I’ve been an atheist for about 5 years now.
My religion was not one of the “main stream” religions. In fact I know of nobody who ever left this religion. Why? Because it is just too tempting to stay in. My religion worked with a lot of positive reinforcement and the things you were afraid of were everything BUT leaving the religion. This stuff was not taught like a usual religion, it did not behave like one. It had all the components of a religion though.
I used to be a witch.
It is not the same as being a christian, moslem, hindu, or anything like that. It is very different. Since there are almost no people who ever leave witchcraft I was on my own.
When I started asking the critical questions and researching everything, I found no atheists who had been through the same. I only knew ex-christians and while some parts of our stories were somehow a bit alike, most of it was very different.
I already had my own student who was eager and I taught him all those witchy things. My student was 13 when I accepted him. And he was the beginning for me to lose my faith. He asked me very honest questions about everything and this is something that I encouraged. I had to, somehow, explain everything to my student.
His questions went deeper than I had ever had anybody ask me about witchcraft.
My generic answers weren’t enough for him and so, as his mentor/teacher, I had to research deeper as well.
Over time, more and more, I got the feeling things in witchcraft only worked because of psychology.
The more I tried to prove things, the further away did I drift.
Now just like Christianity has this fear of hell that keeps people from leaving and it also keeps people fearing hell after leaving the religion, witchcraft has something like this as well.
While there is no fear of hell because witchcraft has no hell, there are other things that you fear. Bad spirits, ghosts, negative energies, bad thoughts, magic mind attacks, negative rituals that target you, reincarnation (which can also be scary in some scenarios, and mine was), and many more.
Leaving witchcraft meant that everything that makes your life save and secure from all these things would be gone. And somehow your brain doesn’t make that leap to understand that if you leave witchcraft, that also those bad things are gone.
Anyway, moving on:
I moved in with my boyfriend who was in a similar place – spiritually – as I was. He was in the process of losing the last bits of Christianity. He had found a few really good podcasts on YouTube. The Atheist Experience and The Thinking Atheist were the first two atheist programs that I ever listened too. While they made a lot of sense to me and I learnt a lot about Christianity, there was never anything about witches and that was a problem. Why? Because they were great at debunking everything a Christian said but all the questions that were still in my head stayed there.
I asked myself everything and I did not want to debunk my own brainwashed self. But I just found too much real information and science behind things. It was so frustrating and scary to leave all of it behind.
And even more frustrating that there was no ex-witch ever to talk to. I now had a lot of atheists to talk to, but they usually came from some godly religions and I didn’t feel like anybody understood me. I had to draw parallels to Christianity to make points. But the problem is that witchcraft is completely different.
The last two things I lost, from my belief system, were fate and reincarnation.
It took me very long because these were the very core of my life. I had so many defense mechanisms to keep them, that it just took longer. I am not even going to debunk those right now because that would take too long.
Sometimes I still feel like I should go back. Sometimes I still feel like some of the believes I used to have might be true.
In these cases I have to pretty much explain to myself why exactly I had to drop those believes. I am so tired of it.
The idea of reincarnation is still so deep in me. I understand all the science and the reason that I heard and that was told to me. I even agree. But something in me still says “but what if….”
When will this stop?