Monday, September 08, 2008

How Did You Become a Pagan?

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," open to this and all other dimensions! Free luggage check and cocktails ... we don't scrimp.

I just sat down on this hard chair for a second to look at my email. And it turns out that one of my very best friends up and keeled over, off to the Summerland ... just like that.

My friend's name was Tom Wiloch, and he lived in Michigan. We worked together back in the 1980s. He put me on the path to Paganism.

Tom never intended to do that. He wasn't a guru, just a co-worker. But he was into science fiction and mysticism. He lent me some books by a writer named Robert Anton Wilson. After I read those books, I never looked at the universe the same way. Tom handed me a couple of paperbacks, and I took my first few steps down a whole new highway.

I'm crying now. The world has lost a wonderful man. But some other world has him now, and I hope that world is full of faeries who play tricks, because they have earned a new companion who will enlarge their tool kit -- as if it needs more ammo.

What started you on your path? For me it was the nice dude a few cubicles over. The one with lots of paperback books.



Hecate said...

Sorry about your friend.

May the Goddess guard him. May he find his way to the Summerlands. May his friends and family know peace.

I was always a Pagan, but I only found out that I was when I read The Politics of Women's Spirituality by Spretnack. And that has made all the difference.

Jeff Lilly said...

Anne, any friend of yours would be welcome in any world.

RAW was one of my big influences, too! He's out there somewhere, making trouble in some other universe, too. :-) He didn't make me pagan, but he did do a lot to keep me on the Zen side of agnosticism. John Michael Greer made me pagan.

THE Michael said...

My wife dragged me into this. I was teetering on atheism, having been fed up to here with religious scandals and having fundamentalist crap shoved down my throat, then my wife decided she was a witch, started casting spells that actually WORKED, and I haven't looked back since. Once you actually STUDY something, it's amazing how educated and illuminated in the subject you can become. Christians try to scare the be-jesus out of you by insisting the devil puts such thoughts in your head, and you'll head straight to hell if you question GOD (or their version of him, anyway). Nice to know the devil never existed, except in the minds of the power-hungry and/or ignorant bigots to lazy to think for themselves.

Anonymous said...

When I was eight years old, I was on a hike with my Girl Scout troop. I ran ahead (or fell behind; it's a little hazy now), and suddenly I was standing in a sunlit grove, facing a huge stag.

I remember offering a prayer to him (who I later came to call Herne), and then I heard a burst of laughter from the other girls, and he was gone.

It wasn't until years and years later, maybe around '74, that I picked up a magazine in the grocery store (geez, it was 'Teen Beat' or 'Tiger Beat' or somesuch), and there was an article on witchcraft and Wicca. I was, if you'll excuse the phrase, spellbound. I dabbled with magic, and freaked the heck out of my classmates (I was beat up and taunted for the rest of my schooling as 'the Witch'.)

It called to my heart like the sweetest song. It wasn't until 1985 that I had the courage to name myself, but I'd been praying in my heart for a long, long time.

May your friend's Gods gather him swiftly home.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

{{{{ }}}}

Anonymous said...

I was sent one summer to help an uncle with the horses he ised to raise, and he taught me how to use the forge to make the shoes...The first time I heated metal up to change its shape, I heard the whisperings of something beyond what I could see. My fathers agnotisism was obliterated by his father's (and mother's) polytheism. The stories, the tales, and the odd little rituals my grandparents practiced were suddenly made clear to me in that single moment.

yellowdog granny said...

just a so sure he's in valhalla cracking wise with loki...

it was sometime early in the 80's...while drunk and feeling sorry for myself..a thought came to me..why do you pray to a god...god is male and with the exception of your daddy, no man has ever done jack shit for from that second on...i started beliving in a goddess...settled on freya as she is goddess of love and war and that's pretty much the story of my life.

Terra said...

A few days after my mother's sudden death, I was outdoors, writing her eulogy. An intense wave of grief overtook me and I said out loud, "Mom, I can't stand it!"
A drop of water fell on my hand and startled me. I looked up into a cloudless sky. A breeze came up and rustled the leaves on a grove of birches nearby. Some leaves parted and a beam of sunlight lit a tree trunk. A squirrel ran up the tree trunk, stopped in the beam of light, looked at me and scolded me, then ran up into the leaves.

"Mom?", I asked. "yes" answered. "Oh, oh...oh no, it's not that sky cop from the bible, is it?!!"
"No (laughter) it isn't."
"Then what is it?"
"It's (again, gentle laughter)....

How could I remain an atheist after that?

May your friend Tom dance with the gods in Wonder.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the death of your good friend. He must have been a great guy.

IX Tenebrae said...

RAW planted some seeds, my wife some more, and RAW influenced Grant Morrison added to that.

I wish I could say there was some beautiful golden revelation or an abduction by aliens, but it was just a simple click while reading the Tao Te Ching and I was at peace with myself.

Terra, I would have loved to have heard the eulogy after that.

Nettle said...

I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend, Anne.

I first read RAW when I was, um, 12 or 13 or so? same age I started reading Crowley and Dion Fortune. Younger than the Spare, even, if you can imagine. I had a thing for Gerald Gardner even before that - we had one of his books that had the pictures of naked priestesses and such, and I already assumed that I would be one of them when I grew up.

Raevyn said...

My condolences on the loss of your friend. May whatever Gods he looked to give him succour and peace.

As for me, my little brother led me to the Gods/desses. As a young, impressionable twenty-something, my brother worked for a store in western Ontario called Far From Normal, and brought back with him a whole new outlook on life. Imagine my initial horror, as a good Catholic girl, when my baby brother came home sporting a pentacle(Satan's star, my mother called it)!! But being the 'Marian Catholic' I was at the time, I started reading, and reading some more, and talking to others, and was finally struck by the knowledge that this is what I was (not wiccan, like my brother though), and I could not and would not turn back.

Anne Johnson said...

Thank you all for your kind responses. Blessings abundant to you, to Tom, and to his family.

Inanna said...

My condolences to you and Tom's family. May he slip gently behind the veil.

The first time I heard about Wicca was in 1989, when a friend of a friend gave me a copy of "Dreaming the Dark," by Starhawk. I started reading Mary Daly around the same time; she was a big influence.

But I like to think it was the fundamentalist Christians who taught me how to be a Wiccan. I went to a fundamentalist camp every summer in the beautiful north Michigan wilderness. We spent our days and nights outdoors and were steeped in spirit, though I think I picked up the "wrong" kind. There were cold springs bubbling up out of the earth where we would stop to drink. I remember spending several hours in the woods by myself, on an assigned "solo" to hear the voice of god. I sat near a creek in a luscious, green, mossy vale, surrounded by old trees, and felt incredibly moved.

So it was really the Michigan woods that taught me, more than the fundamentalists, though I like to give them some credit. I certainly thought their theology was silly, but I was surrounded by so much beauty!

Athana said...

I just know Tom's in a better place than we are, anne. He's probably looking at *us* and crying -- given how much nicer he has it than we do.

As was the case with you, it was a coworker (at a refugee resettlement program) who first set me on the path to Paganism. Back in the late eighties, Gloria Mallet handed me Merlin Stone's *When God Was a Woman,* and said, "Here, I think you'll like this." (Gloria, if by some weird chance you should read this, we need to get together again. I miss you!)