Don Grant

Pagans In The Army: My Experience

April, 2006

Like most military pagan, I was a little apprehensive about stepping out

of the broom closet for fear of the possible repercussions that might

occur. Though, my experience has shown me, coming out was the best

decision I have made in my short military career.


Everyone in my platoon found out that I was a pagan believer in the fall

of 2005 at a training area in Germany called Hohenfels. I was laying on

my cot reading a book on Wiccan beliefs and practices when someone asked

me if I believed in what I was reading. In a panic, I closed the book

and got off my cot and headed for the entrance to our tent in hopes of a

clean getaway. My efforts were thwarted because they asked me again

just before I hit the door. I just nodded my head and proceeded to exit

the tent.


After that my greatest worry came to be; they teased, taunted, and asked

questions that I knew to be insincere. This kept up all the until the end

of our gunnery in Graffenwoher Germany. I thought

there’d be no end to the suffering. So I asked the Lord and Lady one

night to help them open their minds and see that my religion was just

that, mine. I just wanted them to leave me alone. By the time we

redeployed back to Friedberg, Germany, all the torment ceased. It was

like they had all forgotten what I was; and this lapse of memory was

definitely a welcome thing.


I didn’t hear anymore about it until we all touched ground in Iraq. (And

this time, it was of my own doing.) One day I went to eat chow at the

FOB Sykes chow hall. I noticed on the door a sign posting all the times

for the different religious services. I always stop to look at these in

hopes of seeing something that pertained to me. This day, I found it.

On the very bottom of the sign it read: *Pagan Fellowship: 1930 *(7:30

PM)* At The Old Chapel*! So, after chow I ran to my sergeant and asked

to be able to attend it later on that evening. He immediately told me I

could without hesitation.


I will never forget that first night I went. I even showed up thirty

minutes early just so I wouldn’t miss a thing. Well, I waited about half

an hour before I saw two people walking towards me. As the two

silhouettes moved closer my heart was pounding with excitement, and

before I knew it I heard, "You here for the pagan meeting?" I told them

that I was and they told me to follow them. They explained to me that

they didn’t use the old chapel anymore and that they have a separate

place to meet up every night, and that they used the old chapel as a

benchmark for all the new-comers.


I was led into an old army tent with Christmas lights strewn across the

outside. On the inside was a new pagans playground! They had lots of

books, candles, herbs, and anything else you could think of for

practicing pagans in a war zone. Also the head of the group’s alter

was set up in there; it was a beautiful alter honoring the great goddess

Morrighan.


Well, they offered me a seat, some coffee, and asked me to fill out a

questionnaire that was inside a folder. In this folder was all the

information, history, and regulations of their group, *Desert Moon

Grove*
. It wasn’t a coven, in the traditional sense, but a meeting place

for all pagans within FOB Sykes. It was a place to learn, debate, and

ask questions more than a place of worship. Though they did the

occasional ritual together, upon request.


Just being in the tent with so many magickal people made my heart sing.

I felt so full of energy that I probably could run two miles

without losing my breath. This was where I had belonged, around others

so much like myself. I had been by myself in all of my short time as a

pagan that I never really knew what it was like to be surrounded by so

many wonderful people.


When I got back to my CHU (Combat Housing Unit), the sergeant inside had

a lot of questions. At first I was nervous about answering them; he made

fun of me the most through Graf. and Hohenfels. It got easier and easier

though, because he was genuinely interested in learning about my faith.

We talked about magick, myths, and about how the group was run. By the

end of that night, I had a devout catholic interested in learning about

an alternative religion and not be judgmental about it.


I am here now in Tel Afar, Iraq, able to practice my religion freely and

without fear, talk to the other guys when they have their questions, and

just be myself. Since I have told everyone of my faith I have never

felt so free in my life! Now, I understand that there is still prejudice

in the world, and that I shouldn’t go around screaming, "I am pagan hear

me roar!" at the top of my lungs. And, I don’t expect anyone else to do

it either.


***


author bio:


Don Grant