There’s no doubt that we live in troubled times. For centuries, most of my ancestors have put their faith into organized religion, hoping that the clear path laid out for them would spare them the hardships of life, or at least promise them a better afterlife. Lucky for me, my parents broke ties with the faith of their parents and grandparents and allowed us to choose (once we were teenagers) whether Christianity felt right for us. And for each of us, it was an immediate NO. I had rejected it as a child, years before I was allowed to stop going to church. At age 6, it was clear to me that I was being taught to follow leaders rather than to think for myself. Rather than being empowered to trust my intuition and be guided by the experience and wisdom of my ancestors, I was being told to read a book and follow it to the letter. A book that had been used to colonize, to murder, to oppress for generations, and continued to be used to do so in my lifetime.
So as a teenager I began to learn about paganism, about the spiritual practices that had been colonized by organized, centralized religion because they empowered and enriched the individual and the community rather than the Vatican and the monarchy. I became fascinated with practices that tapped into the magic of the earth and the spirit world. Practices that hid from the oppressors by secreting themselves away, or hiding in plain sight by incorporating enough Christian imagery that the monks and missionaries believed they had rejected their heathen ways and left them alone. In the 21st century, we have a long way to go when it comes to recognizing how organized religion destroys the best of humanity and amplifies the worst, but luckily we are at a place where paganism and heathenry is able to flourish online. I don’t practice any pagan spirituality, but I appreciate the ways in which it connects the practitioners to their ancestors and promotes respect for the earth. If I were to start a practice, I might turn to some of the many people creating sacred objects for use in altars and ceremonies, like the ones I’ve featured below. These shops feature products for use in a variety of spiritual practices, like Wicca, Heathenry, Santería, Orisha, Brujería and other forms of spiritualism and witchcraft from cultures around the world. If paganism was the official practice of the United States, the EPA would be have far better funding.