Deciding Between Paths: How To Know When You Are Ready?


I’ve been raised as a Christian my whole life. But about 2 years ago, I realized that it wasn’t my true calling or a place where I felt at home at all. But about a year ago, I fell upon Wicca. To me, it feels true and right and I feel so at home within it, so I just decided to call myself Wiccan. More recently, I realized that that wasn’t any way to follow Wicca and that I’d gone about it in a way that wouldn’t truly benefit me. So now I’m taking the time to learn more about both Christianity and Wicca and I’m so excited to finally choose and follow Wicca as I should’ve done in the first place.

However, going to church every Sunday has made it increasingly difficult to commit myself to Wicca so I’m left feeling unsure whether I was too quick but in Christianity I feel uncomfortable and unsafe and judged so I know it’s not what is right for me. I guess I’m just looking for advice and how to release all this doubt and fear. I truly want to dedicate myself to the God and Goddess but I’m just doubting whether I’m ready or not. At my age and in my ‘situation’ it’s hard to find other Wiccans who I can speak to and learn from and be guided by.

Probably not what you are going to want to hear, but at 14 you have plenty of time to figure which path is right for you. Particularly if you are having doubts, it’s good idea to take as much time as you feel is necessary.

From a traditional standpoint, Wiccan covens will not initiate anyone who is under the age of 18 (sometimes even 21), so there is not any need to rush to anything at this point. If you still feel pulled towards Christianity, keep in mind that, even if you are uncomfortable at your current church, that may not be indicative of all churches, or even all denominations. So it may be worth it to explore other areas of Christianity before making any major decisions.

Once you are sure that Wicca or Wicca-inspired NeoPaganism is more your calling, there is still not any real reason to start dedicating or oathing yourself to anyone at this point. Oaths and vows are something that the Gods take very seriously and doing such during the teen years is just not a good idea (in any way). It’s not always a good idea for some, even when they are older – things change and we think we will always be able to follow through, but that’s not always the case. And trying to take back an oath… it doesn’t always go well and some Gods are less forgiving than others. So patience at this stage is a good thing.

In the meantime, I would suggest lots of reading. We have a couple of previous posts with some recommendations (here and here). This doesn’t mean you can’t practice anything, but it simply means don’t look to settling in just yet. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

Additionally, if you feel that maybe there are bits of both Paganism and Christianity that call to you, there are things like ChristoPaganism which may be of interest as well. In particular ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path by Joyce and River Higganbotham is a good one. Another book that encompasses multiple views is CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path by Eric and Katrina Rasbold. In terms of going to church, it may also be worth checking out the Unitarian Universalists.

I know that when we are young, it often seems like we need to make a decision about things NOW, but in truth – particularly with the really important things, careful consideration is the better course of action. During our teen years things change rapidly and those things that we feel strongly about one day soon fade, and by the time we reach young adulthood we are often completely different people. Making any sort of decision, particularly involving dedicating oneself to a God (or Gods), is not something to make until one is absolutely sure that one can keep that commitment*. So don’t feel that you need to be doing anything, until you have resolved any lingering doubts are are fully ready to take those next steps.

*worth noting too that for some people, they are never ready to take an oath or dedicate themselves, and that is perfectly ok too. Never feel like you have to do such a thing, even if it said so in a book or on a website, etc… 😉

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Vows: Dissolving a Handfasting


My ex and I were handfast 4 years ago. The relationship changed this year. I would like to have a handparting to bring closure and move on. My ex says she performed a ceremony that released us from the handfast. I requested a 2 person ceremony, but she does not want to participate in it. The wording in our handfast document does not have the words “for a year and a day or as long as love shall last” . It  has stronger language “that lasts a lifetime”, through all the years, and “all your tomorrows”…

Any advice? She has moved on. I want to move on as well, but feel in limbo without a closure. I want to release her from the handfast with a similar ceremony as the original handfast
Thanks

So… the following is based on the original email that I received. I’ll add a bit more at the bottom, regarding the additional details that were sent as well.

This is probably the number one reason why I advise that any sort of oaths or vows made should be very carefully considered before they are undertaken. Also to be extremely careful with exactly how they are worded, because while certain things may sound romantic, or dedicated and make for a lovely ceremony – the implications are far reaching and we will generally be required to carry out what we’ve pledged. Having to later go back and break our word, or beg the Gods to release us, can definitely get a bit tricky. Even if you do manage to find that release, there will, in many cases still be some lingering energy between the two (or more) parties involved, even if it is diminished.

Obviously having a parting ceremony together would be the most ideal. However as that is not possible, if you can find out from your ex, the exact ritual she used – the next best thing would be for you to follow that in the same way, saying the same words, so that you are both on the exact same page as far as words and deeds. At the very least try to find out the wording she used, for dissolving the union, not that you can’t use your own if absolutely necessary, but it would be a good reinforcement if you are echoing what has already been said.

If you end up having to write your own parting ritual from scratch, be sure to acknowledge the original words that you spoke. You may find it easier to change the nature of the vow – from romantic love to the love of friendship, rather than attempting to break the bond entirely. You can find some good advice for how to structure your own ceremony here, as well as a sample ritual here (though it would obviously need to be modified for solitary use). The key thing is to symbolically part ways – either by cutting or burning the cord that was used in your handfasting (if there was one), or other symbols of your time together. Being sure to release any residual negative feelings (as much as possible), and allow yourself to know that the time has come to move on. Something to keep in mind as well, if any Gods were called on to bless the original handfasting, you will need to petition them in your ritual as well, asking that they release you from any vows made before them. It would likely be a good idea to make sure that you have some sort of offerings for them, to make that part go a little smoother.

Overall, let this serve as a reminder to us all, to always have a care with our words. Even though we may have absolute faith that we can keep such vows at the time that they are made (obviously we wouldn’t consider making them if we didn’t think we could), the truth is that the universe is ever changing, and everyone in it has to change and grow with it (or choose not to as those around us change and grow) – in either case what was true 5 years ago, may not be true today, or even 10 years down the road. So when we do magical workings, especially anything that involves binding or joining, or dedicating ourselves to a person, or a God, or any other entity or spirit – we need to make sure that we aren’t committing ourselves to something that we will later find ourselves in a position of having to back out of. There are reasons why handfastings use the phrase “or a year and a day or as long as love shall last” – it’s the out clause, that keeps one from being in the position of being an oathbreaker.

From the additional details that you provided…

You did mention that there was a “year and a day” intent in your original ceremony… this is really good. While it’s definitely still worth having a parting ceremony, there is a lot less “baggage” than as would be if it had not contained that intention. Basically even with the other stronger wording that you mentioned originally, by adding in the renewal clause (as it were), you both are free to not exercise your option to renew – which is what has occurred. So in this case rather than having to make a high pressured “sales pitch” to the universe and/or Gods in hopes they will release you from a seemingly unbreakable bond – it’s more a matter of just formally stating your intent to end the relationship, working through and letting go of any harsh feelings, and allowing yourself to look positively to the future.