Growing up I was very interested in religion, though my family wasn't a church going bunch. My older sister was part of a kid's bible study group and she had her own Precious Moments bible. I remember wondering why I couldn't go along and constantly flipping through her bible when I could. Eventually I had friends who went to church every Sunday and I made sure to spend the night on Saturdays so I could go to church. I ended up enjoying three things about those church going days: getting to wear special outfits, the singing, and the food. No matter what, I am never bashful to admit that church lady food is the best. I don't know why, lol.
I never enjoyed Sunday school and I didn't like sitting down and listening to a man go on and on about something I didn't find interesting. After a point, though, I did begin to pay attention to what was being said and really absorb it all. My earliest memory of comprehending all of that information was this: 'How can one God do all of that? There is too much to do, he needs help!' I never accepted the idea of the Judeo-Christian belief of God being all powerful. It just didn't sit right with me. In middle school I began reading the bibles in the house, and found that while I did find it interesting I just couldn't believe in it. Something felt off.
During 8th grade I went to a slumber party, which was a huge deal because I wasn't much of the social butterfly. We did the usual things: movies, junk food, and games. When it got to be around 11pm our hostess's parents retreated to their own room and my friend began to talk about witchcraft. The Craft was roughly a year, maybe two, out of the theater and looking back on it I believe that's where she got the idea. All of us listened to her and we messed around with things. I made a voodoo doll but eventually removed the pin since I didn't think it was doing anything. What surprised me was that the girl nearly broke her leg and I ended having some issues with said leg for a while.
After that moment I began to search for things pertaining to witchcraft online, stumbling upon Wicca along the way. I read the websites that seemed reasonable and would sneak around in the public library to read the books outside of my mother's watchful eye. After a point, though, I wanted to own some of those books. At that point I was in high school but I still didn't have an after school job, meaning I had to ask dear mother for about 15$ to buy the book. When we went to Borders I found one that I wanted, bounded over to her, and asked. She took one look at it, noted the pentacle on the front, and said no. I was crushed but didn't argue. Sometime later I posed the question again, with the same book, and she asked me if I worshiped Satan. By that point I was able to call forth the information I needed and explained things to her rather quickly and to the point. My mother finally agreed. While my mother isn't much of a religious person, it is obvious that she hold onto what she had been when she was younger(she tells me she's a recovering Catholic). My father doesn't seem to mind and has recently found himself to be an agnostic. My younger sister dabbled in Wicca/witchcraft, as did my older sister but she claims to be an atheist now.
I slowly began to amass a decent group of books on Wicca. Scott Cunningham's books were easy to come by and, no matter what anyone else says, I enjoy them and their simple way of going about things. My first boyfriend bought me my first tarot deck for Christmas, one that served me well for years(freakishly so) and was finally 'retired' after nearly 6 years of use. I still kept things hidden from my family and never really explained or showed them the extent of my belief in all of this. I kept a small altar in my room that looked like an odd collection of things and performed my spells and rites after everyone was asleep or while people were doing house/yard work. My practice of the holidays never took off since I didn't have a way of doing it on my own or with others of the same faith.
It wasn't until I met Grendal and his family that things seemed to change. Grendal is a polytheistic agnostic, his older brother is possibly agnostic as well, and his older sister and parents are spiritualists with a slight Wiccan bend. This was the first time that i had run into a family that seemed to be like me. I remember giving Grendal's mother(who, like my mother, says she's a recovering Catholic) a tarot reading and she gave me one in return, using a deck of playing cards and explaining to me that a neighbor girl taught her how to read cards like that when she was still a kid herself. Grendal's father is interested in Hawai'ian spiritualism, Huna, and talks to me about it since I'm half Hawai'ian. While I've never heard of it myself, I listen and find it rather interesting. The family's personal library has a plethora of New Age books in general and I've found myself looking through them and pulling out random titles. While Grendal's parents and older sister still refer to God, they mean it in the sense of a higher consciousness, though it rankles Grendal to hear that word.
I've come a long way after 13 years of studying and practicing. While I'm still nervous to discuss my beliefs due to loosing friends, I'm getting better. My extended family on either side don't know what I believe in, or the extent if they have an inkling. To some degree neither does my immediate family. For the most part I don't find it necessary to talk about it and be very 'out there' about it all. Yet, I will have no qualms speaking up and defending it if I have to.
I am proud to be pagan.