Glasgow, where I grew up, has a huge drinking, smoking, gang, male chauvinist culture. It also has a long standing "tradition" of sectarianism. Behind the scenes. The city fathers would say it is a modern, multi-cultural, progressive, centre of the arts - before jumping into their expensive cars (in some cases, chauffeur driven) and head back to their detached suburban homes on the very fringes of the city. If they even live that close.
Ask most people who have lived within the confines of the city, who went to school there, who grew up there and they will have a tale to tell of drink fuelled violence, especially at weekends; Of the numerous deaths from cardiac arrest due to the large number of unhealthy lifestyles followed by a majority of the populace; Of poverty, unemployment, drugs, domestic violence. There are few who cannot confirm being asked if they were a "Billy or a Dan" (Protestant or Catholic) - as early as primary school (Kindergarten).
As has proven to be my way throughout life though, I was as much the odd one out then as I am now.
I was raised in the Catholic faith by my well meaning, faithful parents, but since around the age of 17/ 18 perhaps, I have described myself simply as a "Celtic Spiritualist", which is the main thrust of this story.
When Catholicism could not provide me with the answers to the questions I sought, I looked elsewhere. If there was any 'God', (I believe), he would not expect us to just have blind faith. He would give us all the answers we need. You know what? "He" did too - but not in the way the mainstream religions would have you believe.
I touched upon the other mainstream religions in my quest for belief, and then delved into the older, more esoteric belief systems. Amongst them, I found what fits and feels right, for me. That is good enough for me.
I've got no need to have others believe what I believe. No desire to convert anyone. I have no sacred book telling me what I should believe, how I should act and think and behave. There is no temple, church or chapel I can go to to join in with others in praise and worship - one day a week.
My beliefs came from discovering for myself, from researching, questioning seeking answers. Most of all, it came from personal experience. I have and continue to experience Spirit, very individually, very personally on a daily basis. Some people call it Psychic senses, a gift, etc. I don't! I am no different to anyone else out there other than that I have not allowed my higher senses, which we DO all have, to be opressed, subjugated and buried deep within me, for fear of being labelled a devil worshipper or something equally as inane.
Glaswegians don't go in for all that stuff though. The stereotype is one of a heavy drinking man who works all week to get a pay packet on the weekend, goes home drunk, hits the wife for not having his dinner ready, gets up and puts on his finest clothes to go to church on sunday to maintain an air of respectability. (I did say it was a stereotype!!) I was the odd one out there, and as a non-Christian (God fearing/ believing), Scottish man in an area of rural Pennsylvania, Im the odd one out here too. It must be a test of me before the next life though because I'm sure I neither want to nor could teach some sort of lesson to others.
When you have touched on and experienced the power, the energy of Spirit for yourself though, there is now way you could ever go back to sitting in a hall listening to some msiguided man preach. I am not only a Pagan now, I am proud to be Pagan and will be until I step across the divide betwixt this world and the next.