>Burning myself, the ex-Catholic witch


I have always struggled to define my spiritual position in a world where people try to force each other into neat and tidy categories. My childhood was filled with Sundays at church, getting kicked out of Sunday school for asking too many questions, hiding my intuitive nature from the church, etc. I touched on Wicca practices in high school but getting ridiculed here in the deep South the one day I wore a pentacle necklace made me reject that path and return to being a good little Christian like every other kid in the school. I became a purist and promised, for a time, to save sex for marriage and ignore my intuitive nature because those were things taught in the church. Anything that felt good or different from church teachings was condemned and a source of immense guilt for the offender. That’s the thing about Christianity. It has taken two thousand years to make guilt into the greatest work of art in history.

To make a very long, winding story short, becoming so much more comfortable in my own skin and my own spirituality in the last few years has led me to a crossroads in which I have chosen to embrace the Old Religion. I no longer consider myself part of the Christian population. That took a lot of soul searching and exploration because I still live in a part of the country where there are churches on every corner and being different is not exactly accepted. Added to that, I’m also working on leaning into becoming a vegetarian. I think my family is having a harder time with me rejecting meat than rejecting Christianity! I haven’t even told my grandmother about this yet because I don’t think she would understand. She tells me to pray all the time and badgers me to go to church with her. She is getting rather old and I don’t want the last years of her life to be marked by disappointment in me leaving the church.

Coming to this decision certainly wasn’t easy and I struggled for a long time. The Old Religion always felt more natural and fit with my natural beliefs but the issue of guilt had a stronghold on me. It still does in some ways. I went to an outreach meeting with my friend by the House of RavenStone to see what the people in a coven might be like and about halfway through the meeting, I reached an epiphany. I have been a hypocrite for a long time. I have been attending churches my whole life that, by definition, view my intuitive nature as something evil and my willingness to use that nature as consorting with the devil. I shouldn’t have to hide who I am when I’m at church as if I’m ashamed of it when, in fact, I’m not ashamed of it and I don’t believe it’s evil.

Then it all became very simple and clear:

Christianity has been making me feel guilty for so many years because I’m not living up to that deity’s expectations as dictated by the church. God is in control. God wants this for you. God wants that for you. It doesn’t matter what you want. Just repress yourself and serve Him because you were born full to the brim with sin and you have to work off all those demerits to get into Heaven. Believing in reincarnation, psychic power, and so forth, is an automatic one-way ticket to Hell with murderers and child molesters. Really?

The Old Religion is different. You are not subservient to the higher powers – you commune with them because divinity is in everything, including yourself. The universal energy is neutral. Your choices through life determine whether you turn your energy into positive or negative. You are in charge of your destiny with the guidance of the god and goddess. The energy you put out in the universe through your thoughts, actions and intentions return to you threefold. Beliefs are not dictated to you but learned and cultivated through study and experience. You are not even forbidden from representing your creative life force in the form of the Christian god, the Virgin Mary as a goddess, and so forth. The path of spirituality is your own with a few universal principles and practices. These are basic principles that I have been teaching people for years without really knowing that they were technically defined as Wiccan principles.

So, the epiphany came. I can no longer call myself a Christian when my beliefs and practices have always naturally taken the path of the Old Religion. There I am free to be myself without having to feel guilty about my ability to read energy from the living and those in spirit. Self-expression is allowed. Representing and recognizing the creative life force in anything around you is allowed. There is no cause for guilt as long as you’re not harming yourself, other people, animals, plants, energy or spirits.

Does this mean I’m rejecting God? No. It means I find the Christian deity too limiting and I always have. My faith in the creative life force (what you might call God) is stronger than ever. I just can’t put myself into that tiny little box of Christian indoctrination anymore. I feel like I’ve emerged from being brainwashed and lived to tell about it. That might sound harsh but it’s how I feel. While I’m still struggling to let go of the oppression of guilt, I do feel like I’ve come into my own and I’m being much more honest about who I am. Of course, I run the risk of seriously offending the more conservative people among my friends and family, and believe me when I say I’ve agonized over that. I just cannot keep going like this, knowing what I am inside but denying it out of guilt.

An ye harm none, do what ye will. – That includes me. It’s time for me to stop harming myself by trying to be what people expect. This is me. I am no longer a Christian. I am on the path of the Old Religion and becoming a witch. It is not devil worship, nor is it going around in pointy black hats and riding brooms. It’s older than Christianity. Accept me as I am and I will accept you as you are. It begins with accepting myself.

6 responses to “>Burning myself, the ex-Catholic witch”

  1. Dianne says:

    >Beautiful piece. I believe in God. Don't know about the Christian part. I used to have intuitive dreams, but once I started going to church that ability went away or is so supressed. You know that is the devils's work! Ack! The only ones who truth knew what Christ said were those at his feet. Every thing else is just a way of manipulating people. I see God in the trees, the sun, the flowers and the many animals and birds who visit my yard. Thats God. he isn't locked up in some room up on a hill. Good for you Jessica

  2. Stephanie Ann says:

    >I know how you feel. I believe that God is the same entity, people all over the world have been interpreting their experiences with God differently. I don't believe anyone has the right to say that they know 100% exactly what "God wants" or tell anyone else their beliefs or experiences are wrong. The heart of all religions is to live by a moral code that is pretty similar all over the globe: Don't: lie, cheat, steal or kill people and try to help others when you can.

    You don't know how many times I've been told I am going to hell. It's hard to not have a group of people backing you up (as church goers do) but I can't pretend to believe things that I intuitively do not.

    I am glad you found a spiritual place that fits and accepts you.

  3. NNtrancer says:

    >Thomas Jefferson, who thought religion was oppressive, believed in a Jesus who was a great teacher of moral truths, and so, he edited the Bible. The "Thomas Jefferson Bible" represents what Jefferson thought was true, the moral teachings, and what he thought was false (miracles, for example) or downright repulsive (the Old Testament's evil God). Christianity is an institution designed by men for their secular purposes and has been polluted by association with the state since Constantine. The Gnostic Christians thought that Jesus was a metaphor, not a man, and that our role was to become like him, finding the divinity within. Of course, the Catholic Church exterminated them. My point in all this is that to make a blanket condemnation of Christianity is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is in the mystical interpretation of Christ's teachings, much to be absorbed. I hope you find Wicca satisfying. But I see it as limiting in itself. I prefer the Perennial Philosophy, as Leibnitz put it and as Aldous Huxley titled his book, and that philosophy has informed mystics of all religions in all times because it's based on an interior recognition of our inner divinity.

  4. Sparrow says:

    >No matter what you believe, someone is going to demonize you because you believe differently from them. Within Christianity alone, there are 34,000 different denominations. I decided that I will go back to Christianity the day my Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, and Jehovah's Witness relatives all get together and unanimously decide which version of Christianity is the right one. Good for you for going with your heart.

  5. Teri says:

    >Jessica, I always love reading your blogs, even this one 😉 I am probably one of your more conservative friends, and I've never found your gifts to be evil. I am very much Christian, AND I believe in spiritual gifts that many call psychic abilities. In fact, the leader of my personal religion is a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.

    Just because we (people) use different words to describe something, doesn't make someone else wrong or evil.

    I think that we need different religions, because we all come to understanding and belief differently. I think it's similar to talking in different languages. Speak French to me and I wont understand a word of it, say it in Spanish and I may get a basic understanding, English and I'll pretty much have it. We need diversity of religion just as much as we need diversity of culture and when if we could all work together, what a fantastic world this could be.

  6. Chuck Weis says:

    Thank you for some different insights. I am Catholic, and have read of ex Wiccans and ex Pagans nwho are now Catholic. I’ve never felt that Catholicism is stifling- quite the opposite. It’s all about primacy of conscience- one who agrees with everything regarding doctrines is a slave- thats why the Catholic Church has a “big tent”- there is room for all sorts of opinions and ideas- thta is why the Church has been around a couple thousand years- it truly is universal. Keep searching Jessica, keep asking questions, don’t blindly follow- and wisdom and knowledge will be your guide. Peace.

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