This is my first post to ‘Tending the hearth’, and so it makes sense that it should be an introduction of sorts. You can see a briefer version of this post in the top right hand corner.
At the time of writing this post, I am a student who hopes to be heading off in a couple of months to uni, to study biomedical science.
I have been a practicing pagan for just over 3 years. It all started in an unusual way, I had accompanied my grandma to her ‘Over 60’s Thai chi class’ and had been enjoying the gentle exercise for the elderly and the fact that people I did not recognise told me ‘how much I’d grown’. At the end of the class there was a ‘meditation session’.
I guess I needed the time to quiet my mind and think, because it suddenly hit me that I was not a monotheist. I don’t know why this thought came to me at that particular time, but it did. Maybe it was the gods, or maybe I had always thought this but never slowed down long enough to think about it. There were no fireworks, and no fancy visions. The thought just occurred to me, and I walked out of there changed.
Before that point I had always been a monotheistic agnostic with christian leanings because that is what I was exposed to. I went to a church of England primary school, my mother is agnostic and my father is a hardline atheist. So naturally, these thoughts confused me immensely. I tried to reconcile them in my head, trying to find some sort of abstract way of looking at the christian god to make it work. It didn’t.
That day I went home and googled some terms, and came across ‘wicca’. I thought it sounded interesting and made a lot of sense. I got in with some rather fluffy communities and began to learn about what I thought was wicca. I practiced for about 2 months in total before it became very apparent to me that ‘wicca’ was not for me and I did not share much of the beliefs. For example, the dual idea of deity made as little sense to me as monotheism did.
From there, I began to research more cunning folk/BTW type practices. These suited me a lot better, and I still hold what I learned dear. Ironically, I know a lot more now than I did back then, and I often wonder how things would have worked out if I had this knowledge at the time.
The main problem I was having by this point was that I had not found any sort of connection to divinity yet. I hadn’t got into paganism for want of a magical path, empowerment, an alternative to christianity or anything of the sort. I had been in it for the gods from day one.
I literally said a prayer out loud to nothing and everything, asking if anybody was there. I initially got some kind of response from Odin, but it was more along the lines of ‘not being quite right’, for the Norse gods. At the same time, I was also being gently and rather persistently, tapped on the shoulder by another god, Poseidon. His name and symbols famously associated with him began to appear everywhere. Yet being stubborn, and at the same time not wanting to risk becoming victim to delusion, I shrugged off each sign and asked for further clarification in case I had been wrong previously. Every time, I received the clarification I needed; until finally I gave in and accepted that this was happening.
This presented me with a whole new conundrum. Do the greek gods ‘fit’ in the path I am walking? I have never been one for cultural appropriation and I wanted to be respectful. I enquired at a forum I lurked at (I think it was the Crooked path forum, though I am unsure) about whether the greek gods could work in this context and the replies I received were mostly ‘err, well…theres Hekate I suppose?’. I took that as a ‘no’, and continued to practice unchanged for another couple of weeks. My heart was not in it though, and after a huge fail of a Samhain celebration I realised something really did have to change.
Luckily, I knew a few Hellenic polytheists at the time, and they pointed me to a number of useful websites. When I read about Hellenic polytheism, as cliché as this sounds it really was like coming home. It made so much sense to me, and additionally, the aspects of my previous path I had been clinging to before; had parallels in Hellenic polytheism. Other aspects could easily be adopted as hobbies.
So it began. Within a few days I was tentatively offering Poseidon little things, as well as other gods that I was learning about. Within a few weeks I set up my shrine to Poseidon (to this day it was one of the best spiritual experiences I have ever had), and was learning about recon methodology and the like.
Nowadays I focus mostly on regular practice based around the household, in addition to honoring gods whose sphere of influence I am under (or those like Poseidon of course 😉 ), monthly observances and a few annual festivals, both ancient and modern.
It is not an exaggeration to say that my religion genuinely changed my life. It directly defines me by the way I view the world, the way I act in certain situations, the values I have and the way I live now and will live in future. It indirectly defines me by my hobbies, interests, the subjects I picked at school and even the films I like to watch. I would not be the same without it, and so I am thankful. I hope this comes across loud and clear in future blog posts.