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.