Today is International Pagan Coming Out Day. Today is the day I officially tell people that I am a pagan. More specifically, I am a witch. I identify strongly with Celtic heritage, and I am currently on a journey of discovery, as I said in an earlier post.
My decision was not taken lightly. I have been meeting with people who have been practising paganism for many years, and I like what I see. I have researched, read books, watched television programmes and Internet videos, and I thought very carefully about my identity and what it means.
Religion never seemed such a big deal before. I mean, I got married two years’ ago, and that was really the first time I thought about religion since I was at school. My husband and I were both christened as children. He is Catholic and I was Church of England. But I stopped attending church when I was in high school, and eventually it never really had any meaning, except at Christmas when I joined in the celebrations organised by our school.
So, when it came to getting married, both my husband and I agreed that we would not do it in a church. To us that would have been hypocritical, since neither of us practised our faith. At the time I was vaguely aware of a ceremony involving hand fasting, and that sounded like fun. I mentioned it to my husband but he wasn’t sure, so I didn’t pursue my idea. Instead we had a civil ceremony and got married in a zoo. It was beautiful, and reflected our beliefs about animal and environmental conservation, and our appreciation of heritage and rural landmarks.
Anyway, I digress. I had been following a spiritual path for several years. It truly began when I was a child and I watched a television programme called Strange But True. The stories on there all resonated with me in some way, but I never understood why. As I grew older I was fascinated by ghost stories, and by tales of mythical creatures such as fairies, dragons, vampires and werewolves. I was always told that I had a vivid imagination, and that is true, but it is also the reason I was able to really visualize and see the creatures around me in human life.
After an exploration of ghost hunting, mediumship, learning to read Tarot cards, and regular meditation, the answer finally dawned on me. I am a witch. At first I was hesitant, because I thought it would mean dancing naked in the woods and doing strange rituals. Actually, that isn’t such a scary thought now, but I would always be far too cold to dance naked outside anywhere in our country! I didn’t want to identify myself as Wicca.
I finally realized I am a witch of the Old Ways (referencing the aforementioned Celtic heritage). And now I am on a journey of acceptance, embracing my new-found family of like-minded individuals and sharing love and healing with the wider world.
Hi, I always find your posts interesting, and this one intrigued me. I’ll be writing about my own spiritual journey in an upcoming post too! I’d love to know the difference between “a pagan” and “a Neopagan”. My current novel has a character who holds Neopagan beliefs. I’d particularly like to have your own understanding of the difference; would you be able to summarise the key beliefs of each? Thanks very much!
Hello! Ooh this sounds interesting! To be honest, I haven’t yet met or interacted with someone who identifies themselves as neopagan. If anything we are returning our attentions and practices to the ‘old ways’ of our ancestors based on popular folklore and traditions. In my experience I would say that a neopagan is a person who appreciates our history, who tries to live in harmony with nature, but who also accepts that we move on as a society and are able to embrace modern conventions without compromising our integrity. Does this make sense? For example, it is possible to be a pagan without dressing in sterotypical flowing clothes and being a flamboyant person. You might find that pagans also enjoy popular culture, sports and other pursuits that are not traditionally indentified with our people.
Thank you Catherine – I probably need more specific details than this, which I know I can get by research, & I already have some strong ideas. However this is helpful as a general oversight of what it means to be a pagan or a neopagan.