I mentioned in my last post that my parents had some difficulty finding a new church after we moved to Colorado. They tried several, but failed to find any that truly struck a chord within them. So they broadened their search, outside the bounds of Catholicism, and even traditional Christianity.
I guess you could say this was the start of our experience with New Age woo.
Past life regression. Angel therapy. Auras. Chakras. The Law of Attraction. The “power of positive thinking.” Things like that.
They found a church that practiced something called Religious Science. Even though it was clear on the other side of town, we started attending every Sunday. Major tenets included the connectedness of all things, that we were all expressions of a “Christ Consciousness” that permeated and touched everything in the entire universe. It seemed to pull teachings and philosophies from both Western and Eastern sources, recognizing a number of great teachers throughout the ages. Positive thinking was paramount, and one simply had to put the intention “out to the Universe” to achieve a desired result. In addition, one always got back what one put out.
I remember a bit more about this time period, not just because I was older, but because the contrast to what came before was quite visible. The philosophies and teachings of my parent’s new church became a larger part of our day-to-day life. Looking back, it still felt fairly Christian at its core, just with some more elaborate window dressings. They even said a version of the Lord’s Prayer during services.
My personal experience in this church was a little different. When we started going, I was still fairly young to sit through the Sunday services, so I instead got to go to what was effectively Sunday school. I don’t remember much about what was taught, but at least I didn’t come home with nightmares.
As I got older, I was given the opportunity to sit with my parents during the service. However, I had a hard time sitting still and paying attention for that long. Whether I can blame that completely on my ADD is open for debate. It’s also possible that I just didn’t find the sermons that interesting. I will say this about my parent’s church, though: the music was pretty phenomenal.
So as my parents had searched, so too did I start searching. I took the more mystical aspects of my parent’s church and went one step further. That’s right, it’s time for the High School Pagan Phase!
I jumped in pretty strongly, too. I meditated regularly in front of my altar. I even attempted some rituals of my own, using props scrounged from what I had lying around. My altar was a white particleboard nightstand, my ritual dagger an ornate letter opener. My candles were glass votives from the grocery store. I started reading a lot, mostly about Celtic Shamanism and other new/old religious like Wicca.
I approached my research and practice dogmatically, trying out what I found in various books. But too often it felt like I was just going through the motions, doing things because I was told that was “the way it was done.” The rituals began to feel empty, and I found myself meditating less and less. I eventually came to the realization that maybe organized religion of any sort wasn’t for me.
I started to think of myself as “spiritual but not religious.”