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How'd you decide to be pagan?

Another Quora.com answer I gave that I feel is worth repeating here.

Question: How did you decide to become Pagan? Is there a set of universal pagan beliefs?

Answer:

It wasn’t that I decided to be a pagan. It’s more that Christianity and other common religions in the culture (Judaism, Islam) didn’t make a lick of sense to me, and when I stumbled upon information about Neo-paganism, the options available in Neo-paganism did make sense to me.

Also, I never felt anything spiritual on the rare occasion I would go into a church, except sometimes discomfort at the energies of the people attending the church. But some of the Neo-pagan practices did allow me to feel the divine and connect to spirituality.

In high school, I was wandering around online and discovered some websites about Neo-paganism. Now, Neo-paganism is more of an umbrella term for a variety of different kinds of beliefs, or like a buffet where you can pick and choose what beliefs/practices feel right for you. This was clear from the start, and I started finding a lot of things in that range of options that fit me perfectly. Such as:

1. Polytheism is common in paganism, though there are also Neo-pagans that are atheists or animists. (Animism = the belief that everything has its own spirit, but doesn’t necessarily have any gods or goddesses.)

2. Female gods? Yes please! I never did understand the idea of a male god being the creator of the world, because *women *are the life-creators, not men. (Generally speaking. There are trans men who can get pregnant, but they’re not as common.)

3. Freedom from a judgmental, violent, and hateful deity? Freedom to either go without a deity, or to choose one that’s kind, benevolent, and accepting of you? Freedom to choose a deity or spiritual path which says love, sex, and other earthly desires are good and natural as long as you try to cause no harm and you exercise moderation? The freedom to choose a path where I, as a polyamorous bisexual trans woman, am accepted and loved by my deities for all that I am? Yes, please!

4. The freedom to not only find my own path, but to actively blaze my own trail and thus come up with a spiritual path completely unique to me was especially enticing.

5. “Magic is real, all around us, and isn’t something evil created by the devil because there’s no such thing as the devil” was also refreshing after years of Christians spouting off about hellfire and damnation and how evil the very existence of magic supposedly is. That attitude never made sense to me. If God didn’t want magic to exist, it wouldn’t.

6. Neo-paganism also solves the “problem of evil” to me. That is, the old saw that goes “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" I know it was a pagan (Epicurus) who said that, but for me, Neo-paganism easily answers this question: If there are many gods and other similar great powers, then omnipotence is impossible. The gods that are willing to prevent evil but cannot are thus not omnipotent, but so what? They’re still powerful, wise, and helpful. Lack of omnipotence is not the same as being impotent.

7. I’ve always been drawn to the paranormal, always been a believer in fairies, ghosts, and other magical creatures. And I’m rarely ever scared of them. Neo-paganism is open to this attitude, which was another big draw.

8. Also, in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, communication between humans and the divine is pretty much one-way only, or two-way communication is reserved for certain people like priests or prophets. But in Neo-paganism, it’s entirely possible, even common, to get two-way communication going with your deity or deities of choice.

9. For a while, Neo-paganism was blissfully free of the kind of spiritual victim-blaming that was prevalent in Christianity, wherein people blame you for your life being shitty because you must not be a good enough Christian or you’re too sinful or something. But then thanks to the New Agers, that attitude began to infect Neo-paganism as well, something I actively fight against because it was one of the major things I hated about Christianity.

10. It also doesn’t hurt that another thing I loathe about Christianity, proselytization (AKA “spreading the Good News”), is extremely rare in Neo-paganism. Sure, there are a growing number of dingbats in Neo-paganism who are like “my tradition is the best, you should convert. You don’t want to? Well you suck,” but they’re still not terribly common, and thus are still pretty easy to avoid.
But back to answering the heart of the question: Basically, I already felt this way, already believed these things, even if I didn’t know I did or didn’t know how to express it. Finding out about Neo-paganism was therefore not a conversion for me but was instead finding out that what I had already always believed has a name and that other people feel this way, too.

(Over the years, hearing other people’s tales of finding out about Neo-paganism, I’ve found that this feeling where the discovery of Neo-paganism feels like a validation of one’s existing beliefs is actually pretty common.)

Link to original.

This was cross-posted from https://fayanora.dreamwidth.org/1432973.html
You can comment either here or there.

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