Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads

I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.

Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.

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Annika Mongan

Annika Mongan

Born and raised an evangelical Christian in Germany, I joined the Jesus Freak movement as a teenager and became a passionate evangelist and worship leader. No one was surprised when I went to the US at age 19 and came back a tattooed and pierced fundamentalist Christian, betrothed to a "Chrispie" (a Christian hippie, that is). I was a virgin the day we married. Five years later I graduated bible college with highest honors and post traumatic stress disorder. I deepened both my theology and trauma on the road by traveling the country in a big yellow school bus. For three years I lived as a nomad, playing music and leading bible studies, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. I learned that Christianity in America encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from Amish groups casting demons out of school busses to Roman Catholic priests breaking into government buildings. I saw Jesus in the oddest places. And then everything changed and I ended up a polyamorous Witch in a Pagan community in California.

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Dear Christians, can you see me?

I was married five years ago. Now I am not. My divorce was awful (surprise). My ex-husband was abusive. I had a bad experience in bible college. I was hurt by the church.

When I talk to Christians, I inevitably face a myriad of questions about these experiences, followed by condolences and apologies and reflections of how sad and hard it must have all been. It was sad and hard. And in the years that followed I have healed, I have learned, I have grown, I have fallen in love, with wonderful people, with my life, with my community, with Spirit, and with myself. I am happier now than ever before. My life is not a collection of knee-jerk reactions to pain.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers says #
    I was drawing down the moon before I knew what that was, too!! And I am SO glad I have found your blog. Everything you've said in
  • Camille
    Camille says #
    I joined this site just so I could follow your excellent and thought-provoking blog. I want to read more!
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for sharing your story Annika. I was lucky in that the Christian denomination I became part of in middle school is very
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    This is fascinating to me, Lizann - as you will know if you've followed my debate with Anthony on my "Common Ground" blog. What, p
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Reclaiming is the tradition I have been studying with as well, and I am also still involved in a progressive Christian community.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Pagan in Bible College

Alumni visit their colleges to re-connect with old friends and relive memories of the good old days. Unless, of course, they graduated from Bible College and then left the faith. In that case, visiting the college feels more like being a stranger in a strange land.

Eight years after earning a BA in theology and biblical languages I returned to Multnomah University as a Pagan. After leaving my Christian faith, I lamented that my theological education was a "waste of time". But with my embrace of Paganism my perspective changed. It didn't take long for me to discover that my theological education was an invaluable asset for interfaith dialogue between Christians and Pagans.

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  • sarel
    sarel says #
    Started bible after the first time left. I realised that i am a pagan in bible college i aced the exams. I had done studies pagani
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    i read your short blog - thank you for sharing it here. i must say i was confused at first when you said; "I miss being a Witch"
  • Suzy Jacobson Cherry
    Suzy Jacobson Cherry says #
    Excellent piece. We end up sharing our experiences because experience is, I think, one of the most defining aspects of our spirit
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    John, thank you for your comment. While there have always been voices calling for a greater emphasis on practice, ritual, and disc
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    re:" I respect Christians who balance those elements and for a while I was seeking to do the same." yup! - i know what you mean (

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In death we meet

I had never been present with anyone dying. It's not that I've been afraid of death, I haven't. But if I had been, I would have lost all fear after Arwen's passage through the veil. 

Growing up I sometimes had premonitions and dreamed the future, but as I grew older, I suppressed my intuition. When I chose a pagan path, I figured my prescience would come back and at Samhain it did. During a ritual I slammed with the knowledge that a season of grace was ending and I would be experiencing the death of loved ones during this turn of the wheel.

So it didn't come as a complete shock when my beloved feline companion and familiar Arwen was diagnosed with a terminal illness. In her final weeks we connected more deeply than ever before. Arwen was with me through an abusive marriage, traumatic experiences, she was my constant support in dealing with PTSD, my intervention when I was suicidal, my most faithful comforter. In dreams she represented my soul, my most deeply held hopes and desires. I couldn't imagine living without her. 

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  • Kyndyl
    Kyndyl says #
    thank you for posting this. I just had to make the decision to let my puppy go across the bridge into the summerlands after almost
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    Hi again a poem not exactly on topic of animal friends - nevertheless;... On The Death Of Friends In Childhood by Donald Justic

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Rebelling against Christianity?

I have met several young adults who became witches as an act of rebellion against Christianity. I am not one of them. In fact, I would have become a pagan years earlier if it hadn't met so many pagans who hated Christianity. I have no interest in a religion that exists primarily as a negation of another.

I didn't rebel against Christianity. I discovered paganism as a wholesome religion, on its own terms. The draw to paganism has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I used to interpret it as a calling to bring Christ to the pagans, i.e. the light to the darkness. But looking back now I know that the richness of mythology and the magic of nature has always beckoned to my spirit.

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  • terra gazelle
    terra gazelle says #
    sorry about the double post.
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    hi again Annika you quoted Kahlil. may i share a poem that was a kind of resolution to that "seasonless world" for me?; Love Af
  • terra gazelle
    terra gazelle says #
    I did not make some transition from Christianity to being Wiccan..I was Wiccan, I was just raised as a Christian. I did not carry
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    well said terra gazelle! yes, i do think it is better to be centered on one path and then if one wants to add or appreciate cert
  • terra gazelle
    terra gazelle says #
    Yes Gary, the Tao is said to be the Pagan part of Buddhism. I have a member of my group that also has a taoist world view. Taoism

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My Pagan Theology

Yesterday was Walpurgisnacht, the night in which German witches are said to fly around on broomsticks and revel. Today is Beltane and my birthday. I was born in the early morning hours between Walpurgisnacht and Beltane, to a German mother and an Irish-German-American father  in the birth town of the Grim brothers. It makes me think that magic runs in my blood, and yet this is the first year in which I will dance the may pole.

It haven't even walked this pagan path for a full year and a day. I am still a new witchlet and yet I am practically watching my theology come together - like pieces rising from the ashes of a puzzle destroyed in the fire. When my previous Christian theology went up in flames I thought agnosticism was the best the world could offer me. The resurrection of belief has been more than an intellectual delight, it has been a breath of new life. To not only disbelieve the old things but to believe in new things. I believe again!

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"I once was found
but now I'm lost
could see
but now I'm blind"

That is how many Christians think of me these days. I was a Jesus Freak with a passion to convert Pagans, but it backfired. The Pagans won. And Christians and Pagans alike ask the same question: Why? What happened?

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  • sarel
    sarel says #
    I had also tried to converts at times there were success now i have left christianity an became a pagan. Like you the pagans won i
  • katiJeffy62079e
    katiJeffy62079e says #
    im currently stuck in between. Trying to find my way out. My family raised as a baptist. However I never really followed the relig
  • Zanna Russell
    Zanna Russell says #
    Welcome home, Annika.
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    Welcome to PaganSquare! I look forward to reading future posts.

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