I am a twelfth generation descendent of William Brewster, Puritan pastor who guided the Pilgrims on their Atlantic crossing on the Mayflower, and through their hardships as they settled the
New World. How does the multiple great granddaughter of a Puritan find her way to a Pagan path?
I always remember having a fascination with the spiritual. As a little girl, I loved looking at the illustrations in my older siblings’ Bibles…..but it was more than just looking at pictures. I wanted to know. I remember asking the minister on our way out of church one Sunday, “If God was the father of Jesus, who was the father of God?” He didn’t really give me an answer…...
So for the rest of my childhood, and the majority of my married life, I channeled my yearnings for the spiritual into the established….my family attended a Congregational church, I experienced in my teen years a “conversion” in a Baptist church; after college I married a Catholic and explored that form of Christianity.
I always had questions. There were points of doctrine in each denomination that didn’t add up, according to my naïve reasoning. So I was always searching, trying to understand the theological points of each denomination, researching their histories… I learned a lot, and will never regret that. The research I did has borne positive fruit in the form of more mature understanding as I have continued exploring in very different directions.
I ended up raising my children in the Catholic faith, though I never converted, and never came to terms with some points of their doctrine. I do believe in raising children in some kind of spiritual framework, and that was the best I could do at the time. That decision was good for my kids. They have a launch pad for spirituality, and if ever the candle of thirst for more knowledge is lit for them as it was for me….they will go on, as I did.
So what happened to me, to change my course? In many ways, simply, Life. I lost my mother to a tragic accident. I think that was the first turning point… Other difficulties followed, no more than others experience, but enough to bring me from the easy optimism that has been part of my personality since birth, to borderline depression. As a worker in healthcare, I recognized the changes inside myself, but, like my stubborn fore fathers, did not reach out for medical help.
What did I do? In a moment of darkness and weakness, something stupid. Or not. I succumbed to an internet offer for an inexpensive booklet of the self help variety, but one that ended up being a “fluffy” version of magic for beginners.
A lot of the book was superficial, but with the natural sensitivity I think I was born with, I detected more than what was presented between the lines…. The book wasn’t a total waste of money, there was something in the essence of the book that said “look further”, and so I began an inspired quest for knowledge in a new and different direction. Plugging some of the themes from that simple book into a search engine was how I found many different spiritual realms, that months earlier, I confess I would not have given credence to.
I was becoming…. a witch.. or a Pagan…wasn’t really sure which one. I’m still not sure of the best label to apply to myself. (See, I still am in the “ becoming” phase.) Maybe the label doesn’t really matter. Maybe it doesn’t even matter whether you know you are Episcopalian, or Methodist, or Buddhist, or Catholic, or Wiccan, or Druid or WHATEVER. Maybe, all that matters is that you have a hungry heart. That you seek. That you thirst. And, that you have an open mind and heart, in order to receive the messages that Divinity, in whatever guise they come, will send you, if you will listen.
I was always a kid that loved to play in the woods, build forts, get their feet wet and muddy in the streams. From an early age I was attuned to the natural phases and cycles, and this is a natural fit for the Pagan path.
But even so, that doesn’t make it easy to leave my background, to say, “I am not Christian”. I did realize and find Divinity in the person of Jesus. I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bath water; his persona is and always will be, real in my life.
But, I have begun to discover, he is only one facet of divinity. There are others, that have become real in my life. Some feminine, replacing perhaps, my lost mother, but also some masculine. I have had real experiences with three distinct personas (other than Jesus), so, my concept of Divinity is expanding.
Perhaps I will introduce them in future posts.
None of them seem to be affronted to any attention to the Others; rather, there is a simple sense of Communion whenever my focus is turned toward the Divine, in any of its aspects.
So, Pagan is not a four letter word. It does not connotate a devil worshipping, nor, as I once thought, a state that is focused only on physical pleasures and is absent from the consideration of the Divine. I was far mistaken in that aspect; I am still learning of the many ways a Pagan soul communicates with Deity.
Communication there is, and it involves the whole person, body, mind, and soul. The physical experience is important: our senses are the portals through which we experience the world, and ultimately, the divine. Pagan paths are all connected to the natural world, with all its cycles. Attention to the monthly lunar cycle and the changing pattern of the sky, to the changing seasons, to the cycle of life and death and rebirth, even to the small bit of terra firma that we call “home” – all of these rely on the use of our physical senses, as well as our intuitive sense. All of them are opportunities to connect with something much larger than our physical selves, but the experience begins in that physical self.
To those of you who have been on the path much longer than me, I apologize if some of what I have said is over-obvious, or may seem unnecessary. Bear with me as I talk out loud on the internet, and maybe consider posting a comment and offering some of your wisdom.
Consider it, in a way, my “coming out party”. I have been living pretty much in the broom closet, for a combination of good and not-so-good reasons. This is my way of opening the door.