I think it was around this time last year that I’d started reading a bit about paganism. It started with the realization that, while I’d been struggling with remaining a practicing Christian, I hadn’t really given any other religious practices fair consideration. In retrospect, this doesn’t surprise me. Christian churches tend to hammer home the point that theirs is the one true faith and all the others aren’t even remotely fulfilling. Of course, this point is typically assumed without consulting practitioners of other religions and asking them about their actual experiences. I was aware of this intellectually long before I could deal with the emotions behind it, but it was a deeply internalized idea and it took me a while to pull it out and discount it, even after reading something like Daniel Radosh’s Rapture Ready! (And no, I don’t get anything for linking it, I just really liked the book. Excellent examination of Christian pop culture; it was one of the first things I read where a non-Christian very explicitly pointed out the problems with assuming Christianity is better than other religious practices).
I started reading, got curious, and then it was Holy Week. On Good Friday, I found myself standing in line at Save On, and staring at the magazine rack. I think it was Time magazine, and there was a special Easter edition with a picture of a man wearing a crown of thorns. My visceral reaction startled me. I very nearly threw up and only just managed to get through my purchase and back outside, shaking a little.
The weekend just got worse from there. I hit the wall during the Easter Vigil service at the reaffirmation of faith. I couldn’t choke out “I believe in God the Father.” I slipped out of the sanctuary and stood in one of the rooms off to the side, in agony. I hadn’t thought it would hurt so much when the time came when I knew I had to admit my faith in the Abrahamic God was pretty much gone. But he was the god of my childhood, the god of my parents, and it was wrenching.
A couple weeks later, still in the period between Ostara and Beltane, I turned to Beowulf and said, “I think I might need to try being pagan.”
His response was “Okay.”
And here I am, a year later, getting ready to celebrate Beltane for the second time. A lot has changed, and a lot hasn’t. I’m still me, the kind of hippie, anxious geek, that I’ve pretty much always been. My current spiritual practice mostly involves growing plants and lighting things on fire (candles and palo santo, usually). I honour the Goddess, I honour the God, I remember my ancestors, I try to be conscious of nature and the earth. I’m skeptical a lot of the time, but have found that being skeptical about what comes after death gives me a lot more peace than believing in heaven ever did.
I’m not out to everyone. I’ve been selective with the people I tell about it, and that’s been a good experience. I haven’t been ready to tell some people, and I wanted to figure out what I was doing before I hopped out of the broom closet.
It’s been an interesting time, and I’m looking forward to what happens in the coming year.