A Lifetime of Catholic Education
I was born and raised a Roman Catholic as was my father. He lived through Vatican I, and saw the changes made with Vatican II. For as long as I can remember, I went to church every Sunday, and on Holidays. We celebrated Lent and participated in Advent activities. I was baptized, went through my first communion, and then was confirmed under the name St. Michael the Archangel.
I was quite religious. I became a lector, reading the scriptures to the congregation every Sunday. Shortly thereafter, I became a Eucharistic Minister, distributing communion to the fold. To everyone else, including my parents, I was the perfect little Catholic. In fact, for the longest time my dad thought I’d become a nun.
To me however; something was missing. My Catholic education didn't answer many of the most controversial questions I had. I thoroughly enjoyed the rituals the Catholic Church used to celebrate holidays and even the mundane rituals performed during a Sunday Mass. But there was something missing in the religion itself.
I found myself, at times, thinking there was something wrong with me. I didn’t feel I was as devout as people believed. I would go through periods when I would pray constantly, asking God for guidance, but I would never get it. I would read the Bible, and pray the Rosary daily. Then I would just stop, not knowing why.
An Introduction to the Occult
Toward the end of my high school experience I befriended a boy who was dabbling in the occult. He proclaimed to be a witch, and I was fascinated.
He talked with me about his beliefs and the rituals he performed. He even took me to a little pagan shop and showed me around. My curiosity grew. I felt at home in that little shop not at all like it was Satanic or evil as I had been taught.
After graduation, I moved four hours away to go to a little Baptist college in a tiny, unknown town. My freshman year I became part of the Catholic Community on campus and went to their little Mass a few times. After a few months, my heart was no longer in it and I refused to be a hypocrite. That was the end of my Catholic education.
One of my classes was the history of religion which I found fascinating. I started thinking about what I had learned; so many people have died because of religion. The crusades quickly come to mind. I couldn’t understand why, here in America, a country founded on religious tolerance, religion would be a reason for war, and prejudice.
Paganism, on the other hand, doesn’t “preach” anything. There is no fall of man, no original sin, and Heaven and Hell do not exist. There’s no guilt, no evil, no Satan. Blind faith is not a requirement. It’s a nature based religion/spirituality that uses the ebb and flow of Mother Nature as spiritual guidance.
Instead of forgiveness and penance, there is Karma and it can be good or bad. It’s really more a way of life than a religion. Instead of the Ten Commandments we have one guideline similar to the Golden Rule, called the Wiccan Rede. “Do as ye will; but harm none.”
This little rule forces the practitioner to really think through actions and decisions and their effect on society as well as the individual. For example, telling my parents I’m a witch would hurt them, so should I tell them? No, it would make me feel better, but would ultimately hurt them more. So I’ve kept it to myself.
Paganism has a “live and let live” attitude. It promotes balance among all things, a cosmic harmony. Everything has its opposite. Male and female, night and day, left and right, up and down, you get the idea. Everything is in perfect balance in nature.
There is no evil but there is ill-intent. No one is inherently bad or born with original sin; it’s the intention that matters. Making a decision with the intent to harm someone results in karmic debt which has to be repaid, not the eternal damnation of your soul.
Paganism and Sex
I have to bring up sex, simply because paganism has the opposite view of it than Catholicism. When I grew up, sex was bad and premarital sex was a sin! You were made to feel guilty for having naturally lustful thoughts. Lust is one of the seven deadly sins in fact!
Paganism sees sex as a natural instinct. Mother Nature gave animals and humans the instinct for reproduction simply so we could survive, it’s a primal urge. Paganism celebrates sex, and encourages loving and healthy sexual relationships. Sex is a celebration of life and love.
The first half of the Pagan year revolves around the God and Goddess and the development of their relationship, culminating on May 1, known as Beltane or Mayday. Beltane is the day of their union, also known as a pagan ritual: the Great Rite. Sex is a celebration of Mother Nature, and should be embraced and celebrated, not guilt ridden and shunned.
I’m not saying Catholicism, or Christianity are wrong. No religion is wrong. Everyone has a right to walk their own path; the Christian religions are just not for me. I’ve found myself completely at peace with my decision to become a witch. The religion/spirituality just makes sense to me. I have become more accepting, and I have gained so much wisdom since I became Pagan.
Mother Nature has so much to teach, and we have so much to learn. This article is not meant to convert anyone, or bad mouth Catholicism or Christianity. I just wanted to share my story and dispel any myths you may have believed about Paganism. We’re not bad people, and we’re certainly not Satan worshipers. We’re just people, walking a different path.
© Copyright 2012 - 2014 by Daughter of Maat ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Besarien from South Florida on November 16, 2014:
I recently converted from lifelong Catholic to Episcopal and was thinking that was a leap! I'm glad that you found a religion that feels right. I am not entirely sure I am there yet but am on the right path to get there.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on November 16, 2012:
@Mary Merriment, I agree. I don't feel guilty anymore, most of the time... it's very hard to completely break the hold that religion can have, especially when it's a religion that guilts you into everything!! Letting go of Catholicism was VERY freeing!
Mary Roark from Boise area, Idaho on November 16, 2012:
Well said. I love living being able to make our own religious choices. I have left the religion of my family and traveled through many other belief systems. One thing I will say, is that I refuse to feel guilty just for being human. I think that idea is what leads many people to great confusion about themselves and their natural thoughts, desires & feelings. They lose who they really are in who they feel they should be. How can we feel loved if we don't even feel okay with who we are?
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on October 16, 2012:
@Amaryllis you know for some reason I've steered away from this subject, but I really enjoy writing about it. Thank you!! I think I will start another hub on this!! :D
Lesley Charalambides from New Hampshire on October 16, 2012:
Another really interesting hub. I hope you'll write more on this subject.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on July 24, 2012:
lol that's a very good point! :D
Hustl3 on July 24, 2012:
Christianity is Paganism 2.0! No wonder you felt so comfortable with it.
Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 12, 2012:
Well well writen with lots of insight!
Shared via hubbers alert, twitter, hub followers, facebook, google+ and stumble upon.
Wesley Meacham from Wuhan, China on June 12, 2012:
I'm a bit disappointed but only because I thought you would actually list out several differences between the two. After reading I see that wasn't your intent. You simply wanted to express the feeling behind your own experience. In the end and interesting read. Good luck in finding what you're looking for, not just here but in life in general.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on June 12, 2012:
Thanks Teresa! I found there were a few different contradictions in the Catholic faith, like praying to Mary. When I researched the history of the church, I found Mary was a replacement for the Goddess figure in the pagan religions. The similarities between the two religions are fascinating!
Thanks for commenting and sharing! :D
Teresa Schultz from East London, in South Africa on June 12, 2012:
That was interesting (and voted it as such besides also voting up, and sharing it with my HubPages followers) - in that I too grew up Catholic, but stopped going to the Catholic church shortly before I would have been confirmed. It was round about the time my mother had problems dealing with praying to Mary, when she pointed out that in the bible it said thou shalt worship no other God. I still feel I'm "Christian" though, and as a Christian I try not to judge others - so I do not mind which religions my relatives, friends and fellow online companions follow :)
Hubert Williams on March 30, 2012:
I hope you folks have a wonderful life. You keep writing, I'll keep reading.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on March 30, 2012:
Thank you for your comment, I like how you relate a christian condemning me as a round-a-bout eay to give a blessing, that's a great way to look at it. We do not have an ostrich farm, lol however we do have a nest of Sand hill cranes just past our dock that my husband calls ostriches! lol
Thanks again for commenting!
Hubert Williams on March 30, 2012:
I really enjoyed your hub and your unwillingness to accept things as true just because someone says they are. If any Christian condemns you for this in the name of God, they are only giving a blessing according to Jesus. Pagan is just a word used as a name for people that refuse to believe that the "accepted religions" are the absolute truth and bowing to them. If you feel lost or confused continue your search. I also am not trying to bring you back to God, as they say, because he will never leave you once you have accepted him and when you pray it is not like talking to your parents. He always answers prayer. The answers may not be to our liking, but they are always answered. You don't happen to own an ostrich farm, do you? Great hub.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on March 30, 2012:
Thank you Remanki. That's really all I wanted to do was convey my journey and how it unraveled. Tolerance is a big issue that deeply moves me. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and paths and those who say "you're wrong" whether they are pagan, buddhist, christian, muslim or any other religion, give their faith a bad name. We all need to coexist and I hope that's the message this hub and others I've written on pagansim convey to my readers.
Thanks again for your comment, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub!
Rema T V from Chennai, India on March 30, 2012:
Hi Daughter of Maat,
Though I belong to a totally different faith, I found this hub very informative. Great hub. I learned something new today! Thanks for the knowledge.
Of course, as you rightly mentioned, tolerance is something which everyone should practice regardless of the path they choose to follow.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on February 19, 2012:
Thank you, yes, that was the main reason paganism appealed to me as well. Live and let live seems to be the motto. To each his own. Tolerance is something we all need more of.
hecate-horus from Rowland Woods on February 19, 2012:
Thank you for writing this hub. "No religion is wrong" This is one of the reasons Paganism appeals to me. Tolerance. All I ever heard when I was Christian was how wrong everyone else was. The Mormons were going to hell, the Catholics, the Buddhists, basically everyone was doomed.
Voted up and shared.
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on February 15, 2012:
Don't forget the Catholic stations of the cross correspond to the four directions (earth, air, fire and water). ;D
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on February 14, 2012:
You're right, I had absolutely no idea all of the symbols, including the altar, chalice, candles and incense were all assimilations of the pagan religions. I was so miffed when I started researching everything. A religion that blatantly lies to their followers and instills fear just to keep them in the congregation really forced me to rethink my values and integrity. I have such a different view of life and morality now, and honestly, I think I'm a better person now than I ever was as a Catholic.
Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on February 14, 2012:
Excellent! Couldn't have said it any better myself! Growing up Catholic, I'm guessing you had NO idea back then how many of its symbols and rituals were hijacked from paganism. What fun I've had over the years explaining the similarities to Catholics poo-pooing paganism! Or the shock and horror on the faces of Bible-thumping Christians on learning "their" Golden Rule is only a different wording of the pagan "An ye harm none"!
Voted up, awesome and beautiful! ;D
Kitty Fields from Summerland on February 05, 2012:
Awesome! Good for you and what a wonderful path to be walking...I was Wiccan for many years but as of lately have been a little inclined to walking a different Pagan path. I've always felt that strict/staunch ritual is not the way of the earth and that is the reason I've gone off on a different path than the Wiccan...but like you say, no path is wrong...it's just specialized for that individual. :) Loved this hub! Blessings to you.
hush4444 from Hawaii on January 29, 2012:
What an interesting read! You're right, no religion is wrong (as long as it's not hurting anyone). I look forward to reading more of your hubs.
Bonny OBrien from Troy, N.Y. on January 24, 2012:
Okay I agree with alot of what you wrote here in this hub. And I can't begin to go into my beliefs in this subject. I myself feel being a Pagan is a relief from being a catholic. I was born and raised a Catholic, but there are so many things that the Church says, and I disagree with.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on January 11, 2012:
Mr. Happy, I totally agree, Live and Let Live is my mantra. Congrats on your 10 years of abstinence and celibacy! I really think that's fantastic! Life isn't all about sex. In fact I didn't have sex until I was 20, thanks to Catholicism. We are definitely less judgemental. I think that is what frees us to become enlightened!
Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on January 10, 2012:
"For example, telling my parents I’m a witch would hurt them, so should I tell them?" - I agree with you in not telling some people about your personal matters. I do believe that a sorcerer/witch should not be blunt. There are always many ways of going about one thing : )
Regarding sex ... sure, celebrate it if You wish - to each their own. This pagan has been practicing abstinence and celibacy for over a decade. I think that is what I like about pagans ... we're less judgemental. As long as your "path has heart", live freely.
I enjoyed your post. Cheers!
May Wakan Tanka walk with You.
Melissa Flagg COA OSC (author) from Rural Central Florida on January 09, 2012:
I'm glad you liked it! It's a topic I'm quite passionate about and I think I might write more on the topic. It seems to be rather popular :D
chelseacharleston on January 09, 2012:
I love to hear about alternative lifestyles. Thanks for dispelling those myths!
Dale Hyde from Tropical Paradise on Planet X on January 09, 2012:
Excellent hub! This was a very insightful and informative read and well done. As a Pagan myself, I can vouch we are not worshipers of Satan, as that would be impossible. How? We don't even acknowledge Satan's existence. Nor do we kill children and sacrifice animals... Misconceptions are all over the place. Thanks for this hub, and for clearing things up to those who will read it!