It took me a long time to really articulate that I was raised pagan. I used to see the start of my pagan journey at the witch shop, after karate class, looking for books on hexes so I could deal with the bullies who’d followed me to the class I’d wanted to take to protect myself from them. I picked up a book called The Crone’s Book of Words by Valerie Worth, and from that point onward, I was a witch.
But really, it began earlier. It began with my aunt taking me to Goddess Movement gatherings, teaching me to cleanse auras, to read oracle cards, to burn sage to purify the air. Teaching me I was sacred, as I was, no changes needed. Teaching me to find the goddess in every moment I could.
It began with the yearly attendance my mom and I made at our community’s winter solstice gathering; for weeks before we would make lanterns for the event out of tissue paper and toothpicks and glue, and then on Winter Solstice night the frigid BC air would be alive with fire and dance and celebration: take heart, the sun was coming back.
It began with honoring the dead on Dia de los Muertos; with leaving out food for them and coming out in the morning to see that the ghost of Sila had scattered pistachio shells across the floor.
It began with the 21 Praises of Tara, with my mom buying me my first mala, with her teaching me how to meditate. It began with Tara as my first goddess. It began with om mani padme om, or the funny version mom taught her young child to demystify meditation, not have it be so solemn: oh mommy, pay me beans!
It began with my Oma teaching me to knit, my mom teaching me to crochet. It began with the stories of their lives I grew up on. It began with the honoring of women’s work; the acknowledgement of magic in the mundane.
It began very early.
Three decades into my life, and I’ve been spinning things into being for a long time, religiously. These beginnings were the roving, and when I struck out on my own to the witch shop, that’s when I found the spindle.
I’ve been spinning and spinning and spinning, and I’ve crocheted a few squares, knit a few yards. But mostly, I’ve got a LOT of yarn sitting around, and I’m still trying to figure out how to put it all together. And now I feel a sense of urgency I never did in my pre-teens, adolescence, twenties. A sense that I need to figure out something now, that I need to put together some sort of practice — because I don’t want being raised neo-pagan to be a one off in my family line. I don’t want it to start and end with me.
Jackson October wrote about figuring out the practical side of religion, figuring out how to raise his child in his faith. I don’t have kids yet, but this is also on my mind, and has been for a while. And now that I’m almost 31 and I still don’t have a regular religious practice…well. It’s time to take a lifetime’s worth of yarn and knit something, dammit.
Right now, I can’t say what the future will look like for me. I only know what the present looks like, and what I’m hoping to build.
I follow something like four different faiths right now, and probably more stuff that can’t be categorized as “a faith” but is definitely…something. At the start: I’m a witch, I’ve always been a witch, and I’ll always be a witch. After over two decades as one — two of the decades of life considered the most changeable, the most characterized by phases — I feel fairly safe saying that’s not going to change.
I’m a member of the Otherfaith, or I try to be. I’m still learning to find my way in that religion. I’m an eclectic devotional polytheist, focusing on Hellenic gods. I don’t consider myself a Hellenist, because I don’t worship all the Olympians, but I do worship a good number of them. I’m a D’Angeline Recon, as I try to build a real-world faith based on a fictional one. I go to an Anglican church and consider myself an Anglican Pagan, which is rather amusing to me, seeing as of all the places I never envisioned myself ending up, any sort of Christianity was on the top of the list.
And mainly, the huge focus in my life right now, I’m building a path of religious witchcraft based on the three main gods who have thwapped me and called me home: the Morrigan, Brighid, and Manannan mac Lir.
I have dreams of having a full set of liturgy written for this religion, of having books published on it, of having it be something that anyone can easily pick up and put into practice in their own lives. I have dreams of doing the work for it on a regular basis and teaching it to my future witchlings and ogrettes. I envision a future where I’ve actually figured out a name for the faith so I can easily talk about it without having to write 500 words each time, just to introduce it.
I have no idea if building this faith is what the Three want from me, but I know it’s what I want from me, and I know that whatever I build, it needs to honor them — how I see them, how I interact with them, how I believe in them. I know that my experience of the gods isn’t necessarily going to be anyone else’s, but I hope I’m able to speak to at least one other person. I hope that whatever I create, it’s accessible to someone else who doesn’t want to build something from scratch.
I think I was always destined to build my own thing from the ground up, to spin my own tale, to knit my own sweater. (That metaphor got away from me.) Knowing the type of person I am, I would never have been satisfied with only doing something that someone else had figured out — there has always been this need for me to do my own thing. But also, there is a need for me to do my own thing, and share it with others in a way it can be their thing too.
So I’m working on spinning the yarn, and hopefully knitting a few useful items for people. Maybe eventually I’ll have fewer gigantic skeins of yarn taking up space in my life and more usable knitted or crocheted goods.
Hi, I’m Morag. Have spindle, will travel.