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The Motivations Of The Pagan Mind

Author: Arachne Priestess
Posted: December 9th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,357

Does anyone else, besides myself, ever wonder what motivates the Wiccan/Pagan mind and heart to cross over to a whole different belief system, despite upbringing, religious indoctrination, and prejudice?

In so doing, they are consciously choosing to completely rewriting their own way of thinking, their morals, their beliefs, and their senses of right and wrong. For there can be no doubt, that when one crosses over the threshold from a monotheistic religion to Paganism, one is stepping into a new world of individualism and reconstructed ideas the likes of which most Christians can not begin to fathom or even imagine.

What is the motivation and driving need of one single person out of a multitude, who walk through their lives in a torpid state of blind and unquestioning faithfulness, to see beyond the confines pressed upon them by their respective religions, cultures and societies and ultimately step over the threshold onto a completely new path?

In asking such questions, first we must examine who most Pagan/Wiccans are. What are their backgrounds? What are their experiences? And from there we can assess what truly motivates Pagans to turn away from all they know and embrace a belief system of magic and polytheism, looked upon by most of the world through the eyes of stigma and prejudice.

Who are we (and yes, this does include me)?

On the surface, we are normal, average people who go about our lives, like most everyone else. Very few of us go about our daily lives dressed in ritual garb, brandishing wands, and casting spells. Instead we are reserved, dressing as our society mandates and adhering to society's rules, all while wearing small pieces of jewelry that identify ourselves like pentagrams, pentacles, and triquetras. And only in the privacy of our homes, our covens, and our computers do we open our true selves up to the world.

But as I said, that is only on the surface. And beneath the surface is where we must journey. So here is where this article gets uncomfortable for some.

For most Pagans, and I have met a plethora of them, there is a catalyst, of sorts, which awakens them out of the torpid state of complacency within the neat little box monotheistic religions has placed them in. It is often times, something very unpleasant such as abuse, violence, rape to name but a few. And within those violent moments an epiphany is realized, that they have no control over their own lives and that they have no identity or sense of self. So to start over with a strong anchor, they need something based in the idea of the individual. Often times this is what draws neglected and rebellious teens, abused women, and other types of minorities into this belief system.

Unlike cults, which draw in those who are in an in between place and searching for an anchor and are based solely on the needs and desires of a central Christ-like figure, Paganism is about personal relationships with deity (however one chooses to define it), focused on the individual's own spiritual growth through education, ritual and choice without a centralized bureaucratic hierarchy defining beliefs and laying down doctrine.

Within its sphere of communities one can choose to be solitary or join a coven. And one is almost always assured of tolerance of their beliefs, no matter how much they differ from others, because there is no right and wrong path in Paganism.

But I digress, even with all of these benefits, what would systematically cause a person to turn away from the religions of their parents, which have been instilled in them since early childhood?

What would make a person consciously choose to face a wrath of prejudice ingrained in those who adhere to the Christian faith since birth, by their own leaders, their parents, and the media alike?

Why would one choose to be shunned by a society that demands total conformity?

And like a circle, we arrive again at the catalyst that invokes the need for expression of the individual. Need, that's an interesting word isn't it? It isn't a desire or a want. It is a need, an almost desperate need for expression shouting to be heard.

It screams constantly for those who choose to ignore it, beating down the defensive walls we erect as we attempt to conform. And when the floodgates open, as they always do, that expression will not be suppressed. Because ultimately, it's not a choice. When you awaken there is no turning back.

And when you are chosen and you truly become a Pagan, a Witch, a Shaman, etc., it is not a choice to be embraced or discarded at will.

It is a driving need that will burn a path through any and all obstacles: prejudice, ostracization, religious intolerance, and outright hatred. For it is not just a label we wear around our necks in the form of a pentacle, saying 'Hello, I'm Wiccan'.

In leaving behind all that once was and rewriting all that we are, it becomes our identities, who we are inside and out. It colors our perceptions and the way we view the world. It affects how we interact with others and the way others view us. It becomes a central focus within our individual lives, threading its way through all of the aspects of that life, from the foods we choose to eat to the way we raise our children.

It is all encompassing as it beckons us forward upon a strange, unique and beautiful path filled with magic, reverence, gods and goddesses, and the search for our true selves outside the warm and comforting box of conformity which our world has placed us in.

For you see, we are the inquisitive seekers and the introspective dreamers, individuals born and reshaped out of a world full of hatred and animosity into a world of mystery and new frontiers.

So, have you learned what motivates the Pagan/Wiccan mind?

In writing this, it has given me a greater introspective insight into myself and my perception of the world around me.

And it’s helped me understand why I always come home to my personal Pagan Heathen belief system, through bouts of depression, episodes of 'your gonna burn in hell', and being ostracized by family and friends alike: I am a Pagan at heart.

How about you?


Arachne Priestess

Location: Cookeville, Tennessee

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