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.