The prompt from our fearless Patheos Pagan editor Jason Mankey was “How I found Paganism.” When I sat down to write on this, my first thoughts were did someone lose Paganism? Did they misplace it like a sock under the couch? I’m not trying to be glib, well maybe just a little. The truth of the matter is however, many people did lose Paganism. It was converted out of the hearts, minds, and souls of many of our ancestors in favor of a more mainstream religion, one with more rules, and most likely more men.
I get a lot of haters for identifying with Paganism. The Pagans hate me because I’m a Voodoo practitioner, and the Voodoo devotees hate me for aligning myself with Pagans. Some days( or maybe I should write daze) you can’t win. It became very clear to me at an early age, probably even before I could read, that I didn’t have much of a choice as far as my true spirituality goes. My parents named me Lilith, apologies to all who think I choose it as a strong name for feminine empowerment – NOT, it was given to me before I even got here, many would say Lilith choose me. Lilith is the Pagan Goddess of the night, revered in ancient times as a powerful force that is even referred to in the Bible and the Talmud. Thank the Goddess, because I certainly needed her.
I’m not sure how my spirituality would have manifested if I had been given a different life, or even a different childhood. My childhood was full of abuse, trauma, and illness. If I wasn’t skilled and schooled already, I was then. It was in my best interest to know what was coming, and how to protect myself. I’ve written about this connection before in my blog post Trance and Trauma. In it I write “Trance and possession are again ways we can move past and through trauma to healing. Indigenous North Americans and Asians also have a history of hardship bringing on spiritual transformation. There is the 1907 report of a Chuckchee shaman who was told in a vision to ‘be a shaman and be strong, and you will have plenty of food.’ So it seems that shamanic trance can both heal and provide.”
The folks around me were spiritual, and even if they had to hide their alternative beliefs, the knowledge and respect for the Pagan forces in the universe were always honored. Everything was sacred from the herbs we used for cooking to the stories, songs and dances they taught me from times gone by. Most importantly however, those around me when I was small instilled a belief in the importance of learning. I sought out every occult book I could find.I remember going into the Weiser bookstore to stand in awe of their rare and occult books. Weiser Books recently celebrated it’s 60th anniversary and I am proud to have become part of the family with the recent publication of my book Love Magic.
MORE PAGAN ORIGIN STORIES AT PATHEOS PAGAN
How I Found Paganism: The Origin Story of a Druid Priestess by Melissa Hill at Dandelionlady
As I got older my practices became more formalized, and I went on to study all forms of Paganism through the discipline of anthropology. Yet as they say you can’t get Awo (spiritual knowledge) from a book, so I studied with amazing teachers as well. I began, and am still a humble student today of three phenomenal teachers: Priestess Miriam of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple in New Orleans, Gros Mambo Bonnie Devlin, and Ochun Olukari Al’aye.
Well, that’s the start of the story of How I found Paganism and it found me. We continue to find each other wherever we can ….
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