You may find there's not much here because I'm really not very good at figuring out computer instructions. I guess and I try, and as often as not, end up accidentally losing what I have written. If any of the people who read this live in the St. Louis area and want to help me learn how to work this, I will start blogging in earnest. I will start with the details of how I came to be an atheist.
I was born into a Christian family, in that my mother was a serious Christian, a Sunday school teacher and the whole nine yards, and my father went to church with her to keep the peace, and because she would then agree to "take a nap with him" in the afternoon. I walked in on their nap one day when I was maybe six or seven: they weren't sleeping. I didn't really understand what they were doing, but it sure wasn't sleeping.
Anyway, I was taught what I was supposed to believe, and how horrible it would be if I failed to believe, so I really did try, at least for awhile. But once I was informed that Santa Claus was not real, it wasn't long before I wondered what else I had been taught was really just something adults tell to children to manipulate them. (Yes, I had that much of a vocabulary.) Then I turned 13 and had to go to catechism class. The minister taught it, because this was a small town church, and he was pretty stupid. At one point I asked a question that seemed to me pretty basic (I don't even remember what it was), and his reply was "That's one of God's mysteries; we're not supposed to know that." My reply didn't suit him one bit: "Then why did God give us brains?" He thought I was being a "smart-ass", but to me this was all pretty basic.
When I got home that day, Mother said the minister had called and complained about my being a smart-ass. I told her I didn't want to be confirmed, but she persuaded me that this would humiliate her in front of her pious friends. We agreed that if I went through with the ritual, and stopped asking questions at catechism, I would not be required to attend church after that unless I wanted to. I agreed. After that, I usually stayed home and had first pick of the Sunday newspaper.
Another thing that happened when I was 13 was that I was gang raped that summer. The way I was treated when I got back to school made me pretty cynical, and I got married first chance I got. I was three months short of my 16th birthday. I married a Catholic, and converted to Catholicism. I went to mass every morning for awhile, in part because we lived right across the street from the church and in part because we lived with my in-laws and it suited them. I realized that they didn't really care about what you believed, just what you did. Go through the rituals, appear to be what is expected of you, and confess every Saturday afternoon. I didn't hear Tom Lehrer's "Vatican Rag" until many years later, but that's pretty much how I was living.
But this first husband (there were four in all) was a bully and a fool, and after four years, I ran away from him and became a hippie. That meant that I didn't have to be religious, but I should expect to be spiritual. I tried that, too; I really did. I tried many different ways that don't seem worthwhile to remember in enough detail to matter. I finally ended up going to college at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and hanging out with the Episcopalian chaplains because they ran a very cool coffee house and were quite hip.
One day I was hanging out with one of the chaplains and we started talking about how women were becoming deacons with an eye toward ordination once the church, as it was poised to do, started ordaining women. He used the term "women priests," and I said, "Wouldn't they be called priestesses?" He said no, that would sound too pagan. Here's how naive I was: I said, "What's wrong with sounding pagan?" He replied that if I felt that way about it, I should go to San Francisco and become a pagan priestess. So I did.
Jumping ahead a whole lot of years, when I met Steven, the man who would become my fourth husband, he was also interested in paganism, and very knowledgeable about ceremonial magic[k]. We started doing serious rituals on the eight pagan holidays. I made us ritual robes in different colors for the different rituals, we set up an altar, and gathered all the ritual tools. There were crystals and candles all over the apartment, and I made cross-stitch designs of some of the most important symbols. Oddly, though, we never framed or hung up any of them, mostly because Steve didn't want the landlord's repair guy or anyone who just happened to enter the apartment to know what we were up to. He was a big fan of Aleister Crowley, and was really pretty paranoid.
Jumping ahead another large chunk of time, on December 16, 2005, Steven shot himself in the head. Naturally, this brought into question all he had taught me about magic[k] and paganism and all of that. A little more than a year later, I moved to St. Louis, MO, and joined the Ethical Society, which is big here. At the time, I was still calling myself a witch, or a "sort-of witch", but I had not done any rituals since Steve died. It wasn't long before I realized that I did not take the gods and goddesses seriously, and in fact didn't even appreciate them much as metaphor and symbol, and realized I am an atheist.
There's obviously a lot more to this story. If you ask me questions, I will probably answer them.