My very oldest friend asked me a question about one of my posts. She asked if a project I am working on was Pagan/Wiccan and said she was curious about how my life has changed over the last ten years. So even though I don't think anyone can fully explain the depth of their belief or truly show us their whole soul I am going to share my own experience and try to explain a bit of where I am and what I believe now.
So it actually all started 12 years ago, I was 14. That was a very difficult age for me (and nearly everyone else, I'm sure), I had come home from a summer with my dad and his family with an eating problem. My stepmother, through the course of that summer, had said some very cruel things to me about my weight and body. I was also put in summer school (as my public education, as opposed to my siblings private, was never good enough) and I bonded with an attractive and rebellious girl there. My father was always very strict on things like clothing, hair, make up, even filing my nails he'd get upset at me about. Anyway mix in the misery of surviving my stepmother, crippled by the very low self esteem and nonexistent self worth, combined with all that crap teenagers are already going through, and my new attachment to this girl. Suffice it to say it was a breeding ground for fucked-upness. So I returned home to my mother with the only thing in the world I could control, my own body, under horribly tight control. I was anorexic for nearly a year, I ate barely enough to keep going, one Nutir-grain bar twice a week or a stick of gum, a lot of water, every now and then a cup of juice. No one knew at the time. I would eat in front of my friends but then go and purge it all, even if I wanted to my body couldn't handle it. I tried to turn to religion. My mom's church, Mormonism, and then during that summer my dad's church, Born Again Southern Baptism. I studied the bible like crazy. At the time I still believed in God so much. I needed God so much. But I still never seemed to be able to grab it, to have it truly in my heart. It never saved me. Later that year my grandfather died. By the fall I was 15 and we were on that competition cheerleading squad (the friend that asked me about all this) oh what were we called? Anyway after Nationals we were at practice one day, sometime just before I would have been trying out for high school cheer, I was doing a back hand spring and landed wrong on my knee and hurt it badly. I had to have surgery and years of physical therapy after that. Up to that point I had danced my whole life. Dancing was the only place I felt good, felt whole and safe. Cheerleading was a fun spin off but dance was everything to me. We were raised on it. And now it was gone. I felt like God had taken that from me. The only thing I truly cared for and truly had left was gone. And all that terrible self worth and pain and not eating just got worse. I turned away from religion completely. I went through the motions as always for the sake of my parents and the sake of peace but I couldn't feel it. In both my households church was not a choice it was a requirement. Now looking back I call it a crisis of faith. Everything I had ever believed in was now traitorous to me. Finally with my eating disorder I got to the point where I was too week to get out of bed. I'll never forget that day. I was in that waterbed that my sister had left when she went to college and I was laying holding onto the side. I was trying to get up to get ready for school but I couldn't move. My body literally did not have the strength. I realized that day that I wanted to live for me, not for anyone else. Not my mother, or my father or God. I started eating again, little by little, and after my stint through atheism (that never really felt right to me anyway) I started coming up with what I really believed on my own.
The first and biggest at the time was the God as Father thing. This is one of the foremost beliefs of all Christianity. That God is our Father. But that never worked for me. I had two fathers and felt abandoned and rejected by both. Mother made more since. Mother earth, Goddess. That was something that I could curl up into a ball in all my misery and feel held by. A Goddess could understand my pain, She could speak to me. My despair, loneliness, terrible self worth all got relieved by changing this concept in my mind and heart. This was at the age of about 17 and I had picked myself back up. I was healthy again and hopeful. I determined other things too. I believed that nature is more powerful than the buildings we make from it's death and I wanted my worship to be outside. I started forming belief about the energies I felt around me and through me. Started forming ideas about the Universe. How it is, how it connects, how it exists. I broke away from all the different stories and dogma that I had ever been told and I created my own that made sense to me. I talked to some of my friends in tech about these things and someone gave me and Angie a book on Wicca. The very first thing I remember about the book is that it encouraged you finding your own path, deciding what you believe for yourself. For me that was just about the greatest thing I had ever heard. And through the book I found so many similarities to what I had come up with on my own. I was still forced to go to church but I had told my bishop that I didn't want to be a part of the church anymore and that I was being forced to be there and he suggested that I go to the singles ward. It was at a different church then my parents so at the very least I was grateful for the change. I went once. After that I just went to the cemetery on Sunday afternoons to read and sit on the Navy monument and cry and talk with my dead grandfather, who was the greatest comfort to me during this very frightening time. (now I'm not talking about ghosts or summoning or anything like that, holding the spirit of my grandfather in my heart was more like it) By the time I went to college I decided that I was indeed a Wiccan and Angie and I found a coven that we celebrated that we celebrated Holidays with. They were great people, I know we use the word witch and coven and everyone freaks out but seriously these people were awesome. They were just so full of love and acceptance. Celebrations usually consisted of gathering in a tent in the back, or just out in the open if it was warm and saying a few words, maybe some inspirational poems or stories. We set goals and shared food and prayed for loved ones. We just connected to each other and to nature. Really not this scary big deal that people often think it is. Or that my parents thought it was. No eating babies or swearing oaths to Satan (which there is no satan in Wicca, btw) Then we would all go inside and eat and drink and have a great time. (yes I was 19 and they let me drink, oh no who ever heard of a 19 year old drinking! But they made me be reasonable and when I wasn't responsible, as happens with teenagers- I know what a shock, they would step in and make me be responsible. They saved me from a lot of college parties where I could have gotten really stupid. Not all of those parties, but many.) Anyway so Wicca mainly focuses on the balance of nature and the God and Goddess. Many attune to old ways of paganism with the belief in many gods and goddesses drawing from various cultures and digging up the old myths. And the term Witch is used quite readily. This I have always loved. Maybe its my rebellious streak or maybe my dramatic streak or maybe it just seems to fit for some reason or another. I've always liked it and always had fun with it.
In college I changed my major to anthropology and put a strong focus on religion. I learned about Shamanism, which I love!, Buddhism, also love, Taoism, super love, Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Among many others. My favorite study was of the Celts and later I went with my school group to Ireland and got to study there. After all this I started incorporating more religions, spiritual practices and ideas into the mass of what I believe in and of myself. Somewhere between science and faith and a mixing of religions that have spanned our history is where I lay my spirituality. Though the very simplest pillars of my belief are these: I believe that God exists as the extreme unction of all love. I believe that God is far beyond things like gender, preference, judgement and emotions/moods. I believe that at the soul level we are all connected and we are beyond all these things that keep us separate from each other but all the things necessary to make us human. I believe that true evil is apathy. I believe that humans can grow and can evolve, that we should always be striving to be better, more whole, more connected, more caring and more understanding. I believe that everything is made up of energy from our bodies to our thoughts to our world and that we do effect that energy constantly. I believe that choices are what make up our world. I believe that science and God are not opposing forces. I believe all things were made and set into motion. And I believe that faith should never be about who is right or who is wrong, it's about finding that beautiful inspiration and being filled with peace and love for it.