I haven’t spent a lot of time here or anywhere else really talking about my exploration into wicca and witchy-things, mostly because I believe a person’s beliefs are theirs to have, and if they don’t harm anyone else (or themselves) than I don’t care what you do to get through your days. I’ve also been quiet about it mostly because of pre-existing perceptions that I just don’t have the energy to argue about. But I have posts to make up for Blaugust and this is my safe space of the internet, so here we are. (note: comments for this post are turned off)
TW: religion, Christianity, abortion, depression
One of the things that I really appreciated about my and my brother’s upbringing was that Mum always believed the same as me – that beliefs are personal, and we had the right to choose the path that connected with us, not thrust her beliefs on us. She shared what she understood of the world, what her beliefs were and let us figure things out for ourselves.
It meant that I was free to try things out and say ‘no’ to them on my own terms. It meant that when a close friend from primary school invited me to her church and then Sunday School with her, I said yes because I was curious. I was about 8 at the time, I think? I remember being bored in the service, but then all us kids got sent off to the Sunday School where all the ‘new’ kids had to stand p and introduce themselves. I don’t recall much of what the session was about or what we did. But what I do remember is that at the end of the session, the teacher/leader announced there was a prize for the kid who had been the best during Sunday School – and I won. It was a bag full of chocolate and candy and Christian colouring pages and stuff. And all I remember is going home and throwing it away, because even at that age I recognised how gross it was to bribe a kid with candy to be part of a religion. I never went back to that church.
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, given it was just me and my brother and my Mum, so we did need help sometimes. Mum worked long hours to make sure we had food on our table, which meant my brother and I needed to go to after school care, and the one that was closest by was run by a church so we went there. The only rule they had was that once or twice a week, there would be half an hour where we would have a bible story and songs that all kids had to participate in. (Which was fair enough given the care was very cheap, and was all supported by a church – we were on their turf). But the thing that I always really appreciated about this was that if you weren’t interested, you could just sit there and not get involved. There was no forcing you to do anything, you just had to be polite and respectful and quiet during that time and the after we could all play and do whatever. It was my first experience of a respectful church environment, and showed me there were people who could believe something for themselves so fiercely, but totally respect that not everyone else may share that belief.
I ended up going to a Lutheran high school thanks to a scholarship, and that’s where I started being a bit more involved in a Christian following. The regular chapel services, religious classes etc. started to seep their way into my life. Part of it was great – I absolutely loved to perform, so I had joined the chapel singing groups and even ran services for the entire school sometimes (insane for me to think about now!). It was a great way to get stage time. But like I said, it was leaking into me without my really noticing it.
It wasn’t until I was in my final year of high school that I realised just how much of the doctrine I’d absorbed. [I will preface the following by saying I was in a really dark place in highschool for reasons I’m not going to go into… but my mindset was pretty bleak.] The school would host performance nights multiple times throughout the year, and I was trying to write a script for short monologue for someone to perform. In an effort to write out what was happening in my head, I had written a script that featured a young woman in a dark corner on her own, crying, and begging for forgiveness; begging to be set free, apologising for not being a good enough person, for not doing anything right. (Like I said, not a good place). Eventually another voice can be heard saying that she could be set free if she admitted what she had done wrong – then she could go. At the time, I wasn’t able to figure out what I had done wrong (spoiler alert, NOTHING) but I still needed a way to finish the piece. So I thought about something that a woman would have done that would have “sent her to hell” and the idea of her having an abortion came to mind. So that was how I ended it – she apologised for “killing her baby”.
I showed the script to a friend of mine… She was always championing my writing, giving thoughtful feedback and opinions so I wanted to show her before I showed anyone else. I remember her being quiet reading the script, and when she finished she said, “is that what you truly believe? That someone having an abortion would be sent to hell?” I replied by saying that that’s what we were told and was in the bible, and she said, “ok, but is that what you truly believe?” And I just remember having this moment of world shattering clarity. Because no, of course that wasn’t what I believed- it’s what I was told to believe. And they were two completely different things. It was a bit shift in my world again, where I felt like I had stepped outside of myself and was just looking at who I was and who I thought I was… suffice it to say, there were an awful lot of broken pieces created that day, but the first thing I did was burn that script.
Since then I’ve had a focus on just trying to be a good person. I suppose you’d call me agnostic if a label was needed? Who was I to know the inner workings of the universe? I didn’t really care, to be honest, I was just grateful to be here and to have a life, and just wanted to be a decent human being.
It’s only in the past few years that I’ve realised my beliefs have been a bit more aligned to the Wiccan ways of things. I have always felt a strong connection to nature, am so heavily affected by nature, and get my energy from nature. And I think that’s where the crux of it is for me now – that we are surrounded by all sorts of different energies, and that I can choose to focus on the positive ones; the energies that help me feel strong, that help me help others, that make me feel and my loved ones feel warm and safe. It’s that choice that I love most of all.
There are no rules, there is no right way or wrong way to be Wiccan – you just are. I will clarify that I see myself as a… well SASS witch is one term I’ve seen on reddit. I believe in science, I believe in critical thinking, I know there are smarter people in the world than me and I trust their years of experience and knowledge.
For me, I get energy from meditation with candles and things that smell yummy. I find inspiration and thoughtfulness from tarot. To me, a spell is no different to a prayer, it’s just about intent and direction and verbalising your thoughts. The crystals that I collect are first and foremost pretty, and yes they may have specific meaning, but I can use them how I wish, so if I feel drawn to carrying one around with me in my pocket all day and that helps me feel better, then so be it.
Since coming to this realisation about myself I’ve felt so much better about my place in the world. I am learning as much as I can, but what I’m learning most of all is that I can take any path I desire… so I will.