"Two roads diverged in a wood and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." -
From The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
I'm not always so sure which way I am actually supposed to be going. I stand at a crossroads sometimes between one choice and the next and wonder if I had made a wrong turn back a few miles. It's not so much a feeling of regret but a genuine curiosity of what may have happened had I chosen something else. Back when I was young, and just discovering that I was not your average human being, I stood there as I stand there now, on occasion.
Back then, life really was just a choice between doing my homework or shoving it into my locker and ignoring it. I made it something more than that. On November 1st, 2003 when I was twelve years old, I made the choice that I was Pagan. (At the time, Wiccan, as I didn't know too much.) I had gone to church with Grandpa, who also didn't attend too often. I had discussed biblical things with my cousin and aunt out in Kansas for a few years before that. I didn't really understand it -- none of it made sense. The first book that I ever got was "A Wiccan Bible" by A.J. Drew.
Looking back at it on occasion, it's hardly the best metaphysical book out there. The part that interested me the most was the very last chapter -- a long index of names of Gods and Goddesses and how they filled similar roles with different names across innumerable cultures around the world. The book was the center of the crossroads. I could continue on a Wiccan path or go off in a different direction.
For a long time, I stood there. I read more books about Wiccan practices, and performed a few of the prewritten rituals. It wasn't enough for me, though. It was a few months that I tried to work this out...I think I may have been fourteen or very close to it before I realized what the index of Gods and Goddesses would mean to me.
They call someone that studies and incorporates a lot of different "paths" into their one practice an "Eclectic Pagan." That is the path I have been walking this whole time since then, discovering along the way different things about myself. When I was young, I was afraid. I was afraid of people. I was afraid of myself. I was afraid of magic and how it worked. I was afraid of what would happen if nothing felt right after all of this research. Though I was always both an empath and a Witch, I convinced myself otherwise in order to block out the fear. Another couple of crossroads turned up and I had to come to terms with both of these things in due time. The realizations along the way have made me more of my whole self, but still not completely fearless.
But what really is a Path? It may be mundanely defined as a course along which something moves. To think in terms of Paganism, it is a course along which your spiritual beliefs are moved and shaped. It is the discovering of your very essence, and it is ever-changing. It is a road in the proverbial woods cut in so many places with forks and crossroads, wrought with moments where critical decisions must be made. Sometimes there are loops which will take you back to a place you have already been. Sometimes it will lead you right into your darkest hour, and you either emerge, slightly scathed, or you run away just to arrive back where you started, only to be lead there once again in the future. Sometimes, something or someone will cross your path, and you will make a decision on direction depending on where they turn. Sometimes you'll step right over them, forgetting that the odds of that person or thing being on your path are slim to none, and you move on blind to possibility. Sometimes you will meet the end of your path before your time. Sometimes your concepts will lead you to a yellow brick road which is clearly defined and without too many more turns. Sometimes it will remain a twisted, confusing mess for almost all of the time you walk it.
What matters most is that it is yours. This path is traveled by nobody else all the way through. I found in the "what if" moments of my life that I am who I am because of the turns I've taken. What makes all the difference is that we all keep moving along our paths instead of trying to walk in someone else's shoes due to fear or insecurity. It will never be easy, that I know and can guarantee. But I have to keep believing that it will always be worth it in the end, whenever we happen to get there.