Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads
I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.
Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.
The Pagans Won
"I once was found
but now I'm lost
but now I'm blind"
That is how many Christians think of me these days. I was a Jesus Freak with a passion to convert Pagans, but it backfired. The Pagans won. And Christians and Pagans alike ask the same question: Why? What happened?
I look forward to exploring many aspects of my journey from Christianity to paganism. The role of gender, eschatology, ecclesiology, postmodernism, my German heritage, sexuality, music, and history. And while those are all complex and worthwhile topics, sometimes I think the root of the answer lies in the simplicity and depth of personal experience.
My favorite childhood photograph captures me as a toddler sitting in a meadow. While my friends are running around, I am intensely focused on a flower. When I was older I sang to the stars and felt them singing back to me. I wrote poems to the moon in middle school. Animals have always come to me and trusted me. When I became a Jesus Freak I felt called to evangelize among hippies and pagans. I was always happiest when we went to bring "the light of Christ" into "the darkness of paganism", because I loved being around those "lost souls".
Recently I remembered the darkest hour of my life. My husband and I had built a life of ministry together and my livelihood, vision, and purpose were tied up in our relationship. When he cheated on me and wanted a divorce, I felt like I was loosing every bit of who I was. After nights of howling in agony I sat on our marriage bed, alone, while he was with his mistress. As I emptied the bottle of prescription drugs into my hand, I tried to think of a reason not to swallow them.
I imagined my family's shock and pain, but it melted with mine into an intangible cloud of darkness that only made the pills more appealing. I thought of hope but couldn't remember what that was. I thought of a light at the end of the tunnel but for all I knew there was no tunnel, just this endless falling into a bottomless abyss. It was a whisker brushing against my wet cheek and a rough tongue licking my salt encrusted skin that made me put the pills back into the bottle.
My black cat held vigil over me as I let myself fall out of bed, scraping my fingers through the creases between the tiles, trying to let physical pain ease the agony inside. I wanted to lose my mind because crazy people are generally happy, aren't they? So I opened myself to whatever thoughts would come, free from my rational mind, free from sanity. Anything, give me anything to survive this, I screamed at the void. I thought maybe Jesus would answer, the Holy Spirit would come, I would feel the Father's embrace. But all that came to me was "the circle. You must make a circle. If you can make a circle, you will be OK."
My husband came home to find me crawling on the floor, drawing dry erase circles around me on the tiles. Circle after circle, if I can just make a circle, if I can be inside a circle, I will find myself, I will be safe. He dragged me into the bedroom and threatened to beat me and I laughed even while I trembled. All was still anguish and despair and yet I felt like something had changed. Just days later I realized that I was in an abusive relationship and began the long arduous journey toward freedom.
Four years later I stood on Mount Shasta and cast a circle. My first, unless you count the many dry erase circles on those tear soaked tiles. I confused the directions and elements and jumbled invocations I had memorized from a book. And yet as I stood in my circle, I raised my arms to a blue moon and drank in her light, unaware of the concept of "drawing down the moon". My cheeks were wet and my skin salty, this time with tears of joy. The next morning I sat on a boulder waiting for the sun to rise, feeling complete in my being and marveling at this new sensation of being content with myself.
Did my broken marriage drive me away from Christianity? Was it disappointment in God? Theological doubts? Yes and no. Many experiences and questions gnawed at my faith, but none had the power to destroy it. They pushed at a door that was waiting to fling open. They prepared me to step into a world that had been calling me home all along.
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