This was a question that I was asked by another recovering Ex Jehovah's Witness:
you've briefly touched on your past a couple of times, but kinda glanced over exactly what it was that you were into after you left the JW world...
mysticism or something?
like Wicca type stuff?
can you tell me a lil about that...
what drew you to it?
and most importantly, what turned you off of it??
but seriously, i'd like to know what your experience was and what brought you where you are now...[/QUOTE]
I thought I would share my response.
I had already been talking to people of all different religious backgrounds when I left the Witnesses, and had come to the conclusion that it was all variations of the same delusional crap that the Witnesses had pedaled. If the JW's are not "the truth," and the bible is not the inspired word of God, then Judeo-Christian religions were dead. I hadn't yet examined the possibility that GOD is dead, too, so I embraced a different kind of god -- one that lives inside all of creation -- more attuned to a Wiccan or Buddhist philosophy. This let me look at myself and others in a new way, seeing myself and others as innocent children, born without sin. Perfect, as we are. I started to heal and feel better about life, though I felt that I still had too many unanswered questions -- many based on the supernatural experiences of my childhood.
I had vivid dreams, night terrors, sleep paralysis, and auditory and visual hallucinations that I had ascribed to the demons. For years, I had this recurring dream that I was trapped in a cold, dark room with a round table covered in black cloth, upon which sat a pentagram with candles at each point. A disembodied voice chanted, "You cannot sit at the table of god and at the table of demons." I would wake, screaming out something unintelligible, freezing cold and terrified with a feeling of doom hanging thick in the air. Sometimes, I thought I saw inanimate objects moving around in my room. Once, right after one of these dreams, I saw a figure standing in the darkness at the end of my bed, waving its arms. I rolled onto the floor, scrambled to my feet, and ran out into the dark hallway, flailing desperately for the light switch. I suddenly felt silly and chuckled that it was probably just -- and then I heard a voice say, "Hope it makes you feel better thinking it was just your jacket!"
That was some Stephen King shit there.
What happened to me? Even years after I had discarded the idea of god, these memories haunted me. I have since found that there are names and rational explanations for these things. See Sleepeducation.com / Disorder, Brain / oxfordjournals.org and Thought Disorders. Both Catholicism and the JW's had deeply ingrained superstitious thoughts about invisible creatures, and these had framed my perceptions of what had happened.
After everything I had been through, psychotherapy, in the hands of the rare skilled practitioner, had been very helpful. Metaphysical thinking seemed, to me, to contain the ideas behind therapy writ large. The same black and white thinking, the same fanaticism that had made me embrace being a JW lead me to turn therapy into a path right back into cult-like thinking. It seemed different enough at the time -- we had been taught to look outside of ourselves to god for all of the answers at the Kingdom Hall, but metaphysics encouraged introspection. I reasoned that when I had prayed for strength beyond what is normal, I received it by pulling it out of myself. All along, it was always me that I had talked to in prayer, and it was always my voice that answered. When I prayed for forgiveness, it was always me that had decided when I deserved it, and it was me that granted it. I felt good with the idea of a god within.
Before I was compelled to question doctrine as a witness, I was suffering serious doubts when I looked at what the doctrines produced. It was the same when it came to metaphysics. I started to really watch those in the Wiccan world and other variations of New Age thinking, like Science of Mind, and followers of A Course In Miracles. For the most part, I found loving caring people that practiced some cool-ass rituals. I love rituals. After a period of time, however, I saw a very scary, ugly side to some of these belief systems. Really thinking that "everything happens for a reason" can cause you to look for meaning in places where shit just happens. Looking for "signs" to tell you what to do next in life -- at best, you are wasting your time, at worst, you are making major life decisions based entirely on random bullshit. Many of these people, and their gurus, were very judgmental and developed a strong us-or-them mentality -- they think that some people are just not "awake" yet, or they have not yet become "enlightened." Crystals and bells and self-righteousness. Same old crap, but better knickknacks. I was not learning to really think for myself, and neither were they. These were metaphysical sheeple. Once I had made some very serious decisions based on "signs" that I perceived, and advice from a psychic...to disastrous end. Nothing like full on disaster to halt you in your tracks. The spell was broken.
I had had my last dance with magical thinking, and decided to start my education in the sciences, especially psychology. I found answers in science for all of my previous supernatural questions. I started to read about neuropsychiatry, biology, genetics. I learned enough to know just how little I really know...LOL! I did find answers, and now have a much better understanding of the mind -- my mind, especially. So, I stick with science and leave room for discovery. I am OK with not having all of the answers. So much the better, since the joy is in the finding out.
It's fucking amazing to be alive, and this life has plenty to keep me occupied without having to spend all of my time trying to prove, or disprove, the existence of the supernatural.