1/24/2011 | Share this article:By WMDKitty ~
In the words of Marilyn Manson, "It's a long hard road out of Hell." This is my journey along that road thus far.
I was raised Catholic, and--
No. I suppose I should start at the beginning. My birth.
I was born to a 16 year old girl, whose medical and personal history are unknown to me. Three months premature, a very sick baby, I wasn't supposed to live.
But live I did. I even dared to thrive and defy the doctors' "best case scenario" predictions.
At the age of one year, I was adopted, and taken in to my forever family. Despite the doctors' dire predictions, all they knew was that a little blond-haired girl was available for adoption. From what Mum and Dad have told me, it was love at first sight. Health problems? Potential disabilities? They didn't give that a second thought.
As I grew up, they encouraged me to reach (literally and figuratively) for ever higher goals, be it crawling, walking, dressing myself, they pushed me to achieve and be the best I can be. Even knowing that I might never be self-sufficient, they loved me. And, of course, like all parents -- okay, like all Catholic parents -- they took me to Mass weekly.
One of my earliest memories, oddly enough, is of being in church and, being the stubborn little thing I was, I ignored Mum when she told me to sit down. I think I was around two or three, though I'm not sure. At this point, I had (finally!) discovered the ability to stand up under my own power, and like all children, I had to test it. Repeatedly. And I ended up falling and hurting myself. That is my first memory of testing boundaries (and gravity), both of which have been recurring themes.
Back to the story at hand, yeah? So my parents did their best by me, raising me as a Catholic. But despite the beautiful rituals, and enchanting stories, the indoctrination never really stuck. I can remember, even as a child, asking that question that is the bane of EVERY parent's existence: "Why?" And I know that, even then, it was an existential "why", rather than a "why is the sky blue" kind of "why". I'd play along, naturally, as I didn't know until much later in life that there were any other religious options.
From a very young age, I was a voracious reader. Self-taught, even -- Mum says that one day, they just kinda realized that I was, in fact, reading. (I was three and a half or thereabouts.) Now, as a devoted reader, I devoured everything I could get my grubby little claws on, from Golden Books to Grey's Anatomy to flipping through the bloody dictionary... for fun! I'd rather have spent a day with a good book or three than do physical therapy! (That, too, was a constant, as I have Cerebral Palsy. Oh, the stories I have of that circle of hell!)
I went through the motions, did the First Communion thing, played the part of the "good Catholic child", but inside, I doubted. I even dared to commit the biggest sin a Catholic can commit: I questioned.
Growing up in the Church, with a disability, you hear... things. "What did her parents do to deserve a disabled child?" The odd conclusion others made, that I was somehow "God's punishment," stuck with me. And it made me start thinking, because my parents hadn't committed some horrible sin, they hadn't done anything evil, they had chosen me, despite not knowing if I'd ever walk or talk. They loved me despite my limitations. How could a beautiful, loving, intelligent child be a "punishment"? Thus started my journey.
I pushed those doubts down, brushed the whispered comments aside, pretended it didn't bother me. And, as a child, it didn't bother me at all. Why should it?
The weirdness began early on, as well. My earliest memory is of "warm" and "purring". I am, and always have been, a veritable cat-magnet. If there is a cat within a block of me, it WILL find me. (This becomes relevant later, I promise.)
In addition, I have seen... things. Unexplainable things. At a funeral (closed casket), I asked why the decedent was "sitting up". I mean, I literally saw the deceased, sitting or standing near the casket, when there was no possible way for her to have done so -- she was dead, and the dead don't generally parade around their own funeral Masses.
I have an uncanny knack for sensing "things that should not be". I know, it's silly to believe in things like ghosts and faeries, but I know what I've seen, and it kinda scares me. Now, between my strange little "gift", and my love of reading, I had read through every book on mythology I could. Greek, Roman, Egyptian, various First Nations stories, you name it, I've probably read it. The idea of whole pantheons of gods and goddesses intrigued me, and so I studied further, devouring every book I could find on the subject. This is relevant, I promise, just bear with me as I try to get my thoughts out.
In my early teenage years, to borrow a phrase, "crap got real". This is when the claws of doubt and curiosity really sank into me. By thirteen, I had stopped attending Mass, preferring, as most teenagers do, to sleep in on Sunday mornings. But I was still nominally Catholic, attending Mass on "important" days (Christmas and Easter), and sitting quietly in the pew with whatever I happened to be reading at the time.
Over the next few years, I moved further away from the Church. I had never considered myself Catholic, or even Christian. I had never given it much thought, really. And I never saw a reason to give it much thought. Until I discovered Saint George of Carlin at the tender age of 15. Thus was born the first seedling of my journey away from the Church. I began to notice inconsistencies and outright hypocrisy in Church doctrine. I started to see that it was, in fact, no more than crass manipulation of the masses. ("He loves you. He loves you, and he needs money.")
I went from blissfully ignorant Catholic-because-my-parents-said-so, to painfully aware of reality. But I still clung to the idea of deities. For a good few years, I drifted in a sea of confusion, feeling like I didn't belong anywhere, taking refuge in books and video games. I was, at this point, pretty much agnostic, though I didn't have a word for it. I just knew that I didn't know enough to be sure of anything. (Meanwhile, the weirdness continued. By this point, along with literally being a cat-magnet, I had encountered what could best be described as "nature spirits".)
I made it through high school, graduated, went to college, and -- I still don't know if it was a matter of "fitting in" or a genuine attempt at sincere belief -- but I flirted with Christianity for a good year, before I discovered Wicca. Again, despite beautiful rituals and lovely stories -- I even found the ethical guidelines to be quite positive and uplifting -- it didn't "fit". Something was missing.
During my Wiccan period, I met (and almost married) my abuser, he who shall, forever after, be referred to as "The Jackass". He literally forced me back into Christianity on pain of, well, PAIN. Not the hippy-dippy love-is-all-you-need kind, either. This was hardcore fire-and-brimstone EVANGELICAL Christianity. Not only did I have to attend church services, it had to be a church that HE approved of, and if I dared to ask questions or push back against his "God-ordained" authority, there would be a boot in my side, a slap to the face, a knife at my throat. (Do abusers have, like, some kind of handbook that they share? They all do the same things!) Any other church (i.e. any church that I chose, that was "too liberal", or that he just didn't like) wasn't "good enough".
He had me so beat down that I didn't dare protest. This was but one of the low points I endured, many of them at his hands (and, one night, his feet). I was convinced that I was nothing, I was lucky to have him, nobody else would want such a worthless bit of dirt around them. Despite all this, deep inside, that spark of stubbornness remained, and I continued my seeking, often behind his back or in the supposed interest of "knowing what I'm up against". In the midst of this horror, there was still that small glimmer of hope and outright rebellion, that tiny little part of me that said, "There must be something better than this."
It was during this period of my life, during the worst of my personal Hell, that I stumbled across Orthodox Kemeticism, a revival of ancient Egyptian worship and practices.
With the Kemetic faith, I discovered Bast. Mother, lover, fierce protector, goddess of both love AND war, and -- more importantly -- the protector of cat-kind. But I could not stick with this faith, either -- there were still too many rules, too much of a hierarchy, and too much that didn't make sense.
I moved on, dabbling in a bit of this and a bit of that, amusing myself with magicks and divination, and various gods and goddesses, eventually ending up researching LaVeyan Satanism. Being me, I just HAD to jump in with both feet leading. I still find parts of the philosophy quite beautiful, and have no problem taking what I need or want from Satanism and everything else I've dabbled in. But again, like a shoe that almost fits (but not quite), Satanism wasn't where I "belonged".
So here I am. I'm an apathetic agnostic hedonist ("Don't know, don't care, let's party") and still, for some reason, quite devoted to Bast. Perhaps I am merely attached to the idea of Her. Perhaps She has had a paw in guiding my life. All I know is that I feel more feline than human, and display many (often-amusing) feline mannerisms, among them an insatiable curiosity and a near-inhuman love of fish, string, and shiny objects.
I cannot explain and do not understand the weirdness that is my life. But I feel that it is not mine to understand or explain, only mine to accept and explore and enjoy and experience as I travel through life. I need no religious affiliation, no label, no cage to confine me, for I am Cat, bound only to those whom I have chosen to be bound to, by ties of my choosing, and subject to none, be they Man or God. I forge my own Path, and that is good enough for me.
Thank you for bearing with me on this rambling journey through my head. If anything doesn't make sense, please, just ask -- I'm happy to answer!
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