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
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
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