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Why am I Pagan?

The story of who I am now, how I came to be that person, and who I was before, in opposite order.

I grew up in the United Church of Christ (UCC), and my earliest memories of a religious services are of Zion UCC in Owensboro, Kentucky. I vaguely remember that before that I went to a Catholic baptism, but I donít remember much at all of that, aside from the priest lifting the baby above his head.

When I was young, I was a strong believer in the Christian God. I wanted it to be true, and it was for me. I was never very able to sit through sermons in church, but what seven year old is? I would try to listen, but I couldnít make sense of what the Pastor was saying.

There were times when I would just sit and read the Bible, trying to understand everything that I was being taught. My mother always brought something for my brother and myself to snack on during services, as she knew that we became bored very easily with the services. I once tried to sacrifice a whole set of Life-Savers to God. I didnít understand the concept of sacrifice at that time, and thought that they would just disappear from my hands if I offered them in church. I was somewhat disappointed when they were still there after I opened my eyes.

I think my first departation from total belief was when I started looking forward to communion for all the wrong reasons. I always liked communion, not because of its symbolism, but because it was food. I didnít even know what the symbolism was until I had grown up some.

It was always easy to be a Christian. Everyone else I knew was one, so why not me too? I never entered a theological debate until I started questioning my own religion, so I donít know how well I knew my beliefs. I was confirmed and baptized on the same day, before my freshman year of high school. I donít think I learned anything during my confirmation process.

I agreed to the confirmation and the baptism because it seemed like something I was supposed to do. I still hadnít questioned my faith at all, nor had I ever wavered in it. The idea of changing faiths did not even cross my mind.

When I met one of my best friends, Kris Cole, I started seeing things in a different light. He proclaimed himself a Deist, and Iím still not sure what exactly his definition of Deist is. We were very close for about a year, after which I moved away, but itís what happened in that year that caused me to move down a separate path for the rest of my life, thus far.

I started reading the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, which managed to convince me that there was no Devil. After thinking about this for a while (and I did not believe that the theology in the books was sound, but it coincides with this disbelief in a Devil), I began to wonder about God, too.

Concurrent with this, Kris joined the Boy Scouts so he could go camping with us, and that summer (the summer before my sophomore year in high school), we attended the Indian Lore merit badge class. The teacher was excellent, and immediately we, who had always thought Indians were neat, were up to our ears in the stories, beliefs, and crafts of Native Americans. We even did one of their rituals.

Suddenly, I became partially obsessed with the Native American belief systems, and soon was gobbling up stories and religious bits left and right. I know that I was at least partially thinking to myself that this would just be a neat thing to impress people with (I was young and impressionable at that time), but I was also seeing a valid belief system in the Native American ideas of Divinity.

I had become a very firm believer in the Native American religion by the beginning of my sophomore year, when I learned we were moving to Illinois. I took this well, actually being happy that I was going to leave the Pit that was Kentucky.

I spent the rest of the school year becoming a better theologian, learning the whys of this new religion of mine, and seeing how it all fit together. I learned a real respect for Nature and Her power, and started to learn to see spirits.

When I moved to Naperville, Illinois, I was incredibly bored for my first summer. I had 3 months and no friends to spend them with. I went swimming, messed around with my computer, and, as I was wont to do, randomly created Dungeons and Dragons characters.

I had been playing D&D for five or six years by then, and had heard all the stories about people getting so into the game that they killed themselves or became Satanists. I didnít really know what a Satanist was at that point, but I knew that they were evil and nasty people. I promised myself I would never take D&D that seriously. I never did.

But, when I was randomly creating characters, I came across a type I had never played before: the Druid. The description in the Playerís Handbook appealed to me so much that I went out to the local bookstore and bought The Complete Druids Handbook and started reading about the class.

Again, I liked the character class so much, I started doing historical research on Druids and what they believed. I was blown away by the powers the Druids wielded. The more outside sources I read, the more I wanted to know. I quickly became greatly obsessed with Druidism, and soon was calling myself one in private.

Around Beltane of that year, I told one friend, who immediately said, quite loudly for the benefit of my friends who werenít eavesdropping, ďYouíre really a Druid?Ē I nodded my head, smiled, and struggled to explain my religion. I hate to explain it to this day.

Near Samhain of my senior year in high school, I started doing some meditation and astral projection. I learned much from this, including who I really am.

After I came to Ohio State, I started to really question my religion, so much so, in fact, that I effectively lost my ability to use Magic or ritual to any effect. The whole time in which I was unable to use those lasted a year and a day, and I find myself referring to that period as my ďTime of Trials.Ē

I kept my faith very well, though, and I did not have much to worry about in the way of physical trials, but it was painful to be apart from what has become my real love in this life: my Magic. I could not visualize anything, or even write poetry. It was as if I dried up. After my Trials, though, I was allowed to use my power again to its full effect.

Today, I am looking for a good teacher who can help me to advance myself beyond where I stand now. I find that every time I hit a brick wall in my studies, it is becoming harder and harder to vault over that wall. The Pagan Student Association here at OSU has helped to a great extent, but I am still searching for someone with enough experience to guide me further then the PSA could ever take me.

I have attended some ADF rituals in an attempt to find my niche, but I donít know if it is with them. Iím starting to think that I should be a minister, but there are no real seminaries for Pagans. I do know that, were I Catholic or even Protestant, I would be in seminary school right now. Itís something I would love to do with my life, but not something I see in my future.

To set the record straight, I did not become a Druid because of Dungeons and Dragons. The religion called out to me, and I answered. Before Druidism came along, I was the one calling out to the religion, looking hard for the faith within myself. When I found this, it was the faith that found me, the religion that called to me.

I have communicated directly with the Divine. I have wielded Magic, played at riddles with dragons, and fought battles. I know my ancestors. I know who I was in past lives. In short, my fantasy of youth has become reality. I can see things no other human can, and I have learned how to be a good man for the rest of my life.

Content © 2003, Michael J Dangler
Updated on 07/22/2003. Site Credits / Email Me!
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