The Busy Witch: Magic and Marriage

There’ve been a lot of interesting conversations lately about interfaith relationships, specifically  those between Pagans and the Abrahamic faiths, and I wanted to add my two cents.  Sunweaver’s recent post inspired me to delve into my own interfaith experience: I’ve chosen to spend my life devoted to a Christian.

When we first met, I made no bones about my faith or my values.  I led off on our very first date by saying, “I’m a feminist, I’m pro choice, and I’m a witch.”

He just smiled and said, “Okay.  Did you want to sit down?”

I spent the early days of our relationship constantly afraid that one day he’d get a lightning bolt to the head and suddenly the easy-going, open man I loved would become intolerant of my beliefs.  It was easy to feel defensive living in the very religious corner of Southwest Michigan sometimes called “the baby Bible belt”.  But he never fulfilled my fears, and gradually, I became comfortable about our different faiths.

I think the key to successful interfaith dialogue and cohabitation is respect.  I respect my husband’s beliefs, and he respects mine.  True, sometimes I love to drag him into a spirited historical discussion about our beliefs, but we manage to keep our conversations from hitting any hot buttons.  Despite our divergent faiths, we do find some common religious ground.  We may approach prayer differently, but we both acknowledge the importance of Spirit in our lives, and our individual relationships with the divine, although different, have strengthened our relationship with each other.

I think it helps a great deal that my husband’s faith is non-denominational, and can best be described as first century early church; he doesn’t espouse any particular doctrine or dogma, and there’s nothing about his beliefs that tells him he needs to work hard to convert the people around him, unlike some of the modern evangelical sects of Christianity.  Instead, he’s open to my own experience with the divine, and because of this, I have learned to view the Abrahamic faiths differently; loving a Christian has helped me to practice a more open-minded way of being, and I’m grateful to him for giving me that chance.

Despite my sweetie’s openness, I was initially cautious about being “too witchy” around him.  I am still in the habit of working spells in front of my private altar, alone in the bedroom, but now it’s less about hiding who I am and more about setting aside sacred space for my work.  I’m no longer shy about dragging my husband to my circle gatherings (he hangs out inside until it’s time to feast, and then he joins the party), and in recent months, I’ve even branched into including him in some of my less witchy rituals, like keeping a wish jar and burning the highs and lows of the past year on the Solstice.  It always surprises me how willing he is to go along with these things when I invite him, and I feel closer to him whenever we share in a small spell or ritual.

Recently, though, I took a big step: I broached the topic of having an official altar somewhere in the main living area of our home.  I couched it in terms of a prosperity shrine, something to cultivate joy and well-being in our relationship and shared lives.  It shouldn’t have surprised me when my husband quietly agreed, but it did.  I thought he would take more convincing, but my arguments weren’t needed.  He was in.

On a trip to the local magical supply store, I loaded up my basket with an oil burner carved with Ganesha’s image (sure to help us cultivate laughter), a few stones and candles, and a small bag that I planned to turn into a charm for the inhabitants of our home, including Delphi, our noble house cat.  My husband didn’t bat an eye when I showed him my purchases, and although I kept pestering him, worried that I had overstepped our unspoken religious boundaries, he assured me that he really was fine with the idea of a bliss shrine in our home.

Together, we hung a small shelf in the southwest corner of our dining room, and I started to bedeck it with little tokens of prosperity.   Although he hasn’t added anything to the altar yet, my husband did help me choose the first scents to fill the Ganesha burner (and our home) with joy: cinnamon and lemon.

I’ve been creating informal altars around our home for years, but this little corner shelf is the first time I’ve done so consciously after discussing it with my husband.   Already, the shrine has served to remind me of the abundance that is already in my life: the abundant love and respect my husband and I share that allows us to bridge the gap of our faiths to create sacred space together.


The Busy Witch is published on alternate Tuesdays. Follow it via RSS or e-mail!

About Jen McConnel

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”). She is a poet, a novelist, and a goddess-centric witch with a love of all things magical. Her first nonfiction book, Goddess Spells for Busy Girls: Get Rich, Get Happy, Get Lucky, is now available from Weiser Books wherever books are sold. Check out her website (jenmcconnel.com) for more information.

  • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

    Excellent post!  My partner and I are of different faiths:  my Pagan and she Catholic.  She’s less involved my my practices and faiths than it sounds like your partner is, but I agree 100% on the respect.  I do have an altar in the house; it used to be in the bedroom but we recently moved it to our office.  She has a crucifix up as well and our artwork tends to run the spectrum from secular to witch-y to Christian.  It probably confuses the heck out of visitors, now that I think about it!

  • http://twitter.com/JanetBoyer Janet Boyer

    What a beautiful post, Jen! Mystical, non-denominational Christianity is actually a lot closer to paganism then one may realize…

  • Sarah

    Jen, this is such a beautiful piece, and, as with so many articles that I stumble upon, so timely for my spiritual/emotional needs. Thank you.

  • Amanda Morris

    aw! =_

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=843520397 Fabiola Metellus

    Thank you Jen!  I am a Witch and my boyfriend is Jewish.  We respect and help each others grow in our respective faiths.  He is very supportive of my Wiccan community and participates in workshop and rituals.  I do the same for him.  It works really well for us.   So much so that his Rabbi would to do an interfaith celebration between our 2 communities.  We all can make it work with love, understanding and respect.

  • Amanda Valley

    Great post- it’s nice to see fellow pagans in inter-faith relationships!  I am pagan and while my husband is Catholic, he dislikes mainstream religion, and is more just a believer in Christ, than a specific denomonation.  I have a personal altar in our bedroom and I love your idea of a prosperity altar!  We have 3 children together and they all learn traditions from both of us, though they are all leaning towards paganism.  Since he doesn’t like mainstream religions, there’s no church to go to, but we do celebrate Christmas and Easter together.  He attends a few Pagan events with me each year, just sittinng out during the ritual portion.  :-)

  • Marysthewriter

    I found this fascinating as a Christian. Thanks for sharing, and may God (or goddess, or universe or whichever) bless you and yours. :)

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  • lucystrawberry

    Wow!  My husband is not really spiritual or religious in anyway.  I cannot imagine doing anything like this with him.  he is, however, very supportive.  He built a huge loft in our apartment so we could empty out a large closet and turn it into a temple for me.  he custom built me an altar table as well.  I really appreciate his support.

    But I cannot IMAGINE him actually being at a ritual or anything like that….

  • Enedving

    Gosh, I needed this. I still identity as Christian, but LGBT and slightly pagan and a slew of other things like those you mentioned above. I have had trouble trying to date non-Christians though, and realized in anxiety that that is just who I’d have to marry; another Christian. I needed solidarity and fellowship with someone who worshiped the same God, and those I tried to date, we just couldn’t talk about it and I was left feeling alone and lost. Around myself, though, there aren’t really any who are also open minded and accepting. Your post has put much of my heart to ease, and I am very grateful for it. 

  • Eric

    It would be interesting to hear about what types of Christian ritual you participate in with your husband.

  • Olivia

    I am a Catholic (converted from Anglicanism) and my husband, raised Anglican, is very open minded. He comes to the Catholic Church with me on Sunday mornings and then goes to a Quaker meeting in the afternoon. Sometimes we attend my daughter’s Anglican Church.

    When I worked as a hospital chaplain I particularly enjoyed the ecumenical nature of my work and had no problem “praying” with those of other faiths.

    Love is – or should be – the common denominator.

  • Sunweaver

    Boy, am I late to the game. I only just now saw this. My husband of almost 13 years is a non-practicing Catholic who is now kind of vaguely theistic. my brother converted to Judaism, my mom was Baptist and now self-identifies as Deist, my sister is an Atheist Pagan, her husband is a Druid, and my stepdad is agnostic. And yet we all get along as well as any family.

    Interfaith dialogue can work very well on this micro scale and it can work on a larger scale as well. Thank you for your contribution!

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