Everyone has their story on how they found the spirituality that best suits them. This is my own. Please note: I refer to the religion I was born in, Christianity, throughout this post, as I do not want to censor anything. However, I do not mean any disrespect to Christianity whatsoever; there is much wisdom in the path, and I know it works wonderfully for many. This is just my story on where I came from.
Back in my earlier years, shortly before I was to begin Confirmation (a sacrament in Christianity where children decide they want to devote themselves to the religion), I was very much torn on what I believed. On the one hand, all my family and friends were devout Christians, and I didn’t want to go against them; after all, they meant the world to me, and if something worked so well for them, why wouldn’t it work for me? On the other hand, I knew that I was not being spiritually fulfilled. Where my family talked about the love and grace of Jesus, I felt only a hollowness; no matter how often I tried to pray through Him, I never heard or felt anything in return.
The distance and repetition of the weekly mass also left me feeling dissatisfied. Attending mass never nurtured me. I felt only lost and alone, wishing I could be out in nature or actively participating in the worship in some way. Knowing that my Confirmation was quickly approaching, I wanted to study other religions first, to be sure that Christianity truly was the right religion to me. If I was going to devote myself to something, I should know inside and out that this was the right path for myself.
Around this same time, a well-meaning teacher was shocked by my love of the Harry Potter series. Wanting to turn me away from the series, she gave me one of those many anti-Harry Potter books. You know the kind; they were everywhere back in the heyday of the Potter craze, preaching about the dangers of the series and how your children will fall into witchcraft and the like. Since I had great respect for this teacher, I read the book cover to cover, hoping to gain some insight as to what was wrong with the beloved series.
There was just one problem—it didn’t quite work out that way. To this day, I will forever point to that book as what started me on my Pagan path. I was incredibly disappointed by what I found within that book’s covers. The Christianity it spoke of was filled with judgment and fear, and in my time of questioning the religion, it only served to push me further away. Of course, in hindsight I know that this book presented a very skewed, extremist view, but at the time, this had a huge influence in how I viewed the religion.
There was also the matter of how it presented Wicca. Before reading the book, I had never heard of Wicca, thanks to my sheltered upbringing. The book chastised Wicca as being an evil religion of the devil, citing how children who read Harry Potter were bound to be led into its grasp. The way Wicca was presented didn’t seem right to me; even having never heard of it before now, I could tell the book was again heavily biased. None of its arguments convinced me Wicca was evil, as the author’s reasoning revolved around verses in the Bible. To be fair, this certainly works for fellow believers. However, for someone on the fence about Christianity, I wanted actual examples and statistics on why Wicca was a negative movement.
I went to my library and found actual books on Wicca, and sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed: Wicca was not even remotely devil-worship, but was instead a peaceful nature religion. This served to lower my impressions of the book even more, but more importantly, it gave me a direction: I had always loved nature, and equality of the sexes was (and still is) very important to me. Here was a religion that honored both. Wiccan teachings resonated with me far more than Christianity ever did, especially with the doom-and-gloom judgments in the anti-Harry Potter book still ringing in my ears.
I was forced to go through Confirmation, as I was not allowed to seriously consider other religions at the time. However, I kept Wicca in the back of my mind regardless. Under the guise of school projects, I researched various religions in zeal throughout the years, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and many others. This gave me plenty of time to see what religions resonated with me; while there were many aspects of other religions I appreciated, it was always Wicca that called to me the most. Once I became old enough to truly choose for myself, I started practicing Wicca and officially cut ties with my old religion. And so began my path.
While I am no longer Wiccan anymore (being Eclectic Pagan, which will be covered in Part 2), this was how I initially started down the road, and so I like to pay it homage from time to time. I still find it rather interesting that it was not Harry Potter that led me astray, but rather, an anti-Harry Potter book meant to warn of its dangers. As much as I may dislike the book, for this reason it holds an almost spiritual significance for me. It just goes to show how inspiration can come through in the most unexpected places.
A Final Note: I want to take another moment to stress I do not mean to insult Christianity in my above post. Nowadays I have a much more positive view on the religion, but ill feelings were admittedly part of what led me away back then. I wanted to share that, rather than cover it up. I mean no ill will to any Christian readers out there; if your path brings you happiness, then I’m glad for you!