I’ve had posts like this so often, but I think I’ll make it again, one last time.
I grew up in an Anglo-Catholic household: My mother’s family was Anglican, my father’s Catholic, and my maternal grandparents leaned toward the Catholic side of Anglican, so after coming to the $tates, they went to Catholic churches out of simplicity (and cos I guess they had a problem with the Episcopalians in the area). I went to Catholic school, run by an order of Felician nuns; when I later had a summer job at a Franciscan-run school, I learned that Felicians are regarded as the strictest orders, $tateside, and one of the Franciscans said to me, upon learning I went to a Felician school “I shouldn’t speak ill of another Sister’s calling, but I don’t think my niece should be told she’s going to Hell for ‘developing’ early” — and, in my experiences, that’s really not too far from the truth. In school, my “calling” was as a chorister, that was about it. For the reputation of Felician nuns, I will say that there are some nice ones, and one would often give me first pick of the old books from the school library that would be going to charity or get thrown out. This was how I first learned of the Theoi, after selecting D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myth, though it broke my heart to learn “nobody worships those ‘gods’ anymore”.
When I was in junior high, I gained an interest in modern paganism (mainly through children’s books like Witch-Cat and Gypsy Summer), and got it in my head that since my family is of Keltic origin (my maternal grandfather being mostly Cornish, my father’s family being Ultach [from Ulster]), then I needed to explore Keltic polytheism. I explored both Gaelic and Brythonic pantheons, and attempted to practise a hodge-podge of Keltic reconstruction and Neo-Druidry (at the age of 13, I assumed it was all the same thing, and I gotta say, they have their similarities), but ultimately the message I got from those gods was “thanks, but no”.
See, what turned me off from mainstream Christianity was the fact that it’s expected that one’s relationship with the Divine is going to be very impersonal, even those who just generally “feel God” during menial tasks are kind of regarded as weird; even nutters like Jack Chick force the idea that the Divine is only ever sensed through acts like prayer, since the world itself is so wicked that one has to beg the presence of the Holy Spirit to come to oneself. I mean, if that’s what one truly believes, then I can be courteous and tolerant, as least so much as I myself am given, but in my own experiences, that’s just simply not true —and keep in mind, this is after a heavily abusive past from, ultimately, both parents and other people who were given authority in my childhood and adolescence who really should have known better, from a fifth grade teacher who delighted in telling my mother what a horrible, sinful child I was, to layteachers at a state high school who blamed me for being too advanced for their curriculum, to outright psychiatric abuse that nearly drove me to the Scientologists in my early twenties. The world is full of people who either act in harmony with the world around them, or who are determined to transgress that for their own personal gain.
In high school, my father and I ultimately came to an agreement: Go to mass, or go to Meeting House with my step-mother, and I chose meeting house, but it never really did anything for me, spiritually.
After a horrible experience after being forced out of my father’s home and then taken mighty advantage of by a de-facto step-brother, I turned to LaVeyan Satanism. In some ways, it was very good for me, but in other ways —like how it’s basically a a hodge-podge of Cliff’s Notes of several Ayn Rand novels (who’s “best parts” basically paraphrase Nietzsche, and poorly, and [or so I'm told] occasionally give allusions to Feri) with a little Thelema for Dummies thrown in —it’s completely devoid of real spirituality, and thus cannot foster any real growth. That said, I was never the best Satanist: Closeting my own polytheism aside, the closest I ever got to their “liberal Fascism” was Libertarian Socialism, and since LaVey’s own work stressed the theatrics and shock-value of his own brand of “black magic”, I didn’t see the point and so eschewed that part for the better-humoured rituals of Discordians and Subgenii. I do still consider myself, in some ways, a SubGenius, and since “Bob” is all in SubGenius scriptures, and easily syncretised with Hermes, I don’t see the incompatibility — and hey, you gotta respect any church that not only gladly pays its taxes, but whose only real sin is not sending in your $30 for eternal salvation or triple your money back.
I very briefly, like, for less than a few months, looked into liberal sects of Judaism and Islam before coming back around to the Theoi, and here is where I’ve been since I was twenty-three.
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