You’ve spent days googling, reading every little thing you can get your hands on, you’ve spoken to friends who’ve probably pulled faces and changed the subject, you’ve taken a walk to be with nature- you might have even spoken to other Pagans, however it’s happened, however you’ve done it, the outcome is the same…
You’ve had the great epiphany: you want to be a Pagan!
Right now is an incredible time, it’s terrifying and mad and you’re sat waiting for the perfectly timed crash of thunder that will assure you that the Gods are accepting you, you’re waiting for the sky to open up and a giant parade of… wait, okay- so that’s not going to happen… you’ve had the epiphany and you’re sat, waiting- waiting for something, only you’re not quite sure what’s going to happen now- so let me break it down for you:
- You’re going to spend the next two or three years spending all your money on books and chalices and fancy wands and random crap that you think you need.
- You’re going to single handedly open up a Pagan library in your room/office.
- You’re going to accumulate a hell of a lot of silver jewelry.
- You’re going to send twenty billion desperare ‘I know I’m Pagan but I don’t know how to do this or what’s supposed to happen now- HELP ME!’ emails to various Pagan-y people.
- You’re going to try and meditate… you’re going to think you’re making it up until something totally weird happens and you realise that your head is a stranger place than you’d first imagined.
- You’re going to hold a ritual.
- You’re going to feel a bit stupid stood alone in the darkness drawing an imaginary circle.
- You’re going to screw up the first circle (come on, anyone who says they got any part of their first solitary ritual right is a liar!)
- You’re going to have a crisis of faith and think that the Gods are wishful thinking.
- You’re going to cut the crap and go for a walk in the rain.
- You’re going to feel the Gods.
- You’re probably now going to shit yourself slightly… and try that ritual again, this time you feel it- y’know, IT.
- You’re going to calm down and go with the flow of your newly Pagan life… for a while.
- You’re going to meet other Pagans… and you’re going to feel REALLY STUPID in comparison.
- You’re going to feel like this for the next five years. Then you start feeling comfortably stupid.
- After about half a decade you’re going to feel comfortable in your faith.
- Then you’re going to be a Pagan.
Helpful? Haha, that’s more of an introspection of the last six years of my life- personally, only now am I starting to feel properly and comfortably Pagan. I think that on a personal level it helped me to A) surround myself with atheists and B) take a philosophy course- as a very ‘religious’ Pagan I think that’s helped me hugely to get a grasp of my own beliefs and also means that I can calmly deflect all scorn from the you-believe-in-fairies?!?? brigade.
If you’ve just started out in Paganism/Druidry and want to ask me any questions; go ahead! I love talking about my faith and keenly remember how daunting it was to start out- so feel free to leave a comment or email me privately- I’m sure my address is hanging around on here somewhere.
When I was thirteen years old the two boys who sat either side of me in tech and music lessons began to sexually assault me. Every lesson they would touch me up against my will, gaining in confidence until it went further than I could have imagined.
I didn’t fight, I didn’t scream, I didn’t cry- when I told my Dad he told me off for not fighting back, insinuating that there was something wrong with me- when I told my head of year he laughed in my face and told me that I was stupid.
I’m bringing this up now because I’ve been forced to confront the memories a few times this month, and I want to put it all into perspective.
I’ve spent the last five years since it happened imagining similar scenarios and what I would do, how I would respond to make the outcome different.
About a year ago I ended up sitting next to a (there’s no mature way to put this) complete knob in my history lessons- he spent every lesson trying to slide onto my chair behind me and get me between his thighs.
In retrospect I’m horrified that I just sat there- I think it was a combination of the fact that the person on the other side of me was completely lovely and just pulled me onto his lap whenever this boy started to do what he did and that we were trapped in the back corner of a tiny, overcrowded classroom that stopped me from getting up and walking out.
Then, around a month ago I found myself sat in a bar (for the Brits: my local ‘Spoons) with a guy who I’ve known for about five years. Everyone else had either gone to the loos or to get drinks and he started flirting- he then put his arm around me and kissed my cheek. I laughed nervously and tried to move away- only to find that he had no intention of letting me go.
When I tried to verbally explain that I wasn’t interested in him in that way he responded by saying that he’d ‘seen me on stage- if I could do that then I could do him’ (I’m an actress, I was in a ‘mature’ production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ earlier on this year which he saw.)
I remember staring up as the ceiling as he groped me, feeling nothing but cold fear and wondering why the hell I hadn’t grown up from that thirteen year old girl who sat in motionless horror as those boys did what they did.
I’m not a victim- I have perfectly normal sexual relationships, I enjoy sex, I can communicate well with men and tell them what I don’t like and when to stop- I trust men.
But these things keep happening- and I keep on responding in the same way… which has lead me to realise that I’m not the problem in these scenarios. I never even flirt with a man I wouldn’t be happy to go the full distance with, I’m too aware of how these situations can escalate.
I think the only point I’m trying to get at here is to highlight how common these situations are, and how much they can just slip under the radar. Rapists and the like don’t generally leap out of bushes, they’re not usually total strangers. It frustrates me that a lot of women feel constricted and like this behaviour is acceptable because ‘it’s not rape/assault’ because it doesn’t fit the ‘stranger leaping from the bushes in a dark alley’ stereotype… I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen, I’m just saying that it’s not the only form sexual assault can take.
To my mind if someone touches you in a way that makes you feel frightened and continues to behave in this manner even when you ask them to stop they are assaulting you. This is wrong. You don’t have to endure this.
’til next time,
I know it’s been a long time… shit happened, then more shit happened- namely the man who said he loved me and wanted to be with me forever broke things off without a word or explanation- but I’m done with this sadness thing, I’ve listened to Adele on repeat and eaten far too much chocolate… it’s been just under a week and I’m finding my feet again, time to move on.
As you’ve probably sussed by now, I’m the sort of person who over thinks every single little stupid thing… and then worries about it. And then worries a little bit more… and then can’t sleep and… you get the picture.
I used to think this was unavoidable, that it was just part of me and who I am. I thought that I’d have to spend my life praying for miracles and men to throw themselves at my feet.
Well it turns out I was wrong- cos I’ve done rejection. I mean. I’ve really done rejection, and I’m still here and strong and having a much better life.
It first happened just before Christmas when I got so frustrated with the guy I was completely in love with that I told him my feelings, 99% sure they’d be returned… only they weren’t. He was horrified that he’d accidentally lead me on and made me feel that way, I was horrified that the world I’d built for us in my head had just crumbled before my eyes- and that it felt a little like someone had stamped on my heart.
But guess what? I got over it! It was horrible, and it was hard, but I’ve spent years chasing guys who obviously never liked me, deluding myself into thinking that they were secretly waiting to divulge their feelings for me because I was too terrified of rejection just to ask them.
Right now you’re probably skim reading this with your heart in your mouth, trying to convince yourself that the situation I’ve just described doesn’t apply to you, because you and Mr/Ms X are different to me… you’re not.
If you have deep, deep feelings for someone then you have three choices:
1. Ask them out; you’ll get a yes or a no, but the thought of the latter might make you feel a little sick…
2. Don’t ask them out; spend years and years pining and stalking and feeling constantly on edge, then look back in ten years time and think about how much you missed out on because of your hopeless fantasy.
3. Move on… actually, that’s not good enough: MOVE THE HELL ON!
The randomly angry edge in this post comes from the fact that my best friend Cee is in love with my other best friend Callum… and if I have to listen to another one of her contrived ‘he secretly loves me back but he doesn’t want to be with me, or even near me, or even hang out with me because he’s so scared of his own feelings!’ speeches I think I may vomit. Like she does. On me. Every weekend. To get his attention.
Onto rejection part two:
I’m an actress, and if I do say so myself I’m a pretty damn good actress. I’m hard-working, dedicated, committed, passionate and (a rare but highly valued commodity in the performing arts industry) easy to work with.
The stage is my first and only love- (apart from my Gods, but my love for them is to base and primal that I feel it can go unspoken) and every man in my life learns that early on.
I did the audition circuit for the first time this year and got rejected from every drama school that I applied for. This isn’t because I’m shit, it’s because I’m eighteen- and drama schools just will not accept people my age.
Acting is an incredibly personal thing- so when you get rejected it hurts like hell.
Actually, it does at first, then it gets better. I thought that each rejection would slowly kill a little more of me- but when it happened I felt fine, perhaps a little upset at the end of the day, but generally fine.
Miss P sat me down and told me that I have a serious future in the performing arts industry- but that I will be miserable for the rest of my life. She then asked me if that would stop me; I just laughed and told her that nothing would stop me.
I think what I’m trying to say here is that yes, rejection hurts, but the fear of it screwed up my life far more than it did. I’m thankful every day that I’m an actress, because when you’re constantly rejected it starts to take away some of the hurt and you grow a thicker skin.
Don’t run away from rejection; embrace it. I promise it’ll make your life better.