The Difference Between Catholics and Pagans: A Personal Journey
A Lifetime of Catholic Education
I was born and raised a Roman Catholic as was my father. He lived through Vatican I, and saw the changes made with Vatican II. For as long as I can remember, I went to church every Sunday, and on Holidays. We celebrated Lent and participated in Advent activities. I was baptized, went through my first communion, and then was confirmed under the name St. Michael the Archangel.
I was quite religious. I became a lector, reading the scriptures to the congregation every Sunday. Shortly thereafter, I became a Eucharistic Minister, distributing communion to the fold. To everyone else, including my parents, I was the perfect little Catholic. In fact, for the longest time my dad thought I’d become a nun.
To me however; something was missing. My Catholic education didn't answer many of the most controversial questions I had. I thoroughly enjoyed the rituals the Catholic Church used to celebrate holidays and even the mundane rituals performed during a Sunday Mass. But there was something missing in the religion itself.
I found myself, at times, thinking there was something wrong with me. I didn’t feel I was as devout as people believed. I would go through periods when I would pray constantly, asking God for guidance, but I would never get it. I would read the Bible, and pray the Rosary daily. Then I would just stop, not knowing why.
An Introduction to the Occult
Toward the end of my high school experience I befriended a boy who was dabbling in the occult. He proclaimed to be a witch, and I was fascinated.
He talked with me about his beliefs and the rituals he performed. He even took me to a little pagan shop and showed me around. My curiosity grew. I felt at home in that little shop not at all like it was Satanic or evil as I had been taught.
After graduation, I moved four hours away to go to a little Baptist college in a tiny, unknown town. My freshman year I became part of the Catholic Community on campus and went to their little Mass a few times. After a few months, my heart was no longer in it and I refused to be a hypocrite. That was the end of my Catholic education.
One of my classes was the history of religion which I found fascinating. I started thinking about what I had learned; so many people have died because of religion. The crusades quickly come to mind. I couldn’t understand why, here in America, a country founded on religious tolerance, religion would be a reason for war, and prejudice.
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Paganism, on the other hand, doesn’t “preach” anything. There is no fall of man, no original sin, and Heaven and Hell do not exist. There’s no guilt, no evil, no Satan. Blind faith is not a requirement. It’s a nature based religion/spirituality that uses the ebb and flow of Mother Nature as spiritual guidance.
Instead of forgiveness and penance, there is Karma and it can be good or bad. It’s really more a way of life than a religion. Instead of the Ten Commandments we have one guideline similar to the Golden Rule, called the Wiccan Rede. “Do as ye will; but harm none.”
This little rule forces the practitioner to really think through actions and decisions and their effect on society as well as the individual. For example, telling my parents I’m a witch would hurt them, so should I tell them? No, it would make me feel better, but would ultimately hurt them more. So I’ve kept it to myself.
Paganism has a “live and let live” attitude. It promotes balance among all things, a cosmic harmony. Everything has its opposite. Male and female, night and day, left and right, up and down, you get the idea. Everything is in perfect balance in nature.
There is no evil but there is ill-intent. No one is inherently bad or born with original sin; it’s the intention that matters. Making a decision with the intent to harm someone results in karmic debt which has to be repaid, not the eternal damnation of your soul.
Paganism and Sex
I have to bring up sex, simply because paganism has the opposite view of it than Catholicism. When I grew up, sex was bad and premarital sex was a sin! You were made to feel guilty for having naturally lustful thoughts. Lust is one of the seven deadly sins in fact!
Paganism sees sex as a natural instinct. Mother Nature gave animals and humans the instinct for reproduction simply so we could survive, it’s a primal urge. Paganism celebrates sex, and encourages loving and healthy sexual relationships. Sex is a celebration of life and love.
The first half of the Pagan year revolves around the God and Goddess and the development of their relationship, culminating on May 1, known as Beltane or Mayday. Beltane is the day of their union, also known as a pagan ritual: the Great Rite. Sex is a celebration of Mother Nature, and should be embraced and celebrated, not guilt ridden and shunned.
I’m not saying Catholicism, or Christianity are wrong. No religion is wrong. Everyone has a right to walk their own path; the Christian religions are just not for me. I’ve found myself completely at peace with my decision to become a witch. The religion/spirituality just makes sense to me. I have become more accepting, and I have gained so much wisdom since I became Pagan.
Mother Nature has so much to teach, and we have so much to learn. This article is not meant to convert anyone, or bad mouth Catholicism or Christianity. I just wanted to share my story and dispel any myths you may have believed about Paganism. We’re not bad people, and we’re certainly not Satan worshipers. We’re just people, walking a different path.
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