One more question I have not been able to find the answer to by reading your posts or profile...when and how did you decide to be Wiccan/Pagan?
The main reason I have never mentioned this before, is that nobody asked me. So, since I am, once again, having trouble sleeping, I thought I would answer ChicagoLady's question.
It was, I suppose, a slow process. Unofficially, my journey on to my current path began when I was about seven. But, at that point I didn't know where my path would take me, nor did I fully understand why I chose to follow it. Because of this, I was not entirely sure where I should begin. But, after some consideration, I have decided to begin with the events that happened when I was about seven. The same events that, I believe, were responsible for my first tentative steps along the path to the Pagan religion of Wicca.
And so, my story begins when I was, as I have already mentioned, about seven years old. I had, since I was about five years old, been in a Sunday School, along with my brothers, Carl and Wayne, and a few family friends. One of which was my best friend (at the time) Pia. Another of which was one of my Mam's Goddaughters, Leighann. At this point, it is important that I tell you that Pia is a year younger than I am, Carl is a year older than I am, and Wayne is about four and a half years older than I am. And, Leighann is about two or three years younger than I am. You will see why this is important very soon. It is also important to make sure that you are aware that my brothers and I have disabilities. They are only mild disabilities. Wayne is almost completely deaf (and has been since birth), Carl is completely blind (and has been since the age of two), and I myself do not have particularly good eyesight. Again, you will soon see why it is important for me to point this out.
The Sunday School was divided in to classes. One for children under five, and two or three others dividing up the older children (I'm not sure how they worked, but that doesn't matter).
I had never given the fact that my siblings and I were never moved into the higher classes a single though. When Pia was moved up in to a higher class, I guess I probably assumed that the Sunday School teachers were fed up of us messing about and not listening to them (which was what we usually did when we were together) and wanted us separated. But then, Leighann was moved up too, and we still were not. Of course, this prompted me to question their actions. As many seven year olds will do. The response to my question was that my siblings and I were an exception because of our disabilities. Now, this, of course, was not an acceptable answer. Especially to a seven year old who had been taught that not only should disabilities make no difference, but that 'God' treats everyone as equals. I voiced my objection and was told that sometimes even God will make exceptions. My reaction to this prompted them to suspend me from Sunday School for several weeks (oops!)
Upon my return, they had obviously been told to not treat us differently, because Wayne and Carl had already been placed in the classes they should have been in, and I was to be placed in the correct one for my age. I ended up still with Leighann, Pia and Carl, but was no longer with Wayne and all the very young children.
But I still wouldn't go back, because when they began reading to us from the bible, and didn't take too kindly to my constant doubts and questions, well, I decided Sunday School wasn't for me, and refused to return. It had been fun while all I did was play with toy arks and hear about the man who is said to have built an ark to save animals from a flood. But, once the true religious education began, I knew it wasn't for me. I don't know how. It just felt wrong.
I have been to a church only three times since. Once was when my parents married. The second time was when I was part of a show we were doing when I was in Girl Guides. And the third time was when I carried the 'colours' (which, for those who don't know, is the name given to the flag) for my Girl Guides troup on Remembrance Sunday, the last year I was in Guides (I was the oldest guide, so it was my duty to carry the colours).
Anyway, I have always loved to read, and so, after my refusal to return to Sunday School, I began to read. I'm not sure exactly what I was looking for, but I was sure that somewhere among one of the books that would one day come my way would be the answers to all the questions that the bible had failed to answer. And, I was right.
Just after I turned twelve, my R.E. (Religious Education) teacher at school set us an assignment that ended up leading me to the answers I needed. Of course, as she was a devout Catholic, I don't think she would have set such an assignment if she had known I was searching for such answers. LOL! The assignment was entitled "The Origin Of Christmas" and the topic was, as you can probably guess, the origin of Christmas and the symbols we associate with it.
Everyone else began to write about the story of 'baby Jesus' and how he had been born on Christmas day, etc, etc. I'm sure you all know the story. But, I refused. I couldn't accept that this was truly the origin of Christmas. Besides, if it was, there were some symbols that weren't explained (like the trees, the mistletoe, the holly... etc). So, since I was one of those children who was more than happy to miss breaks in order to study in the library, I decided to do a little research.
At first, I found nothing. And, I was becoming frustrated. I knew the answers were out there. Somewhere. And, it just happened that I mentioned the assignment in front of my Dad, and also mentioned my doubts in the whole 'baby Jesus' story to him. He told me that most of the stuff was taken from "some Pagan festival" but that's about all he seemed to know on the matter. So, realising the school's library wouldn't hold the answers, I went to the local library to search. This time with at least some idea of what I was looking for. Sure enough, I found the answers I had been looking for.
I did my assignment and presented it to my teacher. She wasn't impressed. She gave me an F and called my Mam to the school informing her that I wasn't doing well in her class, and that I was "interrupting the education of the other students" with all my questions. In other words, she didn't agree with my beliefs and wanted my Mam to make them go away. Even if she'd wanted to though, Mam couldn't, because she knew nothing of them at the time. Even I didn't really know at this point what I believed in.
Anyway, the information I found while doing my assignment was the beginning of many other pieces of information that I gathered over the next couple of years. Some of it I still have, but with moving around a lot, a lot of it has been misplaced. But, that doesn't matter. What matters is that the stuff I read while researching the Pagan religions - and, for those who don't know, I say 'religions' for the simple fact that Paganism contains many paths - seemed to make sense to me. It answered my questions, and made me feel like there were others out there who felt the way I did about the world. If that makes sense.
I'm not entirely sure what made me choose to be an Eclectic Wiccan though. There are many Pagan paths that I could have chosen (as I've already mentioned) but something made me choose this one. I don't even remember when I decided it was the right one for me. I was just talking to some people on a web site I used to visit, and when asked found myself saying that my chosen path was that of an Eclectic Wiccan.
So, that's the story as I remember it.
I was just about to turn seventeen when I admitted my beliefs to my parents. I remember when it happened, because it was because of the name I chose to give the pitch black, Lop-Mix rabbit that they'd got me about a week before Samhain (Halloween) that triggered the discussion. I called him 'Samhain Magik.' You may have seen his photos in my photo albums, and/or read about him on our pets' page. I think, to some degree, I did it on purpose so that the discussion would have to happen. But, the name also just seemed right for him.
It was about six months later (maybe a little less) that I first found myself admitting my beliefs to people outside of the family (apart from online, where people had known for about two years by the time I told my parents). And, I did it via a project I did in a computer class. A project containing the main points of the information I had gathered over the past five years. I'm sure I have it somewhere. If not the printed out version, then I'm sure the files from it are saved on one of my backup disks.
I hope I've answered your question, ChicagoLady. But, if you - or anyone else for that matter - have any more questions, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to answer them.