Changing Paths

Changing Paths was published by 1000Volt Press on April 11, 2023 and is now available for purchase in paperback and all major ebook formats!

Are you leaving a religion, entering Paganism, leaving Paganism, changing traditions within it, or leaving religion altogether? Changing Paths is a companion for the journey.

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?

Individuals have many reasons for leaving a faith, including being in conflict with bad theology, bristling against a high-control religion, and disagreeing with conservative positions on gender, sexuality, and the body. Changing Paths offers resources for examining religious attitudes to gender, sexuality, other religions, and whether your religion supports you effectively through life’s ups and downs.

There are various routes into Paganism and Changing Paths offers resources on how to decide which tradition is right for you, how you know you’re a member of a group, and reasons for joining a group—or not. Exercises, journal prompts, and reflections explore how to deal with unexamined baggage from your previous tradition, the role of leaders, and how to find a beloved community.

You aren’t alone in your journey. A range of contributors who have trod this same path—from a former Christian who is now a Wiccan to a former Pagan who now avoids labels—also share their experience and wisdom.

“Hearing the deepest longings of our lives can be especially tough when trying to find our spiritual home, but thankfully Yvonne Aburrow’s excellent new book Changing Paths is here to help us. In this book, Yvonne invites us to a position of spiritual adulthood where our personal choices and preferences are honored as an expression of who we are and aspire to be.”

—Steve Dee, Blog of Baphomet

“Changing Paths fills an important need in the Pagan community: a guidebook for how, when, and why to change your path, whether that’s within or outside Paganism. Compassionate and personal, this guide offers helpful journaling prompts and meditations for the reader to find the path that is right for them based on where they are in their own spiritual journey.”

Enfys J. Book, author of Sagittarius Witch and Queer Qabala

What’s in the book

  • Foreword by Mark Townsend
  • Introduction
  • Part One: Leaving Your Current Tradition
    • Chapter 1. What is religion?
    • Chapter 2. Leaving your religion
    • Chapter 3. Religion and sexuality
    • Chapter 4. Religion and gender
    • Chapter 5. At the crossroads
    • Chapter 6. The conversion process
    • Chapter 7. Syncretism: blending paths
  • Part Two: Joining Paganism
    • Chapter 8. Joining a Pagan tradition
    • Chapter 9. Arriving in a group
    • Chapter 10. Unexamined baggage
    • Chapter 11. Pagan values and ethics
    • Chapter 12. Changing paths within the Pagan sphere
    • Chapter 13. Finding beloved community
    • Chapter 14. The road goes ever on
  • Part Three: Experiences of Changing Paths
    • A bad Buddhist but a good witch—Jasmin
    • The God’s Honest Truth—Ambrose Heath
    • Reconnecting with the mystery—Èlia Viader
    • Wandering Away from Paganism—Nick Hanks
    • Wobbling, but not falling off—Yvonne Aburrow
    • Finding My Way to Love: In Search of a Good Life—Calyx
    • My Journey from Judaism to Wicca—Karen Dales
  • Thanks
  • Further reading
  • Getting help with leaving your religion
    • International resources
    • In the USA and Canada
    • In the UK
  • Bibliography
  • Playlist

Each chapter includes exercises, journal prompts, and reflections.

About me

I have written this book because I have lived through the experience of changing paths. I was brought up in the exclusive Plymouth Brethren (a more extreme version of the sect that Aleister Crowley was raised in). My parents left the Plymouth Brethren when I was nine years old, and initially got involved in something similar, then in a more mainstream evangelical church, and then in a charismatic church for a while. When I was about fourteen, I joined a local church that had a charismatic group within it. I left both that church and the charismatic group when one of my best friends came out as gay, and the people in the group said that God would reject him if he was actively gay. I had been having doubts before that, but it was the catalyst that finally propelled me out of that group and out of Christianity. I became a Pagan in 1985 and got initiated into Gardnerian Wicca in 1991. At this point, I was an atheist Pagan with occasional forays into polytheism. However, I still had an underlying fear that the fundamentalist beliefs that I had been taught were true. I buried this fear beneath a volcano of anger, which would occasionally erupt when Christianity was mentioned. Then, in 2006, I decided to do a Masters’ degree in Contemporary Religions and Spiritualities, and while I was studying that, I became interested in forms of Christianity that embraced and welcomed LGBT+ people. I was also attending interfaith events, where a lot of people had embraced the view that all religions are different perspectives on the same mountain. At the same time, I had become disgruntled with several aspects of Paganism, and thought that perhaps Christianity would be better. Initially I joined an Orthodox church but the church’s attitudes and many of the congregation were homophobic (though the leaders of that particular church were not), and I lasted two months before trying Unitarianism, which is LGBT-inclusive and where it is acceptable to be Pagan and have an interest in mystical Christianity. My Unitarian phase lasted for three years, but eventually I realized that I personally found it too difficult to follow two different traditions, and decided to focus exclusively on Wicca, and push for making Wiccan ritual more LGBT-inclusive. Although my temporary change of paths was painful, at least it cleared out and dealt with the lurking fear at the bottom of my psyche. Since then, I have written three books about making Wicca more inclusive for LGBT+ people.

Other books by Yvonne Aburrow