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Posted: Nov. 17, 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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| My Path Is My Life ||Sep 30th. at 11:23:16 pm EDT|
|Two Crows (Ohio) ||Age: 37 - Email |
It took me a very long time to realize that my path was my life, and I mean that in no sense of thoughtless dedication to a third party construct which I refer to as religionism, credentialism, or traditionalism. In essence the growth and learning of my life’s journey came to be, after painful struggles with the attachment of my ego to all sorts of beliefs, all the initiations that I would ever care to invest my spirit in. This decision was not easy, for as you all well know it matters little what choices you make in life, there is always someone who hates you for it, thinks of you as the paragon of evil, or sets up their own identity in opposition to it. There is simply no shortage of people willing to tell us what is the right way, charge us for training in it, satisfy their own ego’s need for followers, or punish us in all sorts of subtle ways for not towing the line of established normality. Even non-conformists have their own stigmas for those who are not non-conformist enough, and learning this was a very painful lesson for me. It was an initiation that could have come from no blindfold and scourge, or standing naked before a priest and priestess in a hidden lodge. No, in fact it took place before the whole world that offered me alternately blindfolds and strokes from the scourge, as I stood naked before them in all my shame, indignity, and vulnerability. What a glorious initiation it was, and I wear it proudly, and care little who thinks it makes me equal to, or lesser than, they. The self-proclaimed adepts are no longer seekers, they have found what they were after in their jaded forgetfulness of origins and the pride of their accomplishments, but the sincere seekers yet remain, and in ever growing numbers. Some of them are even old hands in the world of Paganism, who realize that seeking never ends.
Being a seeker today is a frightening experience for the new to the Craft, no matter what tradition we dress it up in. It is filled with all sorts of do’s and don’ts, sidelong glances, and outright intimidation. Some wonder why so many come to their first face to face meeting with other Pagans, their first steps into the magickal community, with trepidations, pale silence, or phony airs. Perhaps its because they sense that they will get no attention if they don’t, or that to appear weak and uneducated is a fatal mistake among the overly initiated who seem ever eager to harshly correct them, or put them under a critical and scoffing eye. This uneasy regard that newbies and old-timers cast towards each other has swelled the ranks of the solitaries, driven up sales of self-initiation books, and put a gulf between the new blood of future generations and the true elders of the community. In fact I’ve even witnessed true elders quietly endure the foolishness of those who are more concerned with the smell on the fire hydrant than in the precious magick that only the young and innocent can carry, that wide-eyed awe that so many have lost forever.
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Whew! What A List ||Sep 30th. at 11:16:36 pm EDT|
|Matt ( MI) ||Age: 25 - Email |
I was always interested in Witchcraft, ever since I was a wee little boy. I had the pleasure of sitting on the lap of Gundella (Detroit's most famous Green Witch) listening to her stories when she would visit the costume shop my mom worked at. I was raised Lutheran, but after a while my mom figured that bringing her kid to work to be hugged and loved on by a witch wasn't a good idea. Then in High School, long after I had forgotten about Gundella, I had to do a report for my Religion class about Wicca. I have been hooked ever since! :)
I have studied a billion or so religions, mostly Pagan/Heathen in nature, but I can't say that I ever really left Wicca for them; it was more like an interested learning about what is out there. I did participate in many a Blot though!
| A Time Or 40 ||Sep 30th. at 10:53:40 pm EDT|
|MegLyn (Kansas) ||Age: 50 - Email |
it all started with LaVey but that barely lasted thru his book.... next on the better witch bookclub best seller list was Paul Huson's "Mastering Witchcraft".. this was late 69/early 70... i was eventually initiated into a Huson spawned coven.... from there into a myriad of paths that lead thru most Asian philosphies to Thelema, Vudoo, Shamanism, you name it i tried it.... i think that was due to the early exposure to Crowley... 'master them all!!' and in the end, i have came back to witchcraft.... this simply proves the circle.... and having started so it ends....
| My Strange Journey! ||Sep 30th. at 9:44:28 pm EDT|
|Deidre (Michigan) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I've had an interesting journey and I'm sure it's not over yet. Unlike most Neo-Pagans, I was raised an Atheist. So I always questioned all religions and spirituality. I still do. Sometimes I feel like I question them too much in fact. I should just give it a rest sometimes!
Anyways, I was Atheist for a good portion of my life. I was a funny little girl. I remember when I was about 9 my friends would talk about God and I would retort, "There's no such thing. We're all made of atoms." You should have seen the faces of their mothers! I was Atheist until age 12.
I admit this next phase was pretty stupid. But hey, we all usually have some stupid phase in childhood we cringe (or laugh) at remembering! I met a guy that was way older than me. And he was the town "Witch". Everyone knew him and feared him. It being a little town and all. We quickly made friends and he tried to get me into Witchcraft for awhile. At first I was VERY skeptical. Thinking it was pretty stupid. But I did see all the attention he was getting and figured might as well play with it. So he started "teaching" me. He was an Anton LaVeyian Witch. So I started out reading Anton LaVey's work. Hehehehe! I still laugh at the thought of a little 12 year old reading Anton LaVey. Of course, I didn't understand it until I read the "Satanic Bible" over and over again for about a year. And then I realized that my "friend" was pretty stupid. He claimed he was LaVeyian.. he really had NO clue about Anton LaVey and his work. So I was a Laveyian for a little bit of 12 and all of age 13.
Then at 14 my father expressed his beliefs to me. Which really shocked me. My father had raised me Atheist but he was actually a Daoist! So he told me a lot about "God" which he calls the "Source" and even about energy play. It was then that I turned Pagan. I didn't want to be Daoist because I couldn't understand it as much as I could Paganism. Besides, I was more into the physical human nature (Anton influence talking) than the Daoist selflessness. However, Paganism still held true a lot of what my father taught me. I was also critical of the Wiccan religion. I thought it was pretty stupid! I didn't agree with their ethics. For some reason I thought ethics were for the weak (funny, even LaVey had ethics!). Not to mention their fishy history.
Well finely I arrived to where I am now! I am Wiccan. Gak!!!! How the heck did that happen right? Hehehehe. It happened pretty fast within this year(my 18th). All this time I had been studying Paganism I was studying Wicca on the side. I'm not even sure why except that I knew that's what I would become. But the more and more experience I accumulated the more and more I realized my beliefs were more Wiccan than anything! Plus, I've excepted that the history of Wicca doesn't even matter. It's evolved so much from when Gardner "invented" it anyway. I still tell people I'm Pagan, however. I'm especially worried about my fiance. He thinks Wiccans are um ehem, *questionable*. Probably because I got to him when I was still a Wiccan hater lol! Talk about coming back at ya! So I have yet to come out of the closet all over again! Sorry for the extremely long post!
| Change Is Good - Correction ||Sep 30th. at 8:57:43 pm EDT|
|Aravan Windwalker (Saco, Maine) ||Age: 37 - Email |
The link didn't work on my post, so here is the link for more info on Mithril Star.
Thank you Witchvox for such an awesome forum!
| Change Is Good ||Sep 30th. at 8:48:30 pm EDT|
|Aravan Windwalker (Saco, Maine) ||Age: 37 - Email |
When I started studying pagan paths, I gravitated towards Wicca, as it is the dominant path
that most see and relate to these days. But recently I discovered a new path, one that calls
me with a very strong voice and great strength. The Order of the Mithril Star, a Druid oriented
path, has become a wonderful place of self-discovery for me.
I have taken the class they offer and am getting ready to perform the self initiation rite. I
have found my home, I have found my place in the scheme of this universe.
May You Never Thirst
Aravan Windwalker /|\ 1st Degree Druid OMS RDNA
Link to More info related to this post -- HERE
| Switched From Catholic Craft To True Wiccan ||Sep 30th. at 8:36:47 pm EDT|
|April (New York) ||Age: 41 - Email |
I always worshiped Mary, even when I was raised Catholic. I never prayed to Jesus, just God and Mary. Finally I realized I was pagan but continued to follow the Catholic calendar and practice a catholic form of Wicca, I guess you would call it. It has been a long path, one riddled often with guilt and fear. But I have finally come to a peaceful time where I can honor the Goddess and God without fear of retribution. I have also come to truly understand my own pagan views and am able to pass these on to my children
| Change? ||Sep 30th. at 8:00:36 pm EDT|
|Emrys Wledig (Yuma) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Is changing paths really the issue? Or what you may be really looking for is have any of you gown in your faith. Many posting here and all of them make sense, but then doesn't the argument for any religion? Change is an inevitable part of life. The only true constant. Often people seek change for change itself. If one finds the path too rocky, he/she may seek an easier one, or if one finds the path too easy, a more challenging path may be sought. Some of us need our freedom while others require a guiding hand. But regardless of where we are at now, betcha bottom dollar, we ain't gonna be here next year. Like that old popular Soap Opera said: "Like the sands in the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.:
| A Rose By Any Other Name ||Sep 30th. at 7:56:51 pm EDT|
|lilith (los angeles) ||Age: 33 - Email |
i am a witch now, and always was, even when i didnt know it, and always will be. the word witch encompasses so much and for me anyway cannot be outgrown. i do not consider myself a pagan, or a wiccan, or a heathen. of course my mother considers me a heathen, but she's a fundamentalist christian, so thats not entirely unexpected. ;)
i dont think of what i practice as a religion. religion strikes me as something to believe in, and belief is not my strong point. i practice the craft, i dont believe in the craft. spirituality is experienced, and experienced in completely different ways from person to person.
i dont think people who "change" paths are doing anything except evolving and refining their own perceptions. if i had come to my place as a witch indirectly as opposed to how i did come to the point of realization [that is, waking up one day and quite literally looking at myself in the mirror and saying oh my, im a witch!] i would still reach the same place. as it happens i didnt, but there's nothing wrong with making those changes to get to where you want or need to be.
| No, I've Switch From Using The Term *Pagan* Tho ||Sep 30th. at 7:56:38 pm EDT|
|Mave (Oklahoma,USA) ||Age: 54 - Email |
I hid it for a long while. The only other occult practice was when my mother tried to make me a Catholic. Does that count?
| So Many Choices! ||Sep 30th. at 7:52:11 pm EDT|
|Storm's Feather (Russellville, Arkansas) ||Age: 16 - Email |
When i first started studying Wicca and Paganism, it was because i was unsure that what i knew what right. Magick wasn't my intent, but understanding was. I think that is where i turned to Reconstructuralism: Ásatrú, Celtic, Druidism, Hellenismos, and Kemetism Gods and Goddesses are my main focuses.
When i talk about Paganism, i usually refer to myself as a Witch, probably because it's an easier term for people to understand than Reconstructuralism.
I've changed since i've studied Paganism; now i understand why i've always felt Christians were wrong.
A few of my friends and colleagues are Wiccans, and more have open minds now that they understand a little more about it, but Christianity will remain dominate in my community, but not in my heart.
| I'd Call It Evolving More Than Switching. ||Sep 30th. at 5:07:15 pm EDT|
|Nightcloud (Minneapolis, MN USA) ||Age: 48 - Email |
Way back in 1972, when I started on this, most of the pagans I knew called themselves Witchs, the word Wicca hadn't been used to the extent it has come to be known today. There weren't any books on Wicca per se. There were books on Witchcraft, Astrology, Magic, theTarot, Metaphysics and a host of Eastern practices. I, like most folks, was in the searching phase, looking for that "something" that would make me say, "Oh, yeah! that's how it is," a light bulb moment if you will. I was looking for a way to open up new worlds of mind and spirit, to go beyond the place humans were at back then, for me, doing this without drugs was important. For a few years I was in order; a witch, a metaphysist, a catholic, (with occultist leanings) and an occultist. None of these things fit right though, they all lacked the personal relationship with deity. Finally, I became a witch that worshipped first Anubis, and then Apollon, about 1981-82 I added Dionysus as well.
By the time Wicca had become a much talked about religion, I'd already been dedicated and worshipping for many years. As more and more Wiccans came out of the broom closet, I started calling myself a Pagan, (yeah I did it to differentiate myself from Wiccans). Still I studied and read many of the books on Wicca, Drawing Down the Moon, Spiral Dance, almost everything written by Scott Cunningham, a couple by Raymond Buckland, as well as any thing else that seemed to be interesting. Those things that struck a chord somewhere in my heart and/or mind became incorporated into my personal system. A system which is based first on integrity with honor being of the highest value.
I've recently discovered a group of Hellenic Reconstructionists, many of their beliefs and thoughts seem to be much like my own. I've joined this group, however this does not mean that I will abandon those things I've come to enjoy in my religous life, not in the least, I will find more new things which is what I want and I'll add them to my personal system. Always growing, always evolving; this is the basis I think for our time in this life. I think this is the reason many people turn to any form of Paganism in the first place because there isn't one answer for everyone, religion and religous practice to me is like love or even like hate. I firmly think that there is something inside humans that drives them to seek that 'something' outside of themselves, outside of each other, fill some as yet un-named emotional niche. And like our ideas and acceptance of love and hate, religion also evolves, changes with the times, with circumstances, with social evolution and growth.
I think there is a very real increase in the number of paths/religions within the pagan community. I think the pagan community is changing, I believe this is a good thing. I think there will be growth pains, there always are. I'm hoping that as Pagans we will not fall into the traps that have plagued the Abrahamistic religions for so long. I think Wicca will continue to be an important part of the pagan community, if for no other reason than it's been here longer, it's been in the news and part of the collective conciousness of the US and other countries for quite a while. However, I think there is a definite growth in non-Wiccan paganism, and I see this as being a wonderful new decade of learning and further enlightenment among pagans.
Looking toward an ever brighting future,
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