I was raised Roman Catholic, and raised to believe that it was the one, true religion. I did all of the things a Catholic was supposed to do. I went to religion class up through most of high school. I was an alter attendant and then in the church choir. I still remember a lot of the songs from so many years of singing them. I received 5 of the 7 sacraments: baptism, first communion, reconciliation, confirmation, and anointing of the sick twice. Up until a few years ago, I helped my family run the Giving Tree program at Christmastime. I did and believed as I was told.
When I turned 19, I did a lot of soul searching, discovering who I was and what I truly believed, not just what I was told to believe. I realized that everything I felt and believed went against the teachings of the Catholic Church. So I left. I did a lot of research into other religions, other faiths and beliefs. I found Paganism to be the one that spoke to me. The more I read and the more people I talked to, the more it felt like the right place for me. A friend’s parents helped me along the way to understand the basics of the religion.
The path of Paganism I follow is closely associated with the Celtic Animism, the belief that all things in nature are alive, inhabited by spirits or divine beings. Do you remember the song from the Disney version of Pocahontas, “Colors of the Wind”? It’s a bit like that. Nature is not there for us to control, but to work alongside. I feel the energy in the gathering thunderstorm, the serenity in the shade of the woods, the power coursing just below the Earth. When I am feeling overwhelmed, burdened, or just not right I find myself needing to ground where I purge myself of the negative energies and feelings, sending them into the Earth. The Earth takes the energies and turns them into something useful, much like it does with fertilizer. The emptiness left by the loss of the negative energy is able to be filled with positive energy. I always feel better after I do this. I know this process is not unique to Paganism, but it does work with my beliefs of the spirits all around us.
I believe that there are several gods and goddesses and we are drawn to the ones we need. I have several friends who are Norse Pagan and associate with Odin or Thor. I associate closer with Danu of the Celtic deities (her better known Greek counterpart would be Athena). I don't believe the monotheistic religions are wrong. I think they just focus on a single deity, where the polytheistic religions acknowledge a broader range of deities.
I do consider myself a witch in that I do spell-craft with crystals, candles and symbols. Some may condemn me for saying this, but I see this as no different than a Christian’s prayer. I am simply gathering my wishes and intents and focusing them, then sending them out in the hopes the universe deems it worthy. I believe that what we put out into the world is returned to us as well. If I were to send out ill-will towards someone, it would be returned to me as well. Karma.
The thing I enjoy about Paganism is that it is a diverse religion. You follow the path that feels right to you. It’s about me following where my soul and my heart lead me. I truly feel that there is no “one, true religion”, just a one, true religion for you. It’s about finding that path that fulfills your soul. For some it is Christianity or Judaism or Islam or Hindu or Pagan. For some it is none of these. In my opinion, that is fine. It only becomes an issue when one person tries to force their beliefs on another. That is where I draw the line.