I, like many pagans, was raised Protestant. We were Baptist-like Christians and I was “saved” a couple of times when the pastor asked people to take Jesus into our hearts.
My Dad was a Catholic before he married my Mom, and that affected things a bit. He once took me to Mass, where I spent the entire time playing Eenie Meenie Miney Mo about whether I wanted the man who looked like my Dad sitting behind me or my Dad to be my Dad. I ended up on the other guy, but cheated so I could keep my own Dad. That’s my first church memory. Give me a break, I was four.
Around the same time, I had a poster of two cats on my bedroom door. I saw one of the cats move one morning. No one ever believed me, but looking back, I think that was Freyja making her first check in on me.
I wasn’t ever baptized, because we were from the kind of Christianity that has baptisms much later. Church was weird for me. I really enjoyed participaing in the Christmas pageants. One year, I got to be a lead mouse in A Churchmouse Christmas, and I had a major fever that day, and I performed it anyway. My Mom always said that I still performed with more energy than any of the other kids. Who knows whether that’s true or if it’s just her being a mom, but nevertheless, it shows how I’ve always loved performing. I liked singing the hymns. And every Wednesday we went to Church and memorized Bible verses and played relay races and did little workbooks.
I got in trouble once because they gave us a picture of people eating a picnic on a picnic table near a trash can and told us to circle the things in the picture that God made. So I circled the entire picture. People told me that was the wrong answer because God just made the people and the squirrels and the trees. The people made everything else. I said, “Yeah, but if God made people, then didn’t He also put those ideas in our brains?”
I didn’t much like our Church. Everyone was much, much poorer or much, much older than we were, and so I felt like I didn’t fit in. All of my friends were Catholic, and I didn’t understand why I didn’t get to have a First Communion, too.
Then we moved to Alabama, and everything changed around. Everyone was a Southern Baptist, and everyone thought it was their business where I went to church. But I didn’t–my parents never got around to finding one in Alabama. I actually lost friends because I didn’t go to church. People actually thought that other Christians went to Hell for being Methodist instead of Baptist. It all rubbed me the wrong way.
I started wondering about sin, too. It never made sense to me. I decided at some point, I think during high school, that sin was the choice to be unhappy. That what God really wanted was for people to live as happy of a life as possible given their circumstances, and the people who went around being unhappy all the time were the ones who went to Hell, not the people who believed different, or lived in Africa and had never heard of Jesus.
I suppose all that probably lead me straight to Freyja’s mysteries.
For college, I moved to the New York State, which, as I mentioned before, is the most amazing place. The Hudson Valley is simply the most beautiful and magical place I have ever lived. My sophomore year I was perusing the internet and found a website on Wicca and it very much piqued my interest. I sort of dropped a hint about being a pagan to my sister and Gent and they were unresponsive, so I forgot about it for a while. But one day I was curious again, so I started reading about it, and I decided that I was going to try. Gent wasn’t necessarily so supportive at first, even telling me I should try Buddhism instead because it’s more peaceful. But I made it my mission to educate him, and I did. By the second day, he was somewhat warmed up to the idea.
A few days into my exploration, I was laying in my bed, and I had a distinct feeling of an energetic snake leaving my solar plexus and exiting my body through my head. At that moment, I knew I would never be a Christian again because the snake of original sin had left me.
Since then, I’ve moved around in paganism a couple times, but I’m here to stay. Freyja is always there for me when I need her. The philosophy of paganism makes so much more sense to me–the world is complex, so why shouldn’t the divine be as well? For me, paganism solves all of the religious problems that Christianity presents–the idea of forcing everyone in the world to be the same as you, the problem of evil, the guilt-ridden lifestyle. I am happy as a pagan and telling my problems to the moon or the plants or the Goddess or even my sexuality and knowing that I am being heard instead of telling a metaphorical being outside of the entire universe. I love that I can explore science, which has always been a subject of great interest to me, without feeling like I’m cheating on my religion. I love being encouraged to form my own ideas and theories about my gods without being a heretic.
I love going to the park and sitting or singing. I love that Freyja teaches me what I had always thought as a child–the point of life is to be filled with joy whenever you can. I had depression problems before her, but she taught me to get myself out of the hole of self-hatred instead of wallowing in it. Freyja shows me the beauty and the joy in life, and paganism allows me to explore.