This article is based on an interview with a 12 years old pagan girl with the consent of her parents.
I’m sitting on her room – her walls are covered with posters of bands, cats and dragons. She’s sitting on her computer table; I interrupted her movie editing. She looks like any 12 years old girl; she’s wearing a t-shirt with a cat on it and sweatpants. I ask her does she usually wear something that shows her religion to outsiders, and she answer quite quickly “no, I don’t”.
That’s funny – after all these years that I’ve been reading pagan teenagers messages, blogs and forum discussions on the internet, they all seem to dress differently; they wear black clothes and heavy makeup. This girl doesn’t have any makeup and dresses quite “normally”.
We start talking about her life and religion. She tells me, that her upbringing has been almost as normal as anybody elses – the only exception is the religious upbringing, she’s an oldest child in a pagan family and she has been raised as a pagan.
“I’ve been raised to respect the nature and to think that everything in the nature is alive, weather it’s a plant or a stone. And of course you can’t harm anyone with your spells or curses”, she talks quite like an adult would talk, she sounds smart and thoughtful.
I start asking questions about her friends and school; she tells me that she hasn’t told her friends about her religion, because thats the way she and her parents have agreed to keep it – one way to prevent bullying and prejudices. She tells me that her best friend knows a little about her religious thoughts; that she respects nature and her religion isn’t something you run in to every day. Her best friend doesn’t seem to care that much about her beliefs, but is a nature person herself, so she understands atleast some of her thoughts.
The attitude in school generally is very different; her classmates wonder and nag about her not participating in religious things such as religion classes and morning assemblies. Some teachers have been frequently asking about her religion “Are you a Hindu? Are you a Buddhist?” and it’s a bit annoying for her – but she just says to them “I won’t tell”.
I ask her, what kind of a life she thinks she would have if she was a “normal” child, a christian. “There wouldn’t be sabbaths, I would have to attend to religion classes and I couldn’t do spells or anything. Besides that, I don’t think my life would be that much different”.
She tells me that she hasn’t been talking about her religion with any relatives, not even with her grandmother and she doesn’t have a clue how granny would react if she told her about her religion. “Maybe it’s better this way” she says with a grin on her face.
She tells me that she wouldn’t want to be a “normal” christian girl – except when she has to take part in a conversations about her religion, she finds those kinds of discussion difficult for her. When I ask her why she’s chosen this pagan religion, she looks at me, thinks a bit and answers “It’s a religion of my family and I haven’t found any better one”. Straight answer – no bullshitting there.
I ask her to tell me how she practices her religion and she starts to tell; she participates with her family in sabbath feasts, talks to gods and goddesses, takes sacrificial foods to the nature (she want’s to point out that it’s usually bread – nothing bloody or dead). She also does some arts and crafts during sabbaths and saves a lot of bugs along the school trip.
She sounds like a smart girl, so I ask has she been thinking forward – does she believe she’s on the same path when she’s an adult. She looks up to the roof, scratches her jaw and says “No, no I haven’t been thinking about that. I don’t see any point of thinking these kinds of things in advance. Time will tell”. Oh, how smart; I wish I could have her kind of layd back attitude and not to think everything in advance…
She tells me that the most important thing in her religion is that you should respect everything that is living. She also tells me that sometimes it’s hard to understand everything that’s been told to her. She thinks that the best part of her religion is that it’s so malleable; you can do things as you feel like doing, there’s no book to tell you how exactly you should do things and no commands. The religion transforms with the practitioner and it gives you a lot of freedom to practice your religion.
I ask her does she believe that there’s a difference with self-educated pagans and raised pagans. She thinks for a while and says, that the raised pagans probably have wider knowledge about everything, while self-educated pagans have knowledge about something precice – for example they are looking information about only one thing or religion. She also says that she thinks that there’s good things in both ways and that they are both as good ways to learn paganism. I believe she might be right about that.
I ask does she have any tips for beginner pagans. Here is her message to all of the young ones:
Eagerly search information and don’t blabber to everybody about your beliefs (they might not get it).