It was Christmas Eve sometime in the mid-90’s and I was probably four years old. My memory  refuses to stretch before the moment I walked through my mother’s bedroom door so it may be  impossible to recall why such a thought occurred to me at this barely budding age; but I walked through the door as my mother wrapped presents perfectly with gold and green paper that  would be ripped to shreds before breakfast. I asked her, “Mommy, if God made everything then who made God?” This is one of my first memories, a recollection that would haunt me into adulthood; an attempt to make my mind wrap around the impossible. My deeply faith-filled devoted mother simply looked at me, a smile of red lips and gorgeous teeth and crows feet at the corners of her exhausted eyes, and paused her mindful wrapping to let me know in a  north Georgian accent, “Sweetie, our brains are just too small to understand that.” An answer  that echoed from inside her. An answer that even at four I understood was the same answer given to her when the question prompted her own existential curiosity.
 

The roots of my raising were those of Fundamental Christianity. It is possible that I spent more  of my time in the church than I did anywhere else. Except maybe my own bed. We were the sort of family that didn’t only attend church service on Sunday mornings: we also ate lunch at the  church, attended camps put on by the church, attended services on Tuesday nights, were  involved in plays, youth groups, baptisms, and other rituals associated with the church. The times we weren’t present with the congregation, we were at home where our faith ruled the house before all else. Before school began, in the morning, we gathered as a family and my mother  would read a verse or entire book from the Bible and we would pray over our days. In the  evenings we would come together again under the same format. Every Christmas Eve we would bake a cake and sing Jesus “Happy Birthday”, which is probably one of the most telling signs of  how seriously we took our faith and also one of the most precious memories of my upbringing. I  was taught that the Bible is absolute truth, there is nothing metaphorical about it but is a literal  guide from which to live your life from —and I believed and trusted everything completely and wholly.  
 

Within the religious context of my raising I was still a child and as we know children possess a magical purity. We are free as children, all-knowing and yet easily impressed upon. As a small one I found myself tiptoeing along strategically placed rocks around our backyard garden and  whispering to the faery creatures who danced within the dense leaves and flowers. The room I slept in had bookshelves from ceiling to floor lining an entire wall and I would stay up into the  witching hour reading books far beyond my comprehension. I could be caught behind my bed mixing perfumes, paints, plant matter, and anything else I could get my hands on  that was viable for potion making. I kept a box underneath my white sleigh bed that contained all  the necessary ingredients for alchemizing and brewing, and it was a secret refuge from the day to-day intensity of my large, religiously devoted family. I have anamneses of speaking to what is often referred to as “imaginary friends” in different rooms of my home. There was a small  dragon-like creature who lived in my bedroom vent that I sang songs to and would build stairs  out of blocks to coax him to come down and play with me. There was a boy who lived in the  bathroom that I would have conversations with about my day. Then, there was a young girl named Cynthia who came with me wherever I went unless I asked her specifically to stay somewhere. My youth was a paradox of rigidity and magickal freedom. 

 

Coming into my individuality and understanding my existence within the collective was rough as I came up against what I was taught was truth and what I felt was truth. These truths were often conflicting, creating a dichotomy that eventually led me to a complex, intricate weaving of numbing confusion and rebelling against my known paradigms with conscious altering substances. Through the grace of whatever it is that we’re all a part of but generally feel separate from, I didn’t lose my life to drugs and alcohol but instead found healing as this path led me to plant medicines. These substances ripped away all that I had been taught and believed to be real. My world shattered, a false existence encompassed me and then dissolved a mere juncture later. I lost my religion overnight and felt left with nothing. I felt free again. Like a child.  

The years in rebuilding my understanding of the material realm were sticky at first. I raged against Christianity for creating a falsity in my life and fumbled at creating meaning within my day-to-day. Slowly, my relation with the natural world grew deeper and glimmered again as experienced when I was a child. I began a process of remembering; seeing what we refer to as Nature in all her consciousness. I could feel the trees breathing into me once more, I could see the symbolism in the swallow-tailed kite, I could hear the whispers of the Spanish moss, and I could join the giggles of blooming violets. Earth is alive and I began to know this again. I felt called to devote myself to her because she was the only thing I had ever really known, ever truly experienced, to be real.

 

Choosing my devotion towards Earth required me to build a practice to honor and connect with her. My roots in organized religion taught me spiritual skills that beautifully enriched my Earth-based practice. Growing up I was taught how to pray but now I pray for what I feel and not for saving from what I feared. Blood rituals of drinking wine and water rituals of cleansing the old were prominent within the church and these observances taught me how to use the elements of my body and Earth’s body to perform my own spells. What I learned, as I moved through the conscious applications of my intuitive faith, is that my raising was purposeful for my personal evolution within the collective consciousness. I was  meant to experience a fundamentalist version of spirituality, so that when the day came for it to dissolve ruthlessly beneath me I could carry the necessary gifts from one world into another.