My Spiritual Journey
Article ID: 13860
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: June 20th. 2010
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I grew up in a mixture of city and country. You might say I grew up in a mixture of Christianity and Paganism as well, although I was only taught Christianity. My mother was born to a thoroughly Christian man who had converted his wife before their marriage. She was not a Christian when they met although to this day she is the one who will preach the Bible at me more than anyone. They raised all of their children in the Christian religion and my mother adhered to it like nobody's business. Everything she did as a child somehow involved her religion. Most of her friends were from her church and most of the social events she attended were church events. It suited her.
When I was born she attempted to pass this on to me. Church every Sunday, prayer before bed and every meal, and of course discussion of faith at every chance she could get. She would always tell me that God put us on this Earth because he had a plan for us. I didn't like that line of thinking very much as it meant I was basically no more than a puppet on a string.
However, every other weekend my father had visitation rights. Sometimes I would go, sometimes I wouldn't. I was never that close to him, at least not ever since he remarried. When I did visit his small farm I would spend my time outside among the trees and gently swaying grass.
I made friends with the two dogs that barked at every car that passed the drive way and the cows that would run even when I was bringing them food. I found solace in the hayloft where I could craft my stories and watch the sunset or rise. It was here that I learned the true beauty of nature and the lessons she could teach. It was here that I felt most at home even though the building I referred to as home was an hour away.
My father never spoke of religion, never went to church, and never prayed before meals. He'd simply come in from the fields, wash his hands, and carve into whatever piece of meat his wife presented him with. Later that same night, if I asked, he would read me stories. The two that were most prominent were "Slip the Otter Finds a Home" and "Cerridwen's Cauldron". I would later forget about these as I grew up and only be reminded of them 20 some years later in the midst of a fight.
For most of my life I went along with what my mother taught me. I sat and listened in church like a good little girl, I went to church camp once or twice, and I tried to find God in the voice on the wind I would hear whispering through the corn stalks. I never found it though. The voice I heard was gentler, it felt more like a mother's loving embrace than any male deity. I began to grow restless in church but I didn't know what to do about it. I was never taught anything else and at that point, didn't know other religions existed.
Around that time I found the show Captain Planet. I now realize just how cheesy that show was but it presented a view where the Earth was something to be loved, not dominated. It opened my eyes to the possibility that maybe the Earth was sacred, not something to be desecrated. I began spending my recess time make believing I was a planeteer and that I, too, had been chosen to protect the planet we all call home. The rocks on the playground that I had been so obsessed with became friends, not just pretty things.
When that show went off the air, it didn't go out of my mind. I still went to church like a good little girl but the lessons and thoughts I gathered from Captain Planet never left. They lingered in the back of my mind and I began to realize that I was more at home outside in the midst of trees and chirping birds than I was anywhere else. The more I visited forests the more I felt a warm welcoming presence. I began to notice, this was my sanctuary.
It wasn't too many years later, two maybe three, that my best friend asked me if I had ever looked up witchcraft online. Though I loved the movie Hocus Pocus, I thought he was insane. Witchcraft? Since when was he into devil worship? I answered no right away. But something, perhaps the massive crush I had on him, made me click over to Yahoo and search the net for any information. What I found was anything but devil worship. The websites I read spoke of things that I had felt but never had a name for.
There really was a female deity? I hadn't just been delirious from the heat when I felt her embrace each summer? The Earth really was something sacred? Rocks, trees, flowers, all had spirits and could easily be considered friends and allies? Faeries really do exist? Every thing fell into place, every missing piece of the puzzle that Christianity hadn't provided, Wicca did.
For a while I kept going to church. I was trying to pretend like nothing had changed when in reality, everything had changed. The more I sat and listened to sermons the more restless I became. I began to see how cold and uninviting a church building--any building really--was to me. And that feeling only grew. Eventually I began to fight going to church.
My mother would never give in and let me stay home but I put up a fight every Sunday none-the-less. I stopped praying to a God whom, in truth, I had never felt and who was full of contradictions. (He loved his followers but would condemn them to a fiery inferno for one or two missteps? What kind of love was that?) I started researching everything I could get my hands on. I read everything, made notes, highlighted, and started a Book of Shadows (BOS) right away. I had found the religion I had always, unknowingly, belonged to.
I quickly learned to keep everything secret after my mom, grandma, and cousin came over to preach to me about Wicca being evil and that I would earn a one way ticket to hell if I had anything to do with it. I was stubborn and I knew what I believed. Yet, I let them talk. I let them believe that I believed what they were saying. I hated confrontation and would do anything to avoid it. I let them take away the few notes I was brave enough to show them but a few days later when my mom found my BOS and tossed it in the trash, I dug it back out. I created a small, inconspicuous altar and continued on in my research.
The following weekend, I went up to my dad's. I took candles, my BOS, and anything I could find that would represent the God and Goddess to me. I headed out to a secluded area of his rather large yard, beneath my favorite tree and set up my altar. There, beneath the shining sun and the gently rustling autumn leaves I did a small dedication ceremony. Nothing in all my years as a Christian moved me the way this small ceremony did. I was so overcome with emotion that I wound up on my knees with small droplets of salty water dripping from my cheeks. It was like nothing I had ever felt. It was the proverbial "coming home" feeling and from that moment on I recognized myself as a daughter of the Goddess...and of nature.
For years after that small ceremony I would be an armchair witch, simply reading books and gathering information. I would cast the occasional spell and say "Hello" to the goddess at the full moons but I never did formal esbat or sabbat rituals. Prayer wasn't something I was keen on, it was "too Christian" for me.
Two years ago though, I got up out of the armchair and started practicing. I set up a proper altar; complete with candles and representations of the deities I was most drawn to, and started learning the meanings of the tarot cards--my chosen divination method. Because I was most at home outside in nature, I put together a small travel altar that I would take with me to the local park. There was a small stream nearby that provided music for me to "work" or write by and I took up bird watching. I learned that Robins actually don't go away for the winter; they stay around here but are rarely seen. I started doing proper esbat rituals and crafted a strand of prayer beads that I use nearly every night.
Every day (and every night) I feel my connection with the natural world, and my Goddess, growing stronger and stronger. Instead of having a passive interest in my spirituality I am now very active with it. I have found that I'm actually a very spiritual person--I see everything as alive and having a spirit. I even went vegetarian last year as one of the first things I thought when reading the Rede (An it harm none, do what ye will) I thought it encompassed animals. I wanted to be vegetarian the moment I read it but knew my mother, at that point in my life, would never allow it. I also started a weekly Yoga practice.
And my writing? I see it as an act of worship to my Goddess, Brighid. I feel like I am honoring Her gifts to me each time I put pen to paper or lightly rap away at the keys. I am working on crafting a prayer to Her to say just before each writing session.
I no longer identify as Wiccan. I am more of an Eclectic Pagan but I follow the same basic principles a Wiccan would. I still live by the rule of “Harm None” as much as I can and still honor both a female and male deity, though my path has been mainly Goddess centered.
This has been my journey thus far and it's been a very rewarding one. One filled with many lessons and many blessings. This year I plan to garden once again and learn more about the healing properties of herbs and flowers. I plan to indulge myself in photography and capture what I can of Mother Nature's beauty in pictures. Thus my journey continues, like the never-ending spiral of the Goddess. But like the wise old Oak, I hope it continues growing, never staying stagnant or perched in one place.
Location: Jersey City, New Jersey
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