Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cubicle Goddess – Paganism in the Workplace

One of the most difficult things for the modern pagan to accomplish is how to incorporate their spirituality into their work lives.

Let’s face it, while the popularity of paganism has increased, it is still a marginalized belief system today. We’ve come a long way, but certainly do not enjoy the freedom of displaying our religion as other mainstream beliefs do. Most people’s only experience with Paganism is limited to what they’ve seen in the movies and on TV. These people may not understand what we do, and might respond with fear, prejudice and sometimes even hostility to open displays of our theology. We might even work at a place where religious displays are not permitted. For those reasons and more, it’s not always appropriate to advertise or be open about our religious proclivities.

Spirituality is a very sacred and private thing. You don’t need to display a trashcan lid sized pentagram on your wall to bring the Gods into your office space or cubicle. Personally, I’d refrain from including anything overtly pagan, such as pentagrams and other obvious symbolism that might attract negative attention to you. You will find that little things can transform a very mundane space into an extension of your Sacred Self. It’s all about incorporating sacred items into our environment in a subtle and loving manner.

If you’re interested in bringing the Gods into your office space, here are some ideas which might help you integrate your pagan life into your work life with a minimum of disruption to all involved.

Create a God/Goddess basket on your desk. Find a small basket and line it with a silk cloth. Fill it with crystals, trinkets, herbs (legal, of course), and festoon it with ribbons and other items in colors that are associated with your Gods and Goddesses or the current season or Sabbat.

Color your work world. Decorate your workspace with colors appropriate to the day, Sabbat or season. For example, each day of the week has a color associated with it. Change your computer’s desktop wallpaper (if you’re allowed to do so), or wear certain colors to work on the appropriate day. You can use this also if you’re working on a spell and want to give it a bit more oomph away from home. Create colored cards – index cards work well for this – and display them next to your monitor as a subliminal input to your mind during the day. Here’s a quick list of days of the week and their correspondences. Note that this is just one perspective; research to find more on the Internet and in books. Be creative and find the correspondences most appropriate for you.

clip_image001 Sunday – Gold, Yellow

clip_image001[1] Monday – White, Silver, Light Blue

clip_image001[2] Tuesday – Red, Black, Orange

clip_image001[3] Wednesday – Purple, Orange

clip_image001[4] Thursday – Purple, Green

clip_image001[5] Friday – Pink, Aqua

clip_image001[6] Saturday – Black, Purple

The Gods in the Machine. Passwords are difficult to come up with, especially if you’re required to change them at specific intervals. Why not make them pagan passwords? Try this on for size: Choose your favorite pagan chant or saying and make the password based on the first letter of each word. Add a sacred number and character. For example, if you like the saying, “So Mote It Be” and your sacred number is 472 you can make your password Smib472* (asterisk representing the star). You can choose the ( or ) characters for the crescent moon, or the )O( characters for the goddess. Again, use your imagination and practice, but you can make a pretty fail-proof password this way!

The Secret of your Scent-cess. Most places will not allow you to burn incense or candles at your desk, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have sacred scents near you at work. Make a small potpourri sachet of sacred herbs pertaining to the time of year, your Gods, the current Sabbat, or whatever makes you feel more spiritual. You can even dab the potpourri sachet with some essential oil for more of an olfactory punch. You can also create a sachet designed to bring harmony & peace to your workplace. Add crystals and other sacred additions to attract these qualities and hang it on the wall of your cubicle.

Mantras on the Monitor. Create a mantra or chant and write it on a post it note. Affix it to your monitor. Every time you look there, you’ll see the mantra, reinforcing the power and keeping the power moving.

Hiding in plain sight. Small figurines of deities are nice, or if you’re not comfortable with that, find an animal that is associated with that Deity. Only you need to know that Owl picture on the wall represents Athena, right? Some people might look askance if you had a statue of Ganesh on your desk, but if you have a small elephant figurine, they’ll just think you are into pachyderms. And don’t forget to offer some candy to him!

Bless your candy bowl. Speaking of candy, many people have a candy dish they keep on their desk. Use a little Florida water or blessed water to anoint the outside of your candy bowl and draw in kindness. Say something like “May all who partake of the contents of this bowl find love and joy”.

Crossing the threshold. Thresholds have always been a magickal part of any house or internal structure. This is where we get the custom regarding marriage and the bride being carried over the threshold. When you walk over the imaginary line into your workspace / cubicle, visualize it being bathed in white light as the Gods protect you during your workday. Just like you would do in your home, create a bubble of energy that allows only positive energy to be comfortable within your workspace. When you leave for the day, allow that threshold to keep any negativity you might have gathered up throughout your day and return it to Mother Earth so you don’t take that work stress home with you.

Marking the days and nights. Many of us have multiple calendars up on our walls. Daily calendars, project calendars, etc. Post a lunar calendar with them to remind you of the Moon’s travels across the sky. If anyone asks, just tell them you’re just into astronomy!

Little touches mean a lot. There are so many little things you can bring into your workspace – provided they are allowed by your company – which mean more than they let on. It’s common to find mouse pads, coffee cups, pens, calendars and other office supplies with fairies, dragons, elves, angels and similar images on them. These can make your workspace uniquely yours – and remind you that you are not just an office hack, but a spiritual being as well.

It doesn’t take much to bring the God and Goddess into your office space. With a little imagination and creativity, you can live your pagan life in the office as well, secure in your sacred secret!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Polite Pagan – What’s In A Name?

When you frequent a pagan-friendly shop, go to a pagan gathering, or even attend ritual at someone’s house, it is always a good idea to purport yourself in an appropriate fashion. Acting in a courteous way is not only the right thing to do, but it increases your personal capital within the pagan community. People will come to know you as someone they want to be around and include in their activities. You really do want to be known as a Polite Pagan.

One of the things that befuddle pagans who strive to interact with the community is the many naming conventions which abound. This can be really confusing to pagans new to the community. You will learn quickly that pagans can have many names. There are magickal names, mundane names (also known as Christian or given names), honorifics, inner court names and outer court names, to list but a few. Which one do you use? How do you use them without insulting someone?

The first thing to understand is that many pagans use a magickal name when interacting with other pagans. Please note that not all pagans choose to use a separate name – some will continue to use their mundane name and are completely comfortable associating their sacred persona with this common name. A magickal name is a special moniker a pagan finds for themselves which identifies them as a magickal person to others. While not everyone will uses a magickal name, pagans who have chosen a sacred name tend to introduce themselves that way.

The reasons to use a magickal name are as varied as there are pagans who use them. Pagans oftentimes feel their magickal name is something which resonates with them on a spiritual level more than their mundane name does. In addition to being a sacred and special name for people, magickal names can help those who require a level of anonymity due to circumstances in their real life. Perhaps they can’t divulge their real names because of their jobs or their families. Perhaps they’ve chosen a magickal name because it makes them feel more secure in a world they are unfamiliar with. And sometimes, magickal names are taken simply because people didn’t like the name they were given as a child. Everyone has their reason why they choose a magickal name, and a Polite Pagan respects that without question.

There are many kinds of magickal names. Inner Court names are sacred names that people use primarily within the context of their own private Circle/Coven, and are usually only used between covenmates, very close magickal partners or within a Tradition. It is the name by which they directly connect with their Gods and is an incredibly private thing. The majority of pagan practitioners do not have an Inner Court name, mainly due to the fact that their practice does not require it. If someone shares their Inner Court name with you, consider yourself extremely honored, for that is one of the deepest magickal secrets one can share. If you know someone’s Inner Court name, you should never use it in a public setting without their express permission.

An Outer Court name is the magickal name a pagan uses with the world. It is their public name. Most magickal names would fall under the Outer Court designation, and are ok to use in pagan settings.

An Honorific is a title a pagan practitioner earns through years of work and progression within their Tradition, and is heard most frequently within the Traditionalist community. The most common Honorifics are “Lord”, “Lady” or “Elder”, but there are other lesser known honorifics, such as “Squire” or “Consort”. Usually an honorific is only valid within one’s own Tradition and reserved for the High Priest or Priestess and high level initiates. Titles are not usually used among mixed groups, that is, groups which consist of different Traditionalists and/or Eclectic practitioners. You will rarely see these used in large public gatherings. Most pagans will not expect nor require you to use their honorific, but it’s good form to use their title when first addressing the individual, or when introducing them to others. Nine times out of ten, the person with the honorific will instruct you to just use their Outer Court name. Those who do insist upon the use of their Lady or Lord title by those outside their Tradition should raise a red flag with the Polite Pagan – these people might be suffering from an overinflated ego.

How a fellow pagan introduces themselves to you is really how you should address them. Even if you know them by another name, follow their lead. If you’re not sure, there’s nothing wrong with pulling them aside and asking them privately how they wish to be addressed. If your best friend is named Mary, but wants to go by Malibu Sparklebunny for pagan gatherings, kindly honor her wishes and do everything you can not to trip up. Do not feel the need to tell others that Malibu Sparklebunny’s real name is Mary. If Malibu wants to share her mundane name, she should be afforded the courtesy of choosing who she shares it with.

Remember that you must never make fun of or criticize someone’s magickal name. You might secretly think that “Velveteen Starmuffin” or “Cinnamon Bearnugget” might be the silliest names in pagandom, but it might hold some sacred significance to these people. Part of being a Polite Pagan is respecting another’s choice whether you agree with it or not. It is not your place to tell someone that they have spelled their names wrong, or that their name is cliché, or that they shouldn’t take the name of a God/dess as a magickal name. Those are personal preferences and decisions and not for anyone else to judge.

If you meet someone who has a particularly lovely or unusual name, you may respectfully ask them about it. Saying something like “What a beautiful name! May I ask how you came up with that and what it means to you?” is appropriate and will be less likely to take your head off than if you said “Wow…that’s a weird name. How many beers did it take for you to come up with that?” Many pagans would be flattered if you complimented their sacred name and it can be a great way to break the ice and make friends. But please don’t take it personally if they choose not to divulge the origins of their name – some people are sensitive about that.

If you choose to use a pagan name yourself, make sure you introduce yourself as such. “Hey You” is not how you want to be addressed! Also, when choosing a magickal name to use in a public setting, you might want to consider a name which sets you apart from the rest of pagandom. Don’t believe me? Just jump into the middle of a pagan group and call for “Raven” or “Willow” or “Rowan” and see how many people respond!

Pagan names are as diverse and beautiful as pagans themselves. Polite Pagans know this, and show the quality of their character by being courteous and respectful when it comes to those names. Know about how to deal with pagan names, and you have another tool to make you a pagan other people want to have around.