Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pagan Coming Out Day: How My Journey Began and My Experiences


Dear readers, Facebook followers, friends, family and whomever else might stumble upon this,

I am a pagan.

There, it's been said clear as day.  I am aware that, for most of you, this won't matter.  For the followers of this blog, you share my insight.  And for most of my friends, family and associates, this is simply another quirk that is the definition of Marietta.  You're used to my art, my two-toned hair and my off-beat humor, so this probably isn't a surprise.  In fact, it shouldn't be: I've dropped hints for many, many years.  In late January, I posted a status defining my beliefs without stating a specific denomination and an overwhelming number of you liked it.  Everything I said on that status is true.  For those of you without access to that, let me repeat it:

"My beliefs are rooted in the earth and everything that surrounds us. My church is nature and my path is spiritual. I believe that nourishing the soul and mind allows us to nourish the world around us. If I can better myself through health, harmony and happiness, I can better the world through volunteering, green living and care for humankind. If that makes me wrong, so be it. I believe my path is right for me and accept that others' are right for them. Give me the same courtesy."

That's what I'm asking of everyone today, on International Pagan Coming Out Day, May 2nd - to give me the same courtesy I have always given you.  In fact, my husband is Catholic.  He has a first-hand experience with my religion and supports me just as I support him.  I'm not pagan simply because I dislike Christians.  I wouldn't have married one if that were the case.

So to those of you coming to this blog entry with a limited knowledge of pagan religions, let me elaborate: Paganism is an umbrella for nature-based traditional religions that existed before and alongside Christianity.  Not all Wiccans are pagans and not all pagans are Wiccans.  Wicca is a very open and diverse neo-pagan religion which is surprisingly very new, created by Gerald Gardner circa the 1950's.  It's based on older pagan beliefs and celebrates the seasons, the circle of life and the connectedness of the earth.  I've struggled from time to time whether I'm Wiccan or pagan, but have recently come to the very direct conclusion that I'm most definitely eclectic pagan.

When I was young, I did go to church.  In fact, I willingly joined my grandmother for Sunday school.  I loved Sunday school.  I didn't have a traumatic experience or stern teachers.  I didn't get teased - in fact, I had a number of friends there.  The truth is that the beliefs just never aligned to my own and, try as hard as I might, another truth called to me.  When I was 11, I discovered pagan beliefs through my best friend and continued to research them on my own.  I know it seems early, but I already had the calling.  I began shaping my beliefs and, by the time I was a sophomore, I was initiated.

I did not come to my beliefs because my family didn't go to church or because I rebelled against my parents' beliefs.  I came to my beliefs of my own volition, and that is all.

You can see from previous entries that nothing we do is "dark" or "secretive."  In fact, for most holidays, I dress in bright floral dresses and have flowers everywhere - on the table, in the circle, on my altar.  I don't lead my rituals with old Latin chants, dress in black robes or go naked, drink blood or ride a broom - though I do have a Witch Parking sign with a picture of a broom-riding witch in green. Sometimes you have to embrace the stereotypes and laugh at yourself.

In truth, being pagan and practicing with my Circle is a lot like having a mini-church in my basement.  We talk of letting go of the past, future goals, volunteering, what we're grateful for in life, and healing our soul.  We do monthly check-ins with ourselves and our goals at the full moon.  Each moon focuses on a different goal we've made throughout the year and how to achieve it.  I enjoy my religion and feel fulfilled by it.  And that's what matters in a personal belief system, I think.

We don't worship Satan because we don't believe in one.  We don't sacrifice animals because we believe in harming none. We don't put hexes on people for the same reason, and I actually don't even believe in that portion of Witchcraft.  I'm not uneducated. I hold four different diplomas or degrees, successfully completed an honors program in both high school and college, and got straights As, graduating top 10% in high school and summa cum laude in college.  This is not to brag but to counteract the argument that pagans choose their paths from lack of knowledge when often, it's the reverse.  I'm not an overzealous Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft player, though I know a great number of people who are not pagan and enjoy those things.  More power to them!  It's just not the reason I chose my path.

And finally, we are a large part of the community.  You would be surprised just how many of us are out there.  We don't dress strangely or act differently; we're just like you.  We don't broadcast our beliefs unless asked to and, unfortunately, a large number of us are in hiding for the misconceptions against our religion.

That's why I'm writing this today.  How can I write my blog and lead my Circle if I still have one foot in the closet?  It seems hypocritical to consider myself to have any authority on the topic if I don't have the pride and the courage to step forward.  So I'm stepping forward now and letting those of you reading this know that I am pagan, I am proud and I'm not going anywhere.




8 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! Thank you for sharing. :)

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    1. Of course! Thank you for reading!

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  2. You are really an inspiration to me! Thank you so much for sharing your awesomeness with us!

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    1. Thank you so much! And thank you for reading. I really appreciate it!

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  3. I used to be out when I lived in an enlightened area in California for some 30 years. Now I live in the Deep South, belt buckle of the Bible belt and I have jumped back in the closet and can be found hiding behind the winter coats.

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    1. lol Ouch. I can sympathize. My state is questionably considered to be part of the Bible Belt - I more often say it isn't though. Hopefully, through education and familiarity, we can remove the fear that inspires others to keep us in the closet. Best of luck to you on your journey.

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  4. I want to practice wicca more openly. I'm fed with religious fanatics who impose their beliefs on me and other people. I worship at the Hare Krishna temple because I don't know other pagans in my area. How can I come out to some people who don't know I'm a witch?

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    1. My greatest suggestion is to live your life the way you want to. Honestly, being pagan will rarely come up in any conversation you have. I'm sure there are many people that still aren't aware I'm pagan despite being relatively loud about it (eg this blog and the occasional Facebook post). I'm not the type of person to tell everyone I meet about my religion, but if they ask, I'll answer truthfully.

      Just be confident and do what you do. The rest will come naturally!

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