Next month I will turn 25 and be a quarter of a century old. I’ll also be celebrating my eighth year as a Pagan of some description or another. I think of the young girl – who didn’t know she wasn’t quite a girl at the time – secretly researching Wicca, Asatru, and other paths on school computers, buying Pagan and New Age books in secret only to store them in a sympathetic teacher’s classroom to avoid parental detection, and awkwardly but joyfully stumbling through a first ritual.
I’d had no idea what I was doing at the time but I loved it. And I loved what this religious exploration and experimentation brought me: a sense of wonder and curiosity, a way to look at my world a little differently than the Baptist household that had raised me. Paganism (as a whole) didn’t re-enchant the world for me, but it gave me the tools to re-enchant it myself.
The Pagan Community (TM) has changed a lot since I first got involved in 2007. The podcast that helped me through my earliest questions, Deo’s Shadow, is no longer online. Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon is no longer timely, and will never be updated again – at least not by Margot, may her soul be blessed. Witchvox isn’t what it used to be. Twitter was just getting started and Tumblr had yet to happen, which opened new ways to communicate with each other. The various PantheaCon debacles happened, and happened again.
At times I’ve felt intimately connected with The Pagan Community and at other times completely excluded. I’ve struggled with the label “Pagan” more times than I can count and tend to stick with it out of sheer stubbornness. My forays into local, physical Pagan communities have been uniformly boring or disastrous. My online life had been my life for a long while though, so I turned again and again to virtual communities to fill my need for fellowship.
This year I sail forth with Clann Bhride, with the Otherfaith, and with a better sense of myself and what I want out of my religion. Here’s to another eight years.