Merry Meet Family and Friends!
So, this morning I signed on to AOL and the first thing that was displayed on my "Welcome" screen was an article about a woman who was fired from her job as a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) agent because she was Wiccan. Apparently, the woman was well respected and had a flawless employment record, until her co-workers learned she was a Witch. Afterwards, she was subject to harassment and claims that she had cast "hexes" upon her co-workers. The article read as follows:
"She was in the top 10 percent in Albany at catching weapons on the X-ray machine. She passed her skills test on the first try. She caught a woman on her way to Vietnam with $30,000 in cash. And she didn't mind working with the passengers -- her training as a massage therapist kept her from being squeamish, as some officers were, about patting down elderly and special-needs passengers.
Obviously, a glowing Personnel record was not enough to prevent her from being fired or from being harassed in the workplace because of her religion.
If you're a practicing Wiccan and open about your beliefs, at some point you're going to encounter the typical decades old jokes, "Where did you park your broom?", "Where's your pointy hat?", "How come you're not green?" or "Are you a good Witch or a bad Witch?"
Comments such as these have probably been circulating since Gerald Gardner introduced Wicca to the general population and are merely some of the petty nuisances that come with the territory. Most of us simply brush them off as a byproduct of ignorance, not necessarily in the derogatory sense, but in that there are still those who are woefully misinformed about the religion of Wicca. However, if this is the extent of the negativity you experience, consider yourself...blessed.
I can't say that I've ever been subjected to the degree of harassment experienced by my Wiccan counterpart. Aside from some friendly teasing by acquaintances, most people have been very respectful.
Occasionally however, I will participate in our community's blog. Many a time the discussion will be purposely steered away of the topic at hand and directed toward my being Wiccan. Recently, the following comment was posted:
"Maybe we should pour a bucket of water on Tracy to see if she melts".
On the surface, this appears to be nothing more than another tired attempt at humor and that's the manner in which it was perceived. However, upon further consideration, I realized that it had much darker implications in that it encourages others, that may be unstable and living within my own community, toward acts of physical aggression. I'm certain that was not the manner in which it was intended, but then again the poster obviously hadn't bothered to think that far before typing.
That said, can you ever imagine walking up to a Christian co-worker and saying, "Hey, how's that second coming going for ya? Hope you haven't been holding your breath!" or "Let's drop a penny on the floor to see how many Jews go for it". It's bigoted and disrespectful and anyone with even a minute amount of common sense wouldn't dream of behaving this way.
Yet, as Wiccans, this is the kind we encounter routinely. We've been more than a little patient...if not a little bored.
So what about this woman's situation made it different than anyone else who has been dismissed from their job or discriminated against in the workplace. Surely not every one's case makes headlines. If she had been practicing a mainstream religion, it would have probably been handled internally, without the need for media involvement. The only thing that made her situation newsworthy is that she's Wiccan and the circumstances of her firing involved allegations of Witchcraft. Oh..those crazy Wiccans!
So, I wonder, how does such a controversial group manage to remain under the radar? Common sense would suggest that if all the rumors you've heard about us and our practices were true, it would be almost impossible for us to avoid attention, and yet, most us do so every day with very little effort on our parts.
I know! Perhaps it's that Witchcraft thing! Maybe the reason why we aren't constantly the focus of media attention is because we've cast a "hex" or two to remain out of the limelight. If you believe that, you might find the truth even more shocking.
Most of us follow a version of the same basic tenets taught by most of the mainstream religions and live our lives accordingly. We are successful at our jobs, at raising our children and are active and productive members of our communities. Despite this, at times our livelihoods are placed in jeopardy, our parenting skills may be called into question, along with our sanity. Our ability to live our lives and express ourselves openly, with the same respect thats given to those of different faiths is compromised, simply because we choose to follow an alternative religious path.
Today, as I listened to the radio, I heard a beautiful advertisement by nycprayer.org that declared, "It's time to pray! Find a prayer meeting in your area!". On Friday evenings I often hear, "Sundown begins at 5:45 p.m. Good Shabas and Shabbat Shalom!".
Seriously, can you ever imagine ever hearing, "Blessings of the Full Moon! Come join us for our public Esbat! Don't forget your robe!?"
I wonder if I can get air time?
In Darkness, Light!