Raised from birth in the Christian church, I learned principles I carry with me to this day. Love thy neighbor. Do unto others. These were the foundations of my faith, but my church didn’t exactly match that foundation.
The roof of that church was a bit shabby and let in a lot of hate and malice toward our fellow men. The walls were constantly being patched from the inner squabbles that left marks behind. The fabric on the pews became frayed over time and the bench uncomfortable. My faith was firm. My church was not.
Unlike the beautiful structures that mark the passing of Christianity through the world, the church I was part of had a dark, fundamentalist bent as I grew older. It hadn’t been there during my childhood, or I hadn’t noticed or understood.
The Church of God was non-denominational which was supposed to translate to anti-dogmatic. It had a mystic side to it, a spiritualist element, but primarily, it was racist. I realize that now.
After attending one of their Bible colleges, I started questioning their sincerity. One of my friends was raped on campus. She wasn’t even on a date. It was a study partner, and I knew she barely knew him outside class. The response of the school was predictable and most definitely not Christian.
So much happened in that three-year span that made me question my church, but the most important thing that happened was that I grew up.
Through it all, I never doubted my faith in a creator. That was never a thought in my mind. That was when I found UU or Unitarian Universalism.
It’s a creed, not a faith. Its goal is the search for spiritual truth. You can be any faith and still fit in with Universalist principles because their motto is “One light, many windows.”
My evolution didn’t stop there by any means, nor should it ever. But, how many years did I struggle, like every other young person, in my search for that truth? UU encourages the search for truth, kindness to others, the use of reason, yet I wasn’t exactly secular in my belief. I never lost that faith in a creator or my spiritualist roots in mysticism.
Toil and Trouble
You hear much about the “rise of the witch” in the past decade. It’s been covered widely as a symptom of our culture’s love lost for Christianity, but that’s an oversimplified view of, not only the faith but also our western culture.
It’s dismissive of millennials to say they are turning to witchcraft as an alternative or in outright rebellion. That goes hand-in-hand with the saw that Christianity is the default setting and all other faiths are aberrations. That’s simply not the truth.
I would argue that the opposite is true, that the world was in its default state before Abraham, and that Christianity is the fly in the ointment. It was, in fact, the evolution to monotheistic faith in the God of Abraham that changed the world. Paganism is an umbrella that basically means any religion but the ones descended from the traditions of Abraham, and that was largely decided by the people who followed those religions.
Earth-based faith is growing. There’s no question about that. Paganism is on the rise, but why? It’s not Trump and 2016, although that may explain the sudden popularity of grey magic and the hex. It’s much more than any one leader of any one country.
And, I don’t believe it started at Hogwart’s either. J.K. Rowling spins a great tale, but it’s not that good. No, I thoroughly believe the obvious answer is the correct one.
Life is about balance, and the Abrahamic religions rose up in a time of great turmoil. The pagan faiths that had been organized enough to control large numbers of people and great swaths of land were cruel and superstitious, requiring more and more fanatical belief from their followers, demanding the sacrifice of the things they valued more and more in an effort to control their societies. Sound familiar? It should because it’s what happens when despotic leaders grab hold of the religion of their day to control a populous.
What we’re seeing is the pendulum swinging the other way. Christianity has become the owner of the cold, sacrificial God who destroys all in his path for his own agenda. Over the years, the Christian faith of the western world, which- let’s face it- had some flaws anyway, has become horribly intertwined with our culture in such a way that it is now creeping back into our government.
This rise in the pagan faith is simply the search for spiritual truth taking us back to kindness and concern. Empathy over antipathy; that’s what our youth are looking for and are finding in witchcraft.
The long way home
As for myself, I can only say that, even as a Christian, I was taught a bit of witchcraft with different, more acceptable names like spiritual warfare and gifts of the spirit, or prophesy. Once I realized that connection was there, I simply embraced the faith that had been there all along.
Today, I am a mystic witch with a deist practice with a side of soft polytheism, and I remain devoted to the principles of UU. These facts are only important to me, of course. Yet this is the journey that Millenials are currently taking in droves.
It may be a phase. That much is true. Witchcraft and paganism might not be the replacement for western religion, but I would just bet that secularism is. Not everyone who dabbles in the craft will remain in it, but neither does that mean they will return to the church.
In the meantime, let’s hope we’re more enlightened about religion this time around and avoid the mistakes of the past when it comes to the old faiths, especially, considering that the differences in the practice of witchcraft and the practice of fundamentalist Christianity can be slim at times. The only real difference being the label given to the practice or the Divine they worship.