I thought this was facinating so I'm sharing ^^
A post from Witchful Thinking
Psychologists use a variety of Racial Identity Development models to describe the stages someone goes through with regard to their race. They are general descriptions of a person as they develop identity in relationship with the new and old group, and not everyone goes through all the stages. While Helms Racial Identity Model doesn’t quite work precisely as one would like, you can apply this model to the joining of any social group which relates to identity, particularly LGBTQ identity and, I believe, Pagan religious identity. So, here’s my modification of it:
The Pagan Religious Identity Development
Dissillusion: The individual becomes disillusioned or dissatisfied with their previous upbringing or religious traditions. They focus on the negative aspects of it and may actively despise their old religion or way they were raised.
Preencounter: The individual begins to actively seek new religious experience. This phase is characterized by far and wide exploration. Still critical of their old ways, they swing to the other extreme, seeking experiences that are totally unlike their upbringing. The individual still judges their new religious encounters from the theology of the old religion, but may try a religion that they would have defined as “sinful” or “evil” in their old perspective.
Encounter: In their exploration, the individual finds a religion that truly speaks to them. This encounter is characterized by a religious experience that goes above and beyond the individual’s expectations and touches them deeply. There is a sense of homecoming, which brings a deep desire to find out more and a fervor for the new religion. Although they have very little information, they decide that, based upon the emotions present, that this is the religion they have been seeking. There may be a recognition, based upon their old theology, that they are delving into something scary or taboo, however these preconceived stereotypes are romanticized.
Pseudo-independent: The individual begins to actively look for expressions of their new chosen path. Information is gobbled up and regurgitated almost as quickly. The individual is keen to express their new identity to others, and may declare themselves to be a member of a group they have not yet dedicated to or know much about. They struggle to describe what their beliefs are. For example, a new Pagan claims to be an Eclectic fam-trad gothic Wiccan, without actually belonging to a family tradition or being initiated in any tradition at all. For another example, they are claiming to be a White Wicca, while not recognizing that there is no “black and white” from a true Pagan perspective. Additionally, folks at this level may experience discrimination as they are so “out” with their new identity, yet cannot adequately explain to others what that identity means. There continues to be criticism of the old identifying religion in an effort to differentiate the two. At this stage, there is inadequate guidance for direction and growth, especially in a moral sense.
Immersion/Emersion: Uncomfortable with their novice status, the individual works to better themselves in the eyes of the people they admire. They may read fervently, take classes, claim priesthood, indulge in festival and, in general, seek community. The individual begins to seriously consider the norms of their new community with the theological framework of the old, and more and more aligns themselves with the new religion. This may manifest in an individual joining the first group they find, not being able to fully grasp polytheism and approaching the Gods in a monotheistic way, or having a bookish know-it-all-ism without actually doing much. Ideas in this framework tend to be concrete, but they become tempered and deepened by experience.
Integration: The individual has learned the new ways, and has begun integrating them into their life. There is some discomfort when the old ideas and traditions clash, for example, when the individual declines an invite to the annual family Nativity play at the local church so they can go celebrate the Winter Solstice instead. The individual comes to terms with their old religion by gaining distance from it, yet this stage lacks the zeal for the new religion as it comes to see its mores as normal.
Autonomy: The individual has gained significant knowledge and has begun to apply it to their own life and practice. They begin to “walk the walk and talk the talk”. Their identity is enmeshed with the new religion to the point where there is little need to talk about it with outsiders, because the individual is busy living their values. At this point, an individual might disagree with their immersion group and choose to go their separate way by seeking another group, choosing solitary practice, or creating their own coven. The old theology and religion are thought about more academically with little or no emotional reactivity. Friends and relatives tend to understand the individuals religion as “something they are”, rather than something they believe or do.