You wouldn’t think it to look at me now, and I must be a terrible disappointment to my parents, but I was brought up as a Christian, albeit quite a liberal one. I went to church, attended Sunday school, & have read every book of the Bible. I am even a Godmother (I vowed to help bring that child up Christian, & I will keep that promise whether or not it aligns with my beliefs, although of course should they ever ask about what I believe, I wouldn’t lie to them either). However, in retrospect it always felt more like going through the motions than actual faith, & I should have been honest about that with others much earlier on in life.
A multitude of factors convinced me to finally drop the pretence of my Christianity. The church’s reaction to my disability was a primary concern, as the church itself remained obstinately inaccessible despite several of its members being disabled. The general reaction to disability was often chalked up as being a test, and when I felt like I couldn’t cope I was reassured that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle, therefore I just needed to cope. Impromptu faith healings did not help matters either, although the prayers from genuine friends were always welcome (and still are).
In addition, while my church wasn’t overtly homophobic, the general dim view of LGBTQAI+ culture in Christian circles helped repress aspects of my identity that I wish I had been able to explore earlier. As I started to question my identity, I also scrutinised my religion, and found the hypocrisy of certain people staggering, namely those who use their faith as an excuse to be hateful (I have since come to realise that religion really is just an excuse, and even without it, those people would still find a reason to be hateful. Religion is not the problem – hatred is). The final nail in the coffin was when a respected central pillar of the community, hailed almost as a local hero, and someone who I had conferred with as a guide, turned out to have committed some of the most despicable acts humanity is capable of.
With all pretence dropped, I began exploring something that had piqued my interest early in childhood – Tarot cards. I had been given a set for a birthday which mysteriously disappeared, and so while on honeymoon in London, I purchased the classic deck and began to learn to read them. From there I progressed to reading runestones and a pendulum, then took an interest in crystals which above all else, are just nice to look at. I picked up some nice-smelling essential oils in place of the asthma-triggering incense. I attended a conference of Pagans from all over the UK and picked up some interesting reading material, and a more diverse array of unusual crystals. I joined Pagan social media groups and attended a Moot, which is the equivalent of a Church group but with more alcohol. As of Samhain 2020 (pronounced Sow-en a.k.a. Halloween), I began to formally recognise and celebrate all eight Sabbats. I then started to do Tarot readings in public.
There are lots of misconceptions about being Pagan; that it’s a religion or even a cult, that we all worship the devil, and that it’s evil. I can assure you, it is no more evil than oppressing anyone who differs from what is deemed acceptable by a select few. The vast majority of Pagans would just like to left alone with their cards and crystals, and to peacefully coexist with a diverse array of religions and belief systems. I am one of these people.
And to conclude, I will address one very common question – yes, I do know how to cast a hex. So don’t piss me off. 😊