What wicca means to me.

I started studying Wicca 25 years ago in college while in my 20's . In my 30's I abandoned it in a desperate and meaningless attempt to impress and pacify my in-laws. Now in my 40's I have returned.
In my 20's there was the novelty , the counter culture aspect, freedom and a touch of mystery and rebellion . I knew a couple Wiccan's and not being raised in a faith so to speak it seemed cool. There was late night discussions, some strange and lovely rituals and a fair amount of illegal drug use. At the time it was enough for me as young and naive' as I was.
In my 30's I embraced the Catholic Church, prayed diligently, volunteered at the church and taught my children the rosary all while enduring an increasingly abusive marriage supported and justified by my husbands avidly Catholic family. The family fearing the judgment and gossip of a small Midwestern town used the church it's teachings to bully and blackmail me into enduring the abuse for over a decade.
After fleeing the marriage I searched desperately for a faith I could believe in, one that would be mine. One that I didn't have to compromise my core beliefs to be in and one that didn't make me feel like a second class citizen .
It was a long and winding road, one I must admit I am not sure I have finished traveling.
At first I was afraid to embrace Wicca again. I had grown to accustomed to keeping my head down and avoiding controversy. The intense shame and guilt drilled into me over the years of my marriage made me cautious to publicly embrace anything out of the norm. After the years of constant verbal abuse I was afraid. So I delayed the decision claiming to be an impartial observer. I read everything I could get my hands on. Ancient manuscripts like the The Tao, the Koran, modern books like The Secret, I read them all attempting to discern what I believed as opposed to what I was told to believe.
Eventually I stumbled upon a few books concerning the Goddess and Goddess based religions and for the first time started to think long and hard about how growing up in a patriarchal society had affected me .
One in particular question struck me " How would we be different if a woman's gifts of compassion and empathy ,emotionality and intuition were embraced and glorified rather than downgraded and ridiculed?
The book was a god send ... "goddess send" to my wounded self and I meditated on the questions daily. I discovered a pride in myself as a woman I had never known . For the first time I began to see my particular gifts of womanhood as a blessing, I took pride in my role as a Mother in a way I never had and embraced the next stage of my life as a Crone, one I am fast entering with anticipation and hope instead of the fear and dread I felt before.
That was almost 3 years ago now.It has taken me a long time to have the courage to share my beliefs and path with others, much of it was not only a journey of healing but none of finding my own voice. I still feel there is much for me to learn but for the first time in my life this is not something I fear but it is instead something I welcome with a sense of self discovery and wonder. No one truly knows where their path will take them perhaps the best we can do is to be open to the possibilities around us. In this way we will be able to see the path that is meant for us and us alone.

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