Continued from The Power of the Pentagram: Part 1
After fourteen days of wrestling, this is what I’ve realized about the Power of the Pentagram:
The Pentagram has no power at all; it only crackles to life when infused with the electricity you lend it.
The Pentagram is like a letter of the alphabet: a meaningless scribble to the illiterate, a building block for a writer, an object of study to the linguist. The letter Z can run in Zebra, shine in Quartz or be ingested as Zucchini. It’s a fraternity (Zeta Beta Tau), the overflowing of a soda (fizz), and terror to a teenager (zit).It’s invigorating (zeal) and horrifying (Nazi): simultaneously unruly (jazz) and staid (Azan-Muslim call to prayer). Without the image you mold it to be, the letter Z is nothing. And neither is the Pentagram.
If, like me, your brain hard-wired from birth for the Cause of Christ and his rule over the Enemy, Satan (who prowls the earth with his minions seeking to kill, steal and destroy—did I mention I didn’t need to fear ghosts? I had real, live demons to be afraid of!), AND the pentagram was held up as a symbol of All That Is Evil by your church and family and culture-at-large, well, that symbol has some serious power. Negative power. Evil power. Possibly even the power to invite demons to jump out of your closet and into your mind. Power you didn’t even know was still there, hiding in your subconscious, like a demon under your childhood bed. One that jumps out to say “BOO!” when you’re 29 and cocky, unafraid of the dark, thinking you’ve ridded yourself of all religious prejudice.
If you aren’t at all like me— maybe you were raised by a Pagan, or the High Priest of a Wiccan coven, or perhaps your family didn’t have religious hang-ups of any kind—the Pentagram could take on all kinds of different meanings: from a Sacred symbol of the Divine, to a representation of the five elements (four physical: earth, air, fire, water, and one metaphysical: Spirit), to nothing at all. You would not believe in the Christian Satan, or his demons, or call upon anything evil. To you, there would ne no such thing as witchcraft in the Abrahamic religious sense.
Perhaps you were even raised with traditional religions but, like me, forged your own path to the Divine, and the Pentagram has become your symbol of transformation.
Speaking of which, I’d like a symbol of transformation. Maybe I will adopt the Venus Pentagram (below). Because for me, it represents a change—one I didn’t even know I needed to make. Stepping up to receive the Pagan blessing, then jumping back, then considering why—that process cleaned out a dark closet of prejudice that I didn’t even realize was there. And for that I will ever be thankful: both to the Symbol and to the people who graciously blessed me, in spite of myself, and accepted me into their circle, without judgment.
So today I lend my own energy to their symbolic circle (which happens to contain a five-pointed star) declaring myself at peace with all its positive meaning(s), and appreciative of the Pagan faiths whose followers showed me such kindness. Though I still respect my decision to step back from the Blessing, (because to me, in that moment, it represented negativity, so it was not appropriate to receive it), I choose to receive it today (albeit 14 days late) with all the beauty and peace it means to your faiths. Blessed Be.
Romans 14 came to mind: One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.
For anyone who’d like to tar and feather me for this post, please consider the history of the Pentagram and its multiple meanings throughout history including–surprise!–Christian and Jewish usages.
Imagine two scenarios.
#1 You’re meeting a blind date. Are you nervous? Yes. Uneasy? Sure. But it’s a first date, and the expectations and consequences reflect accordingly. Even if it’s a terrible, horrible, awful, no-good, very bad date, you can still go home, kick off your heels, drink some red wine and call your best friend to laugh it off. Can you even buh-lieve he DID that? OMG! This guy is crazy! You can take him or leave him: no harm, no foul.
#2 You’re meeting The One Who Left You at the Altar (who you are somehow still hopelessly in love with). Are you nervous? No! You’re alternately puking and downing Xanax. Uneasy? Ha, you only wish! Try unbalanced, undone, unnerved…completely unprepared. If this date doesn’t go well, you might spend another six months crying in sweatpants while huddled on the couch with your good friends: Depression, Angst, Ben & Jerry. You can’t take him or leave him, because he’s part of who you are.
So I ask you…which situation requires more guts?
Thinking my crazy adventures take loads and loads of courage, people say things like, “I could NEVER go to a [insert place of worship] by myself!” or “Weren’t you afraid of [insert uncomfortable situation]?”, failing to realize that true chutzpah was only required when facing the familiar.
This is how it went for me, every time I experienced a religion; it was either an exciting first date or a dreaded reunion. There wasn’t much middle ground.
I guess you could say I was brave, but not for the reasons most people think. I was only being courageous when, instead of taking the much easier route of crying on the couch, I walked right up to my former faith and smacked it in the face for leaving me–then began the hard work of trying to get back together—spiritual shock therapy-style.
And I’m happy to say (so far) we’re living happily ever after.
In my year+ of spiritual seeking, I’ve found one inalienable Rebecca-Truth. If I have a severe reaction to something, it’s either A) Spiritual shrapnel that needs to be removed or B) Progress yet to be made. Either way, it needs digging out.
And, in the case of this blog article on Christian modesty “I Was Confronted For Being Immodest” ? It’s shrapnel.
When said post recently went viral, I allowed myself to be sucked into its downward spiral.
(Progression: Read Post. Read comment thread. Get ANGRY. Slam doors. Slam more doors. Read more. Get angrier. Say aloud: My whole damn project wasn’t worth anything! Why? Because I have trouble just saying Live and let live—when a nice young mother–with an innocent heart– if an ill-fitting wardrobe– is being bullied in the name of the Lord for her church-dress choice. And submitting to said bullying without a fight!)
Upon expressing my frustration with the article and with myself, I had this conversation with a friend. Me: Is it judgmental if this post makes me go Uggggggghhhh! ? Friend: Why can’t you just say that’s one way to do it and move on? Me: That’s totally easy if it isn’t personal. Friend: You’re making it personal. Me:UGGGGHHHHH!
I considered his point—albeit huffing and puffing with disdain. I recognized that this post had nothing to do with me. I do not know this woman, nor am I involved in a religious environment that would pass this type of judgment. ( And I highly doubt the all-loving Divine wastes time being incensed over an allegedly improper skirt choice. Isn’t He kinda busy, like, running the Universe-at-large?)
So why did reading this feel like an MRI machine, pulling up bullet fragments from long-forgotten wounds? Why did it feel so personal?Because this post magnetized my every memory of being shamed in the name of God, every time I was bullied for the Cause of Christ. Every time I had submitted to spiritual abuse because I needed to have a teachable heart, and God clearly wasn’t happy with my learnin’.
This article called up a militia of bad memories, ready for action and lined in a neat row stretching back as far as kindergarten. It made my heart do an involuntary quick-draw, pointing my weapon at a viewpoint that had decimated my faith. It inspired me to raise my gun of rationale, wave it in the face of all that hurt, and demand it step aside because You are SO not allowed in my space anymore.
It also caused my newfound faith to briefly falter because due to my past pains, I briefly forgot my belief that there is Truth in all genuine viewpoints. And instead of gently untangling my feelings and simply moving on,—Live and let live–I got stuck in a mental battle, the kind that never has a winner.
This is how it is between me and this viral blog post on modesty. I would much rather have a pentagram drawn on my forehead than have a deacon’s wife bully me about the choiceness of my dress… or let anyone else be thusly shamed. (Hell, I’d rather eat rat meat sacrificed to an idol!) This post and its comment thread? It’s my ex-est of ex-boyfriends, armed with a firearm that’s pointed straight at my temple.
After a few days of mulling over my reaction though, I realized ANY judgmental beliefs, even (and especially!) mine, are like raising a gun to the head of someone else’s worldview. Just take one menacing step towards me, and I blow your brains out, sir.
But for every gun you have pointed at someone else, there’s an infinite number pointed at you. It’s like a gangster movie stand-off, if said gangsters were clad in self-righteousness instead of leather jackets.
For example, if you say a skirt touching the knee is godly, there are a hundred ladies who would declare you immodest. For those who think mid-calf length is appropriate, plenty of sects would tell you that God only approves of ankle-length skirts. And don’t forget the Amish, who believe a woman may only worship in a head covering. There are even religious guns pointed at their bonnets because many think them too religious (bound up by codes that presumably jumped off the deep end when they declared electricity to be evil). This struggle is not unique to Christianity–no– it is pervasive in most faiths, the veritable What Not to Wear of religion.
Today, I’ve decided that if crying about your clothing choices and tossing an offending dress in the garbage makes you feel like a better person and makes you feel closer to honoring your God in spirit and in truth, who am I to say it doesn’t?
So I’m laying down my weapon, kicking it aside, and waving my (possibly immodest!) clothing –depending on who’s judging my sweatpants & t-shirt— in a gesture of surrender. Granted, I’ll still be at the mercy of everyone else.
But at least I won’t be the one with the gun.