So I had become a student extraordinaire, reading everything I could find. Of course, I wasn't actually doing any rituals, casting spells or even meditating. I was just reading.
I was fascinated but still a little put off by this stuff, that good Catholic upbringing still peering over my shoulder.
I was living near Boulder, Colorado, a city that is an odd collection of non-conformists hogging the roads on their bicycles and dedicated yuppies in BMWs. But they are all quite proud of their diametrically opposed neighbors and nearly anything goes.
I found some notices in bookstores of pagan social gatherings, usually at someone's house. This was before meetup.com and before Homeland Security told us that all strangers are terrorists and back when people actually invited groups into their homes.
Unfortunately, these groups were not going to do me any good. They were big into costumes and parroting lines from movies, but little else. I supposed I should have expected nothing less from a notice in a bookstore, but I was a seeker at a crossroads, trying to determine which way to go.
For the next year or so I alternated finding groups like this and burying my books under piles of other books. It finally occurred to me that no one was going to take my hand, set me down in a pew and tell me how all this works. Looking back, if I had somehow found a coven that was willing to take me on, it probably would have been the worst thing that could have happened.
So I dragged those semi-discarded books out again, starting with Cunningham and re read them. This time instead of reading like a student, I started looking for what seemed right to me, what I questioned and why and how to start thinking for myself about this new path.
I also started doing rituals, which at that time closely resembled Christian prayer, and even casting a few tentative spells. There was immediate feedback for my fumbling, bumbling but earnestly performed spells, but the rituals left a bad taste in my mouth.
Still, I was encouraged enough to continue.