A few days ago I made a pentacle necklace by hand. Remember, a pentacle is a five-pointed star set against a circle. Here is a photo of my necklace:
Not too bad huh? I made this out of an old button, twine, two beads, black paint, and two paper clips. Wicca seems to be a religion for the crafty and it’s a good thing too, because virtually every item I’m using for this month is hand-made…by me. That doesn’t mean store-bought items are bad. Not at all. Some altar pieces are even passed down from teacher to student or family members. The impression I’m getting from the various Wiccan and Pagan communities though is that there is something special about hand-crafted pieces which goes beyond aesthetic value.
We all have energy. Nah, scratch that. We are energy, bundled tightly into matter, and that energy constantly flows from one form to the other. One of the most important practices within Wicca is energy channeling/manipulation. Creating your own altar pieces, jewelry, etc. is an extension of this energy practice because one of the most important parts of any altar tool is intent. Each piece must be ritually cleansed (each tradition may have a different technique here) and imbued with intent and purpose. This is where Wicca gets personal–especially if these items are hand-made. Not only is your intent going into the piece, but your own personal energy seeps into the piece like paint or water soaking the very fibers. You are now very much a part of the altar and any ritual practice.
But all this craftiness got me thinking…I’ve spent a lot of time carving, painting, tying, and chiseling these pieces–all out in the open for all to see. But what if my family or even my community wasn’t cool with me being a Wiccan? What if I had to hide my religious affiliation? Many Wiccans do just that. The saying goes, “Hiding in the broom closet.”
I think a lot of folks outside of Wicca have this stereotype image in their minds of huge, elaborate altars full of burning candles and strange images of gods and goddesses staring back at them. Sure, there are altars like that, but I can’t help but think about those who don’t feel as free to express the more visible aspects of their faith. What does their altar look like? What are their tools?
I can imagine the “closet Wiccan’s” athame being a simple, sharpened stone, easily mistaken for a rock by an outsider. Maybe a twig for a wand, carefully buried or hidden under leaves after use. An acorn for the God, perhaps a simple cup for the Goddess, the cupped palm of one’s hand for the chalice. A pentagram found in the core of an apple…All quickly dispatched and easily explained away at a moment’s notice should someone approach from behind.
Scary, isn’t it? Can you imagine…Perhaps this tradition of minority spirituality is partially responsible for the Pagan knack for craftiness. Hiding one’s self and the tools of practice in plain sight. The moon is your visible Goddess and the sun, your God. The abstract and the creativity to see the divine in multiple ways becomes a lifeline for your spiritual practice.
This line of thought gave me a whole new appreciation for both my open minded family and the hardships some Pagans must go through, having to hide their spirituality from family and friends. No, I’ll never know how it feels to hide my religion, but through this experience–something as simple as making my own pentacle–I gleaned for a moment a particle of this world.
If you or someone you know is currently “in the broom closet,” what techniques do you use for devotion or ritual? How do you cope with hiding your faith? Do you feel you’ll ever “come out?”