Project Conversion

Project Conversion


Handcrafted Pentacles and Wiccans in Hiding

posted by abowen

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.

Imprinting energy.

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.

Very cool.

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?”



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abowen

posted October 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm


nonameFred,

I’m sorry you have to do that. How can you live in this situation?



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abowen

posted October 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm


jjamesinhiding,

Wow. That’s pretty awesome!



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nonameFred

posted October 25, 2011 at 9:12 pm


All my rituals are in hiding. i live with a devout jahovas wittness. They are my only family and would dissown me if found out. all my rituals are done quick. my meditation is done in the shower. it just looks like i have bad water wasting habits. my athame is a small pocket knife that i use for everything. i use an apple for a penticle. i use a twig for a wand. an ordinary glass as a chalice. I don’t have a physical book of shadows.i memorize everything. i normaly burn every book i buy after I’m done with it. I am solitary and i am in the closet.



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jjamesinhiding

posted October 25, 2011 at 8:58 pm


This just described my alter. not a detail missed.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm


Erik,

I think that’s a pretty safe way to go (a good thing!) Some folks like waving their flags around. The more chilled, personal route works well too. Glad you’re keeping the peace, bro.



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Erik

posted October 12, 2011 at 1:46 pm


I’m “out” about being pagan (i.e. I’m happy to talk about it if the subject comes up, although I am naturally a fairly quiet person and don’t get into waving my freak flag :) to everyone except my very conservative Christian in-laws, who would at minimum be very hurt by the knowledge and at worst possibly cut off all communication. However, I also go the simple route with regard to tools and worship…



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm


Helen/Hawk,

I like that, a lot.



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abowen

posted October 12, 2011 at 12:35 pm


Talma,

I’m glad to hear that you have grown comfortable with who you are. It can be scary, trying to fit within our own “skins,” but when it’s right, it’s sooo right.



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Helen/Hawk

posted October 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm


Love watching an AHA moment!

Do want to say that it isn’t “just” the in-the-closet Pagans who are those who go w/ the simplistic route.

For some folks (note the attempt to not generalize about everyone) the various tools are a stepping stone. Where eventually, it’s all there where-ever you are. Your finger your wand. Your cupped hand your chalice etc

Your pentacle – your body. Like DaVinci’s man: head the top point, two out-streched arms/hands the upper ones, legs/feet the lower. The circle around connecting them all: the energy of your body circling/ your aura. Which BTW is an excellent way to run the energy you’re talking about. Using your mind (or your finger-wand) draw a pentacle w/ energy from your head down to your Rt foot. Then up to your outstretched L arm. Across to your outstretched RT arm, then down to your L foot. Back up again to your head. Then circle around: head, Rt arm, Rt foot, L foot, L arm, back to head. Et voila: the pentacle we all have.

As the chant goes:
Earth my body
Water my blood
Air my breath
& Fire my sprit.



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Talma

posted October 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm


I’m an out Pagan but I’m not loud about it. That’s only changed in the past two years. I’ve been working on being more open about who I am, but when I first discovered Wicca my children were young and I was terrified of someone deciding that I was an unfit mother because of what I believed. I used to carry all of my tools and books with me when I left the house. My family was used to me carrying a backpack and didn’t bat an eye even though I was terrified that someone would find out.

When my children were older I was able to leave my books in totes that I had in my room and just put them in my closet. Sometimes I’d leave a book out on accident but I was very careful about it. Then one day my cousin “K” told me that my step-mother knew. Well, if it had gotten back to her that meant that everyone knew and just wasn’t doing anything so I felt able to leave my things out.

Now I’d say that I’m out. I have a podcast that I do (really sporadic) and I no longer fear that someone is going to take my children (my youngest are 16). I’ve shed my fluff and am comfortable in my skin and my faith. It took a long time but I’m here and happy that even though I had to hide who I was at the time now that I’m on the other end of it and it’s made me a better person.



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