On a recent trip to Washington D.C. to attend a Pagan event, I had an experience at the airport that has taken me time to process. This experience reminded me that as a nation we still have a long way to go in establishing a culture of tolerance for the diversity of beliefs that make up the rich fabric of American religious life.
On the surface, this event rightfully made me resentful that my beliefs could be so easily ridiculed by someone I do not know. While proceeding through security, a TSA employee noticed the pentagram and medicine bag that I wear and stated, “Oh, are you going to sprinkle fairy dust from your bag on us all?”. I was dumbfounded. In my mind, I responded with “Do you make fun of everyone’s beliefs or are you just singling me out?”. Silence and a smile was what this individual received as a response.
Once upon a time, there would have been an indignant response, demands to speak with a supervisor and a letter to the Director of TSA. So what has changed? First, the Feminine Divine has taught me compassion. No longer do I feel the need to confront and be ‘right’. Through the Goddess I have learned to see narrow-minded views as a human condition from which we all suffer from time to time. How can I withhold compassion from this stranger and still be able to express compassion for those whom I know, yet disagree with?
Finally, participating in a confrontation driven by indignation could have resulted in my forgoing an important task, going to DC to honor an individual who has done much for Pagan rights through calm discussion and interfaith work. Choosing to address Pagan issues in a positive and constructive manner is what I was traveling to honor.
While passion for Pagan rights still fills the sails of my heart, as I have grown in my faith, it is reason that sets my course. Yes I am still a Militant Pagan, yes I still speak truth to power, but I will choose my battles, direct my intent and assist my community in obtaining acceptance through positive action that has a chance of success.
In Service to the Goddess,
First Officer Elect
Covenant of the Goddess