Wednesday, September 30, 2009

8 Miles Wide

Y'know, considering I'm a freshly-minted initiate of a Gay Mystery cult, I'm really starting to wonder why I can't get this song out of my head:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beantown on a Broomstick, Part the Second

The evening of the Fall Equinox found me on a train heading North, where, once again, I managed to misunderstand the payment system.

After we embarked, a porter came by and asked for my ticket. I handed her my light-rail transit card. She did not think this amusing.

"This is a commuter train," she said flatly. "We don't accept transit cards."

Nor did they accept credit cards. And I didn't have any cash on me. I'm pretty sure she wanted to punch me. Instead, she took my driver's license and wrote down my address. I'll be getting a bill for $5.25, payable to the State of Massachusetts, in four to six weeks. But at least they didn't kick me off, because that would've been unfriendly to my enterprises.

The whole point of this leg of my journey was to meet face-to-face with a Minos (High Priest) of the Minoan Brotherhood and present myself as a candidate for initiation. Which... well, happened. And it's funny, because I've been sort of secretly fascinated by the Minoan Brotherhood ever since I first heard about it, but until very recently I never pursued it the way I did Traditional Wicca. When introduced to Minoan initiates at pub moots or parties, I'd be polite but not express curiosity. If asked if I was interested in the tradition, I always responded, "It's really not something I want to look into right now." Even though it was. And it took a verbal smack upside the head for me to figure out why.

I was on the phone with Deborah awhile back, complaining about relationship issues and what-not, and I don't remember exactly what I said that sent up a red flag, but she suddenly cut me off and went, "Wow. You are really uncomfortable being gay." This was not an easy thing to hear, mainly because it's true: I'm not particularly comfortable with my homosexuality. I mean, I don't see it as a bad thing, or something of which I should be ashamed, but sometimes being gay feels like wearing a suit that's a little too big. Or like when I was a kid and my family would go to the beach, and everyone else would play in the surf while I hung out at the hotel pool, because it wasn't as scary as the ocean.

My various attempts at queer spirituality were supposed to fix this, but they didn't, and sometimes they just plain exacerbated the situation. I'm thinking of the Radical Faerie circles Jack and I used to attend, which always seemed to denigrate from celebratory to giggly-naughty, i.e. "In this ritual, we're going to be skyclad, tee hee!" Granted, a good time was generally had by all, but it quickly became clear that what we were doing was less about honoring our specialness and more of an excuse to get grabby. Which in itself led to serious drama, usually when some of the "committed and monogamous" Faeries couldn't seem to keep their hands out of other Faeries' sarongs.

So there was that, coupled with the whole Gardnerian issue. Thing is, I love being Gardnerian. I love our rituals and the Gods we venerate and my Co-Witches. Love 'em. Unfortunately, within the gay ghettos of NeoPaganism, British Traditional Wicca is often... not frowned-up, exactly, but viewed as... geez, what's the word I'm looking for, dismissible? Unworkable? Obsolete? Whatever, long story short, I get weird looks from gay Pagans when I tell them I’m Gardnerian, and sometimes they don't want to play with me anymore.

The obvious solution is, of course, stop telling them, you moron. But acceptance is a twisty little monster. When straight Pagans get huffy with me about being Gardnerian, I offer them a cheerful "fuck off" and go on with my life. When gay Pagans give me grief over it, I get twitchy and angry and desperately want them to like me.

This, methinks, be not beneficial.

And sadly, this is also what kept me away from the Minoan Brotherhood, even when it should've been a no-brainer. [And not just in terms of homosexuality: When I was 16, I wrote a term paper on the enduring influence of the Minoan Snake Goddess in classical Greek mythology. I received a solid A, because, quoth my high school English professor, "I honestly have no clue how to grade this."] But a week ago tonight, I managed to step out of my insecurities and give my full trust to a fellow gay Pagan, knowing I was in the right place at the right time, doing what was right for me. And knowing that this particular path would not be an option if I wasn't the gay man I am.

Through this experience, something just on the edge of definable clicked. Within the Gardnerian Tradition, I found the family I'd always wanted. Within the Minoan Brotherhood, I found a key, missing piece of myself, a piece which fits perfectly between my healthy self image and (I'm owning it) my sacred sexuality.

The train trip back to Boston was a whole nother adventure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Beantown on a Broomstick, Part the First

I just got back from Boston, where I spent the past week celebrating my birthday (okay, fine, that was mercenary, whatever) with my brother, his wife (they live there) and my parents (they drove up). My brother's apartment isn't quite big enough to accommodate five people comfortably, so he booked me a room at the Samuel Sewall Inn, a quaint little bed-and-breakfast around the corner from his place. And it was adorable. It was darling. It was... named after one of the judges of the Salem witch trials:

Holy shit! This is a trap!

Upon calming down and doing some research, I discovered that after the trials, Sewall recanted everything and became a women's rights activist. Knowing this made me feel a little safer sleeping there.

First up on my family's itinerary was a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. I was not terribly excited at this prospect, as I am not a baseball fan. Whatsoever. I mean, I know a couple of my Loyal Strifemongers believe that baseball is a metaphor for life, and I hate to break this to them, but they're wrong. Hockey is a metaphor for life: The rules are incomprehensible, and everyone gets hurt. That said, I've never had an experience quite like watching a Red Sox game. The energy at the park is intense enough to measure on the Richter Scale, and halfway through the eighth inning, everyone jumps up and sings "Sweet Caroline" at the top of their lungs. For, like, no discernible reason. It was surreal. Or possibly Postmodern. I'm not sure which. I'd had a few beers by that point.

Once my parents headed back to Texas, I decided to have an adventure and hopped a ferry to Salem, where my buddy N. agreed to show me the sights. He's lived in the Salem area for most of his life and is decidedly over the tourist kitch, but he was very accommodating when I demanded to see the statue of Samantha Stevens and then dragged him through the Witch Museum. And oh, ye Gods, the Witch Museum. It was like walking into a Dennis Wheatley novel, and I had no choice but to buy a commemorative T-shirt. Oh, and also we almost got kicked out, because N. turned on one of the talking displays in the Witches: Evolving Perceptions exhibit ("I am a midwife! You might call me a Pagan.") before the museum employee who was trying to lead a guided tour could get to it. So that was entertaining.

My brother and sister-in-law both had to work the next day, so I figured out how to navigate the subway system and went to meet (get ready) Famous Pagan Artist Thalia Took! Squeeeee! And she was lovely and funny and snarky and I would've totally proposed to her except for that whole "I'm a big homo" thing, which is really just a technicality but still kind of a deal-breaker. Anyway, we drank iced hot chocolates and wandered around Harvard Square, looking for the law office of Dewey, Cheetham & Howe (we didn't find it) and having a platonically gay old time. Thalia also explained the importance of paying for subway rides, which, coming from a city with nigh nonexistent mass transit, hadn't really occurred to me. I apparently owe Boston a lot of money.

Someone remind me to send a check.

More to come.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quote o' the Moment - Proper Etiquette

"Can a magician kill a man with magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."

-From Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Things Witches Say

"I need to go back to the Temple and find my underwear."

Friday, September 04, 2009

If he calls you next, just say "The Bible."

My phone rang promptly at 6:55 this morning. Caller ID listed Co-Witch A.'s number, so I scrambled to answer, hoping nothing was wrong.

"Hello?"

"Hi Evn!" said Co-Witch A., in a voice that was perky yet murderous. "Do you have a sec?"

"Sure," I said cautiously. "What's up?"

"Well, Sean was supposed to conduct a survey for school this week, but he forgot about it, and it's due today. So now we're calling people who are usually awake at this ungodly hour. Would you mind answering some questions for him?"

"No problem!" I said, since I'm always happy to be of assistance to Sean, and I'd very much prefer that Co-Witch A. not wind up on the evening news. "Put him on."

"Hi Evn," Sean said. I could hear growling in the background, which I quickly understood to be Co-Witch A. reminding him to thank me for my help. "Thanks for your help! I'm just going to ask you a few questions about reading. Do you like to read?"

"Yes," I said.

"Okay," he replied. "Do you read for entertainment or for information?"

"Both."

"Where do you normally like to read?"

"My living room."

"Cool. What's your favorite book?"

"Hmm, let's see..."

"Your favorite book that would be appropriate to discuss at my school."

Yes, that's right, I just got clocked by a 10-year-old, who was fully prepared for me to toss out The Story of O or Llewellyn's Practical Guide to Ritual Disembowelment in response to a 5th-grade literature survey and felt the need to put his foot down before I could answer. The kid knows me too well.

I ended up saying that my favorite book was Blue Heaven, which is a very funny novel, but, I realized a second too late, one that goes on and on about homosexuality and recreational drug use. Again, maybe not terribly appropriate. So then I tried to change my answer to Maybe The Moon, which is another wonderful novel, but one which also goes on and on about homosexuality and recreational drug use and the interracial sex lives of dwarves.

Why I couldn't have come up with something like Anne of Green Gables is anyone's guess. Granted, it's totally Sean's fault for waiting until the last minute, but I really, really, really hope his teacher doesn't start poking around on Amazon.com.