I think that if I hadn't dicovered that Paganism was a viable religion (or, at least an umbrella of same), I would be Atheist. I really tried for a long time to be Christian. 30 years. I attended church, joined Bible study groups, attended get togethers and served on various boards for several years. I'm sure I appeared to be the "idea Christian": married, children, church, wholesome living (*snort*certainly not wholesome thoughts). What wasn't apparent was that I was empty inside. Not from my home life--from religion. I never got an answer to a prayer, the Bible was (to me) a MASS of contradictions and no one could ever answer the questions I had. I mean, they'd try but if I pointed out descrepancies, I'd either be told that "if I TRULY believed in God aka Yaweh and his side-kick, Jesus, I'd understand OR to "give it up to God and He'd be the one to open my heart to the Truth of the Bible". *Takes a break to retch* I thought that after all this, there was really something wrong with me because I still wasn't feelin' it. I mean, everyone around me seemed to be getting it; it was unfair that I was being left out. What happened that I was unaware of for a very long time, is that, spiritually, I was dead inside. I kept my opinions to myself and one by one, dropped out of all the groups I had been so active in. I think that if Paganism hadn't been presented when it was, I would simply have come to the conclusion that based on my own experience (or lack there of) that there was no god. For years I had been told that Jesus loves me. Well, then why doesn't He ever call back? I had issues with the religion that never resolved over the years of my Christian efforts; like: why does there have to be something inherently wrong with me? If God created me, why can't I rely on my own reasoning and common sense to understand the world? I always thought Eve got a bum wrap and the way God was portrayed in the Bible (all of it, btw) was that of a sadistic 14 yr old teen-ager! I was told I had to have a "personal relationship" with a man who knew all my thoughts (and who was dead) and who's dad knew what I was going to do and say before I knew....Isn't that dysfunctional? Wouldn't you issue a restraining order on a human like that? This was supposed to be my highest goal? Wrong. To me, it was kinda like a gardener who planted tomato seeds but a pumpkin vine grew and then the pumpkins appologize excessively and endlessly to the gardener for not being tomatoes--I mean, WTF? I was about to give up the (holy) ghost when I learned that Paginism was a possiblity. As many of you know, it came in the form of a Christian women's magazine. Talk about irony. To make a long story short, I learned that it was what I had been actively searching for. Along the way, there have been changes in the path and some that I never would have thought possible and a few I had avoided thinking that they were "too obvious". One of the things I've learned is the concept of Wyrd. It's from Asatru or, alternately, the Northern Path. The idea is that if you stay true to yourself, your actions and decisions will lead you to your destiny. You can't go wrong. You become the person you were created to be by virtue of being true to yourself. I like that. I'm in control of my life and path. It's not like destiny where you seem to be going somewhere or doing something against your will. Of couse, I'm very controlling, so naturally that would appeal to me. My Gods don't read my thoughts, require me to bow down in abject humility and they will NOT do anything for me that They feel I should be doing for myself. I read somewhere that the most-favored Christian poem, Footsteps in the Sand was for wimps. My Gods will not carry me if I feel like quitting and have no qualm about dropping me inthe sand and leaving me by myself if I refuse to grow, move forward or learn from my mistakes. They will show up if I ask them to and are always willing to give a helping hand if I am making a concerted effort to reach my goals and am working to the best of my ability. I like that. Somthing else that appeals to me is that they're not "perfect". Perfect implies that change is unneccessary and impossible. Mine strive to be relavent in this world and protect and defend Their own as long as Their own protect and defend Them. I still get a huge kick out of reading atheist's responses on the Religion forums on Amazon.com and have read several books by self-proclaimed atheists. I still wonder from time to time if the Gods are "real" or represenative of different levels of the unconscious....time will tell. These days, I'm leaning toward the former. Regardless, I feel at peace and am so grateful to that magazine for planting the seed--even if it wasn't the seed it was hoping for!