I went to a Christian based school where Christian hymns were a part of every assembly and when I was still quite the Christian I even went to the bible studies classes. Bible studies was taught both separately and as part of the curriculum. Some of the teachers were still concerned with teaching the bible. One teacher in fact refused to teach the Old Testament because it was not Christian, but she wished to teach the New Testament instead. Honestly it was a joke. By Grade 6 things had fallen away to a large extent but that one teacher still tried to cram in her religious viewpoints.
A group of friends and I started a little “coven”, somewhat based on The Craft, somewhat influenced by Hocus Pocus. We would sit on the shotput slabs and talk about magic and all things delightfully witchy. A long cry from what I do now, but I miss those times where I could convene with others and talk magic.
When Earthdragon introduced me to actual Witchcraft, when I was about 11 I was struck by how natural it seemed for me, it was more natural to believe in a god and goddess than an angry wrathful god that I was taught about. It was easy for me to accept that magic was everywhere as my parents never stifled my belief in fairies, and astrology and animals and plants having souls. It was natural to believe that the moon and the stars could offer solace and power in times of need, as it was already a part of my world view.
I collected feathers constantly, I spoke to my animals and the plants and the fairies, I danced atop a broom stick like it was a hobby-horse and I had a recurring dream throughout my childhood years about a big Native American man in the clouds, and the sound of drums and horses galloping toward me while I stood stuck on a spot by the trees on my Ouma’s plot. Of course I lived in a haunted house too, so the witchy, spooky and magical things were always part of who I was, even as a Christian, and being formally introduced to my current path as a pagan was, to use the old cliche`, like coming home.
I started opening up to my friends about what I’d actually found and a new little witches “coven” was created, this one of course was also to disband as we all took different paths in life. Although one of the people from the old group still identifies as Pagan, he is not on the same path as me. I realise now that being called by Hekate it was inevitable that I would be as “Solitary” in my craft as she was in her wanderings.
I was the go-to witchling, and kind of still am I guess. Many others in Primary school began to question their faith in Christianity, some of course would reconnect with the Christian God with renewed strength while others explored a variety of options until becoming Atheist. A few people are also Agnostic and some are quite magically minded themselves.
In primary school, we had the project of talking about religion within our life-orientation class. I was annoyed that religion was still part of the curriculum but I was pleased for the opportunity to talk about being a Pagan and as I called myself then, a Wiccan. Our Teacher was Jewish, so I think she had the sympathy to understand the need for tolerance. So there I stood in class, explaining the wheel of the year, the Litha sabbat I’d attended and the Fae that were present. I spoke about morals and ethics and the God and Goddess and how Wiccans are balanced in their view of gender. I spoke about what I did and how I saw the world.
And then the questions came, I think most questions were reasonable, but I cannot remember much of them. After class, however, some slight mockery started and a boy asked me if I would turn him into a toad if he kept on annoying me. I think I said yes in a very sarcastic manner. From then on, he carried on with the “witch, witch you’re a witch” tune and he spat at me once. Luckily there were more mature people as well.
I remember throughout Gr 7 me carrying a little red mojo bag with my bell and some herbal concoctions. I was obviously considered weird and even if I hadn’t come storming out of the broom closet I’d still have been teased and bullied, as I had been before I became a witch.
I remember a friend and me having conversations with our English teacher about paganism and Witchcraft, and she was very open and kind. I also remember having my first pentagram necklace confiscated after school hours by a horrible teacher who lost it. As it was a gift from my mom I was incredibly upset. I remember him telling me that it wasn’t a religious symbol and I decided to keep my mouth shut and I now regret it.
Of course the Highschool I went to was also primarily Christian, with the Lords Prayer being said every assembly. Eventually I decided they can screw themselves, and I refused to say the Lords prayer, and instead kept quiet and sent a small prayer to The Goddess.
One day this awful group from America came to our school, and the one women riled many of us up. She stood there on our stage and started preaching about how she found Jesus, and how she was saved from being a “Moslem”. Some of the Muslim teacher’s left the hall, visibly offended, hell I was offended, and I’m not Muslim. It was vile. The next time some crazed group came, one of the teachers allowed anyone who wasn’t comfortable with it to stay in the class room.
My friend and I were often preached to by the little born again group at the high school, and I was often told I would find Jesus someday by friends. It was constant practice for my smile-and-nod-yeah-thank you-but no! response.
Varsity treated me quite differently, I was suddenly surrounded by such a bohemian bunch of people, that religion didn’t really matter. I was still preached to once by a stranger though :). I’m glad that I went through all those experiences, I’m glad I had the opportunity to talk about paganism in school and dispel some myths about being a witch. I’m glad that I had the chance to grow into my own beliefs and that I was allowed to express them. Although there was the occasional mockery it was never so serious that I felt I had to run back into the broom closet and swallow the key.
I did lose friends along the way, but I gained others, so it was never too much of a loss. And although I’ve had the occasional run-in with religious zealots, I’ve been able to handle them.I still keep myself as anonymous as I can in order to not lose opportunities, I also do not wear my pentacle’s when I’m going to interviews or places of work, as unfortunately we do still live in a world of religious intolerance.
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