Are you entering Paganism, leaving Paganism, or changing traditions within it? How do you explain your new path to friends, family, former co-religionists, and yourself? How do you extricate yourself from your previous tradition and its associated ideas? How do you unpack your complex feelings about your path, and why you are changing direction?
If you have ever changed paths or considered changing paths, this book is for you. It is a guide for people who have entered Paganism from another tradition, people leaving Paganism for another tradition or none, and people changing from one tradition to another within Paganism.
Changing your religious or spiritual path can result in unexamined spiritual, emotional, and intellectual baggage from your previous tradition, which can cause all sorts of issues from depression to anger management. It can also be problematic when we bring this unexamined baggage to our new community and expect our new tradition to look like the one that we left. Many people, unless they have engaged in a very thorough deconstruction and reconstruction of their beliefs and attitudes, bring some of their views and expectations from their previous tradition into their new one.
This book will help you to navigate all the issues that arise from changing paths. It will help you to evaluate whether you should stay in or leave your current tradition. It explores what religions are, and how to evaluate and compare them. It will also be of interest to people seeking to understand the process of changing from one tradition to another, because a friend is going through that process. Although this book is mainly aimed at people entering or leaving Paganism, or switching to another Pagan tradition, it is also relevant to people switching between other traditions.
Each chapter includes journal prompts, questions for reflection, and exercises to help you navigate the terrain. There is also a list of further reading, and a bibliography, for any issues you want to follow up on. I hope that your journey will be less bumpy, and your landing softer, as a result of the signposts offered here.
One you have settled on your chosen community, staying in it can also be a challenge. Once the honeymoon period has worn off, what makes people stay in their new religious tradition? How do we resolve the conflicts we had with it in the first place? How do we reconcile with the fact that all religious communities have their internal divisions, and often contain people whose values are diametrically opposed to our own? Even if you leave religion altogether and become an atheist, you will encounter these difficulties in every community, whether it is your local pub or a roomful of atheists.
In the end, after all this upheaval, we have to get on with the business of living. We cannot live on the rarefied heights of spiritual experience all the time; other less intense experiences are available. Sometimes we need the steadying experience of being in community with others and doing comforting everyday things. These are also true and real and valuable. We do not always need to hack our own path up the mountain; we can grasp the handholds left by others along the way.