The internet home of Jason Mankey

My Journey

My Pagan Journey . . . . . . .

When I look back upon my life it seems obvoius that I was meant to end up a Pagan. I don't want to say that I was drastically different from other childen growing up in the Midwest, but I did have my little quirks. I was fascinated by Greek mythology at an early age, at one point my name was on the library card for "Bullfinch's Mythology" ten times or so. I also remember my father giving me his mythology textbooks from college to read on car trips and then butchering names like Persephone and Poisidon.

Like a lot of my friends I had an overly heatlhy fixation on superheros (Spider-Man and Batman were big favorites) for awhile. I had stacks and stacks of comicbooks, and loved TV shows with fantasy like themes. By second grade I was regarded as the school expert on dinosaurs, and I was actually invited to go to different classrooms and talk about them. The fascination with dinosaurs led to an even bigger fascination with cryptozoology (the search for unknown animals) as I theorized on the survival of the plesosaur in the depths of Loch Ness.

 If you remember your Dewey Decimal System from elementary school you're aware that all of the "occult" books are right next to the ones on Bigfoot and Nessie. (My first "book" was a large scrapbook full of monster clippings that I bequathed to the Paul L. Bolin Elementary before i moved away in the middle of the fifth grade. I wonder if it's still there?)  When I had exhausted my local libraries (city public and school) supply of monster books I moved onto reading about ghosts, aliens, the unexplained, werewolves, and the Devil. My father was surprisingly supportive, never once worrying about what I was reading. He was just happy that I had my face glued into a book.

Reading about werewolves and devils took me into another world when I started seventh grade-comparative religion. It was at this point in my life that I began wondering why the Zorastrians were wrong and the Christians were right? I became convinced that there had to be many different pathways to God, or he wouldn't have allowed so many to spring up. It seemed incomprehensible to me that a Hindu was doomed to hell just because they didn't live near a Baptist Church.

 It was also in seventh grade that I read my first book about Witchcraft. It wasn't much of a book, just a slim paperback written by the Silver Ravenwolf of her generation-Sybil Leek. I don't remember understanding very much of the book, but I do remember using a spell in its back pages. When I couldn't locate another library book I uttered a spell of recovery invoking the name of the Triple Goddess for the very first time.

In case you were wondering, the spell worked. I found that other library book in about two seconds. (It had gotten under my bed.) Even more important than the recovered library book was the sense of awe I felt when saying "O Triple Goddess." I truly felt as if I was tapping into some ancient power, something older than Yahweh and his kiddo. If you think that this experience caused me to never look back and embrace the Craft of the Wise you'd be dead wrong. The experience terrified me! It worked too well, and the energy I felt had been too real.

 Fast forward to ninth grade and you'd see a young Jason building a clay temple to Aphrodite in art class. I never thought this was blasphemy against the Christianity I had begun to embrace, I just thought it seemed right. If you're going to attract love into your life it makes more sense to pray to Aphrodite than to Jesus. I think Aphrodite heard my prayers that winter, but things didn't turn out like I wanted them too. I fell madly in love with a girl named Marcy, Marcy didn't return the sentiment. I wanted love, and in hindsight I should have asked "to be loved." Oh well . . . .

 In the previous paragraph I alluded to my growing Christian faith, though I never became a zealot damning all other faiths to hell. I still held to my idea that most religions were valid, but I didn't have the courage to break away from family and friends and do something else. My parents didn't preach religion, and my church was extremely middle-class-more interested in the new gym being built on the church grounds than last sundays sermon. I also felt genuinely spiritual moments as a Christian.

 To this day I still kind of like Jesus, there's nothing inheritly bad about what he said in the gospels. I still dig that "turn the other cheek" stuff and "Give unto Rome what is Rome's" line. I have fond memories of guided meditations at church youth group meetings and moments in nature that I was lucky enough to experience due to my church. I even have a great memory of defending witches in my church, "they don't worship the devil, they worship some Triple Goddess thing." The only bad thing about my few years as an overly committed Christian was that it lead to me dance with the politics of intolerance.

As I entered college I was a bit intolerant, I leaned a little bit too far to the right. If there was anything that was going to take me from the path of Paganism, this was it. I was scared of homosexuality and said hurtful things to people in my ignorance. I thought the path to peace in this world rested on capitalism and on having a gun in every closet. I could have made a lot of money working for some crazy right wing cause, but I would have been miserable. Deep down in my heart I knew that the intolerant path was not the path for me. I feel very lucky that I got out of that period in my life without getting too caught up in it.

One thing that kept me from drifting too far to the right was my love of music. Led Zeppelin (a band with definite Pagan overtones) was a big favorite, and I became the only long haired member of local Conservative Club on campus. There was an energy that I felt when listening to music that nothing else compared to. When I started to get a little too crazy the music always brought me back.

 When I was 19 years old my step-brother came out of the closet, and so did I in a way. My brother became a better human being when he came out, and as I realized this, all of my old intolerance began to drift away. If the far-right was wrong about gays, maybe they were wrong about everything else? I began to question everything and make up my own mind about stuff. This is a trait rare among people, but common amongst those that call themselves Pagans.

 At 21 I was a bit estranged from my parents and very unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. My lifeplan had been directly tied into my former political beliefs and I had tossed those out the window. I walked past my first New Age bookstore that summer and ended up purchasing a small volume on what the author called "Celtic Wicca." My reasons for buying the book weren't very spiritual, I was hoping to learn more about the Celtic myth Robert Plant sang about in Led Zeppelin, but that soon changed. As I read that small book at a friends pool party everything in my life begant to make sense. Holidays should be celebrated when the seasons change, we are own priests/priestesses, energy was something real that could be felt! I suddenly felt so full of life. Within three days of reading that little book I said my first of many evening prayers to the Goddess, and I saw the world in a different light.

My first days as a Pagan were joyous ones. I loved my religion, and I saw it in everything. I'd dance in the rain, collecting the water from the gutters to use in various spells and things. I saw the fairy folk dance under every blade of grass and peak out at me from every bush and shrub. Even my dreams were full of fairy mounds and harpers on a hill, everyday was like a new magickal surprise. In my darktimes I prayed to the Lady and she comforted me. I was like an evangelizing Pagan, so excited about my religion and what it gave to me.

A year and a day after my first prayer to the Lady, on July 4, I dedicated myself to the Goddess and the God in the middle of a corn field surrounded by hippies and deadheads. That whole day before my dedication ceremony I meditated on what I was about to do and if it was the right choice for me. I felt good about it, and when I opened myself up to the Lord and Lady that night I got excited all over again. As the ceremony ended it began to rain, which I took as a good sign since I love rainy days.

As I headed back to my campsite I heard sirens and shouting. A large number people had all migrated onto a deck and it had collapsed due to the weight. It probably wouldn't have been an issue, but an even larger number of people had gathered under it to escape the rain. I used to wonder if my ceremony had anything to do with the events of that night, and it gave me pause, but no one died that night and what could have been terrible injuries were only minor ones. Perhaps my ritual helped some people, and if it didn't help them it certainly didn't hurt them. I had several friends under that deck, and it's quite possible that I would have been under it had I not been in the middle of that cornfield.  The Lord and Lady work in mysterious ways. 

A few months after that experience I moved to Michigan and began to get involved with the local Pagan community. I attended my first ritual with other people (which I ended up leading) and became an active member of a college Pagan group. Most of the other people in the group were younger so I ended up assuming a leadership role I might not have been ready for. Through that experience I put my faith in the Lord and Lady, trusting them to ensure that everything would work out OK. (Since most of that group still talks to each other nine years later it's safe to say that things generally worked out all right.)

Since then I've just been Jason-goatboy and Paganguy. My journey into Paganism was long and sometimes difficult, but the results were worth it, and continue to be. The Pagan Path is one of constant exploration-both of the self and the world around you. It helps me to see each day as a sacred gift, and my friends and family as a source of unlimitless love.