Remembering how long I have identified as pagan is far easier than remembering how long I have been thinking as a pagan. Before schooling, I spoke to the dirt and weeds and even ate some because I believed they told me to. In elementary school I was told I was Catholic, and that came with a white dress and attention, so I was cool with the name even as I listened to the trees in the church playground and chose their company at recess. In high school, after I touted a militant atheistic stance in locker lined corridors, I went to the beach every single night and spoke to the waves and wrote poetry to the moon. And in college where I was more apt to ingest and inhale, I wasn’t sure who I was, but I knew I needed to get back to the beach.
Certain habits I learned from grandmother and later her sister and even a little from my mother never struck me as anything other than their idiosyncrasies, but later I learned that much of it was in a folk magic vein. But they never labeled me anything other than nicknames. They let me figure me out on my own. And that is what I did when I went to the beaches.
My family moved once growing up to a giant old home that was a half a mile from the town beach. For the remainder of my childhood and through early adulthood there were few other places where I felt I could say anything, be anything and hear everything. Some people in times of stress need to hear or feel that everything will be okay. I need the beach. Through every high and low and all the in betweens, the constant in my life has been the ever changing beach.
At the shores of my existence I have cursed and wished and mused. I understood Shakespeare there, and I felt Whitman as if he were sitting on a rock next to me. I attempted my first seduction there with great success, and I have walked naked between tides under the full moon and varied crescents in between. I learned of greater power and an interconnected whole, the cycles of life and the interplay of the elements. My foundations were built on sand creeping up between my toes.
Sun and sand might be best fitting for warmer months, but snow does not keep me or anyone who understands the calling of the sea away. There is much to learn from cthonic waters kept warm inside the skin of the earth. Their stories can be heard as they trickle through ice and rocks to meet with and blend into the waves of a greater body.
When I am there it is not like going to church, it is going to church. Liturgy is spoken by wind and wave. The stars are exquisite votives, and altars are the ghosts of trees. Forgiveness is my own. Offerings, myself. Nothing is missing save what I do not require.
And it is damn fun too. If by chance you ever come to visit, I will take you there no matter the season, and you will be treated with honor and served your favorites.