This weekend I had one of those caught-off-guard encounters about religion. I typically consider myself well versed to debate theology, in fact I welcome it. I live in the south, and have the pleasure of working with a very large but close knit group of nerds. We often chat about our thoughts and ideas covering typical no-no topics of politics, religion, sexuality, even personal finances. It isn't often that I'm uneasy or at loss for words, most especially where my Wiccan path is concerned. However, I found myself this weekend in one of those conversations that you look back at and kick yourself for all the things you should have said; but turned out to spawn a surprisingly introspective evening. It went a little something like this.
I was shopping at a local gigant-o mart, picking up groceries and such for my family, when I happened down an aisle and spotted a familiar face. It was a guy that I had grown up with in the family church. We had been friends, sat in Sunday school together, gone on countless mission trips and outreach programs, and organized Vacation Bible School together. I knew his family and he knew mine, but it has been many years since I had seen him. We struck up the typical 'how are things?' conversation, discussing our spouses and children. It was all quite friendly and I genuinely enjoyed catching up. But then:
"Ah, I heard you had turned witch" he said, inclining his head towards my necklace.
And with those words, I was immediately on the defensive. I didn't like the way he said "turned witch" and my mouth spoke before my brain could catch it.
"I didn't turn witch. I was born a witch. I was just..." I flailed my hand in the air, searching for the words, "...raised by Christians"
"You make it sound like you were a child raised by wolves" he says
I laughed it off. "Yea I guess I did. It was good to see you, tell your folks hello." And just like that I ran away from the entire situation. I didn't even get what I needed from that aisle.
I spent the rest of my shopping trip pondering the words that had come out of my mouth when I was unexpectedly challenged about my spirituality. Was I born a witch? Are we born one faith or another? No, I thought. Until my adolescence I had definitely believed the Christians were correct. It was my curiosity and my questioning nature that led me out of the church and into books of religious histories and ancient mythologies. But why had that happened? Was that internal inkling that something wasn't right, that very curiosity that led me to the pagan path, was that what you'd say was "the call of the inner witch?" Had it always been there, just waiting to come out? And why had I never thought about this until right now?
I've practiced for a little over a decade. I stand proudly outside the broom closet. I relish in internal meditations and know that every bit of my spirit is soundly home in Paganism. But with all that I had never really given much thought to if I felt as if I was destined to be where I am. Like so many others in our community, I did experience that feeling of coming home when I found this path. I had always felt this was a sign from my spirit guides that I had found the place that I belonged. But now that my subconscious spit out that sentence, I think it was me that found where I belonged. I'll admit I have always been a skeptical person and if you had asked me last week, I would have scoffed at the idea of someone being born with inclinations to any particular faith; because logic tells me that religious expression is something that is learned as you develop as a person. But you know, I think I was wrong. There IS something inside us that calls us to where we are. And it can't be explained and it can't be defined; but we all made it to where we are because something somewhere inside us told us to look, and we did, and we found, and we stayed. Because we are witches. And that is the way we were made.