As an Atheist, I made A Full 360 and Turned to Spirituality

By Indira Villeda

Art by Indira Villeda to express what she has learned about spirituality

A century ago, Joan of Arc was canonized a Roman Catholic saint for her heroism in leading a group of French soldiers to victory in the Hundred-Years War back in the 1400s. She found her inspiration by listening to what she believed to be God’s voice in her head.

  It’s no surprise that in difficult times like these, many people turn to religion and spirituality. But you might be surprised to hear about an atheist making a full 360. 

  I have never been religious. But in April, my views changed. Bored one day, I was scrolling through Tik Tok when a  topic caught my eye: “Shows that will blow your mind”. One of the shows was called “Midnight Gospel” and was written by Duncan Trussell and Pendleton Ward. I immediately recognized Pendleton Ward, who animated my favorite childhood show, “Adventure Time”. 

So I decided to watch. I watched the whole thing in one sitting. The show follows a “space caster”, which in this universe is someone who makes podcasts, named Clancy in this very trippy universe where they often explore questions about death, life and religion. 

By the end, I had tears streaming down my face and neck and a certain calmness flooded me. I didn’t know what it was.

 I never felt a connection with religion before, although my mother went to several Christian churches and encouraged me to at least attend Sunday School. I fell asleep almost instantly in church, and Bible study bored me. But this show helped me understand.  As soon as I finished watching, I hopped on Google to learn more about meditation and spirituality.

Although I still wouldn’t call myself religious, exploring Buddhism, Hinduism, and Wicca has given me explanations that I never could find in Christianity. For example, although I knew that my mother named me Indira after the ancient Hindu deity “Indra”, which I learned of after hearing of Indra’s net, which is a Buddhist philosophy about the interconnectedness of all beings in the universe. Understanding that metaphor felt to me like Joan of Arc realizing that the archangel Michael was talking to her. 

Now I meditate twice a day and keep a journal of the things I am learning about through paganism, mostly related to views on life after death and astrological things like moon cycles and retrogrades. 

My mother doesn’t really care for my change of heart, although she always knew about my strong dislike of church, remembering when I would fall asleep through entire church services.  For me, this period of discovery has been lovely. 

What I have learned these past months about the Wicca, Hinduism, and Buddhism means the world to me because I have been seeing someone else’s point of view for a change. It has made me learn more about myself and the world around me. I imagine that the French hero Joan of Arc felt the same way more than 600 years ago, when at age 19 she was burned at the stake for following her intuition and fighting loyally for her country and her God.