We’re going to take a short break from The Mabinogion, but don’t worry! There’s much more of that to come!
So the Significant Other has been approached by someone doing a documentary on “Witches”. They seem extremely eager to get as much information from us as possible about our daily lives. Apparently they want to show that “Witches” are normal people. I guess the S.O. has been talking to this lady for a while, but the first time I heard about it was when he came bouncing home from a long day in the Quarter and excitedly told me that we had to film a two minute film clip for some stranger in New York about what we do on a daily basis.
Excuse me? Where did this come from? “OH! Haven’t I told you all about this, Honey?”. (This is what one gets when one lives with an excitable musician and author, who thinks absolutely nothing about the value of your home privacy…)
While I didn’t mind doing it, it took me aback to think about needing to explain that I live a normal life.
We live in New Orleans, which as most people can probably imagine, is not really your normal city, both magically and socially. We’re all a little crazy down here; costumes are the everyday mode of dress, celebration for anything and everything is expected, and the occult is considered fairly normal. A fair number of people here practice Voodoo and Santeria openly, and while the city is largely Catholic, most people don’t see any problem mixing Voodoo and Catholicism together. Voodoo altars and shrines are pretty commonplace everywhere; you see them in peoples’ yards, in their homes, and on the street.
When I first came to New Orleans, I expected to be done in by whatever psychic scars Katrina had left behind. I am particularly sensitive to death. I was, and still am, amazed that while death is always very present here, it is not bothersome. The people of the city live with death and never seem hampered by it. If you’ve ever come down and experienced Mardi Gras (A good friend of mine wrote in a recent Blog, “Mardi Gras is something that happens for the locals that tourists seem to think happens for them.”), you’ll understand. There is an intense expectation and feeling from almost everyone who lives here, even six years later, that New Orleans is going to dust herself off from that awful experience and be even bigger and better than before.
Living in a city like this often makes me forget about the fact that I really don’t live a normal life. In my “normal” life, or as close as I come to one, I manage a library acquisitions department (if you want to hear about those adventures, go here), but I’ve been openly pagan/bohemian for practically forever. I live my life for myself. I’m not one of those pagans who goes to one festival a year and for a week can “actually be themselves”. I know a lot of these sorts of pagans and while I’m happy that they can do that, I cannot imagine myself living that sort of life. I hang out with pirates and traveling kids, I know gypsies and vampires, the world, to me, is a magical, wonderful sort of place. My fantasy life is my real life and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Do I stand around stirring cauldrons all day, whispering incantations involving dragon’s blood or eye of newt? No. A former boss, at one point, a very sweet lady from Kansas, asked me in a worried voice (because she didn’t want to offend me) if my pentacle necklace meant that I worship the devil (I tend to get that a lot…). I’ve found, that in general, most of the “normal” people that I deal with on a daily basis are only curious about my paganism and what they see as a strange life. It’s not that I go to work and rub being pagan in people’s faces, I wouldn’t find that appropriate for myself and I resent others who do that with their religion, but I do wear my pentacle openly and have god and goddess symbols around my desk. I think that for the most part, my employees enjoy the fact that they have a witch for a boss…don’t mess with acquisitions! The boss will get you! In New Orleans, being a “witch” is not unusual. I appreciate the good humor with which my coworkers treat me.
But I come from Ohio and there, it is definitely something people fear. While I practiced as openly out there as I do here, there was much less discussion about who I am and what I do. I only discuss these things with people who respectfully ask. I think my parents were always worried that I was going to offend the wrong person and get beaten for it in public. I guess that for the most part I’m spoiled, I get to live in an amazing city that accepts the fact that I am not mainstream. My city wouldn’t want it any other way. In fact, down here, if you aren’t a little strange, we don’t like you.
So what is a normal day for me?
I get up at 6:30 (way too early if you ask me), I shower, find something work appropriate to wear (even if it does get me comments about how I’m looking more witchy than usual that day…) and I walk to work. At work, I read through my email, deal with vendors, crazy bibliographers and Machiavellian staff, go to the coffee shop to get my daily dose of caffeine and a cinnamon roll, have meetings with my boss, meetings with other library people, deal with time sheets, make phone calls, send faxes and generally manage an office. I get off work at four, I go back home and snoogle up with my sweetie as he finishes off whatever he’s working on during the day. We eat dinner and at some point in the evening spend some time with another coven member who just moved here from Los Angeles. We like bad TV shows like “Burn Notice”, “Bones”, “Supernatural”, “Law and Order” and watch lots of movies (right now, my SO seems stuck in the 60s and we have been watching things like “Blow Up” and the Beatles’ movies “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!”). See?! Witches are people too!!!
Really the only different thing about my life compared to anyone else’s is that we do things like go to The Country Club, which is a local country club/gay bar that offers a pleasant area for clothing optional swimming, hot tubbing and saunaing. We talk a lot about mythology and Kabbalah. The Tarot is a pretty standard nightly occurrence and discussion as well. We do rituals, usually on a weekly basis, with the rest of the coven for whatever phase of the moon we’re in. We talk to our gods and openly celebrate them in our home. I have fairies that live in my studio (totally the S. O. ‘s fault). Magic is real and wearing corsets and jingly belts is standard. While a lot of this is serious, all of it is fun and I love waking up each day knowing that I’m going to get to do it. Who WOULDN’T want to live a witchy life? I’m completely baffled.
Would I try to live the life my parents wanted for me? Middle class, white collar, Christian, married with 2.5 children and a white fence? Never in a million years. It was only in finding paganism that I really found my actual self and I would never give that up. So let the camera crews come and document my “normal” life. This is what they’ll find: a NOLA chick Owl Pirate Pagan in an academia world… pretty standard stuff. Right?