Being Teen Wiccan Before Social Media: Raw, Personal Confessions
I was fourteen years old and living in a world where the internet was just starting to gain traction. Yes, we had a computer. Yes, we had access to the internet, but it was rather limited. We had dial-up and it would take forever for the browser to load a single page, so I didn’t have time to search the web for information on being a pagan or Wiccan nor did I even know it was an option back then.
I found Wicca through a random book in my local thrift store – Laurie Cabot’s Power of the Witch. It’s faded purple cover caught my eye, and I picked it up, then looked around to make sure no one was watching me. I mean, come on, I had a book with the word witch on the cover in my hands! The scandal! When I knew no one was watching, I flipped through the book cautiously, and not-so-surprisingly I was drawn to the words and vibes of Cabot’s writing. Witchcraft is a religion? I thought. There is a female form of God? I could hardly contain my excitement.
So, I bought the book for one dollar,
the whole time worrying what the thrift store clerk thought of me buying such a blasphemous book. You see, I grew up in a somewhat small town in Southern Maryland with a population of about 30,000 at the time. And most of the residents were strict fundamental Christian – either Pentecostal or Southern Baptist. So if the words witch or magic are even whispered in this town, most people fall to their knees and start praying for your soul right in the middle of the grocery store. Or…they run away from you for fear the Devil is trying to steal their soul through you.
I took the book home and plopped on my bed with it, devouring every last word.
Sure, some of it was confusing for a fourteen year old. Laurie Cabot has a way of diving deep into esotericism in some of her books. One confusing idea was of getting into an “alpha state” of mind. I had no idea what meditation felt like much less being able to use it at any time of the day. Nevertheless, I’d gotten a taste of magic and freedom and I wanted more. One book wasn’t enough to whet my newbie Wiccan appetite. So I scoured the stores for as much information as I could find. I bought books written by Scott Cunningham (of whom was one of the foremost authorities on Wicca) and also books by Silver Ravenwolf (yes, I know she’s a bit controversial but more on that later). I read and read some more and realized there were others out there who saw the world like me. As a magical, beautiful place full of enchantment and opportunity.
My first ritual was a bit cliche.
The first ritual I ever performed was an invocation of the Goddess, and admittedly, I had no clue what I was doing or why I was doing it. But, there I was, standing on my parents’ back porch in a black robe with a kitchen knife as my athame, looking up at the full moon and chanting words to somehow “invoke the goddess”. Embarrassingly, the reason I wanted to try it was probably because I saw it in The Craft. Don’t judge me. You all know you’ve done things just because of Sarah and Nancy. Nothing really happened out of the ordinary, except for the feeling that I was learning something new and mysterious. I was doing something rebellious that the town wouldn’t like nor would most of my family. But I didn’t care. It felt right. It stirred something within me nothing else ever had.
So, onto the first spell I ever attempted.
Can someone say botched teen love spell? Yep. I crouched in front of my makeshift, particle board corner table covered in a black sheet with a bottle of cinnamon in hand, my trusty kitchen knife-athame, a set of matches, and a red candle from the dollar store. Then I proceeded to perform a love spell to draw love into my life. I was fifteen. I should’ve been studying biology or some shit…instead of trying to change it. I carved a symbol into the candle, dressed it, then said a prayer while lighting it.
Finding Wiccan Friends
While I barreled headfirst into this new world of the craft, I realized there was only one other person like me – and she would become my best friend. We sat in her parents’ barn, drawing and painting magical symbols on the walls for hours. We walked through the woods and sat outside talking about Wicca and all kinds of paranormal topics. On the weekends, we took small road trips to local cemeteries and haunted historical sites. On really special weekends we got up the courage and saved up the gas money to travel a few hours out of town just to get to the one and only metaphysical store within hundreds of miles. We once entertained the idea of doing a full moon initiation in the woods, which unfortunately never came to fruition. High School finals get in the way every time. Not to mention we both had part time jobs at the local thrift store (yes, the one where I originally found Cabot’s book), and we both acquired boyfriends. No, not because of my love spell from two years earlier.
Fast forward to me at nineteen years old. I move out of my parents’ house and move to Florida to go to design school. I still considered myself Wiccan, though my spirituality had been somewhat suppressed at this time because of my high maintenance boyfriend and then even higher maintenance break-up from said boyfriend. Started taking college classes and what do you know? There’s a woman who is open about her religion – Wicca. Then this nineteen-year-old girl joins a Wiccan coven and is initiated into the coven at twenty years old. I still wasn’t using the internet to fuel my religious path or spiritual connection, and in some ways I miss that.
Social Media – Good or Bad for Wiccans and Pagans?
Today, social media rules our lives. We engage so much in social media and looking at everyone else’s lives that we forget to live our own. Was my initial path into paganism all wrapped up in a pretty satin bow? No, it was the opposite of that. It was rough. It was raw. I learned so much from my mistakes and from being completely on my own. I learned so much from just trying new things and being outside, gazing up at the moon and worshiping the sun. Kids in high school made fun of me because of my interest in alternative religions, but I didn’t care. It made me happy and it didn’t matter what those people thought. Now we have to watch every word we type on the screen. We scan through our phones to see pictures of other peoples’ practice, taking time away from nurturing our own souls. I am guilty of this. Don’t get me wrong. But I am making the conscious effort to remember how spirituality was before social media and before the internet boom. I no longer consider myself Wiccan, but I cherish those messy, sometimes cringe-worthy teen memories of a time before FaceBook governed our spiritual paths.