Finding Community, Wearing Identity

I smile at the cashier softly, ask her how her day is going. I can tell that I’ve caught her a bit off-guard as she meets my gaze. In low tones, I say, “Your  Mjölnir is lovely.” Her hand immediately reaches up to it and I see her tense, wondering what will come next. It is lovely, just a small wire outline of hammer, surrounded by green glass beads. I point to my spouse, who sports Viking longship pendant. She visibly relaxes and says she didn’t know if there were any others in town. We tell her there’s more than she thinks, more Pagans and Heathens and magical folk, and we write down our web address and Facebook page, so we could direct her to more local Heathens. She eventually ended up moving, but she keeps in contact and I’d like to think we helped her out.

One of our High Priestesses is in line at the grocery store, and the lady in front of her says, “Do you wear that star because it’s pretty, or does it mean something special to you?” The Priestess answers in the latter, and the lady smiles a big smile, and informs her of a meeting up in Omaha that my Priestess might be interested in.

Most of the Pagans I know joke about the love of the shiny, but in all seriousness, the pretty things we hang about our necks, fasten to our appendages, or imprint on our skin are the ways we recognize one another, a door-opener, a way to size each other up.

I remember hearing a story about early Christians drawing 1/2 of the Icthys with their foot in the sand. If the person they were talking to drew the other 1/2, they would know each other to be a friend. In my experience, Pagans look to each other’s necks or fingers or wrist, looking for the signs that we are among friends and can relax.

Of course, there are times when this can backfire. In my first example, the cashier could’ve just been a fan of the recent Thor movie. In the second example, the lady inline might have been the type to proselytize. My spouse confused the Chi-Ro symbol as a bindrune, and when he asked the wearer about it,  she got exceptionally pissed off at the identification. Whoops. Sadly, the Heathenry communities’ runes, bindrunes, and symbols have been co-opted to promote white-supremacy. Recently, an “alt-right” flyer was found in a small town near my city. The flyer had the jera rune it. The spouse,  a Heathen-ish friend, and I all scratched our heads as to why, of all the runes, jera had been used.

 

The Chi-Rho.

 

Recently, this article was posted in my group’s Facebook page, where a lady’s pendant was recognized as a Pagan/Heathen symbol. Granted these proselytizers were already out of line for putting their hands on the author, but when they saw her necklace, the tensions escalated dramatically.

Some jewelry is far more subtle than others. The wire-wrapped stones, my spouse’s longship, a carved rune or ogham, the vast array of tree-themed jewelry, all seem to fly under the radar for those not in the know. Occasionally, someone not in the community might pick one up just because it’s pretty, but in my experience that doesn’t happen all that often.

I usually wear this stag pendant:

Simple enough that it’s not going to cause an altercation, but I think it’s enough of a hint for those in the know. At our open Circles, I wear my acorn from my Outer Court days and the pendant I received when I became a 1st Degree Initiate. I have one or two pentacles, but I rarely wear those anymore. One of my friends is fantastic when it comes to wire-wrapping stones, and she made me a pentacle with five small stone beads, and if I feel like sporting the star, that’s my go-to nowadays. When I went to paint the offering bowls I mentioned in a previous post, I had the stag on. Both of the ladies that assisted me commented positively on it, but I couldn’t get a good glance at what was around their necks, and nothing they said was enough to give me the hint to take the conversation further.

While necklaces are generally the best indicator, there are also some lovely bracelets and rings that spell out the Pagan faiths. I have ring from a shed antler that I wear on occasion for the Antlered One. Oak leaves and acorns adorn the spouse and mine’s wedding bands, picked for its symbolic strength. A friend wears a rainbow of stones for chakra work, another wears a torc as she made an oath to a Heathen deity.

Tattoos are of course another powerful way of displaying your faith. I don’t have any myself, but I have plans. Visions of antlers circling the moon on the back of neck; a crescent moon wrapped in moonflower vines on a shoulder; Noscere, Auder,  Velle, and  Tacere in ogham, encircling an ankle. A rather large portion of my coven have tattoos in honor of their chosen deities. No one in our group sports the crescent moon on the forehead though; most of us have day jobs that would not allow such a mark, though even the retired and/or disabled individuals decline that as well.

My spouse and I are out to most everyone, except to the majority of his family. We don’t discuss faith, and our respective pieces of Pagan bling get tucked into our shirts or dropped into my purse. Once, he accidentally left one of his pentacles behind, and his mom did the stereotypical thing and thought it was a Star of David. I never get how people confuse the one for the other. maybe it was pure denial on her part; then again, when you are part of a culture that tends to read quite a bit about different religions, I guess it makes it a lot easier to call a spade a spade.

 

2 Comments

  1. While this old man does have a few necklaces (a couple of Labyrses, a 5-broom pentacle, a “dragon’s tooth”, and whatnot, I seldom wear any of them. Even when I do, they are seldom seen as my beard is both wide and long, and none of them are hub-cap sized.

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