C is for Catholic

Some time during my freshman/sophomore year in college, I found going to Mass was giving me headaches.  I decided to take religious classes to try to come to terms with all the questions I found myself struggling with after my dad died.  One of my assignments was to attend a religious ceremony from a religion that wasn’t mine.  A friend of mine’s stepmom had a Dianic Circle which suited where I was in my feminist development so I attended there and then just never stopped.

I went to a progressive church with kind priests so I didn’t really have any issues with my church so much as The Church which seemed to make a lot of arbitrary rules that didn’t make sense to me logically.  My biggest issue was that The Church wouldn’t allow women to be deacons which didn’t make sense to me.  We had kind of a crappy deacon and I knew I could do a better job than him so that kind of aggravated me.

I came out of the broom closet to my mom and to say that was poorly received would be the understatement of the year.  She took it as a direct insult to her faith and her parenting and no matter how many times I tried to explain otherwise, it was a dead fish on the floor.  But with time, she started to accept my faith as a Pagan and even be proud of it in her own way.

Flash forward over ten years later.  My sister was having a baby and I wanted to be godmother.  My sister had stepped away from the Church herself but with the birth of her baby, she found herself wandering back.  Jow was asked to be the godfather so after some discussion, we decided we wanted to make a good faith effort to do so.  For me to be godmother, it required some careful logistical maneuvering but I was granted the right to do so.  During this time, Jow and I started attending weekday Mass.  For me, that was like a whole new world.  First off, it’s a half hour so no dawdling.  My attention span for Mass it turns out is approximately a half hour.  Only people who want to be there attend on a weekday versus a Sunday so that cuts down on a lot of the empathetic static I was having trouble with.  Since it’s a small, short Mass, that’s when all the awesome radical stuff sneaks out which also delights me to no end.  I found myself coming to terms with my past and coming to peace with it.  However, everything I observed or participated in was now through a Pagan lens which was interesting for me.  I didn’t really feel “called” to be a Catholic again but attending did give me some peace with myself and also smoothed things out with my mom some.   Once I started going again, we were able to have a more honest dialogue about the things we both thought were not good about the Church and I realized as the future keeper of the dead for my family (after my mom), it would be good to feel comfortable with the religion they felt comfortable with as having Masses for the dead is part of that.  I think my mom also felt reassured that when the day comes, I’ll bury her according to her wishes.  At the same time, it’s weirdly made her more respectful of my Paganism.  I think we needed to do this this way so we could meet in the middle.

So at this point, Jow and I got engaged.  And we talked about it, and since my mom has been so good to both of us and this time smartly didn’t make any noises about where I should get married, we decided that since it would mean so much to her that we’d get married in the Church.  She was thrilled which made us happy to make her happy.  We weren’t sure how the process would be for us but strangely, it’s been really good.  Our priest is into exorcism and Downton Abbey and having to go through such a process makes you be really thoughtful about what is entailed in a marriage (not a wedding) even if it’s just you saying to each other, “This particular part of the process is bullshit and here’s why.”  There’s also something to be said about being reassured by a person of the cloth (and the FOCUUS test) that we’re well suited to each other.  It made us more confident about going into the marriage.  It’s been nice to have an engagement that’s been way more focused on the marriage than the wedding.

But yeah, we’re both still totes Pagan.  I identify Catholicism more as part of my heritage than a religious view for myself (sort of like being culturally Jewish) and we’re still going to get handfasted first privately.

Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


4 Responses

  1. I like the idea of being “culturally Catholic” or “culturally Protestant” or “culturally Christian,” like belonging to a particular tribe. Which we do. It’s not necessarily the set of religious obligations we hold to throughout our lives, but it’s the set of rituals and ceremonies we were initiated in, and it’s hard to let go of that. Actually, it’s even better: Mike Sententia over at Magick of Thought suggested to me that maybe being culturally attuned to Catholicism (or in my case, Episcopalianism) is akin to having a login on a website… a connection to the software. You have the initiatory experiences that make you a member of the Catholic laity, and those connections can’t really be removed. It’s rather like Facebook in that regard, actually. You can pretend you don’t have an account with Facebook, and even delete the account, but Zuckerberg et al. are still going to assume you’re going to come back sooner or later. So does Catholicism.

    On the other hand, it’s useful. It means that in a given working, you can access the saints and the Trinity (and the demons, for that matter) through the Catholic software, or go a different route through the Dianic or Hermetic traditions to a different class of entities. You have options. A former student of mine knew Hebrew, French, English, Latin and Spanish… I asked her if she ever got them confused, and she shook her head. “No,” she said, “it’s like swimming in big pools next to one another. I get out of one pool, and I go swimming in another. Some words make the crossover, like drops hanging on my skin, but they’re totally different pools.”
    Andrew B. Watt recently posted..Poem: Up the RiverMy Profile

    • “I like the idea of being “culturally Catholic” or “culturally Protestant” or “culturally Christian,” like belonging to a particular tribe. Which we do. It’s not necessarily the set of religious obligations we hold to throughout our lives, but it’s the set of rituals and ceremonies we were initiated in, and it’s hard to let go of that.”

      Exactly. It becomes an integral part of your worldview and influences you one way or the other throughout your life.

      I quoted your response in my own post that was inspired by this topic, I hope you don’t mind. You can check it out over here: http://fumblingtowardseternity.blogspot.ca/2012/06/culturally-catholic.html
      Summer recently posted..Culturally CatholicMy Profile

  2. You guys rock. I love that you can understand the integration process, have respect for your family, and be able to talk about it. It’s hard being occulty and not hating christianity by proxy. It’s harder to be an occulty Christian, imho, but we probably all think we’ve got it harder than anyone else. 🙂

    As always, you inspire.

  3. I find this really cool!

    Lately, I’ve also felt a pull back towards my Catholic roots, though I’m not quite sure why. It disturbed me at first, but not because I have anything against Catholicism or Christianity in general… I respect the religion, I just don’t fully agree with the dogma. I suppose I felt a bit disturbed not understanding why I felt that pull in the first place, but after returning to the Church in which I was raised and used to attend Mass, lighting a candle to St. Jude, sitting in silent meditation for awhile, I realized the only issues were within myself and it was just a matter of understanding my own spirituality and occult nature can easily be reconciled with my Catholic roots.

    I now utilize Catholic images, Saints, prayers, Psalms, etc, on a more regular basis within my practice and I’ll tell you what… my practice not only feels more comfortable when I work with Catholic elements, but also seems to have a bit more “oomph” to it.

    I certainly haven’t abandoned any other elements I regularly work with at all, but adding aspects of my former religion have created a more well rounded practice.
    Rose recently posted..The Way Must Be WonMy Profile

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