Paganism – Trying to Dispell Rumors and Misconceptions
I just recently asked for prayers on my personal FB from my close friends and family to help us get through a tough time. Most of my friends are Christian and I think I only have 1 friend on FB who is Pagan like me. Prayers are prayers to me. Whether it’s the Christian concept of God you’re praying to, Allah, The Great Spirit, Cernunnos, etc. prayer is comforting and I think it all goes to the same place. Not everyone will agree with me, but that makes sense to me and it makes me feel better.
A friend asked me a while back, after I mentioned something about saying a prayer, she said: “If you’re not a Christian, then who do you pray to?”
“Um… God? Who else would I be praying to?” <-- That's what I was thinking in my head, but I explained that I still believe in God, just not in the Christian sense. She asked me a valid question, since I had told her I wasn't a Christian.
Very few of my close friends know that I’m Pagan and I pray to gods like Brigid and Cernunnos (they don’t read my blog, obviously) and sadly I don’t feel comfortable talking to them about it. I’m not dishonest about it, that’s just one bit of information about me that I never volunteer. If someone asked me what religion I am, I would tell them in a heartbeat. I care what my close friends think (the people I’ve been close to since middle/high school) but I would never lie about my beliefs. That’s just wrong on a whole different level.
I don’t feel comfortable being completely open about it though, in general. There are just too many negative things attached to it. People who are great people and are otherwise open-minded about things have these misconceptions. This partly has to do with the fact that most Pagans feel like if you’re really interested in a Pagan path, then you’ll pursue it, and all we can do is try to give you the right information so you can make an intelligent, informed decision.
Also quite often, if someone believes something, then no amount of explaining will convince them otherwise. That’s another reason why I don’t bother explaining it to some people. It would be kinda like trying to convince someone who is pro-life to be pro-choice or vice versa. It’s hard to accept something as being true when you’ve been taught the opposite all your life.
I’m assuming that since you’re reading this, that you’re at least curious about what I have to say. This post is already getting longer than I would have liked, so I might have to break it up and make a series out of it. There is a lot to be said on this subject.
my own story (the abridged version!)
I considered myself non-denominational Christian until I was 18, which is when I learned about Wicca and the other Pagan paths. I’m lucky that my parents weren’t upset about this. My Dad was a little uneasy when he saw one of my books on it and my Mom was just curious and asked a lot of questions. To me, my religion isn’t about casting spells, being “new-age” or trying to be different or cool or whatever. It fuels me. It does for me exactly what it does for you, if you’re a Christian or a Muslim etc etc and you draw strength from praying and having faith. I’ve gotten a lot more into over the last year or so.
I don’t consider myself Wiccan — that’s a specific religion with specific rituals, just like Asatru (Norse Heathenism) is another specific religion with it’s own gods, rituals, codes of conduct, etc. There are quite a few different Pagan religions, and even different off-shoots of Wicca. After learning about the different ones, I thought I was Wiccan for a while because it matched my personal beliefs of self conduct, what happens to you when you die, etc. After learning more, I realized it wasn’t a complete fit for me. So now technically for explanation purposes, I just say that I’m “Eclectic Pagan with an influence of Western European Paganism and Wicca”.
And when they call it a “path” it really is a journey of learning and growing. No one can ever know everything, even after a lifetime, but you can always keep learning if that’s where your heart leads you.
Here are some things to read if you’re curious:
Other things I’ve written on this blog about this subject: