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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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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| Former Wiccan ||Sep 30th. at 12:58:41 am EDT|
|Stone Wolf (Seattle, WA) ||Age: 22 - Email |
I started with Wicca college, mostly out of curiousity, inspired by a friend of mine at the time (a very 'fluffy' friend I might add). I spent the first semester of the school year hanging around with him, and when he left after that semester I started studying Wicca soon after he left.
I stayed Wiccan for a good couple of years, after leaving college, whereas I made the choice to to enlist and join the military. After I'd been in about a year, I came across a website called www.whywiccanssuck.com (It's a very good site; don't base your judgements off it's title) and I realized a lot of what the truth about Wicca is. The website helped strip away what I thought I knew, and revealed the real 'fluffiness' behind a lot of people who call themselves Wiccans. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I saw characteristics of my own beliefs and habits in what that website showed me.
Consequently, I decided to leave Wicca, but to stay in Pagan circles. Currently, I am still a Pagan, but I hold no particular religion or beliefs at this time. I'm in a class of my own, you could say. I've had to redefine and relearn many of the things I thought I knew about my beliefs and about magick. I'm happy to say I'm better for it though, but I'll never touch another book published by Lewellyn Press again.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| It's Not No Much Changed, As Become More Defined... ||Sep 30th. at 1:16:40 am EDT|
|The Storyteller (backwoods Arkansas) ||Age: 26 - Email |
My family was always some odd form of vaguely spiritual that wasn't christian, and I was left to my own devices to determine the way of the spiritual realm. I knew from the get go that I wasn't a christian, but deep in the bible belt was not a very easy place to go searching for answers beyond the norm. I wound up with a strong faith in Something, I just didn't know what the heck it was. Over the years I've tried on various lables (I know that labels are mostly irrelavant in the grand scheme of things, but they are rather convenient) to see if they fit what I was- Witch, Shaman, Pagan, Neo Pagan, Jedi, etc etc etc. None of them did of course, for in each case the dogma was too strict, too limiting, there were too many "Thou Shalt Not's", too many impossiblilities and it doesn't work that way's, when I had already seen and done them and knew they worked perfectly well, without nasty reprocussions (unless I was specificly directed not to by the powers that be).
so now I have taken to claiming my own deffinitions, and these fit me quite nicely- I am a Wizard, a Mage, an Adventurer, and just plain ol Me (which is an odd odd thing to be), and I'm gradualy becoming ok with being myself in a world that refuses to believe that something like me exists. A fairy tale, a myth escaped from some made up realm of fantasy, with the audacity to wander the mundane world as if I were Real. An outcast among even those weirdos who make up the pagan community (no offence, but you realize as far as most of the people in this world are concerned we're pretty darn weird, and so has it always been). It gets to me sometimes of course, that the only people I've ever run across who would dare to calim Wizard or Mage as their label (aside from One), are those poor pathetic losers who Everybody knows are full of complete BS.
I think as the pagan movement continues, the wiccans shall continue their odd trend towards mundanity and dogmatic rut, the Pagans and Neo-Pagans shall probably split into more defined new traditons and eventualy fall into the same rut as the wiccans, I think the movement as a whole will probably lose momentum once it fades as the "In" rebellion thing leaving only the true believers to carry along, the posers shall probably still pose and try to pass themselves off as Azriel the Dark Prince of the Seventh House of Zormandias, and I fear that the Lunitic Fringe is going to mount an assult upon the Veil of the commonly accepted paradigm of reality (which has already begun- Believe it or not folks, there's people doin' it, and more becoming involved, and it's scary and it's working)
anyway, that's my two bits.
| Pagan Can Believe In More Than One Believe At A Time!!!! ||Sep 30th. at 1:24:38 am EDT|
|miranda amber (MO) ||Age: 25 - Email |
i am been pagan for 13 yrs and i love it. i always believe in pagan's ways. i just learn the name its called. families need this in their lives. i can't live without it. it is the way of life for me. we will come back to save this world , we call today. i know that they need us to teach them the old ways when there is nothing left but ours ways of life!!!!
| "It's The Paths That Got Smaller...." ||Sep 30th. at 2:38:49 am EDT|
|David Nelson (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) ||Age: 40 - Email - Web|
Not to paraphrase Norma Desmond too much, but I wonder if "It's the paths that got smaller...." I doubt that many followers actually change their beliefs, but, while furthering their studies, find new paths which better fit their beliefs. In my last 26 years, I went from Mormon (check the dateline) to briefly learning more about Judaism and Anglicanism to see if anyone had the corner on the revealed religions. They didn't. Next, I looked into Agnosticism, Atheism and finally, Pantheism. To this, I've added special attention to Gaianism, Paganism and Taoism (all significantly Pantheist).
I suspect the religious migratory patterns of most Americans is similarly evolutionary. With Paganism, I also suspect that it's true that many start with the biggest and easiest first step in Wicca and proceed from there without diminishing their beliefs, but expanding their experience of those beliefs.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Indeed I Did ||Sep 30th. at 3:40:56 am EDT|
|Aquila ka Hecate (Johannesburg, South Africa) ||Age: 42 - Email - Web|
My path has changed quite radically, I guess, seeing as how I started out as a Gardnerian initiate, and ended up an atheist!
Over the course of 16-odd years, some changes were perhaps inevitable, and I found myself becoming more and more eclectic with time.
However, sometime last year the process began whereby I totally deconverted from every beleif in gods, godesses, mysticism and anything of a supernatural nature.
I found naturalism to make so much more sense, and as I started actually thinking for myself, I also found that I had absolutley no rational foundation for any of my previously-held notions.
Today I call myself a secular pagan, and am very happy celebrating the seasons and taking great joy in life.
I have also found,almost paradoxically, a huge relief in knowing that no imaginary beings guide our lives.I have taken on much more responsibilty for myself and my actions.
Contrary to popular understanding, the secular life is beautiful, fulfilling and worthwhile.
| Define One´s Path ||Sep 30th. at 6:20:54 am EDT|
|Anufa Ellhorn (Austria) ||Age: 37 - Email - Web|
Well met, everybody :)
At the time, when I found out that Roman catholic was not the path for me to walk, there hardly was any pagan culture in Austria. So there was no other chance than to start as an ecclectic. My main issue was to find a way to look at life. Religion - not just a tool to make my life easier, I was looking for. After some years of research I came upon Wiccan books. Always I had the feeling, that there must be more behind the curtain as there was written in those books and now, 20 years later I definitely know that there is quite a lot more.
As long as the traditional Craft, as I know it now, gives me the opportunity to explain the world and life to its full extent, I will stay with that path. One thing I see as the most important of all: There are many paths equally valid - the only important thing for me is, to really WALK that path I choose.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Not Exactly ||Sep 30th. at 7:57:58 am EDT|
|Mae Silverpaws (Ga (USA)) ||Age: 37 - Email |
My basic belief has been the same since I was a small child. I have changed titles though.
It is more understandable to others if you give yourself specific titles like wiccan but I have settle for the generic title of pagan now. Personally I feel that I am alittle too eclectic to
pick one specific title.
| WHAT A LONG, STRANGE TRIP IT'S BEEN... ||Sep 30th. at 9:34:33 am EDT|
|Ciarrai (Piscataway, NJ) ||Age: 35 - Email |
My oh my -- I remember this all too well! I decided to get a divorce & my family practically disowned me! We were all raised Roman Catholic -- not at all fire & brimstone -- but RC still the same. The majority of my family converted to some non-demonination demonination of Christianity which really didn't phase me much just as long as they didn't try to convert me too! Things were cool until I announced that I was getting a divorce. It was just awful; who can you count on when you can't count on your family -- even a little "I understand why you're doing this even though I don't agree w/ it" would have been fine. I never felt so alone in the world. Witchcraft as "a science" (a la Laurie Cabot almost!) was something that I had been interested in & researched since the earliest days of my adolescence. However, when I separated, I started to search different Christian paths. Nothing felt right -- I was still a Catholic at heart -- everything else just got stranger & stranger for me. Then I got involved in a full force study of Witchcraft -- history, theory, paths, etc. So much of what I read told me that I didn't need to throw the faith I was raised in completely out the window. For like minded people, I'm a Christo Pagan. For the ignorant, I'm a Cafeteria Catholic. The practice of Paganism is my strongest influence but there is so much history in the Church of Rome that I still appreciate. Appreciating and agreeing are two different things. That's why I practice alone. But I don't feel alone. Warmly embracing Paganism as a part of my life not only helped me to get through my divorce but actually started me on the path of getting my life back together.
May have been a long strange trip -- but at least now I'm enjoying the ride!
| Path ||Sep 30th. at 11:20:41 am EDT|
|Allison (Florida) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Rather than follow any one particular path, my eclectic path has evolved over 24 years. I spent 6 years purely studying every religion I could find (what else is a 10 year old child to do when there's no Pagan people to teach her)and adopted bits and pieces from each that suited me. I started with an encyclopaedia and looked up "religion" and just went from there. My parents tried to raise me as a catholic but by age 10 I knew that I was not going to get along in that belief system. Anyway, at age 17 I found a teacher and practised as a student for the next 5 years. Then I moved to Europe for 9 years and practised on my own ever since. I have always, and continue to, learn from people and cultures everywhere I go. So I have as a result, a very broad path that I walk. I think patience has paid off though. I do feel very balanced for it. Even now I continue to study avidly on a daily basis, learning all the time. In this religion I believe one is an eternal student. There's nobody who knows it ALL. I can't really change paths because I wouldn't know what that means.
| Diversity Is Good! ||Sep 30th. at 11:46:03 am EDT|
|Hearthstone (Michigan) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Like many people who choose a pagan spiritual path, I started out with the one with the most information available at the time--Wicca (or, more precisely, a paganism based in great part on Wicca). My first book was Starhawk's _Spiral Dance_. Even at that time, however, I did not feel comfortable with the term "Wiccan," preferring to think of myself as "pagan." Wiccan-based paganism fit in some ways, but not in others--my interest in magic was and is quite low, the central male-female polarity did not appeal to me, and the basic theology didn't really touch my heart. Still, it was what was there, and since most of my fellow pagans embraced some branch of this system it was easier to find a group to worship with in this system. And I think it's a good religion, one through which many people find great joy and transform their lives--it simply was not a good religion for me.
The big change for me, from a religion I was only fairly comfortable with to one that was a much closer fit, came when I became a polytheist--when I started to think of the gods as separate individuals rather than aspects of the God and Goddess. I'm not saying that one or the other way of thinking is right or wrong, since I certainly have no way of knowing! But I find it much easier to approach the gods as individuals rather than aspects--it's how I most naturally perceive them. From there it made sense to drop the other aspects of the Wiccan religion. I know polytheistic Wiccans and it works well for them, but it didn't for me--and, quite honestly, I am happier with a less intentionally magical religion.
This was made much easier, of course, by the growing number of non-Wiccan-based pagans--in part because it meant that dropping Wicca didn't mean dropping the pagan community. If I had become pagan today instead of eleven years ago, I doubt I would have tried so long to make Wicca work, and I think it's a wonderful thing that new pagans have such a wide range of religions to explore. I think there is, as you state above, a real shift into different non-Wiccan pagan religions, and I suspect that the main reason for this is because these different paths are much easier to find than they used to be, and people are moving toward those paths and religions that best suit them rather than staying with a well-known and popular path that may not be a perfect fit.
As to whether Wicca will remain the dominant pagan religion, as it is now, I can't say. Certainly as more pagan religions develop, more people who would have chosen Wicca otherwise will choose these paths instead. However, there is a lot of information available on the Wiccan-based paths, making it a very user-friendly religion, and that in itself will draw many new seekers--so I think it's likely that for the foreseeable future, Wicca and its variants will remain a "starter religion" for many people who later move off into other forms of paganism (and, of course, remain a home for others who do not). Until the other pagan religions grow and become more well-known, it will be hard to find information on them unless one is already a part of the pagan community.
As for me, specifically, I'm a semi-reconstructionist polytheist and have been for some time. :)
| The Spiral Path ||Sep 30th. at 12:07:31 pm EDT|
|Sunfell (Arkansas) ||Age: 42 - Email |
I, like many others here, started out in the late 70s/early 80s with the paltry selection of metaphysical books that were current or usable. Many have mentioned Starhawk, but I was also influenced by the 'hippie witches' who preceeded me- those mentioned in "Drawing Down the Moon", as well as Buckland, Valiente, the Farrars, and Z. Budapest. I also joined the Rosicrucian Order (AMORC).
I started out Wiccan, but as I have advanced down my Path, I outgrew it. Live is a series of endeavours, leading to revelation, insight, and growth. I learned, grew, and kept learning. I kept climbing the Spiral. I kept what was usable, and discarded what was irrelevent. This is the Path of the Eclectic, one which has been very rewarding.
I cannot really call myself Wiccan any more- and even the more generic Pagan is starting to fade back a bit. I left the costumes, theatric rituals, hardware and pantheons behind several years ago, and my practice has been honed to an incredible sharpness. It is also more powerful and immediate than ever, like it has been distilled. It is a wonderful feeling.
Today, I am a TechMage. It is a do-it-yourself Path. All books are its books. It incorporates elements of Ceremonial and Chaos Magick, Urban Shamanism, intuitive channeling, state of the art technology, old-school Hermetic mysticism, and good old fashioned Geek curiosity about how things tick. It isn't for everyone, has no clergy, and probably won't have a printed book because the data is always evolving.
Change is good, if you grow.
| In The Process ||Sep 30th. at 12:49:17 pm EDT|
|Myrdin Ravenheart (Marlboro) ||Age: 39 - Email |
After having been Wiccan foe a number of years, i have just started down the path of Druidry. I am currently studying the Druids of Ireland in the hopes of following their path.
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