Like I have spoken about before, I grew up in a household where I had to grow up really fast. On top of that, I was always an inquisitive little girl. I felt a need to learn about things of interest to me. Lacking stable parents and being raised without religion, my interests soon took a turn for the religious. Even as a young girl, I had dreams about Brighid and Pallas Athena. Brighid was a mother to me, Pallas Athena, a protector, as well as a confidant. They drove me to satisfy the urge to discover my religious home. As such, I started looking into Christianity, Islam, as well as the religions of the ancient cultures. Through the latter, I came to realize you could still worship these Gods I felt so close too: it was called Paganism, and the God and Goddess were its avatars.
I was a duotheist for a little while, but I never quite understood how Odin and Lugh were the same God--or worse--how Odin and Loki were the same God. I became a hard polytheist long before I knew there was a difference between duotheism, soft polytheism and hard polytheism. Back then, I only knew of Paganism and monotheism, as represented by Christianity, Islam and the other big religions I had briefly studied and rejected.
My views developed with my body and mind. As I found stability within myself, I also found stability within my religion. My religious views grew up at the same pace I did. This year marks the first year that I can officially say I have been Pagan for half my life; I turn twenty-eight this year. It doesn't feel that long, honestly, but at the same time, it also feels like I have been Pagan all my life.
A few days back, a comment on one of my blog posts questioned the usefulness of the Pagan label. I realized then, that one of the reasons I cling to the 'Pagan' label, no matter what it comes to mean, or the amount of meaning it looses is that I have identified myself by it for half my life; it's as much a part of me as my nationality, my sexual orientation, and many other defining features.
I have thought long and hard about it, but this year--for the first time in thirteen years--I will not hold a dedication ceremony at Imbolc. I used to do it every year, noting down what I would work on in the year that followed, as well as my renewed vows. It was a big part of my practice, but I find it has no bearing on my Hellenistic one. So today, I feel a little off-kilter; saying goodbye to something so fundamental to my previous practice, as well as acknowledging the length of said practice.
I love the Pagan label, and I am extremely happy in my religious practice. I feel more at home in Hellenismos than I have felt anywhere else. It was a long road to get here, though, and today, I remember that road. When I was fifteen, I finally found a pentagram ring to wear, and I have not taken it off for more than a few hours since that time. I'm debating myself about taking it off. It feels like it's time, but I've worn it for so many years. It's become a protective talisman, a symbol of my faith, and an identifying marker. Yet, more and more, I feel that it's a magickal talisman not linked to Hellenismos, a symbol for a faith not my own, and an identifying marker for the wrong faith. I would have loved to find another symbol to replace it with, even if it's a temporary one.
I think I'll go out to hunt for one of those symbols today before work, and make the transition. It seems fitting to do so on the day that my vows to my old religion officially end. These are big steps, and they make me a bit melancholiac. On the other hand, I can say 'new achievement unlocked: Pagan for half of my life', and that's pretty awesome.
Well, it's not exactly a dodecagram, but it has twelve 'tips', and it will do for now. I'm getting some funds together to commission a dodecagram pendant, but until I manage to swing that, I think I'll wear this. The ring is off, and the moment wasn't as scary as I thought. It feels very weird not to wear it, but I don't miss it.