I spent all day arguing against people who have a real penchant for undercutting their own best interests. So I needed a smile when I came home to sit out on my porch, eat dinner, and read the inter-tubes. And I got it here, in this charming description of a young woman converting from Islam to Wicca and explaining it to her parents.
I wanted three things from my religion:
1. A moral code based on the Oscar Wilde quote "some people cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go" – strive to be the first kind of person and not the second
2. A profoundly hedonist approach to life
3. Transcendence – be that through ritual or prayer or eating marshmallows in woodland
Reminds me of the saying on my morning coffee mug: You pray; I dance naked in the forest.
The only thing that troubled me about my new tribe was its propensity to want to organise into groups that then try to get mainstream recognition. I quite liked the lack of organisation and/or dogma that paganism represents.
The lack of any structure, hierarchy (as a solitary person I never joined a coven with a priest or priestess), or rules meant that I was free to do as I pleased. I followed the guidance I received in dreams. I accepted and adopted that which felt true to me and rejected that which didn't. I celebrated the solstices and lived by the moon. It was a time of expansion and magic.
Like the author, I too, like the fluid and "disorganized" nature of Paganism, the lack of structure, the constantly shifting emphasis. My Sun is in Pisces -- two fish swimming in opposite directions -- and my Ascendent is Geminii -- the twins, looking over each other's shoulders with opposite points of view. And, my Matron is Hecate, that Goddess of the fluid, liminal, ever-changing place where change is possible. So it's no surprise I love our lack of structure. Whenever there are questions such as: Is there really only one Divinity with many forms or are there really separate Gods and Goddesses?" I love being able to answer: "Yes!" The prayer that I say every morning includes the line: It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.
And I love the end of the story:
I ordered a raw salad, my mother's jaw tightened.
"Are you a Hindu now?"
"I see. You know you can't have a Muslim burial now?"
"Have you thought what family will say at your death?"
"I was hoping all you elders would die before me." My mother's face visibly relaxed. She even cracked a smile. "Ah, that's true. God willing."
• The author has used a pseudonym at the request of her parents.
I love the idea of using humor to deflect the concerns and that, in the end, the author is still working with her parents on "this issue."
It reminds me, too, of my catholic mother's reaction to my conversion to the Goddess religion. She kept telling me, "Catholicism has Mother Mary and the female saints. That's all that Goddess religion is; you already had all that." And I was always saying, "OK, mom. Whatever gets you through the Mass."
PS. And you know what Dorothy Parker said about Wilde's quotes:
If, with the literate, I am Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; We all assume that Oscar said it. Dorothy Parker in A Pig's-Eye View of Literature, 1937.
So a religion founded on his philosophy makes sense to me. Plus, it's bound to be a snarky religion and, well, after Hecate, I do adore the Goddess Snark.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."