I think I was around the age of eight, maybe younger, and I was on my way home. I looked to the sky as the sun was setting, at it began to disappear behind the low-lying clouds on the horizon, and its golden rays reached out to me. I have never forgotten that moment, because as I looked at the sunset and the golden illumination of those clouds, all I could think of was how it looked like stairs to heaven.
In my primary school we sang hymns. When I was young my Sister and I were christened. I used to have ballet classes in the back hall of the Methodist church. Once, I even cleaned that same cleaned church with one of my friends and her family, although I can’t remember now why we got roped into that, it was some sort of timetable for girls brigade I or something I think. Going to church was not unfamiliar to me growing up, but it wasn’t a regular occurrence. When I reached my teenage years tragedy struck, my Dad became ill, and in searching for answers another friend of mine invited me to go to her Baptist church. This friend was from a family of firm believers and she was about to go through the process of Baptism somehow, I ended up deciding to do that with her. Before we could be baptised, we needed to do an Alpha course. I can’t really remember much of what we discussed on that course, but I remember at that point of my life my walls were covered in Bible quotes I had written out in different colours, cut out and stuck around my bed. I had a bible by my pillow and I was trying to be a good girl. I even made my Mum go to midnight mass with me one Christmas, it’s such a beautiful service full of light. Then, my life took a different turn, ironically another friend of mine would play the devil on my shoulder and introduce me to something that felt eerily familiar, Wicca. My dad would die, and I would become angry with God, blaming him for taking my Dad away, for making him suffer, and that anger and pain would stay with me for many years.
When I read my first book on Wicca, my childhood began to make sense. I was always playing outside on my own in the garden, I was described as being ‘in my own world, ‘away with the fairies.’ My Sister would tell me when we were both grown up, how I was already talking to imaginary friends as a child. For fear of being sanctioned, I won’t tell you what those imaginary friends told me, but let’s say during those times of playing alone in the garden, I discovered extra-sensitive abilities. As I read about how Wicca was a nature religion it didn’t sound so bad, as I read the section about making ‘potions’ I thought back to the times I would play dress up in some of my Mums old clothes with the rubber ‘Witch’ fingers they sold for Halloween and put onion skins and other random things into a cooking pot pretending to be stirring up a brew. In Wicca, I thought I had found who I was.
I dropped the idea of getting baptised, Satan got to me. Instead, I followed Wicca for over sixteen years, and God forgive me, I had some wild and wicked ways. In my heart though, I did try to be a good person, but had allowed myself to become so misguided. Every time I tried to reach back to God I would think about the Parable of the Sower, where Jesus talks about separating the thorns from the grain. I always felt like my seed had fallen onto rocky ground or into the thorns, I didn’t feel worthy to even hope I could be grain. My seed had not fallen onto good soil.
My path led me deeper into darkness, working magic, becoming a psychic medium, I was proud to be a witch, and in my eyes, I was doing good. At that point, I believed the Bible was man made, had no evidence to back it up, and the origins of the Jewish belief arose from other religions that worshiped other Gods. But even in this world of spirituality and magic that I loved, there was still a part of me that felt like an odd ball and eventually (Praise Be) I was rejected. You can read the full story of that in my blog here. After this rejection I set out on my own and I felt drawn to working more with angels. With my mind wanting knowledge and truth, if I’m going to preach about something, I wanted to be knowledgeable about it, so I set up researching the origins of angels. My research led me to discovering that a lot of the angels mentioned in the New Age are made up, or they are from gnostic sources or other texts. I couldn’t connect them back to anything solid and this made me question everything. I always thought the angels on the oracle cards, that were in the angel books, were connected to God in some way. Apparently not. As this realisation was happening within me, Doreen Virtue, one of the New Agers most popular teachers at that time, was converting to Christianity. Before my rejection, I had picked up there was something off with her prior to her announcing her change in faith, and now her followers across the world found out what that was.
Every morning on the school run we walked past my old Methodist church, and once more I began to feel that call. I saw in my mind a small purple Bible and felt a strong urge to go to one of our local bookshops in the hunt for this Bible. I found it. Just as I pictured, the only one left. I began to feel torn. Christmas was coming up, angels were everywhere, and I began frantically searching information on the internet to answer my questions. If there was a way for both of my beliefs to be true, for Christianity and nature magick to be true, I wanted to find it. I began to have more questions. One day I even felt this strong longing to just sit in my old church to pray quietly. As I sat in the chair, I saw a picture of Jesus hung on the wall, it looked as though he was staring directly at me, full of knowing and love. My questions would still cloud my mind with doubt.
“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
James 1:6-8 (ESV)
Like in that verse from the Book of James, I was most definitely unstable and didn’t think I was to receive anything from God. I was a lost soul who had felt her calling truly but kept being lured across to her old ways of worshipping anything other than God. I believed in my own spiritual power, not His. The dark side called, and it had cookies. I let my heart be led by fear and found ways to justify what I believed.
Scroll on a couple of years, my marriage is in trouble and we’re about to move countries (sort of). I suggested to my Husband that we get a renewal of vows. After contacting my Minister, he suggests I come in for a chat and at the end of that chat he says a prayer for me to help me find my way for guidance on what work I’m meant to be doing in our new place of residence. It seems God heard that prayer and he was still there, knowing that a part of my heart wanted to be with Him. When we moved, the most terrible thing happened, through lack of self-control, through being mentally overwhelmed with five stressful years, a large house move and absolute exhaustion. I have forgiven myself and requested forgiveness from God, but the darkness I let in that night has caused a rift that has cause other parties involved to burn their bridges. I pray daily that those bridges can be rebuilt, but I can’t force that to happen. I won't go in to the details of that incident, but let's say it was most definitely a wake up call and my cords to the past were beginning to get cut.
Still, God wasn’t done. He found us a new home in this new land, surrounded by people who would encourage me back to the faith. How wonderful is that?! Originally, the area we have moved to, I was set against, I had a bad and unwelcome feeling from this place. Ironically, as we looked at various houses for sale within our price range, when I saw the picture of the one that would be ours, I had an intuitive nudge, announcing to my Husband I had ‘a good feeling’ about this one, despite the area. I didn’t know at the time how close we would be living to so many churches and how many of my neighbours would attend them. In fact, I don’t think I had ever lived next to a church goer before. Going to church wasn’t really discussed in my homeland, church attendees seemed to be few apart from by the older generation for their luncheons and the small majority of open Christians. A cute side note, as I can’t drive, part of our old school run was done by bus, the local bus station being next to my old Methodist church. My youngest son would look at the church and call it a castle, I always loved the idea of it being ‘a castle of God.’ He was delighted when we went in one year to look at the themed Christmas trees that they would decorate every year for people to come in and admire.
Cutting short what’s becoming a long story, one of my current neighbours set in motion my return to following Christ by dropping in a leaflet to a local church event, but even over the last year I have struggled to keep this faith. Every week I have seemed to change my mind, but as each season passes, the previous ways I would have celebrated occasions seem to lose appeal. God is winning, though why he still wants to fight for me I'm not sure. I just feel blessed that he hasn't given up on me yet, that he sees me as worthy enough to keep calling. The more I read the Bible, the more I see truth and I see error in my previous beliefs. I have wondered if it’s me subconsciously trying to get away from reliving the trauma of rejection from my previous Spiritual teacher, but I have found a new Spiritual teacher who asks nothing from me except for faith. I can see a sense of sincerity now that I fought against before. I still have questions, lots of questions, but I feel like I am finally on the right path, like God has brought me here for a reason. He keeps revealing the truth about my old beliefs bit by bit, and our relationship of trust and compassion grows. I know we shouldn’t ask God for signs and test Him, but he is reassuring; at opportune moments the sun will shine upon me, a rainbow will appear, and as I finish typing this last chapter a song begins to play that I know well, it was the only piece of piano music I could play as a child and I hum it now and then. Never before have I heard it play on the radio, but I recognise the significance. Looking up the lyrics to this tune, I am delighted and filled with a feeling of blessing as I read the words below… Praise be.
Life goes on day after day
Hearts torn in every way
So ferry 'cross the Mersey
'Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay
People they rush everywhere
Each with their own secret care
So ferry 'cross the Mersey
And always take me there
The place I love
People around every corner
They seem to smile and say
We don't care what your name is boy
We'll never turn you away
So I'll continue to say
Here I always will stay
So ferry 'cross the Mersey'
Cause this land's the place I love
And here I'll stay
And here I'll stay
Here I'll stay