Ancient practice

Why I’m pagan

Writer Rebecca Kearney is a proud pagan, a recent transplant from Texas and a full-time student at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Writer Rebecca Kearney is a proud pagan, a recent transplant from Texas and a full-time student at Truckee Meadows Community College.

Photo By D. Brian Burghart

I am pagan. I make no excuses for this. I am not ashamed of my decision to follow a spiritual path that strays from the mainstream. I would be happy to explain my beliefs to anyone who is curious. However, I find that most are not willing to know my beliefs, as though the mere mention of a pagan ritual should send them scrambling to the nearest confessional to repent for the remotest ounce of curiosity for something so evil and fiendish. Why are pagans discouraged from celebrating our faith in the open?

Upon my decision to become pagan, I did my homework in the form of purchasing books, surfing the internet, and joining online groups with like-minded individuals. One common theme was clear: Informing those you know of your new religion choice should be viewed as if you were coming out of the closet. If you wouldn’t tell someone that you were gay, you probably shouldn’t tell them that you’re pagan.

What? Excuse me, are Christians given this same advice? On the contrary, Christians are encouraged to spread the word and bring as many to God as they can. There is no shame in being Christian. There is no shame in being Jewish. There is no shame in being Muslim, although they are persecuted for the few zealots in their religion and probably feel just as slighted as I do, if not more.

I would love the opportunity to spread the word of my religion, not as a platform for conversion but simply to educate the masses who still think, no matter how many times I tell them otherwise, that I worship the devil. I can no more worship the devil than I could worship Jesus as a savior of souls. I believe in neither as they are both Christian constructs. Aside from that, I couldn’t worship anything that could be construed as evil. The Wiccan Rede contains the words: “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” This means just what it says: Do what you like, just don’t be mean about it. Does that sound like something a devil would come up with?

I honor the cycles of the sun and moon. I celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, like most Christians do, with the decorating of the evergreen, gift-giving, goodwill and all. You just won’t find me at church. I still celebrate Easter, only I refer to the holiday as Ostara, and the coloring of the eggs means something different to me. I will ring in each solstice and equinox with ritual and remembrance, not animal sacrifice and blood-letting. I light candles, I chant, I open myself up to accept the energy of Mother Earth. Come to think of it, if you picked me up and put me at the altar of a Catholic church, I wouldn’t really be out of place. Many of my ritual practices were performed for centuries by pre-Christians and adopted by those who came later. There’s nothing sinister about them.

I, like most pagans, simply want to be taken seriously and not seen as a threat to society. We are not amoral, frightening creatures who should be hunted down with pitchforks and torches. We simply want the right to practice our religion without fear of persecution. Isn’t that why America came to be in the first place? At what point did we get away from religious freedom and into closeted practice? I will not cower in the closet, nor will I come out of it to scare and infuriate the masses just to prove a point.

Like other pagans, I’ll sit quietly with my hands in my lap and wait for society to catch up. Enlightenment is just a broom ride away.