at the shop he works at. Also by choice. Why? I no longer feel I belong there anymore. It's not my world anymore. I've seen a lot of changes in the community since I've been a part of it. Some have been good (we're not just for Samhain anymore, it looks like), many have been terrible. Back to the question mark. These days, I've been questioning whether I can really call myself a Wiccan anymore. My view of Wicca, my definition, the way I connect with it, is so alien to the majority of Wiccans I see around me that it's almost sad. In my opinion, Wicca has been white-lighted, New Aged, fluffybunnyed, made hip, Buffyied, to the point where I find it weary and downright irritating to constantly have to defend it as a serious religious path to "muggles" when a lot of its so-called practitioners don't even see it that way. I'm not saying there is The committment to serious scholarship, devotion, hard work, just plain sweat that I saw when I first started is no longer there in force. The "Wicca" that I'm seeing most often these days is all style, no substance, and it depresses the hell out of me. It's strange, but in a way I almost miss the days when the argument-du-jour I had with other Wiccans was defending my right to call myself a Wiccan and work with the Greek pantheon (believe it or not, I had this one almost daily). It's almost heartening when compared with the arguments I have most often now, where people call me a Fundamentalist because I chose to dedicate myself to a pantheon rather than pick and choose some Gods that sounded cool in my copy of Understanding Wicca in 5 Minutes For Beginners (available at your local Barnes and Noble!) by Earthwind Crystalheart. (A sidenote: I have absolutely no problem with those who choose to become Eclectics, I have problems with people not doing their homework, regardless of how they define themselves.) This isn't to say Ye Olde Crafte o the Wise is hallowed and sacred and should always ALWAYS be taken seriously (and this is my biggest peeve with the New Agey Wiccans, actually). We gotta know when to laugh at ourselves, put things in perspective, and be practical. "Mirth and reverence", grasshoppas. But there's gotta be a balance. The joke isn't really funny unless you get the truth behind it. I think that's lost on a lot of folks.
I guess I also don't feel like I belong anymore because, well, I'm a weirdo. Part of the consequences of the "mainstreaming" of Wicca has been shoving our most colorful folks into the closet, sacrificing them on the altar of Lady Expediency, the most hallowed Goddess of Public Relations. I'm a Goth, something that predates my conscious interest in Wicca. Six years ago, in the open group I studied with, I fit right in. There were plenty of weirdoes. I mean weirdoes in the most positive sense--people who were independent, didn't follow a crowd, thought for themselves and questioned things. Not only marched to the beat of their own drummer, but said "screw it" and picked up the damn drum themselves. And yes, a lot of these people dressed "normally", but they were cool with people's choices. We were there to learn. The last open circle I went to of this group, it was a bunch of Edina Monsoon Pagans (Ab Fab fans will get the joke) worshipping the teacher like some kind of Guru on a commune. They all looked like Young Republicans, and they all looked at me cross-eyed cause I wore black velvet. For goodness sake, people had to be told to turn their cell phones off before the circle was cast. I somehow didn't see this bunch using their $200 athames to roast sausages over the fire pit like we used to do, LOL. I must of missed that memo that said those of us who look like Siouxie Sioux aren't allowed to practice the Craft anymore, cause it makes everyone look bad. :-P WTF did this religion turn into when I wasn't looking? Craft of the PC Yuppie?
Sweet Mama, I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant about everything I can't stand about the community...I think ya'll touched a nerve here. I guess it explained why I'm Solitary. ;) Honestly, me and Wicca have had a love-hate relationship, but I don't see myself leaving it, at least for the time being (Who knows what the Moirae have in store?). One of the reasons I don't shed the Wiccan label is ironically because of a challenge that was issued to me by an Evangelical Christian who was witnessing to me for a while. When I told her I rejected Christianity because the church rejected me, she told me that only a shallow fool accepts or rejects a worldview solely based on who else holds it. Humans are fallible, we all make mistakes. It's not about accepting a church, it's about accepting a relationship. She challenged me to take a look at the philosophy one more time, and make a decision based on that. Well, I think you all know what I chose, but that thought has stuck with me and it taught me an important lesson. The reason I call myself a Wiccan, regardless of how much I might disagree with others who call themselves Wiccan, is because the underlying philosophy still resonates within me as much as it did when I first started to learn about it. It still makes sense to me. The trappings, the people, the perception of it, whatever might change, but that's not what attracted me to it in the first place. What attracted me was the freedom of it, the challenge of it--the answers are within ourselves, and all we need is the courage and determination to seek them out. It's about simultaneously refusing to accept the status quo, and "going with the flow". That will never change for me, whether I keep this label for another six years or move on to something else.
| What It's All About.... ||Oct 3rd. at 6:37:52 am UTC|
|Marissa (Renton, WA) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I think the whole reason people choose to go on a "path" is because they're searching, and the nature of the search leads them to an inevitably new place. The answer across the board has been that someone started somewhere, usually Christianity, and fell first to Wicca. This happens because Wicca is the most readiy available form of nature-based religion.
But it doesn't/didn't fit. But people-- people like labels, and rather than shed one, they choose to call themselve "eclectic wiccan." And they think it's creative. But what else is there, if you need a label?
And this is my point. I think that in order for the pagan *community* to grow and thrive, we need to shed our resistance to standing on our own, without the safety of a label or a rulebook to follow.
We love nature, we love our Mother. We attune to her in any way we can. The rest in pomp and circumstance.
| Your Path Is Always The Same, Call It What You Will. ||Oct 3rd. at 1:02:17 pm UTC|
|Ted Peter Smith (Stillwater, OK) ||Age: 48 - Email - Web|
Marissa (Renton, WA) makes a good point, am I on a Wicca Path or have encountered Wicca on my Path? Do I foresee changing my core beliefs? No. Do I foresee changing my Path in the future? No. Do I foresee wander onto interesting Branches? Yes indeed. We do not choose our paths; our feet are already there when we are born. It's there; it was always there and always will be there. That is the wonder of it all, we experience life, we learn and then we move on. What’s in a name?
| More Revrence, Less Crystals ||Oct 3rd. at 1:04:35 pm UTC|
|Josh (Nicholls, Ga) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Right after 9/11, I heard a woman in a department store say she had no sympathy for the people who died in the airplanes on that day. She said that they knew they were about to die and so had plenty of time to "get right with Jesus." So I wrote an article in the newspaper of the junior college I attend, asking for tolerance (tolerance? Should we merely be "tolerated" by some higher class citizens? but I digress)and as example, explained my own beliefs. While I still adhere, kinda, to the basic structure of what I believed then, I am quite embarrassed by some of the specifics. Mainly, the whole "ours is an ancient religion" deal. But also the higher emphasis I placed on magick then (something I rarley even discuss, much less do, anymore). Have I switched "paths"? I suppose you could say that, if we are using the word path as a different concept from religion itself. I was Wiccan/Pagan, now I'm Pagan/Wiccan, if you get what I mean. I've moved quite far from my Ravenwolf beginings, and have gone from misunderstood duotheism (my misunderstanding, not duotheism's) to a better understood polytheism. I no longer believe that all the gods are one God and all the goddesses are one Goddess. Some will say that I am no longer a Wiccan, then. I dont see it that way, but then I can't decide how you are to percieve me.
| No Yet ||Oct 3rd. at 2:11:48 pm UTC|
|Stratyllis (Seattle,WA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I haven't changed my path yet but I have been thinking about it. I am currently Wiccan. I think I want to look into Strega and Dianic traditions.
| Beyond Spellbooks ||Oct 3rd. at 2:33:06 pm UTC|
|Julie (Mesa, AZ) ||Age: 32 - Email |
Yes, I have changed paths. I consider myself Pagan and a New Ager but also a philosophical Taoist. The rest, as they say, is subject to change without notice.
I also can say, "I was Wiccan before Wicca was cool." I found my way into Wicca in 1991, and began to seriously practice it in 1992.
I come from a very loose Protestant family, where my spirituality was my choice. I made all the choices about what my religion was when I was a kid, I simply stuck to Christianity because my parents were Christian, and I didn't know there were choices beyond the mainstream religions.
I began to look elsewhere for spiritual fulfillment after an especially BAD year, emotionally, and during/after the Harmonic Convergence in 1988, found Tarot. I learned Tarot, then found my way to Crystal work, and eventually New Age thought. From there, I found magick and Wicca.
I'm an 'old school New Ager'.
New Agers get universally bashed these days, and that's a sad thing, because when I began my New Age studies, words like "White Light" and "fluffy bunny" weren't used to refer to practitioners of religious or spiritual thought. While I am one of the first to admit that the New Age has been recently commercalised and turned into an easy way to make money off of gullable people, it wasn't always like that, and many other things have been homogonized into more socially acceptable 'bite size' packaging, not just the New Age and Wicca. I was a telephone Tarot reader as a profession, for instance, before "Miss Cleo" and the "Psychic Network", back when the readers actually used their own tarot cards, and didn't have cheat-sheets and computer Tarot programs.
Over the years, I have studied Paganism, and have read Cunningham, Buckland, Ravenwolf, the Farrars and many others. I have studied a lot of alternative religions from Kemetic Orthodoxy to Asatru. Wicca was never the 'exact fit' it was supposed to be, for me. Thus my seeking. Through this I continued to call myself "Wiccan" primarily so that I had a 'label' if I ever needed one. (Although when I was admitted to the hospital the two times in my life, I was classified as "Other" or "Unknown" even though the first time I put "Wiccan" and the second I put "Pagan")
It is also harder to move away from Wicca than one might think, especially for Solitaries. Many books labeled "Paganism" are actually Wicca. There is very little Pagan oriented information available that doesn't have Wicca as it's basis. This is probably why many people who have found their way into Paganism through Wicca continue to call themselves Wiccan even though they don't feel innately that they identify with this religion.
Those that do decide to look beyond Wicca and Paganism-Wicca are usually finding themselves studying the Eastern Philosophies like Taoism, Buddhism and Zen, or are embarking for completely uncharted territories in personal spirituality.
I suppose I can call myself a Mystic as well.
But I don't call myself Wiccan any longer. It's not me.
Pagan Taoist New Age Mystic
| Didn't Change Much! ||Oct 3rd. at 2:49:19 pm UTC|
|Gregg A Manor (California) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I haven't change all that much. I call my self a wiccan to most people I talk to. However, I came into the religion for the simple reason that most of the beliefs were my beliefs. I've only changed the name.
| I Have Changed As I Have Learned ||Oct 3rd. at 3:40:42 pm UTC|
|Arainnon Niamh (Portsmouth - England) ||Age: 18 - Email - Web|
When I first identified as a Pagan I was exposed to mainly wicca and as a very young Pagan I was exposed to a very eclectic form of wicca. As I have learned and grown my beliefs have not changed as much as my practices have. I am learning about many Pagan traditions, in order to widen my knowledge but I am now identifying as a Dianic Wytch. A short time ago I had a small crisis and realised it was the Goddess alone I wanted to dedicate my life to. So I guess I would say the only thing that has changed for me is what I call/name myself, nothing else has. I believe my change from eclectic to Dianic Wicca has helped me connect with the Earth better as a Pagan. I think everyone changes at some points in their life, I just think its up to them how they adapt to it.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Change Is Inevitable With Growth ||Oct 3rd. at 4:29:18 pm UTC|
|Uruloki (Bozeman, Mt) ||Age: 20 - Email |
As I have grown older I have incorporated many of the things I have learned and feel are true into my own personal path. I believe that all must change inevitably.
| I Have Changed And Settled. ||Oct 3rd. at 4:42:54 pm UTC|
|rayvenmoonshadow (catoosa ok) ||Age: 32 - Email |
Yes I have changed from the first path I learned.Since I am a self taught witch I have no access to outside thinking and developed my our path.The first one I learned was a mix of Starhawk and Silver RavenWolf.Then I started to look into female only paths and now I am in the Celtic path following the Dianic I developed.I was called and now feel at home.
| I Have Evolved ||Oct 3rd. at 5:00:05 pm UTC|
|Myrddin (wisconsin) ||Age: 55 - Email |
A person's life evolves as it matures and brings new insights to the mix.
Early on, I was much imbued with Christianity. At the age of 14 or so I thought there would be nothing finer than becoming a Protestant minister. Funny thing though, mid-teen years often mean finding out your heroes have feet of clay, things arent always as they seem, disappointments and disenchantments occur as you truly evolve into a thinking person instead of learning by rote. The rest of your life is spent in gaining the wisdom to recognize things as they are, and accept them when appropriate, knowing when NOT to accept something, when to rebel, when to stand firm, when to support and when to fade into the background.
That being said, the same applies to our religious or spiritual growth. Some accept blindly. Some analyze and experiment. Some seek paths wherever they take them. Some find what they are looking for and never waver. Some find bits and pieces of the puzzle here and there and incorporate them into their core beliefs.
My core belief is that all religions spring to being in man's attempt to be a part of everything around him, instead of a victim of his surroundings. Religions spring to being as a way for mankind (generic usage here you Dianics, no downplaying of the importance and magic of the female side of the equation meant) to answer the questions his inner "soul" asks. Each religion, whether it be organized and established, or New Age, or Old Religion.....is a path to those ends.
I began as Christian, then in the early 70's become a devout Wiccan. It seemed Gardner et al had it more right. Gardner's claim of having "found" the true Old Religion carried much weight in the argument. Today, I now accept that his group rather "invented" his purported "Old Ways" from an amalgam of things...Masonic lore and ritual, anthropological thoughts, popular concepts, etc etc
and was just one group's idea of what the Old Ways MIGHT have been.
I think, these days, the eclectics have it more right. Take what feels right from each and incorporate it into your belief system with the major crede of "and it harm none, do what you will". I do like to subscribe to the God and Goddess structure, as it is easiest for me to view things in the male/female context of all things being composed of parts of both, and the need for both aspects in a well ordered world. Both equally regarded, both equally important to the scheme of things, with neither dominant or "better than" the other.
My basic views these days are respect for all religions NOT perverted by institutional myopia or oppression of other views.....and incorporate that which makes sense and fulfills my inner seeking into a basic structure composed of Wicca. I wish the old Druids and wise women, the old witches and seers could come to life and instruct me - teach me - just what their structure, beliefs and arts were back then.......lacking that I do the best I can as do we all.
If it fulfills you, "and it harm none" and gives you inner peace and answers to the deep questions your inner self asks......then it is good.
That's where I am at these days. Still seeking, still incorporating. On a basic structure.
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