My Journey to Paganism
Discovering Paganism wasn’t easy for me. I took several steps in my religious history to find it. I was born into a Roman Catholic family. I was baptised, as most Roman Catholic children are, and I was in an environment where I was told there was one true God, that Jesus had died for my sins, and I wasn’t really told about any other options. Sometimes we would live with my Grandma, and she was quite religious. She was a bit more ‘old school’ than most, and so she had different views than my parents or other relatives. She was much stricter and lived but an entirely different version of the bible. Sometimes as a child I would question things in the bible. I couldn’t wrap my head around some of the ideas and concepts. I read the new and old testament and could not understand why people would follow some of the guidelines set out. Even as a child I spotted a lot of sexism, and I didn’t think that was fair. Of course, I could go on for a while about things that I didn’t agree with within the bible, but that could take a while. To sum it up, the bible didn’t really do anything for me. If I looked to it for guidance or help, I received none, and just had more questions.
We moved around a lot, and so I ended up going to lots of different schools, I had a hard time making friends, and in general had a hard time with life itself. I thought my home life was normal. I thought it was normal for bad things to happen, and really, that abuse was a way of life. I had trouble understanding how so many of the kids in my class could be happy, when I was so miserable. I never wanted to go home, and these kids had no issue with that. Why didn’t all these other kids feel like I did? It wasn’t until I got invited to another classmate’s home that I realized my life was different. When I saw how loving and happy this family was, I knew there was something wrong. And I started to question a lot more.
Now, granted, I know a lot of people can put on a front. I myself, can be one of those people. But going into that other house, with that other family, was eye-opening. There was no fighting, that child was welcomed and loved. That child felt safe in their own home. I never felt safe in my own home, I dreamed of a day when I could leave. Around this point I started questioning religion even more. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. No child should have to live in fear.
As I grew up I became depressed. I was riddled with anxiety and was even more terrified of sleep and the dark. When it became dark and everyone else was asleep, that was when my step-dad would come into my room. I’m not going to get into details, but it was very traumatizing. I thought about suicide starting around the age of 8. I got shingles from stress and all I thought about was a way to get out. A way to escape. I was singled out and bullied at school for being skinny and poor. I wore my brother’s old hand-me-downs and I hated people. I loved school since it was an escape, but people were terrifying to me. I had major trust issues.
Due to me becoming so solitary I escaped into the world provided by books. I also escaped into the woods when I could. I am allergic to the sun, and growing up, it was much worse, but the woods were shaded and beautiful. I felt calm and relaxed when out in nature. I was never afraid. It was the one place I felt safe. I would climb up a big tree and stay up there for hours. At this point I was finding myself more and more drawn to the beauty of nature. I spent as much time as I could in the woods. We moved around a lot, so if we lived in a city, I would be drawn to the nearest park. I enjoyed sitting up in trees and reading. As a kid, that was my paradise.
During all this I became less and less interested in the Roman Catholic life. I found myself reading more and more on various religions. I discovered at that point I was Agnostic. But I was drawn to the ideas of Buddhism. I loved the respect for nature and life. It seemed like such a caring, peaceful religion. I read numerous books on the subject. I felt like I was in between Buddhism and Agnosticism. But it didn’t seem quite right.
As life went on, I realized that the night can be a good thing too. After my step-dad would leave my room, if I was brave enough, I would sneak out and enjoy being out under the moonlight. The panic would slowly go away. Sometimes I would just sit outside and cry. For some reason I felt like the moon was understanding and caring. That it helped to heal me, physically and mentally. I didn’t have to hide from it, I could lay out on the grass and feel peace and love radiate from it. The moon became a symbol of happiness for me. Nature was the only positive I seemed to have. Nature provided the much needed love to keep me going.
Then, there was one night that changed my life. I was in grade 8 and at this point I was in the hospital, and was on the brink of entering foster care. It had been a pretty rough day and I had fallen asleep crying. It was then I had the most fantastic dream. A beautiful woman came walking out of the forest. She came to me, embraced me and told me she was here to keep me safe. That she was sorry she wasn’t there for me earlier. She told me she would do her best to keep me out of harm’s way. In the dream I collapsed into her arms, crying heavily. I felt like a bunch of weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that finally, someone was going to help me. I asked her who she was, and she told me her name was Gaia. At that point, I woke up.
When I woke I had tears in my eyes, but a smile on my face. I fell back asleep quickly, and slept soundly for the rest of the night. The next morning I got a nurse to take me up to the hospital library and I looked up Gaia. To my surprise I found information on her. I then spent hours reading up on her, mythology and Paganism. I instantly felt a great connection and felt like I had found just the right thing for me. To this day I feel a strong connection with Gaia, and I feel she has helped me though a lot of tough times and when I feel depressed, or am suffering, I remember that dream. I remember that night, when Gaia saved my life, when she gave me purpose and strength to push through the pain and to find happiness.