17 February, 2010

A tiptoe back to the beginnings

I suppose it's traditional to start in the past and then work my way up to the present.

Prior to my introduction to the craft, I was brought up in an Italian/Spanish Catholic household.  My family, especially my mother’s, raised me to be independent and freethinking.  As a woman, I was to never depend on a man and get as much education as a I could.  You can rely on no one but yourself.  However,  the Church raised me to feel guilty.  About everything.  Including bathing suits.  This was quite traumatizing to me considering I was a competitive swimmer, but our church’s Deacon was quite insistent that Jesus did not want women “to bear their flesh.” I couldn’t understand it.  Weren’t Adam and Eve naked in the Garden of Eden?  Didn’t God love our bodies and want us to love and appreciate them?  Of course, I asked these questions, but I was snubbed with answers like, “Adam and Eve were different!” “Showing too much skin is sinful!”  and of course “If you don’t make confession, you’re going to hell!”  Such wonderful things to tell a 10 year old.  My home instruction and church instruction never seemed to quite fit and I was always confused.

That same year I had my first experience with death: I lost my maternal grandfather.  This man was my entire world and now he was lost.  I fully understood that death was a part of life, but again the church and our priest offered little comfort to me.  What really did me in was when they began prayers for his soul to be released from purgatory.  I asked the priest why my grandfather wasn’t in heaven.  His answer: he didn’t make his peace with God before he died, so he’s stuck between heaven and hell.  This was not what my mother and grandmother told me or what I knew of my grandfather.  He was a good Catholic man.  He always did for others.  In my eyes, he was a saint.   The cracks grew deeper.

I continued through the motions of the sacraments and made my Confirmation at thirteen.  My Catholic molding finally broke at our 3 day “retreat”.  It was basically a three-day rehearsal/brainwashing.  Girls and boys were separated and although I do not know exactly what took place during the boys meetings, I know it couldn’t be far off from mine.  We discussed “mature” Catholic dogmas: abortion, sex, marriage, AIDS, birth control, homosexuality.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  Everything I had come to believe on my own about these topics, based on my personal experience and from the teachings of my mother and grandmother, was apparently a lie.  The church told me that I was a sinner.  The church told me that my gay friends were also sinners.  The church told me too many things that just didn’t click anymore.  Confirmation was only a day away and I would go through with it, but after begrudgingly receiving that sacrament, I hung up my rosary and tossed aside my Bible forever.


Anonymous said...

Our experiences are somewhat similar. I also had major problems with what my priests/religion teachers told me, including such gems as Yoga is for Satan worshipers and gays will burn in hell along with anyone who has sex before marriage, masturbates or doesn't believe in God. I could go on, but I'm sure you heard all this too. When I would question ideas like these I would always get in trouble. I felt like the black sheep of my religion classes! The priests hated answering my questions because they would get flustered and not know the answer. I was forced by my parents to get confirmed, as all good little Italian girls must do, and right after that I discovered paganism. I have felt uncomfortable with the church ever since these childhood experiences, and have since become a much happier, tree hugging pagan ♥

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