Which way is Witch?

Posted: May 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

Over the years, I’ve been asked numerous questions about paganism, Wicca, and witchcraft. As a scholar and a librarian, I LOVE answering people’s questions. That is, I love answering people’s questions who ask them nicely or are genuinely interested in the subject matter or my viewpoints. What I don’t like is people asking shitty questions just to feel superior or to make me feel like a low-life Satan worshiper or whatever else they view me as. The later occurs less and less as I get older. The positive in me wants to believe that this is because people are more open-minded now than they were a decade or so ago. The realist in me knows this is a load of stinking crap. I think I have either learned to tune it out better or I have not encountered as many douche bags as previously before. Who can say.

So I thought today’s blog posting could be about this very topic. Why I am pagan? Am I pagan? What the hell does that even mean? Do I dance with the devil? Would I if I knew how to dance? Am I going to hell? And if so, am I sad? I jest but seriously, these are questions I have been asked before in my life. And I have answered them all at the time they were posed to me. I’d like to say I answered them with love or without a harsh word in response but that would be lying. Sorry. I’m not perfect.

I was raised in a Baptist household. Southern Baptist to be more specific. Hell fire and brimstone. My grandparents were uber religious. My grandfather (dad’s side) was a minister before he had a stroke. My grandmother (dad’s side) was always reading the Bible. In fact, I think this is the only book I have ever seen her read. She was always underlining passages in it too. And I always wondered as a kid what would happen the day there were no more passages underline. Well, to answer that question, she simply underlined it in a different color. Yes, color-coded with dates and annotations. (I suppose she was a librarian/cataloger and didn’t even know it). My grandmother loved to read her Bible before bed and of course, sing religious tunes all day long. ALL DAY LONG. These were the only records and tapes that she owned. She never made the switch over to CDs; that was too complicated. Spending the night at their house as a kid kinda sucked. They were poor and couldn’t afford to really do anything with my sister and I when we stayed. My grandmother would make us a “pallet” on the floor and we would sleep on a high stack of blankets and pillows. The one thing we did do when we stayed there was go to church. A lot. Like every single night. And on Sundays, we went twice, morning and the evening.

I hated church.

It was boring. I hated the music. I also hating all the standing up and sitting down and the “let us pray” every freaking five seconds. (Hello, we just prayed. Do we really need to do it again? God is tired. His ears hurt. He wishes you would shut it.)

I hated how my grandmother would suddenly freak out and start screaming and swooning and “praising Jesus” all over my sister and I. It scared me. And also repulsed me. And the church goers were all turn around and stare, chanting, “Yes, sister Loriene, tell them. Tell me.” Tell me what? That this is a mild form of possession and I need to go home immediately before I catch whatever the hell it is that she has? Because in elementary school, this kind of shit won’t fly in the classroom. Sorry folks. Not happening.

What I really, really, really hated was Children’s Church. This is where the parents ship you off to hang out with all these rowdy little shit bastards in a room where you play with toys and try to be all Christian with one another. Mostly I just hugged the wall and wished that I could become invisible. I was a shy kid and didn’t like being in a room full of strangers I didn’t know. So going to church with my grandparents was pure torture.

As I grew older, I found Christianity to be not my thing. I didn’t believe in the doctrine and I found a lot of what the minister was telling me just didn’t gel right with me. Hell, my grandmother has told me my whole life that the woman’s place is “in the kitchen.” That the woman’s sole role in life is to marry, take care of her husband, and have lots of babies. Oh, and women should never, ever, ever be allowed to work outside the home especially as a teacher of any kind. That’s a man’s job.

Are you serious?

I would say my first real “eye opening” moment came when my best friend, Barbie, told me that she didn’t believe in God. We were 11 years old. It blew my freaking mind because I didn’t know that was an option. I mean, I didn’t HAVE to believe in God, or the Bible, or Church? Wow. I mean, WOW.

So that got me interested in what other people believed or didn’t believe. Why and why not. And I studied a lot of different religions. I even read the Bible. I talked with my dad. Now, he was raised in the same crazy religious household that I visited. He, however, was not a religious person although he would say he was spiritual. I get that. He also was really into psychics and tarot readings, ghosts, and the paranormal. So my first real interest in the Occult was because of my dad.

And you know what, the Occult made sense to me. So I read all kinds of books on the subject matter and by the time I was 18 I had done a few spells and had my first working altar set up in my room. My mother wasn’t happy but as long as my grandmother didn’t find out, it was okay. But as a typical teenager, my passion for it waned and I got into other things (like The Cure and goth) but I never really left it behind. I still carried what I had learned and practiced with me even if I was not actively doing it.

Years later I married Matt and we went to New Orleans for our honeymoon. This was 2001. It was here that I rediscovered my love for witchcraft and paganism. So when we got back home, I started my studies again. I started taking some online classes in the Occult and was really enjoying it. Matt, on the other hand, wasn’t interested. And that was okay. I lived in a household where religion was crammed down my throat so I would never do that to someone else. I studied the path alone.

Then my father was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. I won’t get into the details of it but if you are interested, just look it up on webmd. It was a devastating blow to him and our family. Plus, it is hereditary so that added to my stress level as I could be looking directly at my future self. I did the only thing I knew to do, I turned to the craft. I did a few spells. I made a health mojo bag for my dad. I asked that he carry it with him every day in his pocket to help bring him healing energies. I think he was so desperate for something that he agreed to it even though I doubted whether or not he believed in its power. But I believed in its power. Now, looking back, I realize I made a fatal mistake in judgement. I thought I could heal my father. I thought that by doing my spells and working my magic that his disease would go away.

But it wasn’t for me to meddle with. Those were his cards not mine.

When my father died, suddenly one morning of a massive heart attack while driving to work, I knew I had failed. I had failed him. I sent him off into the world with a bullshit mojo bag that DID NOT save his life. I wondered if he forgave me? Did he blame me? Was it ever even a concern for him?

Now I have come a long way in healing from the initial shock of his death and I do know that it was not my fault. That I did not fail him so please don’t think I still dwell on this.

We buried my father. After the funeral, the director asked if we wanted the clothes he had been wearing or did we want them to dispose of them. I wanted his clothes. After going through them, I discovered that his mojo bag was not in his flannel shirt pocket where he always carried it. I was so concerned over it that we called the funeral home to ask if they had seen it. They hadn’t. We even called the tow company to see if they had found it in his truck. They hadn’t.  I so desperately wanted it and it appeared that somehow it had been lost.

A few days later my mom was cleaning off the top of the hutch where my dad would deposit all of his nightly goodies, like coins, and money, or whatever else he might have been carrying along with him. Buried underneath some change was the mojo bag. On the morning that he died, he did not have it with him. I’m not  implying anything. All I’m saying is that I got the mojo bag back because he didn’t carry it that day.

Because of my father’s death and my feelings of failure, I left the craft. I stayed away for many years. Off and on I thought about it but I felt cheated. I felt like I had believed in something that had failed me. But slowly over the years, I have been called back. And I’m wiser now. I no longer see the things that happened as failures. I see them as “life happens” and sometimes we can’t control it even if we try.

And now, Matt has joined me! This makes the spiritual journey even better because I get to share my studies, triumphs, and trials with my soulmate. Plus, shopping for occult items together is always fun. And celebrating the Sabbats together is way better than doing them solo.

That’s where I am now. A full-fledged practicing witch.  A witch who has come a long way from the makeshift altar in her bedroom at 18. But life is a journey and so is one’s spiritual path. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t easy but it’s the right path for me.

So to come full circle, here are the answers to those questions I jested about earlier:

1. Why am I pagan? Because it feels right. If you don’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.

2. Am I pagan? Yes. I am also a witch. I hate the word “Wicca” or “Wiccan” so I don’t ever use those terms to define my spirituality or religious views.

3.  What the hell does that even mean? Because I am a librarian, I will tell you to do your own research. It’s the only way you will truly learn something. I suggest starting here for a good introduction:  http://www.patheos.com/Library/Pagan.html

4.  Do I dance with the devil? I do not believe in the devil or Satan or any other evil Deity. So no, I haven’t.

5.  Would I if I knew how to dance? Since I don’t believe in the devil, this question is moot.

6.  Am I going to hell? No because I don’t believe in a hell.

7.  And if so, am I sad? No hell. Can’t go. Moot.

So there you have it. The facts as they pertain to me and my life. I will say that I am so happy to finally be living in a city where I can openly discuss my faith and not face daily ridicule or scorn. A weight has certainly been lifted there.

Until next time, just know that if Hansel and Gretel had been eating my house, I would have cooked them too. It’s called VANDALISM.

  1. Erin says:

    Great post… fascinating for me as another who is very interested in various religions and belief systems. I also find it interesting that we have such similar views on so many things (I don’t believe in hell, woman’s place is definitely not in the kitchen), yet my underlying belief structure remains Christian (tho i suppose i could be kicked out of many a church for those two previous assertions…). – Erin

  2. Suzana says:

    LOL about Hansel and Gretel!!! 🙂

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