We all come to paganism in different ways. Some may have a pagan member of their family, and thus they grew up with the knowledge of this path as one they could choose for themselves. Others may have been their when modern paganism was founded, perhaps part of the birth of the Wiccan belief. For others, it was something they came across and grew to learn about. For me, like so many of you, it was that I had known my own feelings towards belief, religion and god for a very long time, but I had no idea that what I believed was already 'a thing'. Of course as a young teenager I thought I was a philosophical genius. Until I was glad to learn that my beliefs were not made up from my own head, but many people shared them across the globe.
As I began to try to find out more, using mainly the internet, as little other resources were available to me in a Northern Irish protestant home, I realised that this could really be what I believe, or rather, something I can say that I believe in. I have never really believed in religion, you see. I have however always believed in a god, or being, or entity or force. However you might like to describe it. I have always known that there was something there that science and religion both didn't quite understand. Maybe we never will, and personally I hope we never will, it takes all the fun out of life if you know EVERYTHING.
I know many of you may have shared my feelings of excitement at learning that you weren't just to be considered a hippy nut job who hugged trees (well, not by everyone at least). So I began to read more. At the beginning I tried to learn very technical aspects of the known pagan paths, the most obvious to me in my early years being the path of wicca. But I found that these practical elements were not things that could be learnt over night, and I struggled with the magical side of it. I found it hard to practise anything ritualistic at home, and whilst I lived in the countryside, I still lived in a village with a school and a considerable population of farmers and dog-walkers which meant there was nowhere I could be secluded to practise.
As such I let all practical sides of my beliefs go. I still believed them, but I worshipped in silence. I prayed to the moon as I was driven home from work. I asked the trees at my school for strength and tried to draw energy from them when I knew I was going to have/ having a hard day. I used my mind, and contented myself with silence as best I could. This may sound like I was ashamed, or frightened, and I was frightened, maybe even a little ashamed. I am sure many of you have faced at least one person in your lives who has reproached you for being a pagan, and being in an all girl school, rumours spread fast. When I first began to investigate my beliefs I told one of my best friends, who thought I was joking and began shouting that I worshipped mother earth at the top of her lungs while laughing hysterically in the middle of our lunch room. For several weeks I was the witch of my school, which wasn't very pleasant. I can imagine many of you have had worse experiences.
Now however, I am trying to move away from silence. I have studied a lot in my silence, and whilst every book that I read fills me with enthusiasm and knowledge which I so crave to tell people about I have not really voiced these enthusiasms until now. I wonder how many of you have had similar journeys in their path, periods of silent thought without any expression of what you believe or think you believe at that time. It is a hard thing, silence, because you end up screaming excitement and reproach to yourself, in your own head. As such, this is where I am going to direct my enthusiasms. I have slowly been hinting to my friends now of my beliefs and my boyfriend knows. Whilst they don't share the beliefs, none of them have shut me out, so I am feeling good about that. This is my introduction, really. My introduction to the things I have learned, the path I am taking and the things I have seen that have deeply influenced my understanding of paganism as a whole, and of general morality, as it seems unfair that all the other 'religions' should have a crack at this but not us :)