Solitary

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I believe I announced in my introductory post that I’m currently a solitary practitioner. There are a number of reasons for this, but first and foremost is the fact that I am new to this. I am so new to paganism that I can track the transformation to between Easter and Beltane this year, though really it began years ago, unbeknownst to me.

But it was this year at the Easter vigil service, where we welcomed the return of the light, that I found myself in the midst of faith lost, yet still couldn’t bring myself to embrace atheism.

I stumbled over the beginning of the Apostles’ Creed, a prayer I have known since childhood. I knew it by heart when I was less than six years old. And I froze this year. The words that I seem to have always known were no longer mine to speak. I couldn’t say that I believed in “God the Father Almighty.”

And it hurt. Oh, it hurt to lose that, more than I had ever expected it would. Yet something brought me back and in the exchange of bread and wine and the sound of bells and the scent of incense, something tethered me back to earth so that I would not lose myself.

I’d been wondering if I was taking steps along the road to atheism for a long time. I wondered and I doubted and I struggled and cried and ached. I didn’t want to lose it, this faith of mine, this connection to the Divine, this relationship with a god that had so permeated my life. Yet it was happening anyway. The god I had once known seemed so distant and foreign. The Divine Masculine was too far from me, a woman.

To embrace atheism would have been to reject spiritual experiences that I had had over the years, to dismiss them as nothing more than figments of my imagination. I wondered, but I could only really do that with a few of them; some were almost undeniably real, and I kept coming back to one in particular. It was real, and to deny that would be to deny the way the experience was instrumental in transforming another person’s life. I couldn’t do that.

But I couldn’t stay with Christianity either, or at least not entirely. Not when the way I loved and hated it was tearing me apart.

I’m not sure, entirely, how it happened. How I stumbled into reading about paganism and it was like the Goddess had offered me a way out of where I was stuck. I’d been reading to explore, the way I do, and instead I had come home. There was no one great moment, just a series of little things that became my saying to Beowulf, “I think I might need to be a pagan.”

I don’t know, entirely, what my practice will consist of. I don’t know if this is only a stopping-place on a journey that will ultimately take me elsewhere, or if I’ve truly found home. I don’t know which gods to pray to, and I don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing. There’s a lot I don’t know, and I will always doubt and question because it’s in my nature. But the cognitive dissonance that characterized my last years of being only a Christian is gone.

So I’m not ready to seek out a coven or even the local pagan community. I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to to the Morris dancers I saw last week on the off-chance that they might be connected with the pagan community. It’s not time yet. I need to have a more coherent understanding of why I’m here, and what witchcraft and paganism mean to me.

I want to be sure that this is who I’m meant to be for now, though I don’t really doubt that. But I don’t want to do this on a whim, start getting heavily involved in the community, and six months down the road, change my mind and drop out completely. I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. I wouldn’t launch my spouse into an inter-faith marriage and my child into being raised interfaith if I wasn’t serious. It’s not some long-delayed teenage rebellion, or something coming out of deep anger against Christianity. It’s something that’s been there at the edges of my life for a long time, waiting until I was ready to see it.

Now that I’ve opened my eyes, I want to get to know this new world on my own first.

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