I remember when I was much, much younger – growing up as a military dependent in Germany was an amazing time for me. I would go Volksmarching with my parents and my sister, and in the 10km we walked, I would get to see a lot of the country-side each weekend. Sometimes, the trails wound through town, sometimes through the local farmer’s fields along the paths used for the tractors and other farm equipment. However, whenever the paths wound through the forests, I would be especially happy. The forests provided me with the best opportunities to leave the trail, and walk within the woods – parallel to the walking trail, of course. Those forests spurred my thoughts and allowed me to see other worlds. Worlds full of Elves, full of imaginary battle scenes, and even dinosaurs hiding behind every large trunked tree. Yes, I was particularly fond of dinosaurs growing up. What kid wasn’t? 🙂
It was so easy to believe in magick, and the Fey, and even the Gods. But as I grew older, I was told that such things were not appropriate for a young man. Seeing Fey folks peering back from deep in the woods was just a fanciful imagination running wild. It was “ok” to believe that such things existed, but not as I got older. Things like that were “child’s stuff” and I needed to set that aside, in order to “grow up.” I was to push all that out of my mind and dismiss any such thinking as unhealthy and unproductive towards becoming a “normal” member of “grown-up” society.
As a young adult, I spent a lot of time pushing thoughts about the Gods out of my mind. Dismissing all of it as a product of my over-active imagination. But it was certainly acceptable to believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…though I had no feeling towards the existence of that. And when I asked for proof, I was given a book and told the answers could be found on those pages. Because it was “socially acceptable” to believe such.
Do not get me wrong here – there is nothing wrong with the belief in the Christian God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That is something that works and calls to those that feel that within themselves. Just as the calling of the Gods and Goddesses and Spirits of Place and Spirits of Ancestor work for me – and many other Pagans. And just as there are those who claim to have the calling of the Christian Trinity in their lives, but have no real connection – in other words, paying lip service….there are certainly those within the Pagan communities as well. But this is not about either of those sets of folks.
We believe readily in magick, the Other World, and so many other things when we are young. Not only do we embrace them, we tend to feel them as well. And then, we are told to set those aside – to embrace something that might not call to us, to dismiss our feelings as being unreal, inappropriate. And suddenly, we find that we are suppressing who we are, what we feel…. And going into the future, we might utilize this as a coping mechanism for the world around us. We bottle in who we are, what we feel, what we know to be right….and all of that starts to eat away at who we are.
Back in 1995, I felt the United States military and came back into the civilian world. In the military, it was easy to be a Pagan, easy to embrace my knowledge and feeling of the existence of the Gods. In the military, my beliefs were protected by regulations and rules dictating that to others. Sure, I had some discriminatory moments from others. There was the one time I was physically accosted at the Sembach Post Office at 3am when I was checking mail after shift. But the civilian world is a little different. Physical altercations can be more frequent and far more violent. People around you are a lot more anonymous than when they are on a military base.
It would have been far easier for me to just not be a Pagan. Or to stay in the “closet” – so to speak. it would have been easier, but it would also have been going back to denying who I was and what I felt within me. I carry enough scars from trying to hide things to appease others. I am not about to compromise on who I am or what I believe. Granted, as I have gotten older, I have learned to not wear my Paganism completely on my sleeve. But when directly confronted, I do not hide who or what I am. Not anymore.
I do wonder; however, just how many people out there lost touch with their feeling and understanding of magick – just because they were told to not have an over-active imagination at their age? That believing in the Fey was not something real – that it could be misconstrued as a sign of mental illness? How many others went through similar actions of internal repression because they were told they should not like the same gender as themselves? How many were told that they could not succeed at various desired jobs because of their gender or skin color or their parents’ income status?
I wonder how different this world could be if we would just make an honest attempt towards being who we want to be, to believe in what we know to be real….where could this world be today? I do indeed wonder….