It’s been ages since I did a Witches Weekly.
When did you first realize that the pagan path was for you?
I started questing at a pretty young age. My parents raised me Catholic, but were very encouraging of my curiosity about other religions. Maybe that’s because Mom was raised Methodist, but her mother was originally Lutheran and her father Catholic. Or maybe it was that Dad was non-practising himself, though he took my brother and me to Mass when Mom couldn’t.
I’d read the entire Man, Myth & Magic encyclopedia by the time I was 12. I was especially fascinated by the articles on European magical traditions, from folk magic to the Golden Dawn. And growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, attending the same junior high school as Laurie Cabot’s daughter Penny, I was exposed early on to Wicca. Or at least to the existence of Wicca. From what I’d read in MM&M, though, it seemed to me that Witches did an awful lot of naked dancing, and I wasn’t so interested in that.
So I leaned toward Golden Dawn-style ceremonial magick first. I guess its Qabalistic roots and Judeo-Christian overtones made it a good intermediate stage for me. I didn’t have to let go of my early monotheism but I could explore the magickal nature of the universe. I read Eliphas Levi, Israel Regardie, and Dion Fortune. I devoured the poetry of W.B. Yeats. I even attempted to slog through Aleister Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice in high school. I learned the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
Eventually, though, the lack of a real feminine divine in all of this wore me down. Somewhere deep down inside, I knew that God was not exclusively male nor sexless nor manifest in only one form. And I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the physical aspects of the world were not necessarily an impediment to spirituality, something to divest oneself of in the quest to “ascend” to enlightenment; that the dualities that monotheistic symbolism was rife with didn’t always line up for me the way they were supposed to. So I thought maybe I just wasn’t spiritually cut out for a magickal path.
And then I happened to pick up a copy of Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon. And I discovered that there was a lot more to Wicca than I’d previously thought. And that there were more flavors of modern Paganism out there than I had ever dreamed. Which got me exploring again and eventually put my feet on my current eclectic path.