Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Seedling: Pagan

It was late at night, on a full moon in November of 1989. I stood, naked and nervous, in Lord Davydd's dingy apartment. Dusty books covered floor to ceiling shelves on three walls, and the fourth was dedicated to a large, conspicuous altar. There were no seats in his living room, but the carpet was inviting, as were the two cats staring intently at me with their glowing green eyes.

The books covered every subject, fiction and non-fiction, large and small, and the largest section (four bookcases worth!) was full of religious texts. The Bible, the Koran, and the Torah were there, next to copies of Gerald Gardner, Lady Sheba, and the Farrars. A haze of dust motes floated throughout the room, mixed with the smoke from Davydd's cigarette. His experienced hands quickly arranged the altar, smoothing the black altar cloth down and brushing away the salt that littered the top of it. The electric lights were doused, plunging us into the semi-darkness of the candle light, which wavered each time he moved within the small room.

He finally turned to me, his naked body neither young nor old, but simply there. I found him attractive, to be sure, but that wasn't the important thing, that night. He looked me up and down, much as a dojo instructor might evaluate the physical capabilities of a new student. A moment passed, which seemed like an eternity, and then he stubbed out his cigarette and took the two steps to the altar.

Steady hands, thin but strong, lifted his athame high, the candle flame glinting off its polished blade. I remember holding my breath, unconsciously, and then gasping when I realized I needed to suck in air. I could feel the tension in the atmosphere around me, and as he began to cast the first real Circle I had ever been in, the energy rose up in startling, electric blue arcs. He traversed the edges of the room, casting more of an oblong shape than a sphere, but the containment was complete. There was no more dust in the air. The temperature rose several degrees, and I found, embarassingly, that I was sweating profusely.

Davydd called the Quarters, invited in the God and Goddess of his Tradition, and then turned to me. I was already enthralled by the sheer ecstacy of the moment, but when he spoke to me, his gravelly voice shook me to the core. With shaking voice, and trembling hands, I accepted his welcome, and met his challenge. I felt my stomach drop a thousand miles as his hands touched mine, and I knew this was the Right Thing to be doing right now.

I was Dedicated to the ways of the Wicca that night. When I think of that moment, the moment that I consider my first true step on the pagan path, I sometimes laugh. The Circle is no longer so awe inspiring. The rituals I found so unique back then are now commonplace words that I have used time and again, over 18 years. Looking back on it is good... It puts the awe back into my view of the world, and helps me to better understand where I might be going.

I compare that moment, to the one I experienced a few days ago, at my Dedication to Dionysus. There were many similarities. The stomach drop. The feeling of knowing I was right. The sense of total and unconditional acceptance.

All of life is about new beginnings. My pagan beginnings were life altering, a definite new beginning in the full sense of the statement. I left behind the abuse and lies of my past, and walked bravely into a new world, where I was master of myself (or at least was beginning to learn to be), where what I felt and thought and cared about MATTERED.

Davydd didn't introduce me to the pagan world. He did, however, help to make me a pagan of caliber. I will forever remember that night, amongst the heady incense, the guttering candles, the vibrant red wine, and the pure joy of my first wine blessing.
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