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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure  (Read 620 times)

ksea

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Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« on: July 23, 2020, 07:43:27 pm »
Hello! I will try and make this as short as possible. Also, I apologize in advanced if I offend anyone, that is not my intention. I'm looking for guidance.

I was baptized and raised Catholic, so I have always believed in the Christian concept of God. As a child, I believed in magic and the supernatural and so did my mother. I discovered Wicca at a bookstore one day when I was 10. Having always believed in magic, I was ecstatic to have found a real life spell book.

To be honest, I was more interested in the magical aspect, and never really paid attention to the religious aspect of it. In fact, I don't even think I knew it was a religion. So whenever we went to the bookstore, I would bee line it to the New Age section and pick out my new spell book. I have always enjoyed learning about different religions, even when I identified as a Catholic. It's just something I find interesting.

So skipping ahead, it wasn't even until college that I realized that Wicca was a religion. By this time, I had stopped identifying as a Catholic as it didn't seem as loving or accepting to me, but still believed in God and believed that He was more understanding and loving than people were making Him out to be. I have always felt a connection with the pentacle since discovering Wicca, so I thought I would study it.

I didn't feel a pull to it, like I felt a pull to magic, so stopped studying it in a personal sense. It was also around this time that I found out that Wicca fell under the Pagan umbrella. I hadn't really studied Paganism, so I started looking it up little by little. By that, I mean, would study it a bit, but then school would become more demanding so I would stop for months at a time all the while focusing on my magical practice more than anything.

It has been more than a few years, but I always seem to come back to studying Paganism. Lately, when I study it I have been getting what I can only describe as "that feeling." When I feel more energized, at peace, and really powerful. I don't know why. What turned me off of having/following a religion completely are the rules. The "you must do this and that otherwise you're not a good person" way of thinking.

I still believe in and have a connection with my God, so I'm not giving him up. Also, I believe that many Gods and Goddesses exist, and that people have a connection with certain one(s). It also makes sense to me that there is a God(dess)/Spirit of the sea, sky, earth, forest, etc., I do believe in a Spiritual realm, and believe in the elements and also the Universe.

I just don't know what draws me to Paganism. I can appreciate the beauty of nature and I do like to get out, but I don't walk in the forest, go camping, and I'm not a vegan or vegetarian even though I do like animals. I mean, I observe the changing of the seasons though I do get a little more excited about certain seasons than other ones. I am drawn to the water element and the moon (I'm a Cancer so that makes sense). I guess, even though I'm drawn to Paganism, I don't want to give up my traditions or holidays. Though I'll be honest, when I celebrate a holiday it's not in a religious way at all.

I guess when it comes to religions, I always associate them with rules and must dos. I also feel that if I were to convert, I would be disrespectful during Halloween time as I've always celebrated it the "mainstream" way.

Any thoughts would be helpful. Thank you!

[Edited to add more white space - SP]
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 11:07:56 am by SunflowerP »

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2020, 11:05:34 am »
Hello! I will try and make this as short as possible.

A Reminder:
Hi, ksea,

We don't mind long posts here, but to avoid having a hard-to-read wall-o'-text, hitting "enter" twice every few lines adds some white space and makes it easier to follow - I've edited yours to add (more of) those breaks, but it's a really good habit to get into yourself.

They don't have to be the "proper" place for paragraph breaks (we're interested in readability more than technicalities), or a complete change of thought - some thoughts take a lot of lines and need to be broken up into sub-thoughts - as long as they're there.

This isn't a formal warning, just a reminder. No reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification,  please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2020, 01:25:14 pm »
I guess when it comes to religions, I always associate them with rules and must dos. I also feel that if I were to convert, I would be disrespectful during Halloween time as I've always celebrated it the "mainstream" way.

Any thoughts would be helpful. Thank you!

[Edited to add more white space - SP]

I have a few thoughts.

As for myself, I haven't had a neo-pagan group to be a part of for about seven years so when I've practiced a form of alternative spirituality, I've been solitary.

There are lots of ways I see myself as similar to other people identifying as neo-pagan, but since I practice and worship in my own way, taking influences from other religions, I just call myself eclectic.

I don't currently do much for holidays, but I try to keep the death days of certain ancestors and acknowledge certain days. 

It has taken me a long time to realize something.  I don't have to have lots of holidays when I practice my way.  Some Quakers don't even keep formal holidays.

Why shouldn't you continue celebrating secular holidays?  There is no conflict.  Add a simple offering on that day if you like, and enjoy your holiday.

In summary, I am trying to express that when practice is about what works for you personally, you can explore all the neo-pagan religions you like.  You don't have to call what you do neo-pagan until that seems useful to you.

If you find your path stabilizes into a form of spirituality that can be usefully identified as belonging to the neo-pagan family of practitioners and religions, then you will know it is right for you for a time at least.

Since I know I'm practicing my own way, and most people around me are unaware of alternative spirituality, I haven't outside of online space found the "neo-pagan" identifier as helpful, so I'm not too attached to labels.

I hope some of that is helpful.  As far as I'm concerned, my religious practice can absolutely be something I take conscious power in shaping, especially when worshipping alone.
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Jenett

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2020, 03:18:56 pm »
I just don't know what draws me to Paganism. I can appreciate the beauty of nature and I do like to get out, but I don't walk in the forest, go camping, and I'm not a vegan or vegetarian even though I do like animals. I mean, I observe the changing of the seasons though I do get a little more excited about certain seasons than other ones. I am drawn to the water element and the moon (I'm a Cancer so that makes sense). I guess, even though I'm drawn to Paganism, I don't want to give up my traditions or holidays. Though I'll be honest, when I celebrate a holiday it's not in a religious way at all.

So, these things are not required to be Pagan. A specific coven may have some requirements, but even then, there are plenty of options and variations out there. (And plenty of people have a solitary practice.)

Darkhawk, who you will see posting on here as well, and I have a long-running agreement that there are vegetarian witches and omnivore witches. Whichever works for you is fine, but knowing which you are personally is really helpful. More importantly, if you're doing intense ritual work with the other kind, negotiate in advance to make sure everyone can get nourishing and grounding food that works for them when you're done. We're both omnivores.

I have a deep appreciation for nature, but I don't necessarily want to be outside in it. I have health issues that make camping basically a no-go anymore. While there are plenty of Pagan paths that are nature focused, there are also plenty that aren't, or where observing natural and chronological cycles is only one part of what they do, with possible variations.

In terms of holidays, plenty of people do secular celebrations of relevant holidays, or continue to be part of family celebrations, even if the religious aspect is no longer relevant for them. I'm formerly Episcopalian and Catholic - for me, I don't celebrate the Christian holidays any more because I took them seriously when I was Christian, my family still takes them seriously on a religious level (my mother's a lay sister in a religious order), and I respect that even if it's not mine anymore. If it were purely a secular family celebration, I'd make different choices.

One thing that can be a complication is timing. Some people make Halloween and Samhain work in close proximity but Samhain for many witches is a particular solemn time. It can cause a fair bit of emotional whiplash to go from party mode to serious ritual mode in the course of a day or two.

It's also possible individual people just don't do that: my father died on November 3rd. Even though that was 30 years ago this year, the week around that anniversary, I am just not in party mode, and I don't think I'll ever be. That may also be true for witches who've had a recent loss (the last year or so), since many people feel particularly focused on recent deaths among their loved ones at Samhain.

All of which is to say: if you want to do both, and feel that works for you, great, but if you're working with other people at some point, you may need to do a bit more negotiation. (This is not any different than working with other people at any other point in the calendar, though!) But you don't need to choose right now.

It's also okay in most Pagan religions to give things a try and see how they work. (There are exceptions: you don't get to learn how oathbound initiatory practices work without going through the steps to become an initiate, for example.) 

In my witchcraft tradition, we make that explicit: people get a chance to be seekers with us, and check us out. If there seems like a mutually good fit, they become students (a year or so of basic topics in religious witchcraft). They can decide at any point to go do something else, and I want them to do that if that's what they want and need. They don't need to make any kind of long-term commitment (other than some basic agreements about confidentiality and group privacy) until they've had a full cycle of the wheel to learn about how we do things. I want them to use that time to figure out if religious witchcraft (and our strand of it) is what they want.

Most people who become students in my coven have a good period of trying stuff on their own, and figuring out some of what works for them and doesn't work for them. That's pretty normal for people seeking group work these days (and again, group work is generally not a required thing.)

Different groups and different paths do this in all sorts of different ways, but generally people are fine with you taking your time, and certainly if you're working on your own. (There may be opportunities that have a time limit for a particular iteration - a lot of groups only open to new students or potential members occasionally, for example, so if you don't do it in that cycle, you have to wait for another one.)
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ksea

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2020, 06:34:35 pm »

Why shouldn't you continue celebrating secular holidays?  There is no conflict.  Add a simple offering on that day if you like, and enjoy your holiday.

I guess I didn't really realize how broad and open Paganism, especially Neo-Paganism is. I will definitely take the advice of celebrating secular holidays and also bringing in a new way of celebrating them along with how I have always celebrated them.


Since I know I'm practicing my own way, and most people around me are unaware of alternative spirituality, I haven't outside of online space found the "neo-pagan" identifier as helpful, so I'm not too attached to labels.

I guess I may be trying too hard to find a label because that's what I'm used to. I know now that Paganism is too broad and open to really be defined. I'm going to keep studying it and I do like the idea of being eclectic as it speaks more to me.


So, these things are not required to be Pagan. A specific coven may have some requirements, but even then, there are plenty of options and variations out there. (And plenty of people have a solitary practice.)

Darkhawk, who you will see posting on here as well, and I have a long-running agreement that there are vegetarian witches and omnivore witches. Whichever works for you is fine, but knowing which you are personally is really helpful. More importantly, if you're doing intense ritual work with the other kind, negotiate in advance to make sure everyone can get nourishing and grounding food that works for them when you're done. We're both omnivores.

That really is a relief that there is no "right way" to be a Pagan. I guess I'm just overthinking everything, which is something I tend to do with everything. I'm interested in Paganism and seem drawn to it, but don't want to be disrespectful at all.

Thank you so much EclecticWheel and Jenett for taking the time to share your thoughts with me!


I definitely want to practice alone as I'm a very private person.

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2020, 07:59:25 pm »
Take anything I say with a large pinch of salt. I've never identified as a Pagan and I'm not currently practising.


I guess I may be trying too hard to find a label because that's what I'm used to. I know now that Paganism is too broad and open to really be defined. I'm going to keep studying it and I do like the idea of being eclectic as it speaks more to me.

I'd say take a label if one feels right and drop it if it stops doing so.  I think they're mostly useful as shorthand when talking to other people about your beliefs.  The reason I don't have one on here anymore is that I don't really have any that quite fit these days.

I think you're pretty much going about this the right way.  Do research and get as wide a variety of opinions as possible. Don't take any at face value (not that they'll be being dishonest in most cases, just that they might not fit with what you're after) but you can use that to see what attracts you and what doesn't.
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ksea

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2020, 10:18:18 pm »
Take anything I say with a large pinch of salt. I've never identified as a Pagan and I'm not currently practising.

I'd say take a label if one feels right and drop it if it stops doing so.  I think they're mostly useful as shorthand when talking to other people about your beliefs.  The reason I don't have one on here anymore is that I don't really have any that quite fit these days.

I think you're pretty much going about this the right way.  Do research and get as wide a variety of opinions as possible. Don't take any at face value (not that they'll be being dishonest in most cases, just that they might not fit with what you're after) but you can use that to see what attracts you and what doesn't.

Yeah, I think Eclectic Paganism sounds like the best label for me as of right now, though it may change later.

Also, yes I totally get doing a lot of research. Even when I was dipping my toes into Wicca and then later kind of researching Paganism for the first time, people (on the internet, on YouTube, and in the metaphysical stores) kept saying to not let one resource be your "one all, be all" resource.

That there are so many different resources and everyone has their own path and what is right for them will not always be what's right for everyone else, even if some of what they say resonates with you.

I definitely do this when practicing my magic. To me, magic and spirituality is totally separate so I spent more of my time studying magic than a religious and spiritual path. I try very hard to find books on magic that barely go into religious magic even if the person writing it is a Pagan or Wiccan witch.

Practical Solitary Magic by Nancy B. Watson is my absolute favorite book, and I love it to pieces. Even so, it's not the only book I use as there are other books that are very helpful to me.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2020, 10:21:09 pm by ksea »

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2020, 01:46:29 am »
I guess I may be trying too hard to find a label because that's what I'm used to. I know now that Paganism is too broad and open to really be defined. I'm going to keep studying it and I do like the idea of being eclectic as it speaks more to me.

Not defined as religion, no, but that's because it actually isn't a theological category.  It's a socio-political category with a number of relatives, and consists of a number of religions that drew from a particular pool of resources.  I shan't inflict the entire Soup on you - for one thing it's hard to read - but a few charts might be of use.

First of all, a simplified chart of how various pagan religions are related to each other and some of the key influences on the entire modern pagan movement.

Zoom out a bit and get the broader relatives I mentioned.

An actual attempt at a rough family tree that can be read top to bottom, ish, for a sense of what descended from what rather than horrible mish-mash sprawling collections of notes.

And the same for just religious witchcraft.

As you can see if you look at these charts, the various pagan religions all evolved in a complexly related milieu, but different ones may have wildly different backgrounds.  A lot of the discussion landscape is heavily dominated by religious witchcraft, but the actual landscape is much larger than that.

Various pagans - especially around here, which has always been bent towards a more reconstructionist crowd than a lot of the general internet discussion - aren't talking about differences in their particular church-equivalents, but entirely different calendrical systems, ritual underpinnings, etc. That's the core reason you see variety.  Basically it's like going to an art museum, you might have some aesthetic principles in common somewhere but really the sculpture and the paintings operate under different ones and even if you stick to paintings Rothko and Manet aren't trying to do the same thing at all.
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ksea

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Re: Drawn to Paganism but a little unsure
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2020, 09:04:14 pm »

As you can see if you look at these charts, the various pagan religions all evolved in a complexly related milieu, but different ones may have wildly different backgrounds.  A lot of the discussion landscape is heavily dominated by religious witchcraft, but the actual landscape is much larger than that.

Thank you so much for sharing these charts with me!

I'm definitely a more visual person, and I can see now why I'm feeling a tad bit stuck. I never realized before how much there actually was to Paganism and Neo-Paganism.

I'm definitely adding these charts to my collection.

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