A lot of times when an adolescent rebels against their parents, they may start dabbling with pagany stuff like Wicca and witchcraft, tarot cards, and the like. Me? I dabbled in Christianity when I reached my “I’m going to be my own person and make my own decisions” phase. I wasn’t raised in a Christian household, so when I was exposed to it, I was fascinated by the ritual of it all. Very little about it made the slightest bit of sense to me, and parts of it were downright terrifying and badass and prime pickings for a revolt against parental influence. Transubstantiation? Fuck yeah, I’m down for cannibalism! Angsty little thirteen-year-old goth me was stoked.
I was raised heathen-lite. Father was first generation Norwegian, and my grandfather didn’t want his children baptized, even though his mother insisted lest people think they were damn dirty heathens. “But we are!” was his response as it was told to me. My father loathed Christianity and didn’t actively practice any religion, but he believed in Valhalla and wore a valknut. He told me that when Mom and I left, he started wearing Mjolnir instead, and the last time I saw him, back in 2004, he showed me his valknut and hammer pendants. My mom isn’t Scandinavian, but she loves mythology and made sure I was educated in Nordic lore. Our barracks were decorated with a lot of things we got during our trips to my grandfather’s homeland, a lot of animal pelts and troll stuff. I played with antique Viking swords that were bigger than my little bitty self. I grew up knowing the gods, even if I was too young to really understand the scope of their presence and influence.
When my mom and I came back to the States, she sent me to Catholic school for 2 reasons: the quality of the education was better than what the local public school district offered, and she wanted me to learn about Christianity and Judaism and major religions since they influenced so much of society and she knew I needed to be able to understand other people. I was 10 years old, and I had NO IDEA what Christianity was – I honestly, genuinely thought “Jesus Christ” was a swear word because my parents would utter that when they were angry or frustrated, and I’d get yelled at if I said it. So just imagine how fucking weird my first day of Catholic school was for me, sitting in homeroom staring at an excruciatingly detailed, bloody crucifix while the principal cursed at us over the loudspeaker during morning prayer. That was neat. I ended up in the monsignor’s office that morning to get a crash course in Christianity so I wouldn’t have a nervous breakdown by the time we said prayer before lunch.
By the time I was in 8th grade, I decided to convert (much to the dismay of my formerly Catholic mother). I mean, I was tired of classmates climbing over me in the pew at communion, and I wanted to get in on Cannibal Snack Time. That’s honestly why I became Catholic. I was just trying to fit in, and in fitting in with my peers, I could rebel against my parents. Win-win, right? Plus it made me hardcore as hell to engage in ritual cannibalism (transubstantiation is why I opted for Catholicism instead of a Protestant path. My stepdad is super Lutheran and often took me to his church, so I was versed in other Christian faiths as well. Their bread was way better than the necro-wafers, I’ll give them that. Grape juice was a bit of a cop out, though). I was off the rails in my revolt: Mom and my father weren’t stoked about my conversion to Christianity, and my stepdad would have rather I been Lutheran instead of Catholic. No one could control me. I was clearly a wild child to the Nth degree.
The first two years of high school saw me palling up with the nuns who taught my theology classes. I was mesmerized with the idea of completely committing myself to God and living for Him. I wanted to be a nun when I grew up, take vows and wear a ring to symbolize my status as a Bride of Christ. I don’t know how my family put up with me during these riotous years. Especially my poor Mom, who had to drive me half an hour every Sunday to sit through Mass.
As most children, I eventually outgrew the rebellious phase.
By the end of high school, I was frustrated because growing up, I’d known the energy of the gods, but when I’d pray to God, it was a silent void, empty and unsettling. It wasn’t until my first year of college that Christ finally acknowledged me, and it was to tell me I wasn’t his, that those who had claimed me were waiting for me to return to them. And so I did. Freyja drew me back into the fold I’d left, and she handed me over to Odhinn and Loki when I was ready. Of course, I always focused on Ol’ One Eye while the Sly One was bombarding me with antics designed to get my attention. I was an Army brat, I was raised on the glory of Valhalla – of course I was going to focus on Grimnir. After some conversations (with both human and divine) at ECT, I finally started paying full attention to Loki (insert exasperated Trickster sigh here with an over dramatic “FINALLY!!!”), and things are As They Should Be.
Of course, something a lot of people wrestle with when they convert from Christianity to paganism and heathenry is reconciling “Christian baggage.” After all, it’s a dramatically different philosophy and worldview, and you’re shifting away from modes of thought and habit that you’ve had your entire life, Big Things your family impressed upon you. Because I wasn’t actually raised Christian, I don’t have the typical baggage. My return to heathenry was a return to what I knew. However, the nun thing stuck with me. I’m very much a polytheist, and I work with and honor several gods in the Norse pantheon. However, my dedication to Loki is something I liken to being a nun. He is the most active in my life, the most present of all the gods. He’s my best friend in the metaphysical sense. It’s his energy and influence that I try to channel into my daily life, and I serve my community with Himself guiding my way. We entered into an oath, and I wear a ring to symbolize that oath. And it’s a Christian concept that I use to describe or explain my relationship with him and the covenant between us: I am, for lack of a better term, a Lokian nun. I am utterly devoted to him, and I gladly welcome his presence in my life and in my actions.
So that’s my story about my awkward, rebellious teenage years, and the takeaway from my brief foray into Catholicism. I sometimes toy with the idea of giving into my natural inclination for smartassery and making a nun’s habit out of a fox pelt that I have. Maybe a Lokian rosary. Get myself into ridiculous situations that end with me giving awesome presents to people. Hilarity shall ensue. Instead of the crazy guy preaching about the end of the world and telling everyone to repent, I’ll be the crazy fox-lady telling dirty jokes on street corners, offering passersby the chance to play tug of war with the goat I’ll have with me.
Or, you know, I can just keep doing what I’m doing and save the crazy for special occasions. I’ve had my share of crazy in my life. There’s only so much subversive rebellion the world can handle.