As you may have seen from my bio, I consider myself an ecclectic witch. I started out as a general Pagan, and my earliest mentors were Wiccan. I read a lot of books (a favorite is still PAGANISM: AN INTRODUCTION TO EARTH -BASED SPIRITUALITY by Joyce and River Higginbotham), shuffled tarot cards, and sneaked into parks for rituals that I didn't understand. I knew... I KNEW... That Paganism was the right religious umbrella for me, but all of the Paths felt like clothing that wasn't quite the right size.
While I lamented the lack of definition, I also knew and accepted that finding my Path was something to work on. Religion and Spirituality are paths and practices, not sidewalks and perfection. I knew that I had to stick it out and keep trying different things until I had a list of what felt right.
For me, the Practice part helped me define the Path.
My teachers faded away. Some became friends, others drifted off on other roads. For a while, I stagnated. I had books, tarot cards, herbs and thoughts, but no direction or motivation. The bookmarks stayed put, the cards went un-shuffled, the herbs went into soups and sauces. But I talked about my thoughts on spiritual subjects with friends and family. Some of those discussions were lovely, even enlightening, and others halted awkwardly. My parents were confused and sometimes upset about my religious choices-- I recall the shocked disappointment on Mom's face when I refused to attend Easter services -- but I stuck with my convictions.
Even if I wasn't super-clear on what they all were, what I followed what felt right to me.
Life continued; and I developed serious issues with anxiety, to the point where I had panic attacks. One day, as I felt a bad one starting, I heard a voice telling me to GO. I headed outside to the park across the street, where I had ventured only once before, years ago. I walked and walked that day, through the park, around the neighborhoods... I felt better. Especially in the park, where I was surrounded by plants and quiet. It almost felt like a hug... It certainly felt like home.
I don't recall specifics from this point, but around that week, I dove back into Paganism. I was drawn more and more into witchcraft. I liked that it could be practiced in conjunction with other religions, and I liked the variety. Witchcraft is a spiritual practice that places an unusual amount of personal responsibility on the practitioner for decisions about worship, beliefs, and faith. The practitioner must find their own answers; there is no prescription or dogma to follow. And yet, as I discovered, most of us find ourselves arriving at similar answers.
Not all of the time, of course. There will always be disagreements and discussion. As long as we stay appreciative of our differences, and not convince ourselves that we have The Answer and others Must Be Enlightened, we'll be ok. It's hard not to judge others for answers we don't understand. I recently had to call myself out about this. I honestly don't know if I would've had that kind of healthy self-awareness without Paganism or witchcraft.
And I think that's where ultimately my path lies. Witchcraft and Paganism for me are constantly helping me to access and assess myself and my dreams. The type of witchcraft that I practice may change labels -- currently, I can best define it as ecclectic -- but I am confident and comfortable in living my best life on my path. It's mine, after all. You're welcome to join me on it, and if we part, good luck and thank you for all you've taught me.