I’m a closet pagan. On my facebook info page I describe my religion as “semi-pagan, making it up as I go along. “ and that pretty much DOES describe me. Now, it’s not that I disregard the old pagan teachings, or the lore, or myth, or anything like that, it’s just that I take a little from here, a little from there, I subscribe to what makes sense to me…plus, I refuse to adopt dogma of any sort, be it Christian, Pagan, or “other”. Now, I have to add here that Pagans are far less dogmatic than the brand of bible thumpers that I grew up with (I do know Christians who aren’t dogmatic, or judgmental, but they are in the minority…Jesus would be rolling in his grave, if he were still there, at the antics of so many that call themselves Christians these days!)(But I digress, this isn’t a rant about Christianity, it’s a rant about Paganism, and my closeted, “solitary” self…)
So, years ago, when I lived in the Haight, in San Francisco, I was, as I’ve said before, a punk. I also worked in the fashion industry, so style was very important to me, especially one’s personal style. And, since I was a costume designer as well, I saw a person’s way of dressing as the “costume” that they wore to show the world who they were. I still believe that.
Well, back then, in the Haight, the pagans I met (or the “witches” or Wiccans, et al) did not have a very admirable “personal style”. For years (and years!) I would never publicly admit to being a Pagan because to me that meant being a woman of a certain girth, with ambiguous sexual orientation, who wore ill fitting BROWN corduroy pants with an ill fitting stretchy t-shirt type thing that so perfectly did NOT compliment either their body or their face, or their rather unkempt mousy brown hair…and then there was the other hair: I’m talking about the two or three individual hairs growing out of many of these womens chins…geez! They were usually so long that some of them could’ve been braided! I’m not kidding! I had this mad fantasy of always running around with tweezers so’s I could surreptitiously sneak up on these women and pluck, pluck, and pluck! Course, I never did that, to each his (or her) own, right?
Now, I want to say right here that I have no problem with “women of a certain girth”, having been one on and off for forever and a day. I also have no problem with women of ambiguous sexual orientation: not my business, don’t care who you sleep with. (unless it’s children or animals, then we’ve got a problem) If you are LGBT, or, even straight, I don’t give a fig! (unless I have a crush on you and you’re a gay male, then I may be disappointed….*sigh*, that happened a lot in my twenties!)(my Gay-dar STILL isn’t perfect, but at least it’s better than it was!) So, let’s recap: No problem with girth or sexual orientation. So, what was my issue then? It was those ill-fitting not-at-all-flattering clothes, and the blah lack of hairstyle! Oh, and the chin hair! Mustn’t forget the chin hair, especially since it was my major grievance! (Pluck, ladies! Please?) Rant, rant, rant!
Sounds shallow, right, but, bear with me: As a pagan, we women are representations of the Goddess (I tend towards “multi-theism” [though I tend to think of “God” and “Goddess” as symbols, as opposed to actual beings]so it probably should be Goddesses) and she is a representation of us. (yeah, I know, I’m going to get “hate comments” from pagans out there who disagree with with my interpretation…but remember, I DID say “semi-pagan, making it up as I go along! I look to lots of viewpoints to find my “truth”)(and, as far as hating me for the unflattering comments about the unflattering styles? Be patient, I’ll tie this all together by the end so you won’t hate me….quite so much!) So, about the representation thing: When was the last time you saw an artistic representation of a Goddess (or THE Goddess) wearing ill-fitting, non flattering clothes? NEVER, right? I didn’t think so. Goddesses have always been depicted as glorious beings, beautiful and shining. Did you EVER see a FRUMPY Goddess? NO! You did not!!!!! There are only a few exceptions I can think of: one being the Goddess of Wylendorf, who wasn’t wearing frumpy clothes,(because she wasn’t wearing clothes!!!!) I really would NOT want that body, oof! But from what I understand, Paleolithic men thought she was HOT! Then there’s some Celtic Goddess, I think she was a war goddess, Mor, or Morg something or other (no, not Morgana, don’t be silly!) I don’t have my Celtic Mythology books with me, they’re in storage, so I can’t look it up…if anyone knows who I’m talking about, share! Anyway, her “visage” was supposed to be frightening…Oh, and I suppose there was Medusa, though, she was described as terrifying, not frumpy! My God(dess)! Even Kali, the Hindu Goddess of death and destruction is depicted as being beautiful!
So, why would these women want to be so plain? If you are worshiping the Goddess, or any of the other goddesses, why wouldn’t you want to be as glorious as possible. I know I do (well, I do anyway, since style=art=beauty to me. What can I say?)
I have to admit that things have changed over the years (you have to realize that when I lived in the Haight, it was 1983, 84, 85, something like that…a long time ago!) First Goth chicks came along and swept the world of witchy wardrobe. Thank Gods! Those girls knew/know the value of style. The Stevie Nicks style is popular among pagan women (and non-pagans too! I love the way that woman dresses!) There’s the flowing style of the “Arts Appreciator” that many pagan women adopt (I would say that, from the pictures I’ve seen, that Starhawk, the Grande Dame of the Pagan community, utilizes this style.) and then there are the pagan women who dress like your’ Aunt Joan, out for a night of cards with the girls. What I’m saying, I guess, is that there is no longer a “costume” that SCREAMS Pagan, and for that I’m glad! I may even publicly identify myself as Pagan, now that it doesn’t put me in a category of frump…
Oops! I guess I already did!