Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Growing Pains



Over the years, I have found that many a person has this strange idea when it comes to the Pagan faiths. It as if as soon as one converts, they [the pagan] are thrown back to the middles ages. People also have this rather quirky notion that pots and pans turn into wands and broomsticks, that tables and chair turning to sacrificial altars and stone circles. To many people think that once one devotes themselves to the God and Goddess, reality bleeds away is magically replaced with Hogwarts schools and Weasly like houses. They also believe that our God and Goddess are just whores, or even worse the Christian devil. With this mini-set it is my hope to address these and many more misunderstood concepts so that we will be see as people too. We are not the demons some people try to make us out to be.

Before we begin, let’s be 100% honest with ourselves; growing up can be a real - well I let you choose your descriptive word there...

Forcefully being removed from a blissful world of near perfect entertainment with friends, caring for nothing and using your parents money like candy is not a super awesome thing. Being forcefully injected into a world of cold hard and unforgiving reality is not something anyone embraces either. But that's life, as they say. Traversing the sands of time towards the march of adulthood, our childhood joys are replaced with worries about puberty, voice cracking, social awkwardness, jobs, pay checks, taxes, bills, dating, Facebook and so much more. When you throw in our “glorious” technological age where every embarrassing moment can be recorded and put on YouTube in under ten seconds, one wonders how teens don’t suffer more mental break downs.

So yea, life just sucks sometimes....

When last we gathered, I wrote about how Christianity just wasn’t working for me, even at a young age. Even then I had to many question, to many thoughts that didn't add up, and to many “you will understand when you are older” comments in response. 

Having survived the test of time, and being far older now than I was then, I really find such comments insulting. Hey how about instead of dodging the question, you actually come up with some answers? This is your faith after all, isn't? How can a baby be born evil? There is no sin there, that child is the closest thing to purity humanity we will ever see. If God is sovereign and controls everything, what right does he have to punish people doing his will (be it good or bad)? If Christ was all about peace, love, helping EVERYONE, why do so many of his followers scoff at doing such?

Like I said, to many questions, zero acceptable answers.

So after much soul searching, research, and help from actual supportive people, I am now part of the Pagan fold. But what does any of this blabbering (I know I do tend to ramble on) have to do with today’s Rambling of a pagan guy? As we already know from personal experience, growing up today is not a easy thing to do. When anyone grows up willingly embracing a religion many considering "Satanic", well that just makes a bad trip worse. Today's rambling is part of the on going thing to record my experiences as a teen and young adult, and part message to the younger generation of Pagans out there. We "old heads" know what you are going threw, and we know the constant pain and mental abuse you experience at the hands of ignorance.

You are not alone.





Like many teens, of any era, I spent a lot of time at school wishing I could spend significantly less time there. Classes that bore little effect or relevance with the real world would blur together with class I was actually suppose to pay attention to. At some points it seemed like I was being forced feed a raging river of text book knowledge eight hours a day. Ugh! While my freshman year was traumatic enough with the "normal" crap, my religious problems really didn't start until my second year of high school. After bearing my first pentacle with (somewhat exaggerated) youthful gusto, two unfortunate things conspired to make the rest of my stay at Arch Bishop Ryan a rather unpleasant one. First was the very hot blooded teenager who believed very strongly in human rights, the second was the Catholic school taking a deem view of other faiths. One might even say they belittled other faiths. Does that sound incredibly bitter to anyone else? Well, in all honestly, it should. There is no nice way to described being bullied because your Pagan. Bloody hell, there is no nice way to describe any type of bullying now is there?


In any case I can remember the single event that set the theme for the remaining three years of high school.

It all started with my religious teacher I had the misfortune of having during my second year of high school. He was unable to consider or explore others point a view, and he was always right because "God said so". Frequently during class he would take great pride in himself for belittling, dehumanizing and demeaning anything that didn't fit his perfect image of his world. As you can imagine, he even went to the point of identifying students who needed special "preaching" to. I remember at least three of us in the class.

The first was a quite Jewish girl who you swore wasn't actually there. She was the type of person who never said anything, never socialized much with classmates but always turned in homework in time with no questions asked. Yes I had a crush on her too. She wore the Star of David (it's was silver with glitter stuff on it) around school expect when she enter "Religious Studies" as the course was named. Our teacher had a annoying habit of writing up anyone who wore necklaces in class, save if it bore a cross on it. When class began he would start with a prayer that always mentioned something to the effect "Forgive the Jews for murdering Christ, and allow them to see the light and convert". When asked just how all Jews where responsible, and how they killed Christ when he still is around, he would retort with either "you wouldn't understand" or threats of detention. He would also attack their beliefs (only Jesus can save) and places of worship (if there isn't a cross, it's not a place of worship), even going as far to question their parenting skills (who would let their kids willingly go to hell?).  

Bloody well disgusting.

The next person was a extremely brave guy who came out while attending a Christian high school. Keep in mind this was before people started waking up to bigotry, before the "No H8" campaign and even before the "It's get better" project. To identify yourself as a homosexual was to shoot yourself socially in the face. But this kid did not care, this is how he was born and would not be ashamed of it. Seriously how awesome is that? When our religious teacher learned of his "horridly blasphemous fact" we had a week long retreat explaining the dangers of homosexuality and how it would destroy the world if left unchecked. Oh how I wish I was making this up. At the end of the retreat, the teacher had us all write essays on how we felt about homosexuals wanting to destroy the world. I got a F for refusing to do it. The student lasted about three (4?) months of this bullying before he literately told the teach to "take your bs religion and f- off". I never did see him again, I just hope he is still ok...


Finally there was me, the horrible pagan who apparently worshiped the devil (or Satan). But a bit of back story first. Having finally scored myself a steady job (to which I am still here, 13 years after) I used my first pay check on two things. My first cell phone, and a pentacle. The cell phone was this little piece of crap thing that I would probably be embarrassed to have around now. What? A little vanity never hurt anyone... The second was my first pentacle and it was pretty bad ass if I do say so. It was made of pewter metal and shaped to look like the whole thing was made out of branches. I later painted browns and greens into it. Anywho the first day I wore it into school was the first day I got my first real taste of religious bigotry. When our religious teacher saw it, he went on a rant that would dwarf all of my Ramblings of a working guy combined. He bellowed about how I was bringing the devil in this Sanctuary of Christian learning. He told me to remove the evil symbol and rebuke Satan right away of I would be written up and given dentition. Being the hot blooded Irishman I am, I refused and told him what he could do with his suggestion.

That's how I ended up in this discipline office. And yes it was my own fault.


From here on out, it become a weekly trend that degenerated into some completely mental. So much so that I'm now totally embarrassed of it, and wouldn't waste my time with now-a-days. It would start with the religious staff calling me to the discipline office to have my pentacle removed, despite the fact it didn't violate the school code.

Staff: You can't wear necklaces during school hours.
Me: Since when?
Staff: Since always Mr Biddle, do not talk back to me.
Me: But students are wearing crosses around their necks all the time...
Staff: That's different! 
Me: ... but it's a necklace...
Staff: Talk back again and that's double dentition.

Obviously the above wasn't word for word, but it still the general gist of the conversations I had. Religious double standards where a way of life when at AR, and there was little that could be done about it. In conjunction with the above I was also suggested (aka forced) into spending time with the religious counselors at least once a mouth, in order to pray away this evil satanic influence inside of me. I still remember our first meeting too...

Counselor: How are you doing today Mr Biddle?
Me: Peachy...
Counselor: Great! Now how is Jesus in your heart today?
Me: What? (I could have just lied to her and been our in two mins, but no I wasn't thinking)
Counselor: Jesus in your heart sweaty.
Me: Oh.. I'm not Catholic.
Counselor: Oh? What are you then, Jewish?
Me: I'm Wiccan.
Counselor: Oh my! You know you are worshiping the devil then!
Me: Not really. I have a God and Goddess. (It was Horus and Bas at the time)
Counselor: That is just a illusion put on by the father of lies. You must pray with me before it's to late!
Me: I'll pass.
Counselor: But if you don't you will burn in hell! Is that what you really want?!
Me: I don't believe in hell, we rock out in the summer lands until we are reincarnated. Well if we need to be.
Counselor: This "summer lands" is really hell.
Me: No, it's really not.
Counselor: But it is dear.
Me: Do I dictate your beliefs to you?
Counselor: Pardon? Well no, Jesus does that.
Me: So I don't tell you what you really believe and don't believe in?

Counselor: No...
Me: Then don't tell me what I believe in and what this or that actually is. I can do that just fine myself.
Counselor: You seem a bit hostile, don't you think this could be from Satan -
Me: No it comes from constant harassment from religious idiots like yourself who insist on making everything evil that doesn't conform to your bs way of thinking. Stop forcing your religion on me, and you will find me in a better mood.

I learned a very important lesson from that first three and a half hour meeting. I learned that sometimes it's best to pick and choose your battle, rather than going in cannons firing. If I would have just told her what she wanted to hear, I wouldn't have had to suffer three years of "religious counseling". In place of hour long prayer meetings I could have been in the library seeking out information on the world wide web (which was still in it's teen years back in my day). Yet still I can't see myself doing any different. It was utterly disgusting how one group of people could tell another they where wrong and going to hell... all because they thought the bible said so.

So yea high school was fun growing up...
 

The home life wasn't nearly as bad as high school, and was always a loving home to say the least. But there was always that religious problem that hung in the air that no one ever wanted to talk about. Having my brother already renounce Christianity (I think he is a Atheist now) my mother was determined to have a proper Christian son. Oh by the Gods, she would go off on proud speeches about me being a alter boy. But none of this would ever work, because I've already been converted for some time. After a failed and rather embarrassing attempt to have my brother "talk the Wiccan thing out of me", they mostly resorted to dropping sad hints here and there. But no matter what they tried, there would forever be that religious rift where she could not accept my religion, and I could not accept being a Catholic. It was a couple of years later, after many attempts to guilt trip me just didn't work, we stopped talking about religion all together. As I grew older, as I ventured into the "real world", I found myself not really giving a damn anymore. There was nothing I could do to change the minds of people who used religion for ego, profit or attention. There was also nothing I could ever do to be accepted by these people. So I just stopped caring. In my heart I know the path I have taken is right for me, and honestly that's all that really matters.


Before we part there is just one bit of wisdom I would like to pass on to the younger generation. There are going to be times when you can not avoid a verbal fight. When this happens, remember that shouting, screaming and cursing is not always the best solution. These people are out to get you mad, to make you look like a insane git. Remember who you are and never sink to their level. There will also be times when the bulling will be so bad, you will wonder what is the point of life. There will be times when the black and blue marks are just to bloody much to handle any more. This I know from personal experience, and yea it really sucks. No matter how bad it gets, no matter how low they try to drag you down, no matter how much the all loving bs'ers rant or beat on you, you are better than them.

You are a beautiful miracle of nature, you are a blessed child of the God and Goddess, you are friend and brother/sister to nature. Never let anyone drag you down. It gets better and you are not alone.

Much love and blessing,
Ashka Ryo









7 comments:

  1. I love the way pentacles are looked upon by Christians as being Satanic. This from a religion that uses a torture implement as it's most sacred symbol. Blesses be!!!

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    1. @BronT

      It is regrettable what many people of gotten in their heads. "You are different from me, so you must be evil" isn't something that should be lived by, difference should be embraced or at least tolerated (assuming they do no harm). Maybe one day many of the followers of Christ who seem fit to hate and condemn will remember Christ didn't come to do that.

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  2. LOVE this! I meandered my way here after reading your article posted on Witchvox. Fantastic writing, really! I think I'll continue reading your posts, lol.

    Blessings,
    ~ Ravenna

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    1. @Ravenna

      Thank you so much for your kind words, it's always awesome to hear someone enjoyed reading what I post (I personally always think it's bad >_>). I'm actually thinking up a new post as I write this comment so hopefully I'll have something new for you soon!

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  3. The bigotry you went through is so intense that it seems unreal to me. I had to read parts of your rambling twice for my brain to register all of it. I'm glad I was born in french Canada... Religion has lost most of its influence here since 1960 or so, and even my Catholic teacher in religion class never said a word against my pentacle. I thought such tolerance was the rule in the rest of North America, but now I wonder if it's just a local exception.

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    1. Hello there Math!

      I completely understand how you feel. Even having experienced such things myself, I am still flabbergasted when I see others speak of it. Even worse is I know others have had it a LOT worse than I have. Also you would think, that even on a most basic level, people would get along just to avoid the drama and extra crap in their lives. Sadly it seems some people just can not live without causing stress,suffering,grey hairs for others. It's disgusting really :(

      Tolerance also really depends where you live in North America. It seems once you get at least a mile or two (think that is between 600 and 1200 meters to you) away from the more "crazy" churches, things really seem to calm down. Enter the more liberal part of town and the attitude turns from fire and death to either friendly curiosity or "we really don't care about religion here, be cool and we will be cool".

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  4. Take it from a 50 + year old, it does get better. I choose to kill them with kindness. Drives the Christians insane when you use their professed Christ against them.

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