The story of where, who, and how I became a Pagan.
I grew up on a farm in a small Texas town of about 13k people. We raised sheep, chickens, rabbits, and had many other pets like horses, dogs, cats, etc… On our property there was a small grove of pecan trees, a cedar maze, and a small but delightful section of woods. I feel fortunate that we were able to live in a place to do things I don’t think most people get to do. We would seasonally work the land. Early winter was pecan season, spring time meant taking the sheep to market and seed the fields. Summer was full of firefly, squash, and wild berries. Fall always produced the most amazing tomatoes. The secret to a perfect fresh off the vine tomato is that it has to get below 75 degrees at night. It is almost like we had our own eco-system and life cycle right on the farm. It came at the cost of lots of long hours and spent weekends working outside and tending to various farm projects. This wonderful and magical place gave me such a deep respect and connection to nature. Later as I grew up I came to realize how important this place was to me.
My father was a tough man. He was reserved and wrathful. I still to this day do not truly know the man. I only know what he is like. The gifts I got from him and the lessons he taught me, knowingly or not, are invaluable. He taught me life is tough and unfair. For some people it is a constant struggle, and others just a series of lessons and ways to gain experience. He showed me what hard work is and defined suffering. He was the example of sacrifice and provided well for his family. Don’t misunderstand he was a horrible Dad and had little to do directly with my journey into manhood, but I still was able to learn and grow. And unknowingly that was his greatest gift to me. The understanding that any situation I am in, as long as I am still alive I can change it. That became the basis of my introduction into Witchcraft.
I was raised Lutheran. That is a denomination of the Christian faith. Even from a young age I never felt like I belonged in the Church. There was too much that wasn’t addressed and I knew that I didn’t agree with all of it. The things I loved about the Lutheran faith kept me coming back. The music, the weekly ritual, the symbolism. I might have gone somewhere else but I was ignorant to what was out there. Though I didn’t agree with all of it I wanted to know why, so I think that I made a very good choice. I started working for the Church. In my mid teens I starting helping with Sunday school and made an effort to be more involved. It was my secret that I was evaluating and coming to terms with what I believed is my best religious path. When I turned 18 I wasn’t sure if I was Christian, but was offered a paying job as the youth minister of my church. I shouldn’t have agreed to it. I should have been honest with the Pastor and told him that I was unsure about my Christian faith, but I saw the opportunity to really find out what I believe. It was an opportunity to study the bible and lead a group of young people. I set up my office, complete with DOS based computer and began what ended up a short journey.
I remember having just finished the Earthsea series of books by Ursula K Leguin about a year before. They really got me fascinated in fantasy magic. So I went to the internet. Now this was 1998, so Internet was definitely alive and well. In my house we only had
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dial up as broadband was just not available to us. I remember just typing into a search engine Magic. Eventually I ran across Witchcraft. It had set my heart on fire. I remember going out to the local bookstore and buying a book called Celtic Magic by DJ Conway. I come from an Irish background so it seemed fitting. I turned out to be more than just a spell book but more of a 101 to Wicca and the practice of Witchcraft. It sounded like a Religion almost…
Over the course of my time as a youth minister I was able to solidify my beliefs. I always kept them very private, and my lessons and teachings were very much in line with the church’s wishes but at the end of the first year I resigned, not only from youth ministry but from Christianity. I had toiled around with the idea of being some kind of Christian Witch, but in my heart knew that I couldn’t be a half Christian, or a half Witch. I spent the next year studying magic based paganism. Eventually that turned from Witchcraft into Wicca. By my Sophomore year in college I had started my own Book of Shadows and was spending a lot of time in libraries and bookstores trying to wrap my head around everything and soak in as much as possible. In was the first time in my life where I felt that my brain and heart were both thirsty for knowledge and experience.
I have realized something very recently. I was listening to a Podcast and one of the host which I truly admire said they really believe in the practice of group initiating into Wicca. They mentioned that they felt it the only true way to enter this faith. At first I was appalled because when I came to Wicca I did so in such a isolated and small Christian based community that I didn’t have the benefit of a group or coven. I had to self initiate, which I hold that moment dear to my heart. This really got me thinking and the truth came to me that I had always wanted to be a part of a coven and get back to group Ritual work. It was some of my fondest memories of religion growing up. It donned on me that there is no reason why I can’t do that now. I may have grown up in a small oppressed community but I don’t live there now. I am perfectly able to go out and find a place to belong now.
My wife and I are meeting with a High Priestess of a near by coven this Friday. We really are seeking out two major things. Friends who are pagan, and formal training. We have both read and own many Wicca 101 and have been pagan for many years. There is value to us however in seeing other people who hold similar believes sacred. I update Friday to share our experience.
What about the readers? How did you come to know the Craft, Wicca, Paganism, or the like? Share with me. I am dying to hear other peoples stories. What is your Where, Who, and How?
Until next time, Blessed Be.