Escape from Scientology

TW: Scientology, religious trauma. ‘At 52, I abandoned everything, every friend, every family member’: the top official who escaped Scientology (The Guardian)

When he was certain that he wasn’t being followed, he caught the tube to the National Portrait Gallery, where he sat on the grass outside and let his heart rate slow to its regular beat. “I went OK, now what? What am I going to do? For the first time that I could remember, I wasn’t answerable to anyone.”

‘At 52, I abandoned everything, every friend, every family member’: the top official who escaped Scientology (The Guardian)

Repost: My spiritual journey

I came to terms with being gay in 1996. At the time I was an evangelical Christian and tried to keep my faith for two and a half years. It didn’t work. I realized that even if I accepted I was gay, my upbringing had taught me to hate myself and see myself as worthless so I needed a change.

Part 2: My First Witchcraft Book

I made many new friends to support me. The friend group I got involved with consisted of a lot of witches and Pagans. I asked one of them for a book recommendation. They recommended Cunningham’s book. I fell in love. Magic resonated with me. And the God and Goddess were full of love and acceptance.

From a series of Mastodon toots by Jarred the Wyrd-Worker detailing his spiritual journey. (Read the rest on Mastodon)

A change of perspective

There was a guy in one of my classes — let’s call him Jonathan — who was openly gay. I had never knowingly interacted with, or even seen, anyone gay before. … He just stood and sang, a capella. It was honestly beautiful in its own right — Jonathan has a great voice. But, as he sang, all my feelings coalesced into an understanding. He was singing about what Black folks experienced and still experience in America — something I had never been taught. He was also, I think, singing about his own experience as a gay man — something I had also never been taught.

— Read more at Rochelle, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child”. NonNumberChar, Medium

Reblog: Marking the seasons

A really nice post about discovering that you can enjoy the cycles of the seasons without needing to believe in the gods: you can be an AtheoPagan.

I realized I could do anything that I wanted to do. For someone raised in an oppressive religion, this thought is life changing. And what did I want to do? Two things topped my agenda. First, I wanted to read anything and everything I’d missed in all those years. That project is still ongoing. And second, I wanted to mark the passage of time through the seasons.

GUEST POST: A Memorable Mabon on the AtheoPaganism blog

Knocking on doors

Fascinating article in The Guardian about two guys who started out atheist comedians and ended up becoming Christians with a priestly vocation. I’m including it here because it shows how changing paths is a very gradual process, not usually a sudden change, and that sometimes these changes are quite insidious and hard to resist.

I like the metaphor of rooms in your life that change when the Divine enters them.

Content warning for people who have recently left Christianity: you may find the article distressing.

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Escaping fundamentalism

A few years ago, John Becket wrote a couple of really useful articles on escaping fundamentalism, which I recommend reading if you are an ex-evangelical or an ex-fundamentalist.

I also made a video on this topic, entitled Recovering from Fundamentalism.

About the book

Are you entering Paganism, leaving Paganism, or changing traditions within it? 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?

If you have ever changed paths or considered changing paths, this book is for you. It is a guide for people who have entered Paganism from another tradition, people leaving Paganism for another tradition or none, and people changing from one tradition to another within Paganism.

Changing your religious or spiritual path can result in unexamined spiritual, emotional, and intellectual baggage from your previous tradition, which can cause all sorts of issues from depression to anger management. It can also be problematic when we bring this unexamined baggage to our new community and expect our new tradition to look like the one that we left. Many people, unless they have engaged in a very thorough deconstruction and reconstruction of their beliefs and attitudes, bring some of their views and expectations from their previous tradition into their new one.

This book will help you to navigate all the issues that arise from changing paths. It will help you to evaluate whether you should stay in or leave your current tradition. It explores what religions are, and how to evaluate and compare them. It will also be of interest to people seeking to understand the process of changing from one tradition to another, because a friend is going through that process. Although this book is mainly aimed at people entering or leaving Paganism, or switching to another Pagan tradition, it is also relevant to people switching between other traditions.

Each chapter includes journal prompts, questions for reflection, and exercises to help you navigate the terrain. There is also a list of further reading, and a bibliography, for any issues you want to follow up on. I hope that your journey will be less bumpy, and your landing softer, as a result of the signposts offered here.

One you have settled on your chosen community, staying in it can also be a challenge. Once the honeymoon period has worn off, what makes people stay in their new religious tradition? How do we resolve the conflicts we had with it in the first place? How do we reconcile with the fact that all religious communities have their internal divisions, and often contain people whose values are diametrically opposed to our own? Even if you leave religion altogether and become an atheist, you will encounter these difficulties in every community, whether it is your local pub or a roomful of atheists.

In the end, after all this upheaval, we have to get on with the business of living. We cannot live on the rarefied heights of spiritual experience all the time; other less intense experiences are available. Sometimes we need the steadying experience of being in community with others and doing comforting everyday things. These are also true and real and valuable. We do not always need to hack our own path up the mountain; we can grasp the handholds left by others along the way.