30 Days of Paganism Day 1: Why (Not) Paganism?

I have to admit, that this post may be the easiest of the entire 30 day list, and it’s also the one I’m dreading the most.  This has been a growing part of who I am for seven years now, so to look back and remember why I made the conscious decision to pursue this path is going to be a bit difficult.  It’s been a part of me, and I’ve rarely had to chronicle how that came to be.

For starters, I was introduced to Wicca when I was 11 or so, when The Taproot bookstore took up its post in Whitinsville, MA.  My friends and I, out of sheer curiosity, went in after the grand opening one day after school, and were immediately met with a wall of sweet-smelling incense.  The entire store was decorated in Native American trinkets, dream catchers, instruments, and artwork.  There were several bookshelves lining the walls, and in the center of the shop was a station that had sage bundles, tumbled stones of every color, geodes, and all sorts of herbs.

While my friends were completely engrossed in the “colorful rocks”, I was drawn to the bookshelves.  (I started my geekish love affair with books when I was three, so don’t be startled.  By the time I was eleven there was no hope in making me a “normal” kid.)  I can’t recall the titles of the books, but there were dozens that passed through my hands.  A book on Wicca (again, the title escapes me.  It was a long time ago) was the last one I picked up, and sat on the floor, thumbing through it.  Before long, I had my other three friends sitting on the floor with me, all completely enraptured by the contents and the notion that magic was real.

Fast forward eight years.  I graduated from high school and had absolutely no direction in my life.  I’d been working at Subway for just about a year, and felt myself spiraling downward.  My best friend was in college 75 miles away, and I had no way of seeing her.  My other friends, at the time, were work friends (though they became much more eventually) and I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in them.

A metaphysical shop moves in across the street from where I work.  The Purple Moon.  My boss, my coworkers, and I all stood in the large Subway window, looking across the street, making speculations.

“I hear they sell statues.”  Mark said.  He was the boss, but acted more like a big kid with a massive twitchy mustache. Kind of like Luigi from Super Mario Brothers.  He died a few years back from cirrhosis, it was awful.

ANYWAY.

“It doesn’t look like it sells statues,” I said, and looked up at him.

“Maybe.  Go over there.” He responded.

“You mean leave work and go shopping while I’m on the clock?”  I grinned and popped my Subway polo shirt collar like the dork I am.

“No, you’re investigating, not shopping.  Ten minutes.”  He opened the door.

No one told Mark that curiosity killed the cat.  I didn’t come back for over an hour.

Inside The Purple Moon, which was heavily Wicca-oriented, I was met with Pam (the proprietor), Angela (her daughter-in-law and partner), and Pam’s son (whose name escapes me now).  They welcomed me, talked to me, let me browse as I saw fit.  And told me I smelled delicious.  Damn Subway.

Leaning on the counter, I started talking to Pam’s son about the nature of the shop, which had me completely wide-eyed and making connections back to that day when I was eleven.

“So, how do you know if you’re pagan?”  I asked, thumbing through a copy of Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

“Have you ever watched a sunset, or stood in the rain, or gone hiking for the experience and not the fitness, and thought ‘maybe there’s more to it than this’?”

“Yeah, but isn’t there?”  It seemed obvious to me, a connection to the world around me, ‘something more.’

“Maybe for you there is.  Why don’t you research a little on your own, and when you’re ready to talk more, we’ll be here.”

A life-altering experience just punched me in the face… and I had to go spend the next four hours at Subway instead of doing that research that was now nagging to get started.

Those are my roots.  It was a long story and I’m sorry for overloading you, but I’m a storyteller by nature.

At The Purple Moon, I took two levels of Wicca classes hosted by Tala, but by the end of my first year in that course of study, I decided Wicca was not my calling.  Since then, I’ve been referring to myself as ‘eclectic pagan,’ which, so far, has been reasonably accurate.  Recently though, over the last year, I’ve been feeling incredibly wrong about the mix-and-match style of conventional neo-paganism, and I’ve been seeking something a little more culturally exclusive.

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism enters here.  The problem?  I’m not looking to recreate an entire Iron Age culture in my every day life.   Some of the customs adapted to my modern lifestyle are more than welcome, and I certainly want to learn as much of the gods, land spirits, and ritual as possible.  Recreating what was mostly lost to the ages, and tainted by the Romans, is a difficult undertaking, but I’m a researcher.  I suck up information like a sponge.

I want to know more, and I want to continue finding me.

So, why paganism?  It’s just who I am, even if the path has been somewhat indirect.

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3 Comments

Filed under Life, Paganism

3 responses to “30 Days of Paganism Day 1: Why (Not) Paganism?

  1. Megs

    I have no religious or spiritual inclination but the way you write about how you feel and discovered paganism was very powerful. The description of those bookstores – and the people you meet – makes ME want to seek them (or similar) out!

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