Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Growing Up Pagan

Coming out of the broom closet. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but many of us have used the expression to describe how we revealed to the world that we are Pagan.

It isn't an easy thing to tell friends and family that you no longer feel a part of the religion in which you were raised. Being honest comes with a price. Feelings will be hurt, and some relationships will never be the same again.

Even those who accept a loved one being Pagan can make life difficult: imagine going to a party where you are introduced to strangers as "my friend the Witch"!

My kids' experience is different from my own. They've only ever known what it is to be Pagan.

I left the Christian faith of my family as a young adult, and I found a new home in earth centered religion. Because I made the choice later on, my childhood was just like that of all my friends and neighbours. I went to church, took bouquets from my mother's garden to my Sunday school teacher. I never had to think twice about reciting the Lord's Prayer at school, or whether the wording of my Brownie Promise conflicted with my beliefs.

I had no trouble answering when someone asked what church I belonged to. I can even remember a time when my friends and I organized an informal religious exchange. We paired up and went to each other's churches, just to see how different communities went about their worship.

Growing up Pagan is different. My kids do think about things other kids take for granted, about things I took for granted at their age. So far, I must say their experience has been a positive one. Some people have really impressed me not only by their acceptance, but also by demonstrating a familiarity with basic Pagan tenets.

I am happy for my kids. I feel blessed to live in a world where they are accepted for who they are. And I have hope that this is a growing trend. A friend pointed me toward a news story about student atheist clubs in American high schools, and I see some parallels between these young people and Pagan youth. Their beliefs are not the same, but they encounter a lot of the same situations. Knowing there is a place for all youth to find fellowship with likeminded people is comforting.

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