The day before yesterday, I was one snickering third of a very heated three-way… conversation. Two of my best friends, Shauna and María de Jesus, live in Ireland and Spain. We met about a decade ago, while I was in the Marine Corps and they worked
people at embassies in their respective countries. We haven’t seen each
other in three years. But we exchange emails a few times a day and Skype once a
year, right before the Winter Solstice. Our conversations are long, full of
laughter, and like it always happens with women who are sisters by choice, we
…more often than not, about really dumb things.
The latest fight started after María de Jesus asked a rather innocent question about the holiday season. “What do you miss most, Maggy?” she wanted to know.
“I always miss the same thing,” I said “spending December in the Dominican Republic. Dancing around bonfires, singing from house to house, dancing live music in El Malecón, roasting pork over an open fire, drinking sangria, greeting the sun while bathing in a nearby river—”
“I miss my babes,” Shauna told us with a sigh. Her children, ages 9 and 11, are spending the holidays with their father in Hawaii. “They’ll be reenacting the battle of the Holly King and the Oak King.” The longing was thick in her voice. “Kiara gets to be the Holly King for the first time. She’s been waiting for this her whole life. I wish I could be right there when she gets to hit her big brother on the head with a wooden stick, and not be punished.”
I laughed and made Shauna promise that she would share the video she was sure to get from her ex-husband.
María de Jesus said nothing… for a while… I was not surprised. My beloved friend is more Catholic than the pope. She has always refused to believe in any god but her own… and her saints… and angels… and the Virgin Mary… and the Holy Spirit…
Our conversations rarely deal with spiritual philosophies, but it seemed that the never-ending war between the Holly King and the Oak King inspired María de Jesus to go there. “Don’t you worry about your kids being damaged by that kind of violence?” she said. “Paganism is strange.”
I pretended not to see the fire those words kindled in Shauna’s eyes. You see, María de Jesus might be more devout than the pope, but Shauna is the witchiest Traditional Iris Witch of them all. “Violence?” Shauna boomed. “Violence says she with the three-foot tall statue bleeding in her dining room. Go on Mags,” Shauna shrieked, “tell Santa María de Jesus why we never dine at her house.” It must’ve been a rhetorical question because she went on screaming. “No one can eat and stare at a half-naked fella, nailed down, and bleeding like a pig.”
“A pig?” María de Jesus was looking at Shauna with righteous murder in her eyes.
“Worse than a pig,” shouted Shauna. “Pigs have no thorns jabbing their—”
“This winter night,” I yelled over both of them, “I pray the Almighty Winter Murderer and the Holiest of all Zombies can clear the minds of cannibals who celebrate them with gusto.”
They turned to stare at me…
I grinned, waved, and bowed a bit…
Then, together, like women who are sisters by choice tend to do, we roared with laughter, moved on to gossip about our sex lives, exchanged holiday recipes, apologized for past and future assholic comments. And as we do every time this happens, we made fun of people who spend so much time looking at everybody else that they forget to look within.
The whole thing is funny, isn’t it? Take this as an example, I never argue with people who say that Witchcraft a tad… um… dark. In fact, I’m proud of the fact that it is half dark and half light. Most things are, religions included.
Take Catholicism as an example. During Mass, Catholics eat the body of Christ (Sunday cannibalism), and drink his blood (vampires love dressing up for gatherings), and I doubt I need to remind anyone that the son of the Christian God rose from the dead after three days of being a gonner (um… zombie).
Witchy people refuse to be outdone, so we eat our gods, too. Remember that orange I devour every Winter Solstice? (Sun Gods tastes delicious in the morning); I’ve drenched myself blood-red to dance for the Morrigan (berry stains are a bitch to get out of my pores, by the way); and because my witchery is not only dark and bloody, but also sexy, when I make love I scream to the gods. Okay, so I scream a lot of things, but “Gods! Gods! Gods!” is usually in the mix.
And… in response to the Wicked Darling who emailed me, privately, to say that she was “disappointed in” me, and that she “couldn’t believe a Witch of [my] intelligence and so respected as [me] wasted her time belittling her religion and the beliefs of others by grouping real Holy Days with nonsense like Festivus and Hogswatch,”I wish to say the following:
First, my spiritual beliefs are not so easily defined, so do not box them within a religion. Second, you’ve surprised me. For some strange reason, I thought you got me. Guess I was wrong… Just so you know, I wasn’t mocking anyone when I included Festivus and Hogswatch—I know people who celebrate them, and they are a blast. Maybe one of these days you’ll be able to take a step back and see that the actual holidays are not as important as you might think. People, on the other hand, are. Joy and remembrance need no label, just souls willing to embrace them by smacking some fun into them.
Everybody believes in something. And it will remain important to them, even if the rest of us don’t get it.
Oh, if you have a chance, mount your broom and check out Gothidays 2012. Professor’s Z Cabinet of Curiosities welcomes all hearts interested in “Goth-ifying the Holidays,” or not…