Terrified of a world I could not mentally grasp, I attempted to exert control over my reality in lieu of understanding. This led me to paganism and the occult, and the attraction that magic could somehow give me the ability to influence the world around me.
It is important to understand that I did not turn to this out of some deep seated feeling of rightness about pagan beliefs, but out of fear. I felt that if I was in control of my existence, then understanding my world would be unnecessary. At that time in my life, my thoughts had nothing to do with balance, I was desperate and just looking for any framework to put my spirituality into perspective, and paganism just seemed like an easy fix. It is not that paganism is an easy or silly faith, but that what I took from it at the age of seventeen was exactly that way.
The most bizarre thing about that whole stage in my spiritual growth is that a part of me always seemed to be aware that on some level I was playing “pretend,” taking all my favorite precepts from fantasy novels and trying to force them into an actual religion. I wasn’t practicing true paganism by any stretch of the imagination, but rather a bizarre chaotic collection of beliefs I had strung together in my mind. In fact, even when things happened that frightened me, I still did not completely believe that I had not imagined it. Or maybe I did, and I just do not want to admit it now.
I do distinctly remember early in my first year at college, as I walked home one night I was overcome by a sense of dread in my guts. As I hurriedly murmured a protective charm, it suddenly occurred to me that my words sounded empty, and that the charm itself seemed intimately connected with the fear I was feeling. I realized that all I had been doing was manufacturing external bogeymen to obscure my internal fears of the world around me.
In fact, I quickly came to understand that the whole belief structure I had built up around me had quickly gone from controlling my reality, to holding myself away from the world and isolating my existence through ritual and protective magics. With that, the flimsy framework of my personal paganism fell apart, leaving me once again exposed to the world and unsure. However, I was more comfortable being unsure as I did not want to fall into a similar trap as I did with my previous spiritual endeavor.
It was during this period of my life that I discovered the delightfully challenging complexities of the Hebrew Bible. To Be Continued