EDITOR’S NOTE: God gives each person a unique story. From being raised Mormon to dabbling with witchcraft and the occult, Beth could never have imagined that her story would unfold the way that it did. But God knew.
As a child I was raised Mormon. I spent a lot of time in the Mormon church and was taught the truths by the standards of the Mormons. I was taught that God is a big guy in the sky who is impersonal and judgmental. Jesus Christ was not God, but a great prophet. Sin was drastically punished, and I was expected to live up to high expectations that were impossible in order to prove I was worthy to go to heaven. I was taught that works were the ultimate sacrifice to God, and I could never know Him personally. I was told that Mormonism was a part of Christianity.
At home God was not talked about, as my father did not believe in the Mormon church. My home was very strict and corporal punishment was the norm. I was extremely abused at the church and grew to believe that God had abandoned me, pushing me farther into the beliefs that He was just a far away entity that was untouchable to me. There was not emotional closeness in my home. My parents were extremely distant and harsh. My sister picked on me and resented me for having to watch me when my parents were at work. I always felt very sad and lonely and worthless. I didn’t have many friends and I when I did begin to get close to other girls my age, I was betrayed time and time again.
My parents were very abusive. I was punished for every act that seemed like disobedience with harsh words and yelling, extreme spankings, and being grounded to my bed for hours or days at a time. I was often taken to the Mormon church for further punishments for acts that were contrary to the Mormon faith. I was also extremely abused by family and members of the Mormon church for the purposes of indoctrinating me into their belief systems. I spent a period of 10 years growing up in the Mormon church, and during that time I was beaten, molested, raped, and tortured in various ways at the church itself. The pain and suffering I endured was so extreme that I have blocked them out until recently. This abuse started as young as 2.
By the time I was 13 I was extremely depressed and obsessed with death. I began to write poetry about death and dying, and short stories about vampires, abuse, death and romance. My sisters husband tried molesting me several times and even tried breaking into my house to rape me when my parents were gone one day. I can look back now and see the grace of God protecting me from most of his advances. I was scared to death to speak out to anyone about it, and would have not known how to say no if he had succeeded. Once you are sexually abused, often times you have strength to try to protect yourself from it happening again.
At 14 I had my first boyfriend who charmed me with his words of love and adoration. Unfortunately once I gave my heart and trust to him he raped me. I convinced myself that it was ok because I loved him, and subjected myself to his sexual advances time and time again. Because of my past abuse, it was all too easy for me to fall into this abusive relationship and belief that love equals pain. It took a year until I was finally strong enough to end the relationship. At that point my own best friend wouldn’t even believe he raped me, and once again I was rejected and abandoned.
This led me down a path of being used by more boys for many years. I had no idea how to have boundaries or be strong enough to not get into situations where I could be abused or taken advantage of. If I wasn’t throwing myself at boys because I was desperate for love and attention, I was fighting boys who were trying to take advantage of me sexually. It happened time and time again, and I couldn’t get away from the role of a victim. I didn’t understand how I kept getting into situations where I was being abused, I only knew that I just wanted someone, anyone to love me.
I began cutting myself around age 15 to try to numb the emotional pain I was constantly drowning in. I fantasized about dying as a way of escape from my pain and the hell of my life. Death was my obsession and I would try to find ways to kill myself, such as hanging myself in the bathroom. I never succeeded and I can look back now and see God protecting me from myself. I hid all of this from everyone around me. My own parents had no idea that I was cutting myself, nor did anyone at school. I would wear long sleeve shirts to cover the many slashes upon my wrists. This only furthered the belief that I was completely alone and that no one cared. I believed if I could just die, then I could be finally free. Pain was an ocean, and there was no shore for me anymore. It had been long swallowed up in the midst of my suffering.
By the time I was 17 an ex boyfriend committed suicide and I completely blamed myself. It was this pivotal moment in which I finally shut myself off to God completely. I had already been abandoned by this far away God, and I was tired of a rotten life of pain and suffering that He had left me too. To me, the world was a cruel and evil place where no God cared about anyone. So seeing an innocent life taken from this world meant that there could not even really be a God. If death and despair were normal for me, then how could there be a God? I decided I was an atheist at that moment, and there was no God.
It was not long after I met a couple that were Wiccan. The man came from a family of Wiccans and his mother was the high priestess in a coven. They were quite taken with me and wanted to teach me all about their ways and practices. I was interested in hearing what he had to say, but I was very much against organized religion. To me, religion hurt people and was full of rules and oppression. What I learned about Wicca was the opposite of that. It was about freedom and connection with the earth. It was about having power and using it and taking control of your life in partnership with the energy of the universe, not being controlled. It was about a god that was everywhere and a part of everything. And it wasn’t just god, but the goddess. The goddess was the most important part of the Wiccan tradition. It was not some stiffling, Christian, sexist belief, like Mormonism. I had discovered the real truth of the world finally.
I was very heavily into drugs by this time, experimenting with whatever came my way. I started with marijuana just a year or so before, and had moved into LSD and mushrooms. I started using drugs to numb the intense well of pain laying deep inside of me, but then I began to use drugs as a way to enhance my life. Drugs were a way to connect with higher levels of self and of the world around me as well as an escape. They helped intensify the feelings I had for this couple, and then a brother that I fell madly in love with. They took me under their wing and trained me and molded me into who they wanted to be. I fully embraced the persona of the witch. I got deep into learning about witchcraft when suddenly the Wiccan man and his family completely kicked me out of their lives. I was dumbfounded and determined to show them how serious I was about witchcraft and being good enough for them.
I threw myself into learning about witchcraft and the occult, as well as many other new age practices. I taught myself about Buddhism, Hinduism, Kabbalah and more. I worshiped the moon and the ocean and did many rituals and spells. I did crystals and other gems over my chakras and awakened my third eye. I did yoga and meditated and tried to open my mind to higher levels. I did rituals where I astral projected and constantly called on gods and goddesses to bless and protect me, as well as enhance my rituals and spells.
I was so deep into the practice yet, I was doing it all on my own. I had no other witch friends nor did I find a coven to join. I kept seeking to find other witches and a coven, but as I look back now I can again see God’s hand, protecting me from various situations. If I would have gotten into a coven, it would have been that much harder to separate myself from witchcraft. My desperation to learn more about magic and grow my beliefs lead me to continue working heavily in the dark arts.
A year later, I met another man and we started a relationship. For me, I was not interested in getting into a relationship and it was all fun. He was enchanted by me though and I began to teach him everything I knew about magic. Soon we became partners in witchcraft and were living together. The relationship was unhealthy and filled with drug and alcohol abuse. Within a year I was pregnant and was miserable again. Alone I had felt empowered by my beliefs and alliance with witchcraft, but now I felt trapped in a relationship I never wanted. Being pregnant changed how I was living my life and I wanted to try to clean up and get married to have a proper family. We got married when I was 8 months pregnant. I knew our relationship was on the road to disaster, but I wanted to give my baby a real family. It didn’t last long, because he left me and cheated on me just months after our son was born. I was left alone and my world came crashing down around me. Depression that had seemed to be distant in my life came to engulf me once again.
It wasn’t long before we were back together and our relationship became more abusive. The witchcraft only intensified at this time, as I threw myself into it, obsessed with the craft. Things continued to spiral downward in our relationship and our practices of witchcraft became darker. Within a year I was pregnant with my second son, and my husband was leaving me for another woman, yet again. My depression came to an all time high as I was left utterly alone with a toddler and a baby on the way. I had to move in with my parents and life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. I could barely eat or function and did everything I could to take care of my child. Witchcraft took the back burner as I struggled to get through every day life. I believed in it still, but I could not practice any longer. It was truly a part of my soul however.
I had the baby alone while my husband was living with another woman 400 miles away and was too strung out on drugs to be there for the birth. I desperately wanted a family for my sons and found myself in yet another abusive relationship just months later. This lasted for 5 years on and off. It was so abusive I began feeling suicidal again and my life spun completely out of control. I was stuck in a vicious cycle of him leaving and me begging him to come back. I began cutting myself again and trying to find ways to take my own life. I tried getting on Prozac thinking it would help me, but it did not. I was just desperate not only for love, but for a real family. I was willing to be loyal no matter what it took, to have a family. Somehow I finally got the strength to not beg him relentlessly to come back one time when he packed up his stuffed and moved out for the umpteenth time. I was finally free of this nightmare and ready to move on. Yet I was alone again.
I was a single mom with a low income, barely taking care of my kids when I met my current husband. The last thing in the world I wanted was another relationship. Yet this man wanted nothing more than to take care of me and my sons. He did everything he could to show me that he cared about me and wanted to help me. I tried very hard to push him away, and honestly I was very scared of him. No one had been that nice to me before, unless it was a preface for abuse. Before I knew it we were living together, along with his oldest son. I was not ready for the relationship and things were very rocky for the first 6 months or so. I was too afraid to let another man in, who would only turn on me and hurt me. Yet he would not give up on me. One weekend he took me away for my birthday and there were no distractions in the little cabin we rented. It was just the two of us together, talking and having fun. I fell in love with him then and knew I could trust him finally.. We got married a year later and it was a beautiful ceremony. My first wedding had been in the backyard of our drug dealer, who had been ordained online. This ceremony was a real wedding to me, and it meant so much.
Yet happiness was still very elusive to me. The darkness in my soul was not going to easily leave. Depression haunted me still, as well as thoughts of hopelessness and despair. Our relationship was also abusive, because it was all either of us knew. I was constantly trying to run away and divorce him, but he would never give up, no matter what. We had two more sons together and did the best we could to be good parents and try to have a good relationship. It was not easy considering how much baggage we both brought into the relationship. Thank God for bringing us together and working so hard to help us to stay together and work through things. Things have gotten much better over the past 10 years.
I desperately missed my practice of witchcraft. I began looking for a coven or group to join again, now that my life was stable. I would teach my children the things I knew about witchcraft and talk to them about the special holy days such as Samhaim and Yule. I even did a ritual with my family once in our backyard. I was constantly searching for an outlet to grow spiritually again. It was such a huge part of who I was. It made me feel whole, free and alive. Years went on as I searched and we tried out things such as Unitarian Universalist church and the Unity church. It seemed great at first, but would always leave me feeling empty in the end. I wanted nothing more than that connection that I felt to be filled again. I believed in the power and connection I had to the earth and the universe and knew I was a part of it. If only I could find a group that I could connect with on that level as well.
Finally we moved into a nearby town and I wanted to try again to find a spiritual community to be a part of. I looked on the web for churches near our new house and even looked at the Mormon church again. I wanted very much to be a part of a spiritual community, but I could not get on board with the beliefs of Christians. I was very against Christians and really hated them. I saw them as judgmental hypocrites and completely foolish. I believed it was the church that hurt me, and blamed God for all my misery and despair in life. Yet somehow the burning desire for that connection to my spirituality was stronger and I began looking at Christian churches. I found one church online that had a home school group, which really interested me. We were home schooling and I was tempted by the thought of a local home school group. I couldn’t quite get over the fact that it was Christian though, and there was no way I was going to align myself with Christianity or their God. I was never going to change my beliefs.
Somehow a few weeks after moving into our new house, we ended up in this Christian church for their late service. It was truly a miracle that I or my husband would have walked into church that day. We started out at a Unity church that morning, but we felt so turned off by it, we walked out in the middle of their service. My husband and I made a split second decision to drive over to the Presbyterian church with the home school group to check out their late service. For the first time in my life I felt like I was at home. This was indeed a very strange thing for me! I took one of the pamphlets from the pews home and read it. I actually found it to be interesting as I read it aloud to my husband. Before I would have mocked it or threw it away without a second thought. It was completely contrary to everything I believed. Yet we went back to church the next Sunday, and the next.
My journey at this point was a journey of finding the truth about who God really is, and learning about the true Lord Jesus. It is an amazing miracle, what Jesus has done for my life. He has brought me hope and healing for the first time ever. He has helped me to see that I am not alone, worthless, but I am well loved daughter of God. My husband and three out of four of my sons became baptized and we became members of the church. We are active in our church, and I am on the worship team. I am indeed a new creation, redeemed by the light and the glory of Christ. I am in awe of what He has done for me. He is not done with me yet, and my testimony is not over yet either.