Since religion, the occult, etc, gets discussed with some frequency here, I thought it might be helpful and/or interesting to some of you, to know what my real, familial religious background has been. The answer is… total shambles.
198X-90: Unitarian Universalist Church in LA: The first church David and I remember attending is this one, in LA when we were between 2 and 4 years old. Looking back it was really more of a social club than a church, but I think our parents felt obligated to attend some kind of services now that they had children. In fact, dad taught Sunday School to 8 year olds at this church, which, if any of you know our dad, should elicit a shudder. We were apparently well enough liked there that they gave us a basket of money when we moved across the country. Or maybe they just wanted us gone.
The most memorable thing for me about the UU in LA was out behind the building was an enormous Weeping Willow tree that sort of made its own, natural room. We would run off and sit by it quite often, and it may have counted as our first magical experience because I remember believing that there were fairies that lived there. Unfortunately it happened so long ago I no longer remember whether I genuinely believed there were fairies there for an outside reason, or had simply convinced myself there were because it was neat. I mean come on, I was three years old.
1991ish: Unitarian Universalist Church in rural NY: At this point we had moved from LA and settled into a more suburban life. Mom and dad still apparently felt the need to see to our religious tutelage, but little did they know that I was going to put the breaks on that and HOW.
At this point we were 5ish, and David and I were beginning to delineate ourselves more, mentally, though neither of us knew about the other then. So here we were, in an attic room with 6 other kids and a nice young lady sunday school teacher, when, and I SHIT YOU NOT, I declared that I worshipped Satan. But that’s not all, I mean, it’s UU, they probably would have been okay with that. BUt then, I took a pair of scissors and I hacked off a lock of the teacher’s hair. What was I going to do with it? I sure as hell don’t know. But that marked the end of our religious upbringing for quite some time.
The most remarkable thing for me about the UU in NY is I don’t know how I even knew about Satan at that age.
1993?94?: Wicca Circle in rural NY: We still lived in the same ‘burb in UNY at this point, but no attempts at organized religion had been attempted in quite some time. In fact, this period of religious activity didn’t actually involved David and me in any way, but it made such an impression that I include it here anyway.
My dad, who is an old, crazy hippie (and that only begins to describe him) high priest-ed for a wicca group made up of teen-aged girls from the apartment complex, and our then-resident couch-surfer, Larry.
I remember not knowing what the hell was going on, except that they kept a chalice in the basement; and the one time I snuck down and sat on the stairs all I heard was some weird chanting. Shortly afterwards I swiped my dad’s book ‘Bucklands Guide to Witchcraft’, and the whole thing really lost its appeal in a swarm of boring.
The most remarkable thing for me about the Wicca Circle was that it was my first real-life exposure to magic and paganism, and I was distinctly unimpressed.
1995-97: Presbyterian Church in the City: I guess when we moved from our apartment in the ‘burbs to a sufficiently distant area of the city dad felt it was time to give the whole ‘God’ thing a try again with me. I think they mostly did it to try and make friends, or maybe they did it because the pastors lived a couple of houses from us and had invited us.
This was my first brush with real, solid organized religion, and we were actually involved in the church for a good length of time, considering the past. David, as I understand it, actually made a go of the whole ‘believing in God’ thing around this time. For me it was more of a social thing, as I had learned how to behave in public, and we were put, because of our precocious and advanced nature, with the young Teen-age youth group, instead of with the Sunday School. Or maybe they thought I was a teenager; we had boobs at the point. I donno.
Anyway, we were actually pretty involved with this church; going every Sunday, attending youth-group functions like the sleep-over at the church. I slept in a pew! That was kind of cool. We even were a camp counselor at the Vacation Bible Camp the church held, where I insisted on putting ‘Dragon’ on our name-tag, because the woman wouldn’t allow ‘Demon’. We actually attended the church longer than the rest of the family, and dad walked us down the block or two from our house every Sunday without Mom or our brother for a couple of months. However, eventually my crush on the pastor’s son faded, and David’s faith in the Lord petered out, and we stopped going.
The most remarkable thing about the Presbyterian Church for me was how different it was compared to everything we’d been exposed to previously. It was my first experience with anyone of actual religious conviction.
1997ish: Church of Christian Science: Okay, I only ever attended two or three of these services (and Lectures!) with my then best friend, but it left a pretty big impact on me. We also hung out in the Christian Science Reading Room while her mother ran it, a few times. My greatest triumph here was sneaking around the church after service with my sweet, religious friend, and convincing her to help me steal gum from someone’s office desk.
The most remarkable thing about Christian Science for me is how mind-numbingly, foot-draggingly BORING it was, in comparison with any other service I had attended. There wasn’t even any singing!
1998/9: Catholic Church in the ‘burbs in NY: This church we only attended because mom and dad were putting us and our brother into Catholic school. The church wasn’t a requirement, so I don’t exactly know what their logic was. Maybe mom wanted to find her relationship with god again, because I remember her trying to get dad to get baptized.
We didn’t attend for very long, because honestly I couldn’t *stand* it. Somehow these people made the gospel simultaneous my boring, AND more annoying than I ever remember the Presbyterians doing . I refused to take communion. I pretty much flatly refused to participate, and soon, I refused to get out of bed to attend.
The most remarkable thing about the Catholic Church for me was how much more into it I would have been if they still said the damned thing in Latin.
1998-2004: All Girls Catholic High School: Our parents, full of fear and loathing at the local public school system, forced me into an all girls Catholic School. This was awkward on several levels, because neither of really believed in God, let alone the Catholic one, I was getting into paganism, and David was starting to realize he wasn’t female, while I was starting to realize I detested the company of females. But relevant here is that we were forced into mass at school every month or so, had to say prayers before classes, and were required to attend a myriad of theology courses.
This is where we really learned the most about Christianity, I think. We never got anything below a 90 in theology class, and have actually read most of the Bible, which I am sure many of you reading would be surprised to know. Its actually rather interesting if you take it as a competing mythology rather than a hard fact.
The most remarkable thing for me about our Catholic education is what it did to our vocabulary. To this day I can’t seem to escape exclamations like ‘Mother of God!’, and make way too many biblical allusions for my own liking.
2001ish: Loki and the Norse ways: This chronology is really only meant to list my formal/parental religious upbringing, but I can’t get away without mentioning this. When I was 15 years old I dreamed I was at a great feast, where all the Norse gods were, and on my left was Loki, who had invited me there. After some more research on the subject, I dedicated myself to him, as the only god in the only pantheon, in this world’s mythology that was worth my time.
Various: My dad never could seem to make his mind up about what he believed, and what he thought I should believe. He’s claimed at different times to be an Atheist, a Wiccan, a Voodoo Priest, an evil magician, a devout Catholic, and totally uninterested. It’s all been very confusing.