Saturday, August 30, 2008

My Journey to Paganism Part I

University Jen
I was pretty happy to have that degree

The road to one's true spiritual path is sometimes long. I thought I should record it for posterity. A girl I was close friends with in elementary school wrote to me a few years ago. She expressed her new found Christianity and I decided to explain to her my discovery of Paganism. In her next letter I knew we had a problem when she said: "so you turned your back on God..." There are some people who are not capable of seeing their religion objectively, I try hard to not be such a person.

I was raised a United Church Protestant in rural Quebec. The church we attended was at the end of the lovely dirt road we lived on. It was/is (its still there) one of those simple, white with green trim buildings. Two isles leading to the pulpit, a small choir area and a typical side lit portrait of Jesus that hung on the wall behind the ministers head. I went to Sunday school and really liked hearing bible stories, singing hymns and just being dressed up and with people for a few hours. I participated in the church and talked to God often. When others prayed in church and would bow their heads I felt that was wrong. I wanted to look at the portrait of Jesus. I didn't feel like God wanted me to be meek or fearful. There were many things about Christianity that did not fit for me, even at a young age but I ignored them and took only what I liked about the religion. This method worked for me until I entered University.
In my second year of University I took a Woman Studies class. I had always been one of those women who said: "I'm not a feminist, but..." I had conformed to the view of feminists that is stereotypical in North America; man hating, angry women. Taking that first Women Studies class changed who I believed myself to be. So much rang true and spoke to the deepest part of my self. And the phrase "The personal is political" made sense to me. The interconnection between all parts of self and how the outside world related back through that. I worked a Women Studies class into each following semester. And the more I read feminist theory the closer I came to the Goddess Spirituality Movement through images of Goddess art. I was pursuing a degree in Fine Art. My art began to reflect my journey. I was re-inventing myself. Stripping away years of society's conditioning to find who I really was. This period was during my early twenties. I think your early twenties are when you have the chance to find out who you want to be. I had several good friends who were also in this place of self discovery. There were many shared books, and discussions over tea.
I read Judy Chicago's autobiography called:Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist (1975) which was really important to me. I remember feeling so inspired by her and her work. I read, wrote essays, took seminar classes and deconstructed the layers of "Disneyfied" helpless woman waiting for her Prince that had chained me to a specific view of the world. As this chain was breaking so was my ability to call myself a Christian.
The history of the religion, the values it upheld within other denominations, the hypocrisy and the shear lack of probability. I pulled on thread after thread of issues that did not resonate with who I wanted to be, and in the end Christianity and I had lost our friendship. The figure of God, the idea of God as an outside all controlling force was gone. The universal feeling of something magical that sparked life and existed after death remained. What I needed for myself was a language to use about my spirituality that made sense to my soul. So as any student of life would do when in search of answers I headed to my local book store.

1 comment:

mrsb said...

Can't wait to read the rest!