The Road Less Traveled....Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
I start this post with this poem because it is essentially how I and a lot of other people I got started on this path. Since taking that first step down the road less traveled by there has been a number of forks in the road like the ones Robert Frost describes (this is also why my profile pic is what it is). This is of course healthy and the way all spiritualities, pagan or otherwise, work. We even call different spiritual groups “paths”.
My diversion down the “path” I am on now started when I was around 11. I was at that age where you start to question everything and I was no exception and my spirituality was there too. It was at that point I came to the conclusion I was headed in the wrong direction. Wasn't the fault of my church who had made every attempt imaginable to get me to feel welcome. However, I still felt like a square peg in a round hole. So I began to look elsewhere.
I came across Wicca at first by happenstance and found it to be of intrigue but did not consider following it till I researched it later (probably because I thought nobody really did that). I heard about it in a presentation about witch trials and I was interested in it from an academic point of view but I didn't think it was worth pursuing at the time. Then came high school where we had a HUGE library and you could very often find me there after school browsing various books in the religion section (of which we had quite a selection). I looked into a lot of different religions from gnostic christianity to buddhism and while I liked tidbits of them (I still do zen meditation) nothing really “clicked” so to speak.
Then I came across a fairly new book called “Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained” which was a series of 3 books that were very thick and heavy. I was just flipping through them out of boredom when I came across “Wicca” and I looked into it. Gave a history and cross references with other places in the book (OTO, Aliester Crowley, Murray, etc). After reading through this over the course of the next couple of days I decided that this was the path that seemed to fit the best. I began to do more research which was difficult because books were hard to come by (I hadn't discovered online bookstores nor did I know of any occult shops yet). Eventually through a friend I got my hands on some (Silver Ravenwolf mostly which wasn't the best but it was something).
Around this time also I discovered the joy of online chat rooms namely IRC and found a variety of rooms on the internet that dealt with paganism and other forms of spirituality. A lot of them introduced me to online libraries with tons of books on paganism and other forms of spirituality (I keep links to a few of them in my web browser for research and in case others want a book) They also provided me with teachers and ways to connect with others like me. Unfortunately most of them were very far away so finding a local pagan community was difficult.
Then I went to college and then a whole new world opened up to me. College is always a time when you get to try things you did not always get to do and I was no exception. I discovered around late highschool that I had not one but two occult shops within driving distance of me and I took full advantage of it. My dorm room when you walked into it was blatantly obvious I was pagan. Goddess statue on my desk, Llewellyn calender on the wall, etc. I got involved in a local circle as well (which I found by dumb luck). Was a fun experience.
Now that I have graduated and am out in the real world I have been trying to get more involved with the local pagan community which isn't always easy (we seem to be numerous but very spread out). And like going down an old hiking trail for the first time, I have no idea where this path is going to end up taking me but that is part of the charm. I intend to see it through to the end!