I recently wrote about my journey from teenage born-again Christian to young adult agnostic witch for the new issue of PARABOLA, The Divine Feminine. That essay, “Sister God,” is now available online at parabola.org. Read an excerpt here:
. . . When I was thirteen, I even became what’s called a born-again Christian. I said a fervent and sincere prayer, acknowledging that I was a sinner (that much had always been obvious, the shame only building after those early nightmares and the nameless memories that inspired them) and accepting the lord Jesus into my heart as my one and only savior. My relationship with Jesus felt very personal. I would often talk to Him in my head as I walked from my boarding school dormitory to morning classes, telling Him my daily worries and thanking Him whenever I saw a particularly beautiful sunset or tree.
But then I got kicked out of boarding school and sent back to the parental home that still held for me that nameless fear. The therapist I’d worked with at school had looked at me piercingly and told me to be careful back there, to try to find school activities and summer jobs that kept me out of the house as much as possible. I couldn’t ask her why, but I didn’t need to; I knew she was right.
I’d never felt more like a bad person, like exactly the kind of sinner that needed a Christian God’s love and redemption, than the year I left boarding school; but that year was also when my faith began to fail me.
At first I thought it must be my fault, that I hadn’t yet been really “born again” after all. So I repeated my saving prayer, the one that was supposed to transform my heart, several times over in the coming months. Every time I searched my soul for some seed of hope, some hint of redemption, and I was convinced that the sameness I felt was all my fault, not God’s. That I simply hadn’t followed the rules closely enough.
But slowly my pact with God dissolved, and I became untethered.
My journey toward a self-styled paganism has been so gradual and fluid that at times it doesn’t seem like a journey at all, and it is still not easily bounded or defined. I feel increasingly drawn toward the kind of intersectional, open-ended spirituality that my mother would call noncommittal, wishy-washy, or even cowardly, as she described our Unitarian neighbors.The path to my current understanding of my faith is much less clear. It is a tidal cycle, an edgeless movement in and out of ideas, traditions, understandings. Sometimes I call myself a pagan, sometimes agnostic, usually a witch. My husband and I were handfasted by a Celtic druid; I loved the ceremony. I say a prayer and light a candle for the triple goddess at each turning point of the year.
A faith that is fluid, boundless, changing, cyclical, open: this is a faith that one might call feminine.