I was raised Mormon. As a child, my family got up every Sunday and went to church for three long hours. We fed the missionaries dinner in our home fairly often, and spent time daily reading the scriptures together. I was baptized when I was 8. At that tender age, I believed in the Church. I wanted to go on a mission, and marry a returned missionary in the temple, because that's what I was told I wanted.
At the same time, though, I spent most of my free time playing with my friends in the fields and woods surrounding our home. I believed animals could talk, if I listened hard enough. Trees and flowers whispered and shared secrets, if I sat quietly enough. And, there were the bright, flittery people could only glimpse occasionally while at play.
When I was ten, my family moved from our home in Alabama to Salt Lake City, Utah. By age 12, I was beginning to question the dogma and doctrine I had been spoonfed my entire life. Why couldn't women hold the priesthood? Why must a woman support, answer to, and generally be subservient to her husband? Why did the Church preach tolerance of all people, then reject those of other religions or alternate sexual orientations? So many, many questions, yet so very few answers forthcoming. When I asked these questions of youth leaders, the response was usually some version of "trust the Lord, pray, and read the scriptures".
Not very reassuring to a teenage girl who had been doing these things all her life, and hadn't gotten the answers she needed.
Time went on, and I found, by accident, a fictional novel in which a girl my age came into possession of a very old deck of Tarot cards. As you can imagine, most of the things that happened to the heroine are products of the author's imagination. However, there were miniscule grains of truth, which encouraged me to learn more. Needless to say, the library by our house did not carry a large selection of Pagan books, though I was able to find a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft, by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason. Well. My mother was none too pleased with my new interest, and I received a typical "it's evil, read the scriptures and pray" lecture.
I couldn't pursue the desire for more knowledge until after I graduated high school and moved out. I was finally free to begin a personal search for what I believe. A year later, in 2001, circumstances brought me to Newport News, VA, where I met a girl who not only became a very good friend, but also was the first actual person to introduce me to Paganism.
As soon as I had a name for what I am and what I do, it was easy to embrace Witchcraft as a way of being. I started meeting people, reading everything I could get my hands on, performing solitary circles, rituals and spells.
Eventually I told my parents. Once my mom understood it was not just a teenage rebellion, and became open to understanding my choice, it was easier to talk to her about Paganism, discuss religion in general and to openly question the religion I was raised in. It took quite a bit longer for my dad to accept my choice, but the breakthrough came a little over three years ago. We were talking about something, and he made a very casual remark along the lines of "can't your cards tell you?" Since then, while it is still not something we talk about, religion is, at least, no longer a barrier between us.
I have never been "in the broom-closet" per se, so have never experienced "coming out" that so many others have. I never saw a reason to hid my beliefs, though I can understand why others do have that need. Either I have been lucky in that respect, or I am just too darn stubborn to know when to keep my mouth shut…
Many things have changed in my life over the last several years, causing my journey to change directions, hit a few bumps, and, at times, to come to an almost complete standstill. Divorce, kids, new relationships and moving more than once have all taken their toll.
Now though, as I write this, I can proudly say I am a mom of 2 1/2 (one on the way!), engaged to a wonderful man, daughter, sister, friend. And yes, I am a Witch. I proudly acknowledge my chosen path, and actively make an effort to learn and grow, trusting the Goddess to aid me, just as I help my children in their efforts to learn and grow.