Pentacle Politics

Arrgh, it happened again! A young woman came in yesterday and bought a triquetra pendant, because her employer asked her to stop wearing her pentacle. She’s one of the most self-assured people I’ve ever met, but she had some sympathy for her boss, a small business owner who said he’d received complaints from customers. And that’s how a lot of pagans think: that since they’ve freely chosen to belong to an unpopular religion, it’s their own fault if other people flagrantly disregard such niceties as fair employment laws and religious freedom. Because a few customers associate the symbol for your religion with gothy devil-worshiping head-bangers (ignoring for a moment the fact that gothy devil-worshiping head-bangers are even fonder of crucifixes), you’ve got to live by a discriminatory dress code.

I should have given her an {b}I {e:heart} the First Amendment{/b} bumpersticker. I should have given her an employment application. Next time she comes in I think I will. I get it that even this bold and beautiful girl is reluctant to make herself a test case, but every time someone gets away with this kind of discrimination it reinforces the stereotypes against pagans. Of which there are many, but these two stand out:

1. We don’t seriously believe in our religion.

2. We’re out to be confrontational in the first place, and are thus to blame for the intolerance of others.

Maybe there are pagans who fit these stereotypes, but if so they’re a tiny minority.

For the record:

– The devil isn’t ours. He’s a personification of evil that’s part of various monotheistic traditions.

– A few of us like confrontation, but that’s true of people everywhere. Most of us are cool with other religions, as long as they don’t want to burn us at the stake. We even think it’s kind of a hoot that they celebrate the Resurrection with eggs and frisky bunnies.

– We’re don’t go around casting evil spells, if for no other reason because that kind of thing always comes home to roost. I have literally never met one single pagan, witch, wiccan, heathen, or any other adherent to an earth religion who does not know this.

– Yes, we really believe this stuff. Personally, I base my religious beliefs, and for that matter most of what I know, on experience.

– A big part of what we do is learning to be honest with ourselves, using some very ancient methods of confronting our fears and inadequacies.

– We’re about living in the world and living in the worlds, balancing light and dark (because that’s the way nature works), replacing blaming with personal responsibility.

– We mess up on all these things all the time. We’re human, and that’s how people learn.

If I could talk with that young woman’s employer, I’d tell him that when I wear my pentacle, I’m on my best behavior. It makes me more conscious of what people will think of me, which means I’m more careful about what I wear and say, and about doing my best to be kind and patient with even the most difficult customers. In any business, there will always be some customers who are looking for something to gripe about. I hate it when these customers and their prejudices trump reason, but blow-hards get the business owner’s attention, and a person needs a paycheck. Maybe this is one of those things that has to change gradually, and all we can do is stand behind each other.

Next time I see her, I’m giving her the bumpersticker.

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One response to “Pentacle Politics

  1. This is a fine look at things! Wicca and the other earth religions deserve more respect than they get….It’s like the First Amendment only applies to the conservative nut jobs…instead of belonging to all Americans.

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