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Author Topic: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?  (Read 823 times)

Orbit

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Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« on: July 06, 2019, 07:05:23 pm »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2019, 08:03:47 pm »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.

Raised strict Missouri Synod Lutheran, but I had lots of questions. None of them were ever really answered. I was very active in the church and was told repeatedly that if there was something wrong in your life you just needed to pray more. So I prayed, and read from the bible. I was eventually diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

I started looking at other paths outside of Christianity. I started practicing Chi Kung for my health concerns. The stretches, breathing and meditation put me into remission. I came across Wicca a few months later in 2001 and realized this was the kind of thing I was looking for. Wicca was a good stepping stone for me. Christianity was harder to leave behind. It felt like I was brain washed. I didn't believe anymore, but it was hard to stop that knee jerk response.

Donal2018

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2019, 08:29:51 pm »
 :(
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

I was raised Roman Catholic, lived right next to the Church, went to the Parish School, did Communion, Confirmation, the whole story.

I did not leave Catholicism for Paganism; I left Catholicism for Scientific Agnosticism.

What happened is that my Father died and I felt angry at God and the Church. There is a Raymond Chandler quote- "He did not disbelieve in God so much as he personally disliked him." After my Father's death, I felt that I had been lied to and told that everything was going to be alright when it wasn't. So i left the Church to become an angry Agnostic with a skeptical/scientific outlook.

In college I got heavily into martial art and also the surrounding philosophies of Zen Buddhism and Bushido. This opened up my mind to different religions,  philosophies,  and viewpoints.

Also in my youth I was heavily into mythology, comic books, science fiction, stage magic, and some paranormal stuff like lucid dreaming, self hypnosis,  and lateral thinking. This sort of thing set the stage for later being open to certain aspects of Paganism.

I had some unusual experiences that opened me up to being more metaphysical and that eventually led me to Paganism. I will maybe write in more detail about that at some later point. My personal spiritual views are amalgams of all the things I have noted above. In some ways I will always be a lapsed Catholic who is interested in hard science and also unusual topics and metaphysics.

Zlote Jablko

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2019, 11:30:00 pm »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

In all honesty, I left it for Judaism. I started out basically a very lax Jewish boy. I always knew that I was only half Jewish though, and even the Jewish side was in Eastern Europe for a long time. I was always curious about the European part of my ancestry.

I liked the traditional foundation of Judaism. The fact that it had clearly traceable roots to a people and an ancient culture. However, I quickly developed mixed feelings about Jewish scripture when I tried to read it. My mom also came out as a lesbian, and I started to question whether there wasn’t something else out there.

As I’ve mentioned on this forum, runes kind of got me started. I was interested in Heathenism and syncretism for awhile, but once I started to learn about Slavic paganism I was as increasingly intrigued by it.

Jenett

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2019, 09:05:55 am »
why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.

In my case, not directly.

My family religious history is a little complex - my parents were married as Catholics, had two children (my older siblings) left the Catholic church not long before Vatican II, became Episcopalian, had me some time later, and when I was 11, they returned to the Catholic Church, and I went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults process to become Catholic, and then later confirmation with my age-mates. They included me in their discussions about why they were looking at changing religious communities, so I'd already had a model for 'this is a thing people can do' and lots of models for 'people of many religious communities have deep, meaningful, and helpful spiritual lives'. (Aided by some other family history: my mother's father was from a highly assimilated Jewish family, and she and her parents and others in the family were refugees from Vienna in the 30s, ending up in Northern Ireland.)

And my parents, for that matter, while both being very firmly religious in their own ways - my mother's now a lay sister in a Catholic order of very sensible nuns - also went about it quite differently, so I had that model too.

I should also say here that I'm someone who had some amazing, deep, life-changing experiences while Catholic (my father died when I was 15, of cancer, and we knew it was coming. My parish was actively involved with a rather charismatic Catholic youth camp, and I had several years there that had the kind of numinous lightning-bolt experiences of the divine that I desperately needed. Despite that, it became clear that Christianity wasn't the right choice for me.)

I started with having a series of experiences in college that made me really want to get a grip on energy work (centering, grounding, shielding, specifically) and a) the best sources I had available were all rather firmly from within the Pagan community (this was the mid-late 90s) and b) I had friends in college who were Pagan, and could help with some of those pieces.

I was actively involved at the time in Newman Catholic ministry in college - I was doing a lot of music ministry, but also on the board in general, which meant lots of discussions about different topics. I was at a woman's college, so we had a priest who came for Mass regularly, and was also involved with Newman Society activities, but we also had a female chaplain (who in her case, had had a child without getting married, for good reasons) and was a rather different model of Catholic chaplain than you might get some other places.

I worked for my college for a year after graduation, and then moved half way across the country. During that last year at my college, I realised that the community I loved there wasn't going to be easy to find elsewhere, and I decided to take a year to figure out what I wanted out of my religious life. (That last year, I also went to a large and really well-done public Samhain at MIT for a variety of reasons, and found it to be a really amazing ritual experience.)

I spent that year reading broadly, poking at options (which for me including some form of Paganism, the Quaker community, and some form of Judaism.)
I kept circling back to something in the Pagan realm, and toward the end of that year made some really systematic explorations. I read a bunch of books, went to public rituals, peered a lot at listings on Witchvox. The public rituals helped me get some sense of what I wanted (even though not all of them were tremendously satisfying as rituals.)

What I ended up giving priority included:
- A religion that had leadership roles for women in a variety of ways
- Repeated ritual structures that could build depth and complexity over time
- Inclusion of practices like energy work that provided a sense of groundnesses and self-awareness.
- Progressive approaches to relationship orientations (while I've now been single for over a decade, my relationships have all been polyamorous.)

From there, I made initial noises at three different groups - one made me feel like it wasn't a good fit very quickly, one pointed me at the other, and the third - well, I went and did intro (Seeker) classes with them, then pre-initiatory training (what we call Dedicant year) and six years later, had my 3rd degree.

I am really really glad I took the time I did - I feel pretty strongly that most people can't just shrug off a religion they've been part of for years in a matter of a couple of months. It takes some time to figure out what aspects you do want to continue (many of which may not be obvious until you've had some time to reflect), what seasonal or cyclical things you really care about (where you often need to think through that cycle as it happens again),

Spending some time in that liminal space of 'not that thing, but not something else new yet either' can be challenging, but I think leaning into it is tremendously productive, and reduces a number of possible problems and challenges later. 
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Darkhawk

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2019, 04:33:50 pm »
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

I never had the misfortune of dealing with any of the strains of Christianity which don't understand that mythology is mythology.  Certainly, Genesis isn't any less scientific than any of the classical pagan mythologies, but of course the cultural expectation is that ancient myths are somehow less valid for real consideration, and pagans aren't immune to the idea that Biblical myths are in some different category of thought than, say, Hellenic ones.  (Mythological literalism of that sort was invented at roughly at the same time as the modern pagan movement and for most of the same reasons; unfortunately, as a result, the concept of literalism has also infected a lot of pagan thought. I have my suspicions that this is one of the factors that drives the popularity of mythology-light modern construct paganisms. The late 1800s had some issues, man.)

Tangent aside: My relationship with Christianity is more complicated and nuanced than "leaving" would suggest.  I was raised, as were many people I know, in a largely secular Christianity whose theological presence was entirely nebulous.  My home instruction in religion consisted entirely of being taught the Lord's Prayer; the Christmas whose traditions I have retained was largely nontheological and the customs that matter to me are familial.  I was probably six or so before I attended a church service, and it was presented me as an opportunity to attend with either a friend or some beloved local neighbors; I went to both churches, before largely settling on my friend's, which was Methodist.  (My mother describes herself as a "recovering Catholic"; my father was raised I believe Episcopalian (my aunt is still high-church Episcopalian), is very fond of using mythology sensibly as a thought experiment, completed a divinity school master's degree at the age of seventy, and may very well be an atheist, or at least a hard agnostic.  I haven't asked, because it doesn't matter.)

Anyway, I was the weird kid who paid close attention to sermons and other things and wound up wondering things about them.  I never felt personally connected to the stories in a meaningful way; also, as an autistic kid I felt weird and awkward and it was hard to fit in.  The only thing about the experience that genuinely worked for me was the hymns; one of the things that's been hard for me as a pagan is the lack of good solid hymn-style music, because that is one of the easiest non-esoteric ways for me to achieve both a sense of functional community and a sense of numinous presence.

Childhood church experience led me to draw the following conclusions: that music was a core spiritual experience that transcended religion and denomination; that some people fit into particular theological communities; that some people had personal connections to divine forces; that I had not found the community where I fit; that I was going to hold out for something that spoke to me rather than just lean on the music as Good Enough To Make Do.  I suspect that this is a really intensely ex-Methodist experience, given how Methodists are about music as a denomination - I crack ex-Methodist jokes with the music director at my chuch occasionally - and it is why I say that the sort of Christian I'm not is a Methodist, even if I aesthetically prefer Orthodox theologies of theosis.

I spent four or five years in an amiably theistic agnosticism - not even a seeker, as I didn't have enough sense of the scope of possibility to imagine looking for things - and not worrying about the matter much.  Early in high school, a friend lent me a Scott Cunningham book and I got super into I-Read-A-Book style Wicca derivatives, about which I got moderately doctrinaire in attempting to assemble coherent symbological patterns.  Eventually I failed to break myself sufficiently to fit there either and bounced back out to a theistic agnosticism which was vaguely pagan-flavored.

Some more drifting later, I wound up Kemetic through a complex of experiences that eventually boiled down to "this already has an articulate theology of things I've been trying to express, which makes it a lot easier to both use fewer words and explore more complex concepts", and I found out about my particular line of the Craft from hanging out on the Cauldron and sought out training as a result.  Beyond that, it gets weird.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

EclecticWheel

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2019, 05:05:39 am »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

My immediate family was only nominally Oneness Pentecostal, so I wasn't exposed to that religion much until I began to seek spiritually of my own volition at age ten, and my great grandparents passed that faith onto me, though both of them had non-Oneness backgrounds, my grandfather a Wesleyan background and my grandmother a Holiness background.  I still retain much of what my grandmother taught me: she had a mystical inclination that she passed along to me.  Oneness Pentecostalism doesn't count as Christian in most of the Christian world, but Oneness Pentecostals certainly understand themselves to be Christians.

I ended up having the same problems as you, but that is only because I wasn't exposed to wider theological thought which doesn't try to read literally parts of the Bible that clearly weren't meant to be taken that way.  There are, after all, two distinct creation accounts side by side.  I don't think whoever compiled those accounts was so stupid as not to have noticed that.  In regard to homosexuality, I have a Catholic friend who has written a great deal of material on that topic debunking the homophobic views and interpretations from a perspective that takes tradition seriously.  There is not one view on homosexuality in Christianity even among conservatives and traditionalists, nor is there only one view in Judaism.

But at the time I left the Oneness sect at age fourteen I didn't know any of that.  I explored New Age thought afterward and was attempting to make sense of my experiences through that avenue.  However, I became influenced by authors whom I later ascertained were cult leaders and became disillusioned with the lack of critical thought in some quarters of the New Age movement (not that this isn't a problem in other movements and religions).

I became involved in a neo-pagan organization in college and still retain friends from that organization who are wonderful people, but I never found a particular established path in neo-paganism that worked for me.  At around the same time I became interested in liberal Christian thought, which sometimes is and sometimes isn't orthodox in regard to the Nicene Creed, and I was baptized and confirmed into a traditionalist Episcopal parish that nevertheless, in Anglican fashion at its best I suppose, tolerates a wide variety of Anglican thought from Protestant to Catholic and even the resident liberals and a couple of gay people.

From there my path has gone all over the place.  I became very Anglo-Catholic, but in an eccentric sort of way.  I created shrines in my home to various saints but experimented with neo-paganism on the side.  My experiences with neo-paganism influenced how I approached the saints, and sometimes I would feed them in addition to burning candles and incense.

I eventually had an extremely intense experience after going into the woods in the middle of the night while manic.  (I happen to be bi polar, obsessive compulsive, and dissociative, and all of these conditions interact sometimes to produce bizarre experiences.)  To sum it up very briefly without going into much detail, it was as though the whole world were full of spirits and saints, and I confronted death and survived it.  Out of that experience over the years I developed a set of rituals.  They initially began as a way to reenact the experience in a controlled, predictable format because quite frankly, the whole thing was disorienting and traumatizing for a while.

I tried a more orthodox route eventually and was received into the Catholic Church, but I couldn't handle that for various reasons, and I veered out of that again back into my traditionalist Anglican parish and abandoned orthodoxy altogether, and even very recently was experimenting with incorporating Greek gods into my spirituality, though at this point I think it is more helpful in my path to do this in a more passive way via meditation and reflection.

For a few reasons, schedule being one of them, and the availability of the traditional Latin mass being another, I have been going back to the Catholic Church, though I will always be culturally Anglo-Catholic I think.  I am still considering what I think the limits of Catholicism really are.  I have not abandoned my set of rituals and their liturgical year -- I don't find them to be contrary to the dogmas of Catholicism.  They just have their own focus, their own place in my life.

I still work with my four good "angels."  They may be spirits or alters or some intersection between the two.

I am much less concerned with considering myself orthodox or heretical these days.  I have finally arrived at a place in which my faith, my doubt, my agnosticism, coexist.  So I still have a foot in Christianity, specifically Catholicism (broadly considered -- as an Anglican I always considered myself a Catholic).  I'm also influenced by an eclectic style in that I build ritual that works for me and draw inspiration from anywhere that can fit into the system I have created in a way that is helpful.  But at heart I think I am overall simply on a mystical, experiential path.

So my journey into eclecticism, and my experimentation with neo-paganism, has largely occurred in parallel with or sometimes intersecting with Christianity, specifically Catholicism (whether Roman or Anglo).  At this point in my path I wouldn't even know how to separate the two, especially now that I've discovered that I can have faith in the midst of my doubts.
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Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Kylara

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2019, 04:51:48 pm »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

My family were holiday Christians.  I do think my parents believe, but we never had a regular church, nor did we really talk about religious stuff on a normal basis at home.  We went with friends to church for Christmas and Easter, but rarely went other than that.

My best friend in middle school was a devout Christian, and when we moved away at the start of high school I must have been in the process of figuring my own beliefs out, because she sent me some cassette tapes about a year later, from her pastor, with the message of "here is what you asked for" (they were explaining how to be a good Christian basically, what they believed, what they did).

But I had also found a book in our school library on Witchcraft, which stated that 'covens were active everywhere, you just had to find them, and they might put out ads in your local newspaper'.  So I started looking into this (it was really odd because I attended a private Christian high school!).

I don't really consider me to have had a personal faith before I started exploring Paganism.  I accepted the ideas of Christianity that I had seen, and I definitely knew I believed in something, I was just searching for what exactly it was.  I guess I grew up agnostic.

But I definitely was set on my path by finding that book in the library (which was "The Power of Magic")
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Jainarayan

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2019, 10:50:04 am »
I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

My standard story, as posted at Quora. It got mega-upvotes from fellow Hindus.  :)

I was born as a Roman Catholic, baptized, made First Holy Communion and Confirmation as a Roman Catholic. At about age 23 I became Eastern Orthodox, the Catholic Church no longer appealing to me.

All the time I was Christian however, I believed in the Hindu deities as being manifestations of God. As I look back I see I was a pantheist and panentheist (they’re not mutually exclusive) in believing that God and creation are one, not separate, yet God transcends it. I became more interested and learned about India and Hinduism as a teenager. I always said I was Indian and Hindu in a past life or lives.

I eventually drifted away from Christianity and towards Deism. Christian theology had begun to not make sense to me. It was more that than even the gay thing. I didn't accept being gay until several years after abandoning Christianity, though maybe it was in the back of my mind. I wrestled with being gay for a very long time. Gradually my Deism gave way to drawing towards the Hindu deities even more. Around Feb. 2011 I was in a new age-type store that has murtis of the deities. I was drawn to a couple of them, bought them and set up a small shrine area on my dresser for them. I had no idea how to do worship, but I learned. I look back and cringe in embarrassment at some of the things I thought were the way you do it. I was so stupid. lol

But over time I learned, and I’m still learning. I made my first temple visit about 7 years ago. I held off for the longest time, being shy about going. All I knew was to give namaskar to the deities and anyone I met, and just do what everyone else did. Learning why came later. The priests were helpful in coaching me here and there. Now if I go MIA for a while, when I return I get big smiles and greetings from the priests and some of the devotees I know and “How are you? Have you been well?”

So yeah, here I am… a white Italian-American gay Hindu.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Orbit

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2019, 07:21:27 pm »
My standard story, as posted at Quora. It got mega-upvotes from fellow Hindus.

So yeah, here I am… a white Italian-American gay Hindu.
I very much appreciate your story. I feel an affinity for Saraswati and Akelokistevara.  I enjoy listening to mantras, and am really drawn also to Advaita Vedanta. I'm not sure where I'll end up, but that is my starting point, I think. Thanks for sharing your story!

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Re: Did you leave Christianity for Paganism?
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2019, 01:19:11 pm »
I'm not sure what my path will be yet, but I deconverted from Christianity about 4 years ago. I'm interested in hearing the story of how you became pagan when you were raised or were Christian---why you left Christianity and how you found Paganism and what attracted it to you.
For me, I left because I re-read the Bible and it had too many anti-scientific fact (the Creation story) and morally reprehensible teachings (like the whole anti-gay thing). The process of leaving took a year, and it wasn't easy. I'm interested in how other people became Pagan (of whatever variety). I'd love to hear your story if you're willing to share it.

I am not raised as christian bur our parents send us to a christian school to get some christian education so that we could make our own choice. On high school I came in touch with a youth group from a church nearby and I was a member for almost ten years. After a few years in that group I got baptized. I left the group later because I got too old for the group.

I always had much interest in history and mythology, especially greek and nordic. I did study history and after my study and when I had left the group, I became more interested in celtic culture. I still was a member of my church and did and still do volunteers work in church. But since a few years I found I did not got the help I needed for my problems and chose to go an other path. I stopped looking into celtic stuff because it didn't work for me. In the beginning I thought it was very interesting and that it could help me but it didn't and I had to leave that path because it threatened my health.

Now I am learning about hellenism and I am doing weekly rituals. I don't see myself as leaving christianity but just taking a detour, to find what I need. And my new patrons don't mind that I'm still partly christian and do volunteers work in church once a month as long as I do my rituals and give them first place.

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Last post December 01, 2015, 01:07:54 pm
by HarpingHawke

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Chavi (2006)
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