My work has always been extremely accommodating in the practice of my spirituality; even going so far as to give me days off work for holidays without charging me leave. In the past eleven years I have only received one off-color comment from someone, to my face anyway. Early in my career there were a lot of rumors that I sacrificed animals and whatnot but that died out as people got to know me and with the individual saying such leaving. Overall for an extremely out practicing Witch, I have not had a bad time of it. On a few occasions I have even had co-workers approach me to do a little work for them. It helps that I have a government job and copies of all the rules and regulations relating to religious accommodation.
I am like most Contemporary Pagans; I generally have a bad taste in mouth when it comes to dealing with others, especially at work, in regards to their religion. The issue is that the major religious tradition of the Western world is missionary, that being Christianity. On that same note, so are Islam and Buddhism. Right there, the top three largest world religions are all missionary based. Additionally I live in a part of the United States were Evangelical Protestantism is the standard for Christianity. That they can be extra fervent in their attempts at missionary work is an understatement. Toss all of that into one pot and you can best believe that I have experienced my fair share of others attempting to convert me or simply ensure that I have heard the word. They and I, however, see very different spiritual issues at hand, have very different ideas of what our religious focus should be, have different religious goals, and ask different spiritual questions. Due to these differences, I am happy where I am and not to purposely try and force a conversion I don’t see as necessary upon myself when my needs are being met is a rational decision. Needless to say, the constant bombardment that Contemporary Pagans receive gets taxing. This exasperation combined with our Tradition not being missionary based, seeking converts at every opportunity, leads to the purposeful withdrawal from both engagement as well as attempts to not do the same out of the sheer courteousness of it.
It is out of courtesy that I have maintained an apt secularism in my duties and presentation at work. Do not get me wrong, if I had need of prayer or to ground, etc, then I did so, and no one was the wiser. After a lot of thought on the subject, I have decided that I don’t quite like it. In short, I believe that I can reframe from intruding my beliefs upon other while still having about me things in which I recognize and help to bring my own gap between my spiritually laden home-life and that of work-life. The institution of this personal bridge will be done covertly. No one need know, as far as I am concerned.
Last week, I made a trip to Georgia. Preparing for it I have to figure out what method I was going to use to continue with some of my devotionals that I have been engaging in. I did not particularly want to pack up my entire altar as I have had to do on long trips previously. While contemplating this, and standing at my altar, my eyes fell upon a small bottle of anointing oil that I use in my devotional rites and then they turned towards a necklace of the Witch Lady and Witch Lord, which happened to be on the later at the time, and in a blazing moment of correlation and revelation the answer appeared. I would use these two pendants as proxy items for my statues, and other than the bottle of anointing oil nothing else was needed. During the trip, my devotionals continued uninterrupted and without much in regards to actual materia.
Last night, I was unpacking my bags from the trip and placed my bottle of oil and the pendants upon my dresser and thought to myself that perhaps I would use them more in that regards and maybe even put them in a small corner of my desk at work. Not wanting to make a decision in that regards at the time, I decided to postpone it until the morning. I then set my alarm clock and proceeded to occupy my bed.
Upon waking this morning, I experienced the following events. First, I awoke to the horror of my alarm going off after having eight days off from work. I then stumbled to turn the hideousness off. Can you tell I don’t like alarm clocks? I am seriously convinced that we are designed to wake up naturally in the mornings. But I digress. In the moment of getting up and turning off my alarm clock, I somehow accidently knocked my bottle of anointing oil off the dresser. I then began to fumble for it in the dark and immediately an old pagan joke popped into my mind, “Athame handles are black because finding a dropped athame in an outdoor ritual in the dark is a test of loyalty to your faith.” After a minute of scrabbling on my hands and knees in the dark, still mostly asleep, I became resigned that I was just gonna have to get up and turn the light on, which I had wanted to prevent so as not to disturb my wife. In that moment I placed my forehead upon the floor, to rest for a second, cause that’s what you do in those situations with little sleep. Alas, somehow I had placed my forehead directly upon the bottle, with the rest of me in a traditional fetal position style mudra of prostrated prayer. The serendipity of the moment was not lost on me.
I quickly decided in that moment that my Goddess and my God were affirming to me that I should bring these item representations of them to work with me. My Lady and Lord have always been accessible to me at work, or anywhere for that matter without need of material items. There is, however, an important depth to the Craft and devotional work when we have physical tokens which serve are reminders, conduits, and proxies in the present and readily available to be a focal point by which to relay our prayers, blessings, and devotion unto the Gods and Goddesses.
Currently, I have the previously discussed items sitting inconspicuously next to my computer’s monitor. With only a shift of my eyes, I can have a visual reference, while at work, for any offerings of my thoughts and the moment.
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."