I was brought up as an atheist, but with a healthy respect for nature and animals. Every week I would go on walks and bike rides with my family through the countryside: looking out for animals, birds and insects; climbing trees; foraging for fruit in the hedgerows; watching the crops grow; learning the patterns in nature.
I was home educated, so I was very fortunate to have lots and lots of time to do all of the above. It was very freeing.
It feels strange when I live somewhere new and don’t know where I can walk to in the local area to find eating apples, cooking apples, blackberries, plums and so on. I really like knowing that about my local area. It’s fun to explore, but it’s good when you know exactly where to go, too!
On our walks in the countryside it was very common to bring home leaves, stones and feathers as keepsakes. These were kept to display, to remember, and to decorate. It was just something that we did, and something that I love to do every time I go out. I adore keepsakes – boxes of items from all significant times in my life – and I think I have definitely got this tradition from my family.
My offline name (which, alas, is not Hare) is from the ancient Greek pantheon, so I was brought up learning stories about my namesake and her cohorts. I was so excited to learn about ancient Greece and its deities. When you’re a bookish child, learning that there is a Goddess of Wisdom can be very heartening. It was wonderful to know that women could be valued for their intelligence, cleverness and love of learning.
I also had a bright orange children’s book of Norse tales, where I learned about Thor, Odin, Freya, Loki and others. (You can actually read a copy of it online, here!) The best bits were the illustrations, I think. My favourite is of a giant just lying sleeping while Thor’s trying to hit him with a hammer. Also, of Loki turning himself into a salmon.
Over the last few years I’ve talked to many people, attended various religious and spiritual gatherings – though not enough! – and learned about the ways in which people can incorporate spirituality into communities and vice versa. I still haven’t made it to a Pagan gathering, nor joined anything like ADF, Pagan Fed or OBOD, but I would like to do both in the next year. It’d be nice to meet some Pagans offline, and to join an organisation for more support and socialisation.
I’m not particularly interested in the ADF or OBOD, but I think Pagan Fed looks good. (I’d like to hear about any others! UK-based, please.) I will research it further before giving them money, though.