the Spirit Watch
In And Out Of Wicca - A Former Wiccan Speaks
By A Former Wiccan
We have asserted on this site that the pagan revival has enjoyed phenomenal success in recent years because of its simple, yet compelling call to a lifestyle of tangible, exciting interaction with so-called gods and goddesses of an infinite number of spiritual persuasions, from the pantheons of ancient Babylon to the "high commands" of alien hierarchies aboard UFO's. Whatever their own unique fascinations may be, one thing is very clear: the countercultural fabric woven by the multitudes of people involved in the pagan revival has at least one thing in common, if nothing else, that being the intensely passionate longing for spiritual experience with the divine. Ritual and magick may be employed to bring definition and connection, but the desire for personal encounter underlies all pagan belief systems. Pursuit of the goddess becomes as much a desire for fellowship as fulfillment, and such a pursuit was made by a former Wiccan whose story we are privileged to share by Real Audio.
In And Out Of Wicca: An Ex-Wiccan Speaks -
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How I got involved in paganism is all too common, I'm afraid.
I was raised in a churched home. By that, I mean that we went to church but didn't live any differently than my friends who did not go to church. I was very active in the church growing up and as a teen. We attended the First Christian Church (independant), and I was active in youth group, Sunday School, choir. I was there everytime the doors were open. But I didn't have any strong background at home.
I had always been fascinated by magic. I started off innocently enough reading my horoscope (my mom did this, and didn't see anything wrong with it). My favorite movies and TV shows as a kid were all about witches and magic, now I was living out my fantasy. Just like millions of people can drink a beer and never get addicted to alcohol, millions of people can watch a show like Bewitched and never think anything of it, but some people have a weakness in this area that leaves them vulnerable. I was one of those people. I had many experiences as a child that I know opened that door for me, and made me vulnerable. The pagans I met said I had a gift of the sight that ran in my family. I know now that Satan used my gifts that God had given me. All of the little openings into the occult in my childhood (the movies, TV shows, games I played, etc) opened a door, that Satan used to get me to serve him rather than God. One movie that really stuck out in my mind as starting the whole mess was a movie I watched that starred Melissa Sue Anderson as a bad witch, and another child actress as a good witch. I didn't know it at the time but it was all about Wicca, and that movie affected me greatly, and I believed opened the door to my fascination with witchcraft.
When I went off to college, I got interested in birth charts, and learned how to do astrological charts for others. I also got really messed up on drugs while in college, and got more and more interested in Eastern mysticism. After two years away at school, I was so depressed and into so much garbage, that I knew I would not survive another year. One day I woke up and knew I had to go home. I left college, and soon after returning to home started to look for a church with young single people (our church was very small and all my friends had left). I started going to Mt. Paran Church of God in Atlanta, and was really getting myself on track. I started to community college and met some Christians, and we formed a gospel quartet.
All was well until I met this guy who was interested in dating me. He was a Presbyterian, and let it be known he thought pentecostalism was bogus. I fell for him head over heels, and started going to a Presbyterian Church (Central Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, one of the PCUSAs most liberal). I knew nothing about Presbyterian churches, all my life I had been taught it didn't matter where you went to church, just so long as you go. From there my beliefs went down hill. Some women in the church (mostly seminarian students at Columbia Theological Seminary) were talking about Sophia being the Holy Spirit one night at one of our singles gatherings (we met at a bar called the Beer Mug, so that tells you how liberal the church was). That introduced me to the idea of a female possibility for God.
The pastor was a liberal (he had been kicked out of the Southern Baptist ministry and fired from his teaching position at a SBC seminary for teaching that the Bible was not inerrant and saying he did not believe anything that happened in the first 5 books, and he certainly didn't believe Moses wrote them). The pastor used to say, "God in HER infinite wisdom." People would laugh, but he was serious. He believed in using he and she interchangeably for God. I got active in this church, and started dating Chris. He was into the occult, but he was an elder in his Presbyterian Church, so I figured it was all okay. My church growing up had spoken out against Tarot cards, and such, but I just figured they were super fundy, and it really was okay.
My boyfriend was doing a lot of reading about Wicca--it was a fascination of his (in fact when we split up, it was because he was interested in a girl that was Wiccan). I read Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler. I still was not into goddess worship, but I started getting into the occult--tarot cards, ouija board, color magick (Ray Buckland's books). I then started dating a guy that was into astral projection, and magick (the pagan spelling to differentiate it from illusionist's magic). After him, I started dating a guy that was a Shaman. I got more and more into it--all the while teaching Sunday School in the Presbyterian Church. I was really into environmentalism, and was teaching more of that in Sunday School, than Bible stories.
By the time I met and married my husband, I was pretty much through with calling myself a Christian. My husband was raised in the Presbyterian Church, but he was FULLY agnostic and would not go to church with me. I was raised that you go to church on Sunday, so I convinced him to go to the Unitarian Universalist Church. He fell in love with it right away. I liked it too, it was intellectual, but soon, I was needing something more spiritual. I read in the church bulletin that a group of Unitarian Universalist Pagans were forming and holding a ritual. I talked my husband into attending. He was not impressed, but I was hooked. I loved the ritual, and the idea of having complete control. At first, I got into Native American Spirituality (mother earth, father sky...) and stuck with its' imagery, calling deity "great spirit." I was still too uncomfortable to call on gods and goddesses. But soon, I found myself choosing a pantheon, and I joined the pagan group - about 6 months later I was really into goddess worship all out.
You see that's how it is with paganism. At first you get started in some new age ideas (my actual first one was reincarnation), then you get into occult stuff, horoscopes, tarot, psychic readings, etc. Then you start believing that a loving God wouldn't send anyone to hell, so all paths MUST lead to God...slippery slope straight to hell. I see it every day. People who claim to be Christians, but accept some new age ideas, then they throw out the Bible, deny Jesus' divinity, say all gods are one god, and WHAM! The only way I can describe my journey into paganism was that it was like an addictive drug. Some people have a predisposition for alcoholism, and likewise I believe some people have a predisposition to fall into the occult. The biggest factor though, was my intense desire to have a personal relationship with God. I saw paganism as experiential and deeply personal, and I saw Christianity as impersonal, and distant.
I had given myself a goddess name (Brigid) and gotten on AOL. I was really involved in the Pagan online community and began studying Wicca like there was no tomorrow both online and through books. For 3 years I was active in CUUPS (Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans), and was the leader of our circle. I taught classes on paganism, astrology, tarot readings, etc. But by the Spring of 1997 I was SICK of Unitarian Universalism. I was sick of the general lack of spirituality among UUs, and decided to form a coven of eclectic witches. We had our first ritual at the Spring Equinox. We decided to take the summer off from the UU church, and I decided to concentrate on my coven. We held our mid-summer ritual, and I was in the middle of planning our Lughnassadh ritual for August when the Lord called me back to Him.
One day in the summer of 1997, I was driving home from registering my daughter for preschool, and I heard a voice saying, "I am here," everytime I passed a church. Before I knew it, my car would be pulling into the church parking lot. I know I was the one steering, but it was as if, I was NOT the one in control. I came home, and cried. I was shaking, and tingling, and knew God had called me back. When I finally arrived home (2 hours later), I knew I was being called back to the church. At first, I thought I would be able to continue my goddess worship, but just inside church walls. Well, I was wrong. We visited a church, and I knew I was home. I felt a peace that surpassed any I had ever known. Within one month, I had turned from a godless heathen to a God fearing Bible believing Christian. God called me back to Him, and this time, I made a solemn vow to pursue Him, and His holy word the same way I had thrown myself into Paganism. To God be the glory, because He called me to Him. I give thanks to all of those friends of mine who stood in the gap and prayed without ceasing for me, while I was away from God. God heard their prayers, and I am so thankful He did.
My walk since then has been what is the true testimony. I have to say this much for paganism. It was a learning experience. I learned from it how to LIVE my religion. And I learned to study my religion. When I returned to Christ, I said I would only do it if I could exceed my study that I had given paganism, and that I would live my faith. No more pew warming for me. I am now a Spirit-filled Christian, living for the Lord. Each day I grow a little more. It's no longer the dead religion I remembered as a child. I finally realized a few months back that I had never known what it was like to be a true Christian. You see I had grown up in a home where we went to church, but that was it. My folks are still that way. They have no idea what a personal relationship with Jesus is.
I didn't know that REAL Christianity WAS experiential, that TRUE Christians have a deeply personal relationship with God. The church I grew up in never discussed this. You were baptised and you went to heaven, or you weren't baptised and went to hell--this was all I knew. When I first learned about the charismata from a Pentecostal friend of mine, my pastor gave me the book "Charismatic Chaos" by John MacArthur and told me that all the things my Pentecostal friend did were lies of the devil. In other words, if your friend has an experiential relationship with God, it is false, it is not true. God doesn't speak to us any more, God doesn't reveal Himself to us anymore, the Bible is sufficient. This just secured in my mind the belief that you cannot have a personal relationship with God, you cannot experience God and be a Christian.
When God spoke to me that day in my car in August 1997, it was the first time in my life I ever heard Him speak to me. It was the first time I really KNEW that Christianity is NOTHING without a personal relationship with God. At that moment I began to seek Him rather than seeking traditions, doctrines, etc. I just sought HIM, and He revealed Himself to me in a way that I just KNEW I was His, purchased for a price. I have to say this for the paganism. If it had not been for my foray into the experience of witchcraft, I don't know if I would have ever learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. When I returned to Christ, I vowed that I would not return to the dead religion of my youth. I wanted more. I wanted more than ritual and tradition. More than a weekly pep talk at the church. I had a Jesus-sized hole in my heart that needed to be filled 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
It saddens me to think about all the people I knew in the pagan community who like me were raised in the church, but left seeking more--seeking a deity they could have a relationship with. The church has failed miserably. We have become Pharisees raising traditions of men to the level of revelation of God. We have put God in a box, and through this so many people who are deeply seeking a relationship with God are lost, because they think it is something that cannot be obtained, but that a relationship with false goddesses are possible. Satan uses the church's failings to his benefit. Paganism offers gods and goddesses that live within you and communicate directly with you (or so the lie goes).
What these people do not realize is THIS is what God offers us. When you are truly saved He sends His Spirit to live in you, He gives you all the riches of His glory, all the power He used to create the universe comes and lives inside you! When you are truly His, you are seated with Him in the heavenly places. He will speak to you, and lead you if you will only be still and listen. But in so many churches everyone is so busy talking about God, and learning ABOUT God that they fail to talk TO God, and Learn WHO God is. I know about everything there is to know about George Washington, but I will never know him. Likewise, all that time growing up, I knew plenty ABOUT God, but I didn't know HIM.
I have tried so many times to talk to pagans who claim that they used to be Christians. They will say they know everything there is to know about Christianity and our God. I don't doubt that, but they don't know Him; if they did they could have never turned away. But if so many in the churches fail to see the difference in knowing about God, and knowing God, how can we expect those who are under Satan's control to see and know the difference?
I have state emphatically that I do not believe in seeking experience. I do not believe in seeking gifts or power. I believe in seeking God, when we seek Him, we will have experiences with Him, we will receive gifts and witness His power in our lives, but it is He that must be sought, not anything else. I see two extremes in the church today that are both detrimental to the Body. On the one hand you have the traditionalists, the cessationsists who teach about God, and who place God in a box based on man's limited understanding. The other extreme are those who are chasing experience and power, who see God as a some sort of Genie in a bottle. One group focuses on what they can do for God, and the other focuses on what God can do for them. Both just need to STOP, be still, listen and focus on God.
Oh well, I didn't mean to go off on a sermon. I just can't talk about how I got involved in paganism and let the church off the hook. Most people who are active in paganism grew up in the church. Most pagans I knew came from nominal Christian backgrounds (mostly in mainstream denominations). People who are vulnerable to paganism are deeply spiritual beings. They want more than what they believe Christianity has to offer. They despise religion, and want an experience with the divine, a relationship that goes beyond the four walls of a church. Satan loves to twist the truths of God. He does this with these people convincing them that what they seek cannot be found in Jesus, but what they seek is the essence of a relationship with Christ. Just as in Jesus' day, the religionists have elevated their tradition to a point that message is getting lost.
A testimony that is just a conversion experience is not much of a testimony. My life now is my testimony. I have a lot to work on and a long way to go, but I live my life each day for the Lord. Bible study, prayer, and church are all integral parts to my spiritual life. I came back to AOL after a year's absence so I could share my faith, and have fellowship online with other believers. What an awesome responsibility God gives each of us, to Go out and make disciples of all nations. What better way to do this than through the internet? Through the computer we can reach people that might never be reached any other way. But it is not always easy, and the road is often fraught with hostilities and attacks, but for those who take on this ministry the benefits far outweigh the strife. I get such abundant joy every time I share Scripture and someone GETS it.
Keeping the Faith
I believe that everyone needs to find a church home. Yes, we can worship the Lord and study His word without a church, but corporate worship is pleasing to God, and it helps strengthen the Christian walk of those who actively participate. We do not just attend church to get something out of it for us, but to serve the Lord and others. But, you must find the RIGHT church. We left our church home of the past two years, because we had stopped growing there. Spiritual growth is vital. If we do not grow, we remain babes in the faith, and we cannot produce fruit if we are needing to be bottle fed. Praise God we have found a new church home that will allow us to continue to grow in Christ. I am pleased, and nervous, because I know, there will be no more slacking off in this new church. If you feel that your walk is stagnate, ask yourself if you are growing in your church. Are you being fed? Are you feeding others?
Remember Jesus told His disciples that there comes a time when one must quit just being taught and begin to teach others. Spreading the Gospel is not as scary as some may believe. You do not have to go door to door. You do not have to stand on the street corner and bang a drum. You can write letters of encouragement to those who are in pain. You can write letters of encouragement to missionaries, maybe something you say will help them reach someone they may otherwise not reach. You can share God's message through your actions as well as your words. Be kind. Have an open heart, and time to really listen when someone needs an ear to hear, and a shoulder to cry on. Show compassion. Remember Jesus in Mark 6 after John the Baptist had been murdered, took time, and was compassionate to His followers, even though He was grieving and wanted to be alone with His emotions. We should strive to be like Jesus, and be compassionate to those who are hurting and in distress. I pray that this site has strengthened your walk, made you think, or at least made you say "amen" once. May God Bless you and keep you, til we meet in the sky.