Building friendships and magick. Sometimes they don’t mix.
I have to admit, sometimes when being openly Pagan, you can take a hit in the friend department, which can really hurt if you didn’t have many to start with. Since Paganism still has a strong stigma with it, you have to deal with a particular wonder of if people don’t like you for you or if you’d have better success being social if you weren’t such a pretty misunderstood faith.
Within the last ten years of me being Pagan, I have dealt with folks running from me, crossing the street when they see me, keeping me at a clear distance, arguing, appearing visibly threatened, giving me odd looks, the silent treatment, etc etc If it is a negative reaction short of actual assault, I have experienced it and man, is it something to get it from people you actually cared about, respected or held in high esteem. If anything, it makes you a little more cynical and apprehensive about meeting new people.
And this is with folks I’m open with. With others, it can be a total tightrope between talking about my life and censoring out the more important parts of it. So if I get frustrated because something not cool happened regarding Black Witch and I hang with these folks, I have to either learn to be really good at masking or come off as mysteriously moody. Or, if I have an amazing achievement, I can’t share it. And then there’s when positive experiences in my life that are related to Black Witch or the success of Black Witch have to be delivered with huuuuuuuuuge and disconnecting plot points, if at all.
As much as I would like to tell folks, “I’m Pagan, deal with it,” I can’t be that way to every single person on earth because believe it or not, there are still some folks who don’t know that I’m Pagan and the uphill battle of explaining to them may not be worth it. It’s really frustrating, mainly because I already know what has happened when I jumped out the broom closet so wantonly. I still think twice when sharing pictures from Pagan Humor on Facebook (they’re really funny, check it out!)
When I was part of the P.O.D. fan site, The Southtown, when I was around 15 or so, someone had asked about Wicca in the “Spiritual” section of the forum boards. Now, I was a regular there so no harm, no foul right? It was a pretty regular question any ol’ ways, as I thought, and I responded to it like a regular question. Oh wow, the response overnight was deafening. For those not in the know, P.O.D. (Payable On Death) is a rock band that can definitely be a bit Christian faith heavy so they have a tendency to attract Christian fans.
You can probably tell that it is not gonna be a happy story.
I never saw folks go 180 so fast ever before that. Maaaaaaan, people were pissed beyond belief. Bible thumping like never before, people sending me angry messages and pretty much no one coming to my defense until waaaaaaaaaaaaay later. Wow, so much for Christian kindness. These were people who already knew me prior beforehand but in an instant, disliked me as if they never cared to start with. And best of all, I had no one to go to, really. If these people who really liked me at some point in history turned really fast, who else wouldn’t? It was really disheartening. I only talk to about three people from that site today.
This kinda was my first experience in dealing with simply going, “Lemme just be as normal as possible about this faith and all will be fine,” and so early at that. Layer this on top of the fact that I have always sucked with being social with people because people didn’t always like me. When I was younger, it was because I could read, didn’t really find hip hop to die for (I got the feeling at a young age a lot of it wasn’t really that positive, especially to women), I liked learning and was made fun of for being different, lacking “Blackness” and never really understanding the other kids. I never was actively mean to people, I barely bothered people, if anything because I got the opposite. I just didn’t get people and never fitted in. Still pretty much don’t.
I didn’t always have a crappy experience with it came to making friends while Pagan. At the old metaphysical shop I used to go to, I interacted with plenty of people and even made some great connections there (mainly in the form of being a derpy teen hanging about a metaphysical shop daily). This is not to say every interaction was perfect, I still have my crappy social skills to account for but I really would be a little more social (read: total chatterbox) when comfortable.
So when it comes to dealing with people and being my usual worrisome self, it’s like dealing with the Pagan version of Negro Neurosis. Negro Neurosis is not being sure when a displeasing event occurred because you were unlucky or you simply were Black. The Pagan version would be me not knowing if the distance of friendship or reactions was because I really suck with people and they won’t tell me what’s wrong or because I’m Pagan and that squicks them out (perhaps a combo?) The best example of this is when I meet someone at a concert and they’re really warm and then out comes the fact that I’m Pagan either through friending each other on Facebook, I mention Black Witch or something and all of a sudden its pauses, careful wording and delayed responses as if, “Oh no! She’s really different. Not cutesy weird or mock weird or even artistic weird. She’s just plain weird and I have no idea how to interact.”
It really sucks.
Usually, when I have these issues with people, they’re tough to tackle. No one wants to look like the person who won’t be friends with someone because their faith is different but it doesn’t change the fact they may act that way. To tackle the subject can cause friction (which could have been avoided possibly) or become like pinning down a slippery fish. When I feel something is wrong in a friendship, I generally ask, “Is something wrong? We don’t seem to be getting along well” or something of the matter because, hey, might as well talk about a problem before it gets out of hand. Even when I have approached folks about it, I can be met with a stunting silence. I know some people would rather duck such a question to avoid hurt or abrasive feelings but if I’m at the point I have to outright ask what’s going on, we pretty much already punched out the “stung emotions” box on the Friendship Problems bingo card, might as well start getting things out in the open because been there, done that. Not a fun dance to just tease things out and slowly piece them together. I’ve lost the patience to wait for people to finally snap on me, have someone go from friend to fiend in what appears like a flash, cry over crumbling friendships. Instead, those things annoy me now. I take friendship seriously and if there is a problem I take that seriously, too, and rather fix a problem when it makes itself apparent.
When it is comes out that the fact I’m Pagan is an issue, I try to have a mini Q&A because honestly, whatever issue they have isn’t usually with my religion and its beliefs but whatever stigma they learned about it. I’m Pagan, the most harmful I get is that I want people to cut the rings in their six pack holders and I may ignore people if they have a cat/bird/hedgehog/dog/ferret in tow. Not exactly vicious. I rather get stuff like that out the way so that the friendship can grow unhindered, if it ever does. If it is about my personality, I just rather talk it out and see what is going on and how to fix it.
If anyone is wondering why I don’t outright cut off people the second they make me miffed or frustrated, firstly, that’s no way to have a friendship. Even a best friend will work your nerves from time to time because they are a separate person from you with their own thoughts and ideas. Plus, I’m simply a firm believer that sometimes people don’t even know that they’re doing something wrong unless notified and I am especially that. There have been times I unknowingly pissed someone off and didn’t find out until waaaaaaaaaaaay after the eruptive fall out because either a) they dropped really subtle hints that I never picked up or b) just got sick of dealing with me but didn’t want to talk to me about it when it first became a potential irritation.
It sucks trying making friends and not being entirely successful at it. Sucks even more when you learn part of it is because of your religion (or race, or gender). It’s really difficult when first encountering and easy to become bitter from because usually everyone tries to say they’re equal opportunity friendly, it isn’t always true. However, it’s up to you on if you want to maintain the tango of friendship, let them go or put your foot down. You don’t need to roll about with a big pentacle around your neck and you’ll learn – or have learned – that sometimes it’s better to keep quiet and take an L. Just move with what’s best for you but don’t be a doormat nor an explosive cannon.
And don’t forget: Hang out with Black Witch! Two events in Baltimore, Maryland!
BW Meet and Greet (April 14) : Let’s hang out and meet each other! This is the Black Witch Meet and Greet, where you can meet me, fellow readers and have fun. Located at the Washington Monument, (if it rains, we’ll be at the Central Library) this event is open to any and everyone. The meet and greet will be on April 14th starting at 1 PM EST and going to 4 PM. Be there! If this one is really successful, there will most likely be a monthly BW meet and greet.
Ka-ra-o-ke! Music Time With Black Witch! (May 5): I love singing and I especially love karaoke! So let’s do some karaoke together! We will gather at Rainbow Music Studio on 2126 Maryland 2 and have a room to sing the night away! Rooms prices are $35/hour for up to six people and increases by $10 when up to six more people show up (Ex: $45/hour for 12, $55/hour for 18, so on and so forth) so depending on how many people come, the price could be really small ($5.83 per person if up to six, $3.75 per person for up to twelve, so on and so forth) or bigger than that so although I will keep everyone updated, be sure to bring at least $15.