Monday, September 30, 2013

My Mother Knows

It was a beautiful, sunny evening as we sat on her back porch.  There was a slight breeze in the air and the trees were lit by a gorgeous yellow glow.  My mom sat on the white bench.  It used to be a rocking bench, but has since then weathered down to the point that it doesn't move much.  I'm always surprised it's still standing each time I see it.  We faced out towards her tomatoes as her two dogs eagerly sniffed my shirt, looking for scents of my dog and two cats.  Her dogs are wonderful little Shih Tzus and, though they are timid with strangers, I was clearly no stranger.  Her youngest, Buddy, flopped on the ground and pawed at my hand for pets while her rescue, Piglet, wagged her tail frantically and leaned in to kiss my nose.  Buddy and Piglet - not exactly my naming convention but, then again, my mother and I don't have many similar qualities. It's particularly notable in her dark Native American skin and raven hair.  My skin is near translucent and my hair is blonde under all that red.  I once saw a picture of her at 16 and thought our faces looked very similar, but rarely does anyone notice we're related if you see us together.

As she sat on the bench, she lit a cigarette.  It's a nasty habit she picked up when she was a teenager but she just can't seem to quit it.  She tried once when I was still a child but I don't remember it.  My mom's not exactly the star picture of self-control but she's been trying to change that since her knee replacement surgery.  The doctors told her that losing weight would help.  Today, she's lost nearly 80 pounds, which is an amazing task.  This was the subject of our conversation.  I congratulated her on losing another two pounds.  She complained that she still had another 50 to go just to get to her first goal weight.

Where my mother and I do align are our strong personalities.  I learned from her to be myself, stand up for my rights and generally "take no shit."  As a child, my mom fought tooth and nail for everything that I wanted to do.  It's in watching her that I've learned to fight rather than run away.  This was the source of a lot of our arguments in my teenage years but, as most parents and children, we've grown closer with age.

The conversation floated from weight to her garden, where she's growing lettuce and tomato.  I commented that I had begun growing green onion and celery at home, and we both expressed interest in starting up a larger garden next spring.  From gardening to our weekends to friends and, eventually, we began chatting about what I have always called my "religious study group."  The quotes really aren't needed; the Circle of Open Traditions is exactly that.  Mostly, I talk about my friends in the group and things that we do outside of it, avoiding the core beliefs.  My mom is a Baptist and I have, for most of my life, assumed that my religion would not be acceptable.

It was during this conversation that my mom suddenly but calming blurted out, "What are you, a witch?"

It was an opportune moment and I seized it with a gentle shrug.

"I'm a pagan."

As a married mid-twenties woman, I've been a pagan now for almost 13 years.  Over this time, I've dropped a multitude of hints.  It began when I was a pre-teen and unintentionally wore my pentacle in front of them.  My dad called it the sign of the devil and my mother said it was just a star.  There were other hints over the years; I've gotten ballsier as I've aged.  Last year, she asked me if I had any chapstick that might not break her out in hives.  I gave her my organic lip balm and noted very clearly that I picked it up from a local metaphysical shop.  I've mentioned the equinoxes and the solstices a few times over our conversations, including this past month when I flat told her that I couldn't visit because my friends and I were celebrating the Autumn Equinox.  It's been a very slow build over years I've been invested in my religion, and intentionally so.

Despite that slow build, I admit that my heart skipped a beat in the briefest of seconds between those words escaping my mouth and her response.  I've never much cared what others think of me, including my mom.  As I mentioned above, it's something that I learned from her.  That being said, I do love my mom very much and would have been a little hurt if today would have ended in me storming out during an argument over my religion and driving back home.

"I figured." She smiled.  "Just don't conjure up your grandfather.  He wouldn't like that very much."

A tidal wave of relief spread over me.  I laughed and delved into a small talk about my actual beliefs.  We discussed a bit of the nature aspect of my religion.  At no point did she ask me if I summoned the devil or if I made sacrifices.  In fact, her exact words were "I figure you're an adult and your religion is your choice."

I know that being a pagan is a point of contention for many families.  In fact, in my post How do I know if I'm a witch?, I point out that the foremost inherent "danger" of being a pagan, Wiccan or Witch is that others may not be very understanding.  In previous posts, I've discussed my family in sprinkles.  I was raised in a Catholic-cross-Baptist family and did not have a negative experience with Abrahamic religions, but my family is very religious.  My dad is so deeply involved in his Catholic beliefs that he didn't understand why he had the same number of ribs as my mom an x-ray, a meltdown fueled by the creation story of man and woman in the Bible.  It literally shook his faith.  So, needless to say, when I randomly decided to come out to my mom in a moment of opportunity, I feared that she wouldn't be understanding.  My ability to open up was driven by my ability to speak my mind and be myself carefree.  In the end, it turned out to be a positive experience!

Of course, my mom left me with these words: "Just don't tell your dad."

After the x-ray and the meltdown in the office, I don't imagine that will ever happen Mom.



13 comments:

  1. WOW! Thank you. I "stumbled" upon you on Pintrest (ok you found me first and I wanted to see you). I am searching for where to begin my path and found this post ... inspiring.

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    1. You're very welcome! Thank you so much for dropping by!

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  2. I'm so happy your mom was so accepting of your beliefs. Now if only all other parents were like that...

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    1. My heart truly hurts for those that cannot be unabashedly themselves around those who should be most accepting of them. If I told my dad, he would honestly disown me. Truth is, that wall I have to put up that filters who I truly am keeps us very distant in all other aspects. I imagine that's true for most people in the same situation.

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  3. That's great! I'm still not quite sure if I'm going down a pagan path.. I can't even imagine how I would tell my mother if I did.. and my family isn't even very religious!

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    1. I was honestly kind of shocked. I wasn't sure how she would handle it, and it definitely wasn't planned, so it was a pleasant surprise. Best of luck to you on your path!

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  4. I'm glad that your mother was so understanding. :) It's great when a family member accepts you and really tries to understand your views. I came from a very strict Mormon family myself, unfortunately my coming out of the broom closet was not met as lucky as you had it happen. I think it is very hard for most people of christian faith to really grasp what being pagan is really all about. It's great your mother understood! :D

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    1. I'm pretty lucky. I think alluding to it over the course of a decade definitely helped, as well as coming out naturally in an open setting. I didn't make too big of a fuss about it and jumped on an opportunity. I'm sorry to hear that your family was not as understanding. It's unfortunate. I hope that you continue to strive for the life you want regardless! Best wishes!

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  5. Hello!
    I just want you to know how much this post and your blog has inspired me. I stumbled upon it one day while doing some research on paganism. I live with a Catholic family, but the Catholic religion just didn't feel... fulfilling, like I thought a religion should. My girlfriend then introduced me to paganism, and here I am! I've read almost all of your posts and it's left me feeling so inspired and excited to practice! Unfortunately, living with the family I am now, as I am only 17, I can't practice/would have to practice in secret. However, being a gay pagan in a Catholic household, secrets aren't anything new to me. I'm just trying to stay safe until I can move out. You're blog has sparked something in me and now I feel the fulfillment I was lacking before, and I can't thank you enough! I'm glad your coming out went well, hopefully mine will go over well too :)
    L.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear of your struggles with your family! I hope that, when the time is right, you and your family can come to an understanding so that you can be open about who you truly are without hesitation and concern.

      Thank you so much for reading and best wishes to you!

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  6. I'm pretty sure I can never come clean about this to my dad. He's very right-wing Christian, tea partier, devoted follower of Fox News and believes everything the GOP says.

    I think, if I told him, he'd have a heart attack.

    I have no problem telling anyone else, including my mother, but Dad will not be understanding in the slightest.

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  7. It's so great that your mother accepts you! But how is it that your dad hasn't found this website and asked you about it?

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    1. Not everyone's dad uses the internet. My dad is over 60 has no interest in technology.

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