Since this is my website anyway, perhaps it is just fitting to tell here my spiritual evolution story especially to those who know me (who are the only ones who might be interested anyway) and are wondering what led me to this path.
Like most Pagans, I was raised a Christian. I spent my early childhood years going to church on Sundays with my mother who was then a Catholic (she is now Born-Again Christian). My elementary school years were spent in a Catholic school run by Dominican sisters. There I learned to pray the rosary, the stories of the saints, the principles of mortal sin and venial sin, the mechanics of limbo, purgatory and hell...all the stuff that makes Catholism.
Then I had to go to highschool and since my father wanted me to learn how to speak Chinese, I was herded off to a Chinese school ...an evangelical Protestant Chinese school. There I had a lot to learnand unlearn. How it was not good to worship saints and the Virgin Mary, how it is to read the Bible, why I do not need to pray the rosary, and how it was to go to Sunday school and accept Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior...all the stuff that makes Protestantism.
Since I had spent a longer time in a Catholic school (7 years as opposed to 4 years) I never really threw away the principles I learned from my first school. So by the time I was entering college, I was roughly half Catholic and half Protestant. To complicate my spiritual matters a bit more, sometime in my mid-years in highschool, my next door neighbors and good friends asked me to come with them to a Catholic Charismatic affair. I got heavily involved in the Born Again movement. I even became part of one of the church's choirsthe Colossians. This was very inspiring to me as this is where I met my very first serious romantic encounter with the opposite sex. How much more inspiring can religion get than that ... especially in the age of raging hormones.
Well, after I got heartbroken and went on to college, my spiritual evolution takes a U-turn. I landed in a Catholic university and naturally started leaning to the Catholic faith again. However, in the midst of my intellectual expansions and excursions, I came upon a part of a book called The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail. This book (or at least the segment I was able to read) threw my entire cosmology in a quandary. See here, even though I was seesawing between religions, there was one common denominator that at least remains constantJesus Christ. In this book, Jesus Christ was presented in a very logical and orderly manner (the manner that appeals most to me) to be just a regular person in history...you know, the holy man who just happened to have a very charismatic personality and happened to be at the right place and time in history. A history that wasn't even well documented in this holy book so central to both the Catholics and the Protestants because of the so many translations that seem to serve only the meanings that the heads of these religions wanted its followers to read. The Catholics read the version that has what they call Imprimatur (I think this is the seal of approval by the Roman Catholic Church) and the Protestants had the King James version. THTG also mentions that there are even books that were removed from the original testaments just because they did not agree with some Christian teachings. To me, this is very disillusioning. It seems these religions wanted me to follow blindly. When elders are asked, they inevitably answer in so many words that one should trust the writers of the Bible because they were "inspired by God". Hey, what about the translators?! Were they inspired too?
At that point, it didn't seem very logical to be part of any religion that, at least to me, seemed flawed. For a short time, I became atheist. I questioned whether there really is a God. Since I was studying BS-Biology at the time and was in "scientific mode", I felt man was just "incidentally there" because the atmospheric conditions were right at the time the primordial soup had just the right ingredients to make the first single-celled living organism which eventually evolved to become man. Heck, there was no god who made man out of clay. That ain't scientific. And I'd be darned if I were to accept the concept of woman being pulled out of a man's ribs! Hah! I always knew there was something wrong with that concept there! Now I had it confirmed! And to think, back in highschool, I was part of a debate team the supported Creation as opposed to Evolution...and WE won that debate...oh well...
This phase of atheism did not last very long as I found out that man cannot do without believing in a Supreme Being or a Divine. Since Stars Wars' Return of the Jedi was in vogue at that time, I started to refer to the Divine as The Force. Furthermore, I cannot accept that if I was atheist, after I die and there is no God, I shall be no more. In my heart of hearts, I knew I shall still BE even if life is over in the physical plane because I am part of something bigger. From then on and until now this is the basic tenet of my cosmology.
Somehow, I miss the rituals of religion and being out of college or any other institute that supports its respective religion, I am now free to think for myself which one to follow. Perhaps it is the longing for my childhood or the beauty that I find in rituals that attracted me back to Catholicism. Until recently when I discovered Paganism, I went on and off to the Catholic church and herded myself back to believing in the saints, the Virgin Mary and even Jesus Christ that I knew in my elementary school days.
However, I cannot be classified as the model Catholic because I cannot accept nor follow all of the teachings of the church, most notable of which is that I have to go to purgatory or hell because I always end up violating a few teachings, from premarital sex to something as simple as going to church on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. And why is it that all I need to do is confess to a priest and all my sins will be absolved? Does it mean that I can do it again and confess later to get away with it?
Perhaps it was destiny but when I chanced upon information regarding Neo-Paganism, it felt like coming home. Everything that I believed in was there and I was free to discover a whole new perspective on spirituality without the guilt trip that the Christian religions impose. Paganism is about achieving balance in all aspects of onešs life and psyche. It is about attuning oneself to nature, and this is where I always found my Godin the majesty of nature. I often tell myself during the days when I was in transition between atheism and convincing myself that there was a God that there must be one if there is so much beauty and organization in nature and the universe. There must be something holding it all together. It was cohesive...it made sense.
Paganism recognizes the polarity of the Divine. Paganism has a Goddess, the mother that was equal to the God and not just a secondary deity (as in the Catholic faith) or denied its existence at all (as in the Protestant faith). It appeals to my feminist side.
While the Christian faith told me that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom", the Pagan principles told me that God will not wreak destruction on me if I do wrong. God will not throw me into the lake of fire and sulfur if I break some commandment. However, Paganism told me that my karma is always there. Whatever I do comes back to me...threefold. So if I do good, good things return to me. If I do bad, it comes back too. That infinitely sounds better to me than "lake of fire and sulfur" stuff because not only will my soul be free from eternal damnation (hey...this is important to me because I find that being human, I constantly break a few commandments or so...), I also feel that only I am fully responsible for whatever I do. I get to pay for wrongdoings that I do in this life or in my next life and not in some eternal sulfuric hell. AND I also get to reap the rewards of my good deeds in this life or the next too. In short, I have the option to evolve into a better human being and I get second chances if I make a mistake. Oh yes...Christianity offers second chances too, Christ did it for you because he saved you when he died for you. And Satan makes you do evil stuff sometimes so you have to rebuke him and resist his temptations... I guess, it's just that part of Paganism's appeal to me is that one takes responsibility for oneself...in one's own "salvation" and in one's own karma.
NOTE: If you are a Christian reading this, please accept my apologies if I offended you. This is certainly not my intention. I am merely telling my story and my point of view. If my perceptions seem to be flawed, just take it as such...as MY perceptions. I am of the opinion that there are no wrong religions, only that there are right ones for the right persons.
Ryea Wyndhorse's Lair