Changing From Christianity to Paganism
A Need for Balance: My Personal Journey
Since I was a little girl, much of my family on both my dad and mom's sides were Christian. My beloved grandparents who raised me were Pentecostal Christian and would take me to Church with them every Sunday morning. You could say I grew up in the Pentecostal Church, the Assemblies of God. The people in the Pentecostal Church are very serious about their beliefs in Jesus Christ and also in the Holy Spirit. And I saw and felt their dedication every time I went to Church; however, something never felt quite right to me.
I would also hear sermons that the way of Christians was a very "narrow path" not commonly traveled. That the way of the world was a wide path to destruction...this "way of the world" meant that any one who didn't believe in Jesus Christ as the savior and the "power of the Holy Spirit" was on their way to Hell. This type of preaching and teaching started my questioning. I couldn't understand how people from before Jesus was even born and people in the far corners of the Earth who had never heard the name of Jesus would simply go to Hell for not believing the same things as the Pentecostal Church. I would ask and usually the answer was that "God works in mysterious ways". This answer never quite quenched my thirst for something that made more sense...something more balanced.
Something else that truly plagued my heart and soul was the thought that a God who is truly loving and all-knowing, and a God that created everything could know that evil was a part of the world and that ultimately his creations would suffer eternally if they chose a different path than this "narrow path" of Christianity. That never seemed fair to me. How could God create the world and humans and also create Satan to tempt and destroy his beloved creation?
Again, these were just thoughts that made me realize that Christianity was not the right path for me. And as I grew up, I realized this more and more. This is not to say that Christianity is wrong or that those who follow Christianity are wrong (most of my family consider themselves to be Christian in some way or another), it is simply just not the right path for me and it isn't going to be the right path for everyone in the world.
When I was sixteen, I came across a book on Paganism. This was a new concept for me and I was intrigued immediately. After I read that first book, I was hooked to Paganism. Something struck home with me in the idea that everything in the world had a balance. That there wasn't only a male God but a female aspect of God. That there wasn't truly "good" and "evil"...that there has to be both light and dark things in the world in order to have true balance. In hearing these concepts, they felt true and right deep down inside of me..and I knew I had found my path. But there was always that thought in the back of my mind, "you're going to Hell. This is the work of the devil and he has you snared."
Now, if you watch TheShoeWhisperer's video that I've posted below, you'll hear her say that if a Pagan has these thoughts that they are probably Christian deep down inside. I have to say as much as I love TheShoeWhisperer, I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement. The problem with these domineering & controlling thoughts popping into people's minds who were once Christian and have changed paths to Paganism is that these thoughts were so pushed into our minds from young ages that it is difficult to fully rid ourselves of that fear. Fear is a powerful tactic that many religions use in order to control their followers, and the idea of Hell and Satan and following different spiritual paths leads to eternal damnation is nothing but a fear tactic. Another main reason why I didn't feel Pentecostal Christianity was the right path for me.
So back to my story, I went a couple of years professing to be Wiccan in high school. I didn't tell many people for fear of being judged, and the people I did end up telling only told other people that they shouldn't have...and eventually I was teased for it in school. People called me a "witch" and some people wouldn't even sit next to me in class because they thought I'd put a "spell" on them. For a year or so after graduation, I sort of strayed from Paganism...not purposely, but just because life took a toll on my mind, and I was distracted by work, school, heartbreak, and other things of that nature.
Once I moved to Florida when I was nineteen, I got back on track with Paganism. And it felt good. I met other people who believed in the same things as me and even joined a coven. That was the best spiritually I had ever felt. Spending Sabbats outside, gathered around a bonfire, with my coven felt like I was at home. The Goddess and the God smiled down on me, and I smiled back. But I also came to realize that the "narrow path" of Christianity was not narrow at all...that most of the people I knew and met were indeed Christian in some way or another. The actual narrow path was the path of Paganism...and there were and still are struggles and hardships on this narrow path. Maybe you'll know what I mean, so we'll explore that a little further in the next section.
Struggles Pagans Face on the Narrow Path
So the way of a Pagan is truly a rewarding and fulfilling path, but as I've said before it is a narrow path to walk. It is a wild and unbeaten path...a very ancient path overgrown with brush and grass. But...the path is still there and it is beginning to widen with more and more people coming home to the old ways. But I will not lie to you. There are many struggles one faces when walking a Pagan path. When my coven went their separate ways, I went back to being a solitary Pagan.
The first struggle is that it can be a lonely path. Even though there are more and more Pagans out there in the world, most people do not talk about it with others because it is still a very touchy subject. Even with open-mindedness growing in society, there are still those who will curse and condemn others for believing something different than what they believe. Which is truly sad. So you may find that being a Pagan means that you have to teach yourself the old ways. Maybe you live in a town that is predominantly Baptist and if you even speak the word "Wicca" or "Pagan" they might contemplate exiling your or performing an exorcism. You don't have to tell anyone...that's the thing with Paganism. The Goddess and the God or the Gods (whatever you believe) will not condemn you to eternal damnation if you choose to not tell anyone your beliefs. I have to be honest and say that other than writing on the internet, I do not tell many people my beliefs. If someone asks, then I will tell them but I don't go around yelling it from the rooftops.
Not being able to learn from a teacher or a circle of people who have the same beliefs is a lonely way of life. But, think of it this way. If you were following the path that everyone around you followed, what would there be to really learn? How would your soul actually grow? It is lonely to learn these things on your own, but in the end you will be stronger. If you can find a coven or circle to join, go for it! Just be sure to screen the purposes and intent of the group before committing to it (there are whacky people out there in all paths of religion so just be careful).
If you choose to tell people that you are Pagan, don't expect everyone to take the news well...and don't expect others to join your path with you. Be openminded to others beliefs and if they judge you, don't judge them in return. Show them unconditional love, which is what the god and goddess do for us every day on every level. Don't let them beat you up about it either, though. There is a balance to everything.
Another struggle that you might find is that your beliefs in different traditions and pathways change. I don't look at this as a "struggle", though. My beliefs are a mixture of many different traditions and paths, including Egyptian, Native American, and Celtic. And guess what? That's okay! If you choose to bounce around and experience and work with different traditions and pantheons, you are simply learning and growing. Let things happen...and take something away from everything that you learn.
Keep your head up. Changing from Christianity to Paganism is not an easy time...and if you ever feel that you have to go back to Christianity, that is okay too. Do what you feel in your heart is right and not what other people tell you is right. What is right for you is right. There is no wrong in that aspect. Stay true to yourself and be good to others.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Nicole Canfield