Being a Pagan in a Christian World
Article ID: 11875
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: July 8th. 2007
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Ok, I realize that I am not the first Pagan to write about this sort of thing. But I believe that my real attempt here lies in the fact that I truly have faith in the higher mental and spiritual faculties of humans. And because of this, I choose to write of my experiences in interacting with those of the “normal” faiths; because I believe in the power of the heart, and I hope for a time where we can be completely accepted by a world that begrudgingly…I wouldn’t say accepts us, but rather plays nice. I suppose this began with my childhood.
As far back as I can remember, I would go and visit my extended family. My grandfather would always wake us up every Sunday morning for church. I always went, because as a child, I knew that one was supposed to obey one’s superiors. I think that this idea, or the resistance to it, is the primary idea in my conversion. I never felt connected to the church. I had the idea of God and Jesus and angels and Heaven and Hell, never truly understanding it, never truly able to believe.
One thing I understood from the beginning was a mentality that I felt from the Bible passages, from the parishioners, from the altar boys and the priests. All of these people that seemed so normal and so nice, these good, church-going people, they all seemed to fear their God. It was an accepted thing to them, because apparently fearing God meant you were a good person. I suppose by that token, they didn’t think me a good person.
It never made sense to me, why fear God? If you love God so much, and God is as good as you tell me he is, why are you afraid of him? It seemed that the Old and New Testaments portrayed God as a completely different thing... the Old portraying God as an angry, smiting, destructive deity, the New portraying God as wise, gentle, and forgiving.
Given my difficulty in understanding Christian doctrine, I drifted around, unaware of what I believed, unknowing of the truth I sought, confused and angry that I was ostracized for my lack of faith.
Christianity was very commonplace, growing up on the East Coast. Nobody understood my confusion; the kids thought I was weird, the adults thought I was deficient in some way. I was questioned all the time by my peers, why couldn’t I just shut up and accept the Word, and believe that Jesus was the Son of God, and that he died for my sins? Why did I have to be so weird, why did I have to ask questions? I didn’t even know; maybe I just wanted to be different.
All I did know was, something wasn’t right, and I didn’t like it. My real disdain I think was the fact that not many people liked me.
But I felt better outside, where I could be with nature. I felt better because this was something I knew was alive, something I could see and touch, and was undoubtedly real. I began to love the outside; I began to love nature and to want to protect it. And this love for nature undoubtedly meant distaste for the “glorified” industrialism that I saw closing in around me. I would often imagine great vines covering all of these unnatural buildings and things, just as the little vines covered the metal stuff my dad kept far into the backyard.
My understanding of mysticism was small, given my limited belief in anything, until I came to my grandfather’s new church. He took me to my first confession, and I met a friend of his who was a young priest. Upon telling him (most) of the “sins” that I had committed, something happened that I did not expect. The priest began his ritual of absolution, and at that point, I knew the true meaning of the word “absolute.”
It felt intense at first, but as I instinctively adapted my sixth sense to it, I was given a sense of actual inner peace! That whole thing actually did work, and I knew that even though I didn’t understand Christianity, something happened, something amazing. I knew it was healing, and at the moment I instantly wanted to know how this man did such an incredible thing!
When I was between the ages of fourteen and fifteen, I met four people who would change my life. The first were Jen and Brooke, two girls who seemed to like the Goth stuff. They liked to ask questions to the pendulum, which I later learned was something called “scrying, ” or divination. My fascination with it was that I knew it was strange, kind of mystical or supernatural. Knowing that my parents would hate it, I began very much to like this kind of odd stuff.
Afterward, I met Nick and Hollie, who set me on the Wiccan path, and gave me a book to help me learn everything. I remember that day well... remembering how excited I was to secretly read a book that had some pretty taboo stuff. I never thought it was bad, but just different, and very clearly a thing that was frowned upon by the adults, so I as a kid thought it was cool. It was very cool to go against the grain, until the time when I was caught.
It was my step mom who found the book, and I could tell she tried to play it cool, even though she was pissed. I began to become afraid, because I thought my parents might have a priest try to “exorcize the demons” from me or something. I really didn’t know how they were going to handle it. They eventually just ignored it, probably hoping that it was a fad that I would eventually ignore; and for a while it really did cool off. That is until my little brother started asking me about it. Now, he did this because he was curious, because he was my little brother and he liked to do the stuff I did. That sent my parents on a witch-hunt.
All of a sudden, they were completely zealous, wanting to know who brainwashed me, and defaming the name of my best friend Hollie, calling her a lesbian devil worshipper that corrupted my mind. They wanted to know what it was that “thought” I believed, stacking it up to Christianity, trying to use Bible passages to prove that I was disillusioned and ultimately incorrect in my dogma.
This led to my resentment, and I was forced to keep my magickal workings a secret, dedicating myself to the God and Goddess in secret, meditating and practicing psychometry at midnight, when my family slept.
It came to a real head when I met Maggie, who later became my first girlfriend, even though this was an Internet based relationship. My entire family hated her, because she was younger than I, (she was fourteen and I seventeen) and because she was Wiccan like me. It was really painful for me to face this kind of discrimination because although I was prepared for people to resent my religious choice, I was not prepared to be almost disowned by my own parents.
This discrimination threatened to once again separate me from my quest for truth, and nearly forced me away from the Wiccan path.
It was Maggie that kept me to it, teaching me healing and meditation techniques, and more importantly exposing me to the wonders of altered states of consciousness and astral projection.
Eventually, I think my parents began to stop try to “save me, ” and began to realize that I was adamant in my decision to believe in and follow this particular religion.
My next real important experiences began in my first year of college. During my stay there, I was almost immediately drawn to a Pagan organization in my campus, to which I inevitably joined, becoming very close to my fellow Mason Pagans.
It wasn’t all great, however, because probably two-thirds of my dorm hall were either ROTC, or some form of Republican, or Christian religious right. I was the only Pagan, and my faith was extremely criticized by men who weren’t sure what it was I did when I stayed in my room half of the time.
One of the guys became very angry with me, because I was very open about it, hoping that I could trust my peers. He confronted me in front of everyone, saying that they were a Judeo-Christian people, and they didn’t like the fact that I was so weird, and that I should believe in something real and stop being a devil worshipper. That did hurt my feelings, but as we both calmed down he came to me and apologized, and I talked to him calmly and helped to clarify what it was exactly that I believed. After I was finished, he told me that, “at least I was a Wiccan with Christian morals and values.”
Two other guys liked to play World of Warcraft, a game that I was largely unaware of, and they always busted my chops because some of what I believe and practice just happened to end up as magic spells or abilities that Magi and other characters could use in WOW; they would always ask me how large my mana pool was, how much mana the spell cost me, and what the cool down time on the spell was.
I liked them, I knew they were just screwing with me, and it was fun to be able to make jokes and help my friends to be comfortable with my faith.
It was easier, that was until the second semester, when two new guys showed up and moved into our hall. One of them was really cool from the beginning, and he instantly became like an older brother to me. The other guy, however, was rather “in-your-face.” He was very exact and precise, extremely intelligent, but he liked to challenge everyone’s ideas and screw with your head; in all things, ethics wasn’t very important to him.
He became the one to replace the first guy, trying to perceive the “truth” of my faith, and systematically cutting down everything that did not seem perfectly logical to him; he loved logic, and he loved to take apart the entire idea of what a religion is because religions don’t have to be logical. We called him “the religious wrecking ball.”
After a while, he accepted me (I think) and I was very pleased. But throughout the year, it was others that really kept me down, who unfortunately happened to be Republican religious right.
My college has a huge collection of different denominations of Christians, and according to those that I talked to, they all thought that they were correct, and that the other Christians were wrong; which again is something about Christians that I do not understand.
Anyway, I met various people who liked to preach, and who liked to “save” and convert people. And they did ask me to go to one of their meetings, which I did, but I told them that I was uncomfortable, and I hope that they accepted this.
And then there was the time that a Christian group from the outside invaded our school and started preaching about hellfire and brimstone. Basically, one guy stood up and said, “You’re a Jew, you’re a Moslem, You’re gay, and you’re all going to Hell.”
It annoyed me, and then these guys sat there and told me that I was a sinner who deserved eternal punishment, even though they did not even know what a Wiccan was, nor what I believed. I was more than willing to talk to them about the kind of things I believed in, but they didn’t care.
I would have just left, until they told me that because I feared neither the Christian God, nor my God, nor my father, that my father raised me incorrectly, and both my father and myself are immoral people.
I argued with and yelled at them for maybe three hours until I was hoarse, and I felt like crap afterward. I went back to my dorm and cried, mainly because of a mixture of disgust, rage, and anger at such injustice.
Well, this so far is the summation of my life as a Wiccan, living in a mainly Christian world. I wanted to share my experiences, basically to tell my story, and to urge people to really make an effort to understand each other.
I believe that we are living in a world that is on the cusp of change, and that change is a good one. We as a people entirely, as citizens of the world, need to change.
Christians believe very strongly in the idea of Heaven, but I tend to think that perhaps this may be a state of mind; perhaps we need to make a Heaven in this world, to make the best place we possibly can for the children of the future.
Whether I’m right or wrong, I believe that we will ultimately come upon a world that is like a Heaven, or at least as close as we can get to it.
Location: Frederick, Maryland
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