2016 Winning Essay



Pete Ryland Shoda, III

What being Pagan means to me, it means I have the ability to walk in the woods, talk to the Divine, become part of Nature, and most of all, it gives me the choice to worship where, when and how I want.

Most people would say that being Pagan means they worship the Goddess.  While this is something that I do as well, it also has allowed me to worship much, much more.  People that go to church go one time a week, a couple hours, then that’s it, they go home. Not Pagan’s, not me.  Being Pagan means that I have a lot to live up to.  The God’s and Goddesses are watching me, Mother Nature is watching me, and the wind is listening to me, carrying my spells, chants and requests to the Universe.  Always helping, always taking care to leave a small mark, always being a good person to others, taking care of the Earth, giving back when I can.  These are some of the things that being Pagan means to me.

It also means that I have the ability to talk to the Divine, Earth Mother, Father Sky, where and when I want, not having to go to a building, not having to communicate my emotions and words to a person that says, “you are forgiven”. For the Divine, by whatever name you call it, is in me, I can communicate within myself, self-love, self-healing, self-forgiving, for the Divine lives in me, you, us, the trees, the plants, the grass, she is all around.

Living in West Michigan, the Bible belt, is not easy being Pagan, it’s hard to defend my thoughts and beliefs to others.  I have been asked many times how I can be Pagan, how I can live like “that”.  To which I ask them how is it that you are able to live with such a vindictive God.  My Goddesses and God’s are loving and accept anyone, that is what being Pagan means to me.