Tag Archives: journey

The Journey So Far, Part 2 (Witches and Other Stories)

21 Jan

I remember clearly a night – Christmas Eve – in 1997 when I was chatting with a boy from Kenosha, Wisconsin, on WBS. (If you never experienced WBS, you did not truly live.) We discussed many things that night, and he told me, as an older and wiser sophomore in college, that my religious beliefs sounded like a Wiccan’s. He knew, he said, because he just took a world religions class.

I filed this tidbit away for later. The next summer, I spent midnight to five a.m. frying donuts and stayed up for another few hours typing up a website in Notepad. It was called The Melody of Magick and I sure wish I could dig this gem up on web.archive.org to share with you. It was a one-stop source for candle magick, tarot layouts, and more! I considered myself a full-fledged Wiccan. I think I read a book or two. Sometimes I’d burn candles and herbs and pretend I knew what I was doing.

This phase was characterized by purchasing lots of incense, visiting Magus Books on a regular basis, and attending the occasional Pagan-oriented event – such as a bonfire for Beltane during which, (un)fortunately I didn’t get to partake in any naked frolicking – where I felt out of place for many reasons, and despite having a rather attractive, mass-produced pentagram necklace. I was very anti-organized religion and debating topics such as the Bible whenever I got the chance.

I found my box of “magick supplies” while cleaning out our basement. I opened it up and it smelled like naivety.

My first husband and I were wed in a ceremony officiated by a pair of witches. Later, I fielded many questions about whether it was legal. It was, despite also being medieval-themed. (That sort of thing should be illegal, I say.)

For some reason, all of that fizzled out. If I had to take a stab at what happened, I’d have to say it was my inability to suspend my disbelief about many things. I also never seemed to quite fit in with anyone, even if they were also on the fringes of normal society. I kept with me my reverence for nature and a belief that everything is interconnected, even if in a small way. I have a tattoo of a spiderweb that I got to remind myself of this, and also because tattoos are cool and having one makes me a badass, right?

And here we enter into a period of dedicated agnosticism, with a healthy glug of jealousy toward anyone who had faith. I envied people who knew what they believed, and who lived those beliefs. I wanted that badly. And, what do you know? It appears I got it.

A lovely and wise friend of mine told me once that I would know when the time was right to begin pursuing Judaism. The time has come. But you will need to wait to hear about it in Part 3.


The Journey So Far, Part 1 (My Divorce from Christianity)

16 Jan

My distinguished co-author describes me as a “lapsed Lutheran,” though I’m not sure it’s entirely accurate. I was not Lutheranized by choice so much as under duress. Let me back up a little.

I was baptized in my grandma’s church – a United Church of Christ. We went to services on most Sundays we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, which was only occasionally, as they lived an hour and a half away, and on Easter* and Christmas. I have fond memories of Easter in particular, where services were followed by fellowship full of home-baked goods and colored eggs and we’d have egg-cracking contests. My mom, sister, and I occasionally attended services at a Lutheran church in our hometown. We went to Sunday school and had bars and coffee/koolaid afterward.

When I was around thirteen, my parents decided I was going to go to confirmation classes. I hated the classes with the undying passion of a thirteen-year-old. My classmates were boys from my school, which was reason enough to hate the classes, but we also had to do homework and watch silly videos. I remember the boys and I asking questions about why we do this or that and the answer was, “Because it’s in the Bible here,” or “Because God says so.” I was a good kid and an obedient one (if memory serves), but this is one case where I put my foot down. I’d pretend to sleep through my alarm on Sundays so I’d miss church. I’d skip whatever confirmation classes I could. My parents struck a deal with me – get through confirmation and you can do whatever you want.

Really, I shouldn’t have been confirmed, because I didn’t meet the requirements due to my truancy. But one Sunday I put on a nicer outfit than usual and got up in front of the congregation and repeated some words that the pastor told us to repeat – without feeling them one little bit and doing it all the while just to get it done – and I was confirmed. I wasn’t struck down. So that was the end of any hope of Christianity and me, because, as far as I was concerned, any God who cared about this stuff would’ve sent down a thunderbolt and made an example of me and my lying ways.

Throughout high school I was very interested in religion. I’d read world religion encyclopedias and parts of the Bhagavad Gita. I had a penpal for awhile and I remember writing to her about how fascinating this all was, and one notable response of hers further turned me off the Christian path, despite her fervor, as she was talking at length about how she was eager to die so that she could be with Jesus in Heaven. I picked that letter up like it was a dead fish, set it aside, and never wrote her back.

In one of those encyclopedias I read about Judaism. I was fascinated. But, oh, I like bacon too much to give it up.

To be continued in an upcoming segment wherein I discuss how I was Wiccan for awhile, because all 19-year-olds become Wiccan, don’t they?

* One particularly interesting Easter service was lead by a pastor who, as it turned out, was off his meds. We were treated to a very long sermon about how we had to go out and save as many souls as possible before the upcoming nuclear holocaust. There were a whole lot of confused old ladies in the congregation that day and a whole lot of interesting talk over our baked goods.