After the Magic
My journey to Catholicism was, ironically, the logical extension of applying Pagan principles to my life.
"Paganism is a religion of experience, not faith. It's not about what you believe. It is a path based on what you do, not what you think."
I first encountered this description of modern Paganism back in 1990, at a beginner's class on Goddess spirituality. Since then, it is the one comment I've heard most consistently made about Pagan religion. Druids, Wiccans, and other Pagans often regard dogma as a dangerous concept that leads not to intelligible truth, but merely foments conflict and division. Instead of doctrine, Paganism offers a variety of tools and exercises that enable its adherents to decide for themselves what, if anything, is worth believing. Even the most conservative, traditionalist Pagans still tend to insist that their teachings represent only one of many possible approaches to truth.
One of the reasons I embraced nature spirituality is because I found this rejection of dogma to be deliriously alluring. Christianity teaches, "You will know the truth and it will make you free." By contrast, Paganism seems to say "Assert your freedom, and only then can you find truth." This was an offer I couldn't refuse.
When I became a Pagan, I immersed myself in a vast intellectual playground. My new spirituality inspired me to study world religious history, shamanic and magical practices, Celtic mythology, and ecofeminism. I applied my non-dogmatic mind to mastering the elements of Pagan ritual, from solitary Wiccan circles to intricate Indo-European "reconstructionist" ceremonies. I explored guided meditation, the invocation of spirits and deities, and the practice of spellcraft. Meanwhile, no one told me what to believe. I chose to study with several teachers over the years, not because I was "supposed to" but because I could see that they had something to offer me. But as soon as a teacher no longer met my needs, I quickly moved on.
In addition to my studies, I helped establish a Druid grove and a Pagan meditation group, and eventually began teaching Celtic spirituality to a steady stream of enthusiastic students. I was a professional writer before embracing Paganism, so it's only natural that I wrote several books that explained earth-based spirituality for beginners and non-practitioners-and even a book on how to integrate Goddess spirituality with Christianity! Soon I was receiving invitations to speak at Pagan gatherings. I was living a dream life as a "full-time" Pagan, thanks to my teaching and writing.