Saturday, 8 August 2009

Diplays of Faith

Most people are aware of the British Airways employee who went to court over the wearing of her cross (and lost), and I am pretty sure most pagans have encountered those pagans who insist on wearing the biggest pentacle possible, or fantasy costumes, or t-shirts with "pagan and proud" slogans or similar, or have their foreheads tattooed with Theban. It's almost as if these pagans have to display their religious beliefs in order to be seen to be "walking the walk" rather than "talking the talk". This made me wonder how important it was to pagans, in general, to wear their faith, or indeed, to display anything that might proclaim their allegiance to paganism.

From a personal perspective, I don't feel the need to be in anyone's face about my beliefs. I live in a Christian country (albeit one with a pagan history) and I respect that. My religion is not about offending anyone; its about my personal beliefs. That said, I do have one or two items on display, as it were, but, I am more than happy to remove, or cover them if it's required, i.e. for matters of health and safety.

What I do have is a car sticker, which is more humorous than pagan ("Witches Parking; All Others Will be Toad"). I'd prefer the sign, but I don't have a regular parking space over which to hang a sign. When the day comes that I have my own parking space, even if its my own driveway, I will put up the sign and remove the sticker from my car. The only other means by which I can be identified as pagan by sight alone is if I am wearing my charm bracelet. It has a witchy/pagan theme with charms to which I have felt drawn. I don't wear it everyday, nor do I wear it everywhere. Most people don't look too closely and don't notice the details in the charms at all. I have to admit, it's more a fashion item than a statement about my beliefs. I also wear a triple spiral ring daily; it's never removed. I don't consider it overtly pagan, certainly no-one has ever associated it with paganism or my beliefs. So, unless I am in my car, I doubt anyone would know anything about my beliefs.

The majority of Christians don't display their beliefs either and, personally, I don't tend to ask about a person's religious alliance, so I would never know, just by looking at someone, the nature of their faith. I was always taught not to talk religion or politics in social situations, and I never have. So, why is it some pagans feel the need for overt displays of paganism?

The reason I ask this is because recently there have been a spate of pagans asserting their right to wear their pentacle anywhere they like, because the Christians can wear their crosses everywhere, anytime, they like. Well, no, they can't. The British Airways employee lost because there was a dress code in place, that was policy, at British Airways; Christians have to abide by Health & Safety law just like everyone else and, often, that means the removal of any and all jewellery (chefs, for instance, often have to cover up with that awful blue tape in order to stay safe).

When I was considered Catholic, I would not have worn my cross into a mosque or other religious building as a matter of respect. I have always strived to abide by the maxim: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." In other words, I try not to offend others and attempt blend in as much as possible to the culture in which I am mingling. That's not to say I won't speak up if I, myself, am offended.

Perhaps I am just too "low key" as a pagan?

I wear smart clothes to work, as is required, I wear jeans and a shirt in my leisure hours. I'm not really into fancy dress, unless it's a fancy dress masked ball. The pentacle means nothing to me so I would never consider it an emblem of my religious path, nor would I knock anyone for wearing it, provided it wasn't the size of a hubcap. *LOL* I don't wear cloaks or robes for ritual, or seasonal celebrations and I probably never will; again I would never knock anyone for wearing them, in those circumstances. Were my place of work to ask me to remove my bracelet because it offends one of the Christians in the office, I would, BUT, I would also raise objections to anyone wearing the cross, etc. (not that anyone does) on grounds on discrimination.

I know I'm a pagan - a polytheist animist who "dabbles" in witchcraft - but I don't necessarily need or want others to know it. In this country, I can go about practising my beliefs pretty much uninterrupted, provided I stay within the law - I haven't yet breached it, nor am I likely to need to - and I've never suffered any kind of abuse or discrimination for my beliefs. In fact, I've found most people quite amenable: especially my employers.

Still, I am interested in the thoughts of others on this matter. Is it enough for you to know you are pagan, or do you prefer to broadcast it to all and sundry on a second-by-second basis to the rest of the world as outlandishly as possible? *LOL* Or, are you somewhere in between?


Livia Indica said...

I'm with you on this. I don't feel the need to shout out my beliefs with jewelry or dress. My practice and beliefs are between me, my mind, my soul and my gods and no one else has much, if any, bearing on that.

Sometimes I think those with huge pentacles, etc., are being overt in an effort to meet other pagans. Sometimes I think they're desperate for attention, even if it's negative attention. Sometimes I don't have a theory and just laugh at them.

laoi gaul~williams said...

Ahhh! i am low key in my beliefs, i wear my triskele necklace and a goddess pendant-but it is a hand made one with some beads i bought while in america, so it doesnt really look overtly 'pagan', the same with my triskele tattoo's. i dont dress 'pagan', i just dress the way i have forever, individual, eclectic-no cloak, well i do want one but with bronze/iron age heritage in mind (just me and my history-does that make sense?)and if you walk into my home there are just a few things on display, again nothing overt.
i guess there are those out there who are attention seekers-maybe those who are insecure enough to have to broadcast it-good grief i can think of nothing worse!

Unknown said...

People who dress up like clowns just make a mockery of paganism, and I think to my self, sure it's great that you feel free to express yourself through your appearance, but you are making it very difficult for people to consider pagans as "normal" and you are not doing us any favours by clanging a hub-cap pentacle around your neck!

Anonymous said...

I do think that many pagans who wear outward signs are looking to make connections. Some, I suppose, are showing off: look at me, I'm different! In the states, there is so much animosity toward religious difference that for my own comfort and safety, I wear no outward signs of my beliefs.

Religious symbols and sayings don't bother me, but abusive or sarcastic sayings on tee-shirts do.

Cygnus MacLlyr said...

I've never felt the need to publicly display nor proclaim my beliefs-- even to family. Then again, I don't hide the fact. In fact, just an hour ago grandma brought home from church a printout her Church-Of-Christ preacher gave her that rather well defines paganism in general(Granny recently found out these were my beliefs...)

Love the humor acknowledgment-- toe "toad " cars! ha!

Nice post, Lady...