Though I might be the only person I know of that describes it as such, almost everyone that I’ve had the chance to hear or see or watch in the pagan-heathen community has an ‘ah ha!’ or Gateway moment. That infinitesimally brief moment when something changes and they become aware that there is something other than the way (read: path) that they have grown up with or lived with up till that point.
Though I think it would be wonderful if there were more family based traditions, the reality of that is very far away. A goodly number of pagans-heathens have come from something that was either unfulfilling or came to not represent their personal belief or spirituality or countless other possibilities. However they arrived at their Gateway moment, it is this moment which opened up the world to them in that special way that let them know that there was something that resonated with them.
I don’t really know what triggered my Gateway moment, but I do approximately know when it happened. I was eighteen and in Edinburgh, Scotland and I was having a conversation with two people I had met in a shop and the three of us ended up spending some time together. The conversation was one of our earlier ones when we were still getting to know each other and the question of ‘what are you?’ came up. For the first time in my life I really thought hard about how to answer it; in the past I had always said something along the lines of ‘I’m Catholic Christian, but I don’t go to church’ etc etc. But there was something about this particular moment that really made me sit back and consider just what it was that I believed in, what I was to myself and how I could put that into words for other people to understand.
I forget what my response was at that time, it certainly wasn’t anything along the lines of what I would say now and today, but it was my Gateway moment that opened me up to the idea that I could go out and FIND what I was looking for to have spiritual wholeness.