Project Protagonist: Have You Tried Not Being Pagan?

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I started off Catholic. I blame everything that has followed on that.

In second grade, when we practiced for First Communion, I asked whether Jesus minded being eaten. In third grade, we read Greek myths in school and I asked my Sunday School teacher if the gods were like angels. Was Athena another name for Michael? Or was she friends with him? In the fifth grade, I started seeing and talking to angels. By the time Confirmation rolled around, I was pretty sure what I was doing wasn’t Catholicism, but they talked me into going through with it anyway. Not long after, I thought about being a priest, realized I never could, and seriously considered being a nun.

Sure, this whole time I was dealing with Professor Dark and Jareth, the fairies in the woods, the demi-goddess who liked to take over my body and my own monsters, but none of that seemed particularly opposed to going to church somehow.

By the tenth grade, I was worshipping Athena and Artemis in my proto-Wiccan, Scott Cunningham way, while taking part in Bible Study, Sunday School, Youth Group, community service groups, the choir and the mystery plays. I spent 11th grade in a Catholic school overseas, and in 12th grade, right around the time I was discovering chaos magic, I had a difference of opinion with my Sunday School teacher and was asked not to return.

I’m still kind of proud of that last one.

I learned to play the sidekick with my friend Dana, and I played it well. She was the first person I’d met who did serious astral work, but I quickly met others through her. I went away to college and joined the pagan student group, learned to read tarot, and realized that I didn’t fit in much better there than I had in the Church. I fell in with a group of miscellaneous mages and mystics, did a lot of ill-advised magic and some really excellent roleplaying, and read the A.O. Spare books that my university kept in the Rare Book Library. I dated an angel who turned out to be suicidal and a dragon who turned out to be completely incompatible.

I met my now-ex, who was the first person whose experience of the world actually seemed to match mine. I went back through Catholicism, getting heavily into the mysticism and the angelic magic. I went through an alchemy phase, which led me into Taoism, and thence to Buddhism. I majored in Religious Studies, throwing myself at anything that might have answers she seemed to want so badly. She introduced me to Mara. I started working through Oz, and I met Loki under his own name for the first time.

I met my wife, and it took us far too long to leave my now-ex. I learned how to practice outside my head, to have a working partner, and I followed Odin into heathenry and then druidry. I took up metalwork and met Ilmarinen.

I’m sure I’m leaving things out, overlooking things, but this gives a rough outline. I am definitely of an eclectic background, and my experiences inform my beliefs and my practice, now more than ever.

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