There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.
And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)
Today’s question is:
My most memorable experience during a working is…
Heh. Okay, well…
Not really memorable in a magical, mystical way, but very, very memorable nonetheless…
It happened when I was just starting out. I had self-dedicated a while back but was finally setting up a permanent altar, and part of that involved consecrating the tools, including a besom.
Now, I was on a pretty tight budget so my besom was one of those little craft brooms (about two feet long or so) that you’re supposed to decorate and hang on the door.
At the time, being new, I was following a ritual I’d read in a book, and part of it was to bless your tools with each of the elements, including passing it through incense smoke and a candle flame.
I don’t know what those brooms are made of, but let’s just say that they should never be passed through a candle flame.
I made a mad dash from my bedroom to the bathroom, my broom flaming like the Olympic torch. I threw it into the tub and turned the water on, then set about repairing the damage: getting rid of the smoke smell before my roommate got home and trying to salvage what was left of my ritual – including mending the circle I’d just burned through.
I learned some good lessons from the incident, though.
One: be careful with candle flames.
Two: double check instructions against common sense.
Three: it’s okay to make mistakes and laugh at yourself.
I had originally planned a post about reasons that I’m glad I’m Pagan, but that was before I realized that this is the day before Thanksgiving.
(Yeah, sometimes days get away from me…)
So instead I thought I would take this post to do the traditional listing of things I’m thankful for.
1) Friends: both online and in person. They keep me sane – most of the time.
2) Family: they may be a little a little hard to explain and things might be a little strained at times, but they are still there, and they are important.
3) Freedom: I live in a country where I am free to practice the religion I choose and to walk down the street unescorted, without having to answer to anyone – not all people are that lucky.
4) Paganism: I feel so much more at home on this path than I ever did as a Christian, and I am grateful to the forces that guided me home.
5) My deities: the way They impact my life, the way They have guided and protected and taught me, and simply for being so that I could find Them and know Them.
6) Internet: it makes job-hunting so much easier. Plus, without it, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful people who are a part of my life.
7) Creativity: writing, stitching, scrapbooking, all of the other hundred and one things I want to learn and do – they all help keep me sane. I really don’t understand people who have no hobbies other than television, who never feel the urge to create something. (I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand them.) (I don’t understand people who have totally spotless houses, either, but I sure wish I could be one of them!)
8) Home: I have a place to live, warm and dry and sheltered from the elements. And I love it here – this apartment felt like home the first time I walked in the door to look at it.
9) Health: overall, I’m healthy. Well, other than the fact that it’s bronchitis season. (Oh, and that pesky weight thing, a.k.a. “the perpetual New Year’s Resolution.”)
10) Food: I love food (a little too much – see above) and I am grateful that I have enough to eat and the ability to cook it.
11) Clutter: yes, clutter. It means that I have more than I need, which means that I can help those who have less. I have probably cut my wardrobe in half by donating clothes to charities, and I’m currently doing the same with books. (I have more clothes to go through too, but that’s going to wait until the next change of seasons.) (It also means that I probably don’t need to spend money on craft supplies for the rest of my life.)
12) Sense of humor: yes, it’s warped and people don’t always understand it, but it allows me to revel in the ludicrousness of human behavior without being insulted (most of the time).
13) Imagination: without it I… The one thing I can’t seem to imagine is what it would be like to have no imagination. It enriches my life in so many ways.
There are other things of course – those were just the first 13 things that popped into my head. And just about each one of the above could be broken down into individual items, but that would leave me feeling a little overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed with gratitude.
Last week I wrote about coming out of the broom closet and why I did it. And I said that maybe I’ve just been lucky, but, despite living in a small town in Pennsylvania, so far nothing drastic has happened.
In fact, most of the things that have happened have been funny.
I started venturing out of the broom closet by wearing my pentacle. Granted, I tended to keep it tucked in when I was home in Kittanning and only wore it openly in Pittsburgh where I worked at a variety of temp jobs.
Well, for one thing, I have dark hair and dark eyes, and if I had a dime for everyone who asked me if I was Jewish I could take everyone who is reading this out for a nice dinner somewhere.
And this includes one of the “Pamphlet Pushers” in downtown Pittsburgh. (I’m sorry, but if you’re going to stand on a street corner impeding the flow of pedestrian traffic during lunch hour when people are trying to get something to eat and get back to work on time, I’m not going to say nice things about you.)
Anyhow, I saw her looking at me as I made my way past her to Wendy’s. On my way back, sadly, the light was red and I had to wait to cross the street. I was careful not to make eye contact, but she came up to me anyhow and tried to give me a piece of religious literature, which annoyed me to begin with – I hate people shoving their beliefs on others. I never thought it was right when I was Christian and I’m even less tolerant of it now.
But I politely said, “No thank you.”
She replied, “But this one is written for Jewish people.”
“Ma’am, I’m not Jewish.”
“But you’re wearing a Star of David.”
“No, ma’am. A Star of David has six points, this has five.”
Fortunately the light changed and I managed to get away before I had to explain any further and probably give the poor dear a heart attack.
(Seriously folks, if you’re going to try to convert someone, please know what you are trying to convert them from. Trying to turn people away from their religion is bad enough, but to be utterly clueless about what that religion is… All I can do is shake my head.)
Not all my (mis)adventures happened in Pittsburgh though.
The one that sticks out the most from Kittanning was a trip to the ER at Armstrong County Memorial Hospital. I don’t remember why I was there, but the person doing the intake was going through the standard questions and came to:
Taking a deep breath I replied “Wicca.”
*frowning at the screen* “How do you spell that?”
The frown deepened and her fingers tapped some keys, and to this day I am probably listed as “other.”
But my favorite out of the broom closet stories came from one of my least favorite temp jobs in Pittsburgh.
It was a miserable working environment, but it was there that I met Robyn. I’d noticed her looking at my pentacle and I knew it was only a matter of time before she asked me about it, so when she approached my desk one day I knew it was time. I didn’t really know Robyn yet so I braced myself for the usual conversation. (If you’ve never had it, the usual conversation starts with “Nice (or interesting) necklace.”) Robyn, however, was a little more forthright than that. She marched up to my desk, looked me in the eye, and said, “Are you a witch?” Well, there went my prepared speech, right out the window that we didn’t have. (We worked in a vault in a basement.)
Robyn — and her mother — both ended up finding their paths as well, and Robyn and I had a great time at work. (Well, as great a time as was possible there.)
One of our other co-workers, Valerie, was very involved in her church. She kept saying that she “didn’t believe in VooDoo.” (Um, okay, but one: we’re not asking you to, and two: that’s a whole different religion.)
Anyhow, at Samhain I put a plastic cauldron on my desk — the kind that kids use to go trick or treating — and I kept it filled with candy which was available to anyone who wanted some. Another co-worker related the following:
Valerie had helped herself to some candy and the other (more tolerant) co-worker commented to her that “For all you’re afraid of them you sure don’t seem to mind eating their candy.”
Valerie’s reply? “It’s wrapped in plastic. They can’t do anything to it.”
(Plastic stops magic. Who knew?)
Anyhow, Robyn and I had a great time imagining Valerie coming to work wrapped in Saran wrap so we couldn’t do anything to her.
So, yes, most of my experience have been funny, but I do realize such is not the case for everyone and that many still feel uncomfortable with the thought of coming out – or unable to for a variety of reasons.
But for those who are out, I’d love to hear your stories about what happened when people found out.