A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Out of the Broom Closet

Note: I’ve left this up for his­tor­i­cal pur­pos­es, but it’s out­dat­ed as I’m an athe­ist now. — Cyn, 2012

There are many won­der­ful sites on the inter­net with excel­lent expla­na­tions of what pagan­ism is and infor­ma­tion on var­i­ous kinds pagan­ism. This isn’t one of them. If that’s what you want, go to WitchVox and you’ll find both infor­ma­tion and links to oth­er sites. This page is only about my path and how I got here.

Yes, I’m a pagan. It’s tak­en me years to claim the title open­ly. I danced around it, flirt­ed with it, kept myself care­ful­ly reserved—and was deny­ing an impor­tant part of myself. Yes, I’m a pagan. I have been a pagan for many years. I read Mar­got Adler’s Draw­ing Down the Moon around 1989 and felt like I’d come home. I fol­lowed that with Starhawk’s Spi­ral Dance and Dream­ing the Dark and Dream­ing the Dark.

I got the idea that pagan­ism must be a Cal­i­for­nia thing, though, because I cer­tain­ly did­n’t know any pagans here in Geor­gia, and I did­n’t know how to find them. I did not, in fact, con­nect with oth­er pagans to any great extent until after I got online in 1990, and even then it took some time to find peo­ple local­ly. It took even longer for me to find peo­ple with whom I felt comfortable—there’s a regret­tably high flake fac­tor in some pagan groups, and I have a rel­a­tive­ly low flake tolerance—especially when it comes to the peo­ple to whom I’ll expose my child.

My per­son­al path is an eclec­tic one. I take what feels right to me from var­i­ous tra­di­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly Celtic and Native Amer­i­can prac­tices. I am not a Wic­can and I don’t con­sid­er myself a Witch, although some of my beliefs and prac­tices are sim­i­lar to those of Wic­cans.

There are two main “rules” if you will, that guide my life as a pagan. The first is often called the Wic­can rede: “If it harm none, do what you will.” The sec­ond is usu­al­ly called the rule of three—whatever you do comes back to you three­fold (what goes around comes around, kar­ma, etc.). So what­ev­er you do that is good or cre­ates pos­i­tive ener­gy comes back to you tripled, as does any­thing neg­a­tive. (It isn’t quite as sim­ple as it may sound—I sug­gest read­ing Robin Wood’s When, Why … If for a thor­ough exam­i­na­tion of pagan ethics.)

I have no sacred texts and rec­og­nize no mor­tal as hav­ing author­i­ty over me in my beliefs. I respect some teach­ers, like Starhawk, Isaac Bonewits, Robin Wood, Luisah Teish, Mar­i­on Wein­stein, and others—but I don’t fol­low any­body as a guru. No mat­ter how many books I read or peo­ple I learn from, I take each bit of knowl­edge, exam­ine it, check it against what I know to be true, see how it fits, and either make it mine or dis­card it. I wor­ship the eter­nal in male and female aspects as the God and God­dess. I’m find­ing that I have a par­tic­u­lar affin­i­ty for Oya, but I feel very attuned to Brigid as well.

I have no patience with peo­ple who asso­ciate Satanism with Paganism—Satan is part of the Chris­t­ian pan­theon, and bears no rela­tion to pagan­ism. Satanism is a Chris­t­ian heresy, so only some­one who is a Chris­t­ian at some lev­el could be a Satanist!

I’m not inter­est­ed in pros­e­ly­tiz­ing, in con­vert­ing any­one, in caus­ing any­one to doubt his or her faith—your faith is yours. Your path is yours. I wish you joy on it. I sim­ply ask that peo­ple give me the same courtesy—don’t try to wit­ness to me, lead me “back to Jesus,” show me what you think are the errors of my ways, etc.—I’m not inter­est­ed. I’m not anti-Chris­t­ian, any against any­one’s reli­gion If you find your­self threat­ened by what I’ve writ­ten here, you need to look inside your­self to find out why, rather than rail­ing about me or any­body else.

As to how I came to be a pagan—well, I cer­tain­ly was­n’t raised in a pagan home. My par­ents are deep-water South­ern Bap­tists. Dad­dy is a dea­con. Mom sings in the choir. They’re both at the church every time the doors are open (and church­es at SB church­es are open a lot, which is why there’s an old joke about good Bap­tists only dying of exhaus­tion). They raised me and my sib­lings with absolute­ly no option of choos­ing a religion—we were Chris­tians, by God, and we would stay Chris­tians. I was bap­tized when I was sev­en and sent to absolute­ly every church-relat­ed group, class, Bible school and trip that came along. My par­ents did every­thing that Chris­t­ian lead­ers rec­om­mend to raise their chil­dren to be devout Chris­tians.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Chris­tian­i­ty just nev­er worked for me. By age nine I was talk­ing to our preach­er about prob­lems with con­tra­dic­tions and incon­sis­ten­cies in the Bible. I got in trou­ble for ask­ing about the sim­i­lar­i­ties in folk and fairy tales from around the world and Chris­t­ian mythology—there are many flood tales, cre­ation myths, and vir­gin births of kings who die and rise or are reborn. I want­ed to know why there were dif­fer­ent kinds of Chris­t­ian church­es and was told that the South­ern Bap­tist church was start­ed by John the Bap­tist and all the oth­ers weren’t real Chris­tians. That did­n’t ring true, of course, so I start­ed read­ing about the his­to­ry of the Chris­t­ian church. The more I learned, the less I trust­ed church lead­ers who were either igno­rant or delib­er­ate­ly spread­ing lies.

I tried—I real­ly did. I read the Bible—several ver­sions of it—and stud­ied my Sun­day School lessons and asked ques­tions and read lots of the­ol­o­gy and inspi­ra­tional fic­tion and non-fic­tion. I beat my head against resolv­ing the parts that did­n’t work for me until I was in my ear­ly twen­ties. I searched and searched for a denom­i­na­tion that would work for me, some church whose teach­ings would help. Noth­ing did. I prayed, med­i­tat­ed on scrip­ture, and sought out Bible study and prayer groups out­side the church. C.S. Lewis has been quot­ed as hav­ing said that he was dragged into Chris­tian­i­ty, kick­ing and scream­ing, by his intel­lect. As much as I respect Lewis, just the oppo­site hap­pened for me—I was dragged right out of Chris­tian­i­ty because there was no way for me to rec­on­cile it with my intel­lect. (Of course, the misog­y­ny inher­ent in an orga­ni­za­tion that says women are not good enough to be ordained min­is­ters, to lead men in any way, or real­ly to do much except give the church as much time and mon­ey as pos­si­ble did­n’t help mat­ters. I’ve often won­dered how things would have gone had I been raised in a more lib­er­al tra­di­tion.)

One Sun­day morn­ing I was sit­ting qui­et­ly in a young adult Sun­day School class, sip­ping my cof­fee and try­ing not to say any­thing to upset any­body (again). One of the oth­er class mem­bers, a young man “called to the min­istry” who was prepar­ing him­self to be an evan­ge­list, said that God had giv­en him the bless­ing of great insight that past week, at Dis­ney­world of all places. He relat­ed how he had been watch­ing the ani­ma­tron­ic char­ac­ters and sud­den­ly real­ized that they were what God was refer­ring to in the book of Rev­e­la­tion when he said that the stones would speak.

I could­n’t con­tain my laughter—coffee spewed every­where. Sure­ly he was jok­ing, right? But every­one else in the class was star­ing at me in shock, want­i­ng to know what I thought was so fun­ny. They actu­al­ly believed this guy. They took him seri­ous­ly. I looked around at their faces, got up, and walked out. I haven’t been a mem­ber of a Chris­t­ian church since that day.

For a few years I con­sid­ered myself a human­ist or an athe­ist, but there was still part of me that need­ed some­thing else, some­thing that acknowl­edged the pow­er and beau­ty of the uni­verse with­out requir­ing that I turn off my brain or ignore gap­ing log­i­cal holes in its the­ol­o­gy. I found that some­thing in pagan­ism. The whole flesh=evil/temptation thing was also a prob­lem for me in Chris­tian­i­ty. I have a body, a mind and a spir­it, and why would I have all three if they aren’t all sacred? Pagan­ism per­mits me to be a whole, healthy person—so I’m a pagan.

Hon­est­ly, it would be so much eas­i­er to be a Christian—any sort of Christian—or to at least pre­tend to be one. Hey, I live in the Bible Belt! I can’t do it though—I’ve nev­er been a good liar. One of the rea­sons I did­n’t talk about pagan­ism for a very long time (except with oth­er peo­ple who I absolute­ly knew were pagans) was that I did­n’t want to deal with their reac­tions, their reli­gious prej­u­dice, or the pos­si­ble neg­a­tive effects that prej­u­dice could have on my daugh­ter. Katie is old enough now, though, that it’s impos­si­ble for me to both be a good exam­ple of an hon­est per­son and stay clos­et­ed about pagan­ism, so here I am, out to the whole world now. And hon­est­ly, it feels good.

Last updat­ed Decem­ber 19, 2000