So, Nicky, how did a nice little Methodist girl become a non-binary Hellenistic pagan person?
I got asked about how I became pagan and why. Let's say there's a reason for the blog title.
I was raised Methodist. Church every Sunday, the occasional pot-luck or ice cream social, and the annual Turkey Supper. Communion once a quarter. I was an acolyte after I was confirmed at age 9 and proved I could walk down the aisle with the candle-lighter and not fall or set fire to anything.
When I was 13, my folks left the Methodist church. The pastor was embezzling and when Mom and my stepdad confronted him at a church meeting, he attempted to assault them. There is a process for getting a new pastor, and my folks were unwilling to continue attending while the church worked through it.
They started in at the Lutheran church, so I went along. Another round of confirmation classes, and I found I disliked the general doctrines of the church. I started going to the Baptist church with my grandparents. Mom quit the Lutheran church and went to a different Baptist church. The pastor was a raging homophobe, exactly what my sexually confused self needed at that time.
By the time I hit college, I was looking for a solid church, one that wasn't going to drag me into the weirdness of charismatic Christianity, one that wasn't insane. My boyfriend went to an independent Bible church, and they did mostly book studies. It appealed to me as an intellectual. They turned out to be crazy too. They had gotten so far into the pro-life movement, they were ending up in the nascent quiverfull and dominionist movement. I bought into it. After all, I wanted a better world for my kids.
And boy did I have kids. I have four because I woke up before I had five. God might forget I was bisexual if I married a man and made lots of little God-warriors.
We church-hopped a lot after we moved to Arkansas. Eventually working 3-5 jobs between us meant we were not able to attend on Sundays.
So I drifted, being a Christian in an every day kind of way without regular church. When the kids got bigger, I tried the Methodist church in West Memphis and it was all right for a while. Then my oldest asked about pagans. She was about 11 or so. I found the local group and we went to one of their full moon circles.
It didn't do much for me, but she was moved. She read books on paganism and began identifying as a witch and as bisexual around 12-13. So I went with her for Sabbats with Summerland Grove. Her sibs tagged along, but only my youngest, another girl, stayed with it.
I was identifying as Cambellian Christian by then, taking Joseph Campbell and his Monomyth theory with my religion. I realized I was scarcely what most would call a Christian. I was working for Christian Brothers University and learning there were other ways to be Christian, rather than the rigid, self-righteous path of denial and austerity and judgement I had been raised with, and other beliefs than Premillennialism.
Bun came out bisexual and I needed to accept my own. I volunteered at the Gay & Lesbian center as she attended the local gay youth group meeting. That sealed my walking away.
In 2005, when Bun was 13, we went through the First Realm course with Summerland Grove. This is an exploratory class, an introduction to paganism. I identified as a pantheist by the end of it. Bun was identifying as Wiccan.
In 2006, both my girls had mental breakdowns. Bun spent much of the year in a mental hospital. Oli, age 6, started self harming. Both were hearing voices. I was having visions and being granted knowledge that if I returned to Christianity all this would stop. If I didn't, my girls would die.
I faced God and walked backward into paganism. I defied him to murder my girls over my beliefs, telling him he wasn't worthy of worship if he stooped to abuse tactics like this.
I had not been called by any god. But as I learned to drive semi-trucks in 2006, I called on Freyja frequently for aid. She didn't listen. Not my pantheon.
It was 2007 before I figured out my patron was Hera. I called on her for a spell (binding a bad boyfriend). Those I did the spell with said I was gone. I have no memory of anything after lighting the incense. My eyes went blue, they said (my eyes are brown), not blue but Freman blue, and Hera was in the driver's seat. We cast so hard we made a bottle of mead spoil and I couldn't be around men for three days without splitting headaches.
After that, I devoted myself to the Queen of Olympus. Hermes took me up as I realized he was in charge of all my pursuits: travel, writing, merchant work. He also got me terrific parking.
I went my way, praying and lighting candles and reading tarot cards. Never really got serious about it, just a small daily practice and church on the holidays. Most forms of magic are nothing more than applied will. There are some I like but most of the time, I prefer to apply directly, without the hugger-mugger.
Bun became a follower of Aphrodite and the Cyprian smiles on her still. Oli went with Poseidon, because she always has been a water-baby.
We celebrated with Summerland Grove until it went weird and started falling apart when the High Priestess died. They're making a comeback, finally finding their feet after that upheaval. Some friends and I started a small coven, which grew, went wonky as the wrong people joined the mix, and fell apart. We tried again a couple years ago and have a solid church with state recognition and about 30 members now.
I fell into paganism because the kids were interested, got committed to the idea of offering a queer-friendly church (which Summerland is and the Polestari definitely is) and the gods took me up when they were ready. Most recently, the Morrigan laid claim to me a couple years ago.