Should Pagans Convert?

As I sit in a local cafe, the only Pagan in the store, likely the only Pagan in a few miles in my area,  I think about our future as a faith. Of course Paganism isn’t a monolith and has several facets, factions, faiths, and groups, but as a faith in general I think about us and what is largely a dying tradition compared to other faiths. There are other faiths with various traditions, holidays, rites of passage and the like. When children are birthed, come of age, last rites, chaplains in the military, religious traditions. So many ways of experiencing their God and rituals to commune with others and their beliefs. We have some traditions as well yet I feel that ours aren’t to the same to degree as other faiths as we are so disparate in our practices and beliefs. There needs to be greater continuity between older folks and the younger generation and a willingness with the younger generation to embrace, incorporate and hold the banner of what we pass so that as they grow in age they pass the banner to their replacements.

I’m unsure if such a thing is possible within our community. Most of us come from Christianity and have suffered under parents and loved ones who tried to convert us and have us reconsider our faiths to “save our soul”. To have us then go and try to convert others is using the same weapon we were hit with. Separating the action from the faith, is it really worth it to sit someone down and convince them to follow your faith? To combat their protests to get them into the fold? Depending on the person’s personality, they may not feel free to leave even if they want to. The respect from the practitioner to the one being talked to is typically lacking if not nonexistent depending on the person. So for that alongside our history I do not believe its good for the community to seek people out for proselytizing.

Despite that, I wish we were more public. Doing rituals, celebrations, festivals for our own folks alongside outsiders who our curious about us and what we do. I believe the best way of conversion is by doing good works for the public good and being more public. Firefighters don’t need to work on recruitment as much as cops for a reason. Every time you see them they’re saving a life, doing good work, being on calendars. Cops on the other hand….

The unfortunate fact is that we’re vilified by world religions the world over, so we have to find outward ways to not only expand numbers, but extinguish the hatred geared towards to ave a greater stake in the community. Our detractors see us as Devil worshippers, evil vile folks who are actively against God, so we have a lot to do. So what could we do? Work on soup kitchens, do plantings and gardening, conduct public facing events and team up with local bookstores and Pagan allies to further our cause. Its a lot considering the retaliation I’m sure we’ll face from the Christian community at large. Being that I’m new to the state I’m assuming there are deep rooted communities here that are not as public facing to avoid harm. Mitigation factors need to be considered for their safety and privacy when conducting events.

Beyond the safety, which is very needed, someone needs to do public facing events and take an active role in the community to ensure we have a network and support group for old and new Pagans and to establish deep roots within the community. It will take a lot of work, but someone has to do it, right? Of course its something I’d like, but community support is the lifeblood to the success. I’m sure there are preexisting organizations, so there’s no point reinventing the wheel and duplicating efforts. Let’s see what’s being done in my community to give us a more public presence and to grow our traditions, values, and practices.

Advances In The Faith

Its been eight months since I came back home & it feels a lot better than I’d expect. Praying how I want, not feeling guilty for what I believe, reading the books I want without issue, saying prayers that I made or got from fellow practitioners. Being an adult Pagan is a lot different than when I was a child in that not only do I have a  lot more freedom, but more expenses. Adulting in general is a stressful thing. Worrying about bills, work, family, shopping alongside working on your faith is a lot for any one person.

Despite it I find myself looking in the mirror in displeasure of how I’ve been balancing life and faith, giving more to the former than the later. I experienced a similar unbalance when I first converted as a child, though I had more excitement as I had a lot more time, but a lot less freedom. Changes must be made.

The largest issue with practicing is this being the first time I haven’t had an established ritual space. For the longest I had an outdoor space that was dedicated and cleansed back in my early years. Now I have nothing and haven’t made the time to go searching due to my area always being a mistake away from bursting into flames. Or maybe that’s what I tell myself. My inflexibility will be the death of my faith as I cannot have things now be as they were years ago. The same setup, the same woods, everything. So what’s the game plan?

  1. Get back into writing– Weird right? Not do more rituals or read more books? Writing? Well yeah, writing, because that was always my hardest task. I call it writing in script, which is basically hidden language for when my writings are discovered. It was more of a necessity when I had my books and writings hidden outside, but I still believe in its importance with their still being a threat of prying eyes. Whether its family or friends, I don’t believe in being an open book. Not everything needs to be out in the sun. Writing is important because I struggled with consistency and therefore memorizing the characters, so when I didn’t have my reference I struggled a lot. So its a good way to prove my conviction to myself.
  2. Reading– Goes without saying. More reading equals more knowledge, so I need to READ! My focus is what I need to harden my spirituality and rebuild its foundation. What do I believe? How are the Gods organized? Why do I believe what I do? This and many more questions need to be asked and answered to give myself a more solid footing.
  3. Rituals– A path without the Gods is not a path worth walking. Rituals strengthen my faith and are conversations to have with them. Nothing intricate as needed as simple prayers to an altar will do.

Saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” is a sick disease of lameness where the can is kicked down the road into oblivion, let’s do something today!

Is Paganism For Me? (1October2013)

Congratulations! You’ve made the first step of free thought by wondering if you truly belong in your hone taught faith! Even though it sounds like nothing, its something that plenty of people have to deal with on a daily basis. Feeling that even though they’re making their parents and family happy that they are really lying to them, putting on a mask to hide their identity. The fact that you have made this first step in wondering if another faith is for you shows that you are becoming more self aware and brave enough to consider the unknown. Few are brave enough to think such thoughts, even fewer leave the faith they grew up with, feeling as if they are in a prison they can’t escape from.

You must ask yourself why Paganism? Of all the faiths out there that are more popular and well known, what made you choose this hidden and oft misunderstood spirituality?

Before I left my native Christianity for eco-Paganism I was terrified, all the thoughts that were ingrained in my head made me reluctant to leave, fearing the worst. I was but a teen then, in tenth grade to be more precise, and boy was it a momentous occasion. I had it with Christianity and felt that I got no spiritual fulfillment being on my knees praying to a God I was told existed but never felt. No matter how I prayed I always felt restrained, held back by family tradition of going to church, praying, all that jazz Christians are supposed to do. Adhering like a robot to its commands, not thinking, not questioning, just acting- I had it.

You may or may not be at this point, but if you are, I heavily stress that you weigh your options carefully and not make rash and knee-jerk resopnses. We have enough people old and young who jump into esoteric faiths like Wicca or witchcraft just to make a statement, not for real spiritual reasons.

Do you think you could put up with your family if they somehow found out about your conversion? Even if you’re really secretive that doesn’t mean that its impossible for them to find out. All it takes is to see one Facebook post, one journal entry, one little finding to unravel all the secrecy you cloaked yourself in. You need to know that without a doubt you can handle whatever they throw at you no matter how negative it may be. “But DeShadara”,you may say, “my parents love me and wouldn’t do anything to make me feel bad or ashamed.” I’m glad you feel that way, and you know your parents better than I, so you can speak of them more accurately than I,but remember that things aren’t always how they seem. If they have strong religious convictions and you come to them talking how you’re involved in another faith then things may not be as strawberry and roses as you think.

This goes even farther though. Do you think you could deal with the pressure given to you by others who will try to convert you to Christianity?

I’m not trying to scare anyone out of wanting to be Pagan, whether that be Wiccan, witch, Druid, Asatru or what have you. I’m trying to make sure that you, the perspective convert, know what you’re getting yourself into, there’s no point opening the door if you have no idea of what’s on the other side. To make that next step into conversion means that certain things will change and could change if you decide on actually doing it, I just want to give you forewarning.

So once you figure out if you want to be in the faith you need to figure out why you want to. What sets paganism apart from your current faith? What rules, traditions, way of thinking, customs make things so unworldly terrible that you feel the need to leave it? Now is a perfect tine to consider these things because you can really give yourself a reality check. Everyone has their own reason, and you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, but you will soon question why you made this life altering choice in the first place. Better prepare yourself by packing up everything you will already need than to go into the journey wishing you had.

Once you’ve crossed that hurtle, plus whatever else you think you need to address, you need to do your reasearch. There are plenty of good and bad sites out there just as there are good and bad pagans, you just need to have the discerning eye to question everything. I like to say walk in with the highest and strongest question mark on your face, ask why something is the way it is and the history/story behind it. ALWAYS QUESTION even the most mundane of pagan topics because everything has a story tied to it. Never just take things as they are because of customs, that’s taking the easy and ignorant way out. Even though I could tell you sites that I personally liked I used on my journey up until now, that would be taking away the thrill of the search, so if you think you’re ready to take the plunge then its time to start hunting!

The Ceremony Is Complete! (8October2013)

As of the morning of October 8th 2013 I, DeShadara, can call myself a full fledged Pagan! It was a wild ride getting up to this point, alot of stress and happiness, but it was well worth it in the end. The jist of the ritual was to give myself as well as Divinity an oath as to who I will be in a secular and religious sense from now on. To light each of the elemental candles formed in a pentagram to signify each truth of each element. At the end of this I, extremely happy and gushing with honor, picked up the silver pentagram necklace in the picture and declared myself a full follower of nature.

After it ended I was still shining with joy, my new necklace clanging as it moved over the beads. No longer would I hide who I am, sacrificing my own selfless gratifications just so that others may feel their selfish ones. Not wearing religious symbols so I or others I chill with won’t feel ‘out of place’. If I choose I will where it wherever and whenever I want, no if ands or buts about it. Its terrible that young people like ne feel the pressure to conform to the mainstream way of thinking, yet those who are of the more popular faiths feel as if its a-okay to wear their crosses. My faith is just as valid, and along with the strength I swore to hold true to, I will uphold the other four oaths I chose to abide by as well.

Now with this development comes the task of learning as much as I can. With me now having a job, I can access more information such as books since internet connection and Pagan oriented books at the library are nonexistent right now. There are plenty of different things for me to read up on, tarot, history of Paganism, different aspects, the works. Can’t bite off more than I can chew, so I’ll take everything one step at a time. For now I remain ecstatic at the big move I made today. May it remain in my heart for as long as I live.

My Faith Gives Me Strength (11October2013)

If someone needs faith to stop them from doing wrong then something is wrong with the person, not the faith.

I know that something is wrong with me, I understand that my faith and desire to not get in trouble are the only things stopping me from snapping. Exploding in anger and making my life swirl down the drain, never to be the same. My faith has been my only company on many occasions, the only thing holding me when I cry, comforting me when I feel the most alone. Even now, with yet another unnecessary and idiotic stress load being thrust upon me I feel wishing that the Dark Gods would take me into the cloak of their darkness. It is a mechanism that has always been a part of me. Things go horribly wrong and I look unto the pit of the darkness, not as a way to get away, but in wonderment as what could lie within. Nothing but nonexistence, my energy being used so that I may be reborn as whatever is required by the Earth Goddess as she slumbers.

I sometimes believe that I will soon be like one of those ultradevout Christians that always talk about their faith in one way or another when you speak to them. Not the ones that are constantly trying to convert you, but the ones who are so in tune with their faith that they’re inseparable from it. I’ve been through so much emotionally speaking that taking me from paganism will result in me clutching onto it with a death grip. I wonder though, were I not made aware of paganism and was just alone without faith, friends, love, or anyone to make me feel good for myself, would I be here? I don’t think I would be, even now I peer over the edge into the ether, so without faith I may decide to take the plunge. A depressed soul I know I am, but I need meaning to give me identity. For now I identify heavily with paganism, but I want more, this is one of many reasons why I want to be in the military.

As odd as it may be that a pagan is deciding to take part in the military A blog post that I need to make anyway its something that I feel I need right now to give me some form of happiness. I thought that simply getting a job would help, but extenuating circumstances of course crushed that. But looking to sadness never helps relieve the pain I’ve felt for so long, I’m robbing myself of happiness. But how can you look to find happiness when the land around you is dead and without sunshine?

Ugh, but I’m rambling now, seeing the pool of dread next to me and trying to drown myself in it for some sense of relief.

So at the end of the day will I decide to call upon the darkness to sweep me up and take me away from this world? No, I won’t commit suicide, I’m too chicken to do it anyway, my will to live outweighs the desire for peace and eternal slumber. Though they’re plenty if times where I wish I were dead, I can’t do it myself.

One day I may be happy, and even if I’m not and destined to be sad and angry, I’ll always have the Death God waiting for me with open arms…