I don’t want to talk about my religion over a beer, or in the middle of a bar night. I just don’t. Ever. I make exceptions to this for bars full of Pagans.
I’ve had many MANY people ask me about my faith when there’s booze and people around, and it usually ends with some “let’s put on a show,” crap where the conversation is never completed and it’s very clear to me that the person was interested in appearing interesting, not in having a real discussion. On occasion, I get someone with hostility issues who wants me to be a performing monkey.
The whole thing is just really disrespectful. I dislike feeling disrespected.
I am an out Pagan. I am an out Wiccan. I am not necessarily a loud and out person. I don’t hide who I am from anyone, but until my religious practices offer something relevant and helpful, I don’t bring them up.
I did not choose to be Pagan, or Wiccan. I was called to it. My life would have been easier if I could have chosen otherwise. I’d be living the miserable life of quiet desperation my mother and her family approves of, and I could sustain myself off of constant body shame and my family’s soul-destroying version of approval. It would have sucked, but it would have been easier.
My coming out experience has been compared by a lesbian who is also Pagan to what it’s like for a gay person to come out – and it’s usually the same Bible thumping bullshit behind the bad behavior on the part of the people that you have come out to.
My religion, and my magical practices aren’t affectations. I am not Pagan just so I can appear interesting at the bar. I do not write about Wicca as a portion of my career pie because I want to shock the world with my witchy nature. I’m quite confident that I’m plenty interesting without my religion working its way into the picture. I am a woman of many interests, and consequently many joys. I am happy to share them, and I want to know what your joys are, too. But that better be a two-way street. The new narcissism is the only thing that bugs me more than the new, hate-based atheism.
I am also atypical on the Pagan/Wiccan spectrum. While I’m not opposed to common Pagan practices like camping, I genuinely don’t enjoy them. I don’t even like wearing tie-dye, although I’m down with recycling and upcycling – and I totally get that the environmental interest is actually a newer aspect of the faith I practice. I see no spiritual value in remaining poor. I don’t want to get back to nature or live on a farm – most farms are environmental disasters, and the rural life has been romanticized to the point where it’s as unreal as the witch in the fairy tale. I don’t see how I can do more for the earth by refusing to engage her gifts to heal myself and I sure as hell don’t see how choosing to disempower myself when She saw to it I was born into one of the richest countries on Earth. I keep the secrets I’ve been asked to keep, but I believe being too secretive is paranoia, which is in itself an actual illness.
Yes, I have a passion for occult material. Yes, I have a love for a not-merciful but not-malicious divinity. (Perhaps because that describes me, too.) My kitchen is packed with herbs and things I grew for the most part intentionally. I am a witch because witch-ness feels right inside and outside my body. It’s the only approach to God that has ever felt right. It has nothing to do with feminism (to me, feminism is simple self-preservation.) It has nothing to do with rebelling against my former religion – I loved blocking out the constant yapping of the pastor and listening to what God had to say, streaming through the stained glass windows and showing me prayer forms in the movement of the trees, or when the Bible would flip open to the passage I most needed to see.
My acts of faith are not acts of rebellion and anger. The things I create, the spells I cast, the prayers I speak every morning and night – they are out of a fundamental, physical need for me to do these things. I need to pray this way. My body needs it. No other prayer form has fit. Christianity itself never chafed, but the God-fearing Christian act was worse than a leather miniskirt. I’ve had direct spiritual experiences with Mary, Jesus, even Yahweh. But the way it’s practiced has always felt unfitting, and there are huge chunks of it both in the Bible and from the mouths of its leaders that I sense are outright lies just for the sake of keeping power, in that selfish way people do when they’d rather have their way then actually do what is good for the situation. What religion worth two lightning bolts would be about a God you’re afraid of? That’s baboon mentality – which only gives yet more credence to evolution.
My religion isn’t just something I have ideas about. And thankfully, it’s not a religion that requires me to be right about it, so I’m under no pressure to teach or seek converts. My religion is an integral, possibly physical, part of who I am. It isn’t fandom, or me talking about the cool Doctor Who plot of the week. It’s the core of how I get myself in harmony with the rest of my life.
I’m not about to devalue that by treating it like bar entertainment fodder.