I grew up in what I considered a strict Catholic household. My mom was the driving force behind the mandatory church attendance, and Sunday school and for those who know me, you may be surprised to discover that I donned the robes of an alter server and did my penance of readings and choir practice.
I like most children thought church was boring, which was why I joined up for so many activities- to alleviate the monotony. I truly loved to sing though, and I still maintain that despite the rigidity and antiquity of the Catholic Church, the hymns that have been passed down over the centuries are truly beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows that if the sun caught it at the right angle, would bathe everyone in multi-coloured light. I loved the high ceilings and the smell of incense that created a space segregated from the reality of time and place.
Despite how aesthetically pleasing Catholicism was to me, I always felt something was missing. I saw how ‘heathens’ renewed their faith, finding something that they were missing within God, and I yearned for that same experience. However it wasn’t God that let me down, but the people, the Catholic people. See, someone once told me: “religion is man-made, but faith is divine” which I automatically believed is true. Humanity is corrupted, and it is only natural that we would find some way of corrupting divinity too.
I began asking questions which at the time, religion refused to answer. These weren’t petty questions that my peers were asking such as “How do priests give up sex?” and “Do animals go to heaven?” My questions were more along the lines of chauvinism in the Christian ranks, double standards, the lack of integrating and compromising on different faith, sexuality, contraception and abortion. It seemed strange that the same rules that damned homosexuals were the same ones stating that if your eye sight was failing you should be taken outside the city walls and stoned. I recognize that there were some sects of Christian faith that were ‘more tolerant’ on these issues but it was too late for me. I was only curious at the time, but the condemnation and ridicule I received when trying to raise these questions only drove me away from in Christian truth they hoped to teach me.
When teenagers mature in religion I see them change in two different ways, some people’s faith increases or can fade away. At thirteen I knew that I could not call myself a catholic, and no amount of bible bashing from my peers and pressure from my parents could change my mind. I don’t believe that the path I’ve chosen was a phase, I doubt living in any lifestyle for almost half your life could be considered temporary.
It was important for me to believe in something though, to believe in anything- because everyone needs a little divine help sometimes. I was a child who loved fantasy, and those who embrace the mystical qualities of God will recognize how amazing it feels to feel the immense power of a divine being. I felt it in the thunder storms that shook my windows at night, I saw it in the eyes of my new-born baby cousin, I heard it in inspirational music, and smelled it in the cold, evergreen mists of a mountain range.
My spirituality wasn’t found within the monotonous words of man-made missals, nor in prayers that often denounce anything that is different or hard to understand. I found the Spirit in nature, and other people and recognized that faith was universal. It couldn’t be owned and it couldn’t be measured. You either had it or you didn’t. Faith didn’t judge me. Faith was between me and my divine connections. It had nothing to do with anyone else; it was a personal relationship between me and my Goddess.
I didn’t have to envy my friends and their relationships with their Gods, because we were equal in our belief that someone out there was listening, guiding and supporting us. I didn’t have to speak about my faith, and I didn’t ask or question theirs. My faith is not determined by what it isn’t, but what it is.
My goddess is someone I needed not to fear. She is a mother, a sister, a teacher and a friend. She was firm, she was kind and everything she bestowed upon me was well deserved. She has humoured me, indulged me, punished me and rewarded me. Our connection is one of soul, constant and never ceasing.
The Wiccan Rede can be summarized as follows “An it harm none, do what ye will”. These eight simple words have guided me in all that I do, and form the basis of most religious beliefs. It equates to one of the most powerful commandments: Love your neighbour as you love yourself, which summarizes the rest of the rules for being a good Christian. The Rede is a guideline of how I live my life. Whatever energy you put out in the world, you will receive it three times as powerful- so it’s kind of a good idea to put out as much positivity as possible.
Here are my favourite parts of the Rede:
- “live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give”
- “Speak you little, listen much”
- “Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you”
I aspire to also follow the eight virtues.
- Beauty: embracing the authenticity of my true self and true will
- Strength: of beliefs, ethics, will and conviction
- Power: the capability to affect and make change, and the ability to perform to my potential
- Compassion: to have true love for others and for myself, to share someone’s pain and relieve it
- Honour: being honest with myself and others, my word is my bond
- Humility: recognising my strengths and weakness and avoiding excessive pride
- Mirth: remembering not to take myself so seriously, realise mistakes happen and that I am only human
- Reverence: respect and devotion to the Goddess and all things sacred
I chose this path to follow, but it doesn’t matter because in the end, what I chose was to believe in something, something to aid me and guide me through life.
If you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.
Merry meet, merry part… and merry meet again.