My perkiest co-worker came bounding into my office this morning and chirped, “You’ve got a package!” I assumed it was either the pet waste bags I’d ordered a week ago, or the “Your Dog Can’t Poop Here” signs that should’ve arrived last month (when people say they “deal with a lot of crap at work,” I’m like, “Me too… me too.”), so imagine my confusion when I tore open the shipping box and pulled out a bull’s head:
The packing slip read, “Apis the Bull, Egyptian God of Strength Statue.” Having not ordered anything Apis-related myself, I immediately jumped to the logical conclusion that the Gods had smiled favorably on the way I decorated my office, and sent me the statue as a sign of Their approval. But then I calmed down, decided to go with Door Number Two and called Co-Witch D. to thank him for the surprise.
What was not a surprise was that he bought me the statue as an alternative to what already sits on my altar, which he tactfully refers to as “the bottle opener.” Aesthetic differences aside, and as venerable as Apis is, I’m afraid He’s going to have to stay in my office, if only because He looks so freaking cool next to my backflow prevention assembly:
I feel very empowered with these complementary items in my possession, and I am now fully prepared to declare myself the founder of SteampunkKemeticism, which, according to the Internet, doesn’t exist yet. I’m not sure if it’s going to be a religious tradition, or a literary subgenre, or maybe just a momentary fashion movement, but regardless, I’ve got heirloom-quality backflow prevention assemblies for the first 20 people who swear fealty to me.
I just returned from a big family get-together in Galveston, and after spending two days in a condo with my closest relatives, I have finally come to accept — and I say this as an alcoholic with a panic disorder who practices Witchcraft — that these people are fucking deranged.
In my family’s defense, I should mention that I was not at my most charitable, as my weekend had gotten off to a rocky start. Instead of crawling out of bed at an unreasonable hour to drive from Houston to Galveston, I figured I’d just crash at Douglas’ apartment on Friday night, since he lives way out on the South side of town. That way, I could sleep in an extra hour, have a leisurely cup of coffee with my bestest friend in the whole wide world, hit a 12-Step meeting for extra fortification, then skip off to the island. Douglas asked what time I wanted to get up, and I said 7 a.m., then fell asleep on the couch.
On Saturday morning, I popped awake around 10. Apparently, Douglas’ repeated attempts to rouse me (which were basically “making coffee loudly” and clearing his throat every time he walked past the sofa) were unsuccessful, and he hadn’t seen his boyfriend in hours, so he left a key on the kitchen counter and bailed. It was pouring outside, so I called my parents and explained that the rain was causing a delay, but I’d be out there as quickly as possible. At this point the Universe gave me the chance to opt out of the weekend, as my parents we all, “Oh no, you can’t drive in the rain! That’s too dangerous!” And actually, I hate driving in the rain. But the implied message that I am incapable of driving safely got under my skin, and so to prove that I can get in a car and turn on the ignition without the vehicle bursting into flames, I was all, “I am an excellent driver, and I’m on my way.”
Funny side note: I’m a terrible driver. But my parents don’t need to know that.
So anyway, I finally made it to Galveston and caught up with everyone, at which point the assorted neuroses and passive aggressions flared in earnest. Following are a few of my favorite moments:
After reading one of last week’s posts, Alan suggested that a yoni dove might not be the most appropriate tchotchke to keep in my workspace. I reminded him that I’ve been in this office for well over a year, and as such my co-workers finished judging me a long time ago. But he was unmoved, which got me wondering if maybe I should think about toning things down around here. Now on a mission, I grabbed my camera and surveyed my surroundings with fresh eyes to determine whether or not I’ve overdone the Pagan décor. Again.
To start with, here’s a birthday card from Douglas that sits on the ledge of my bulletin board. “Ah, the mighty stag,” you might say to yourself, “ancient symbol of the Horned One.” Except the inside of the card reads, “Buck firthdays,” so no, this is not in any way a reflection of my Pagan beliefs. Perhaps a reflection of other life choices, but not my beliefs. Let’s move on.
Next, we find Lord Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles, and Beyoncé, the Big Metal Chicken. Ganesha is not a Pagan deity per se, and since my job involves mountains of unreasonable requests from angry, high-maintenance homeowners, His presence is fully warranted. And Beyoncé… okay, I don’t have a good reason for Beyoncé being on my desk, but it makes me happy, and a happy me is a productive me.
At first glance, a miniature clay bottle bearing the image of Poseidon may come across as overtly Pagan, but it’s tiny, you guys; hardly noticeable. The fact that my boss asked if there was a potion in it really just puts a glaring spotlight on her potential for micromanagement.
Here we have a framed postcard of La Bocca della Verità, which is an obvious reference to the classic screwball comedy Roman Holiday. Also, there’s… um, a figurine of a singing and/or screaming woman with a crescent moon floating over her head. Which was made by a Houston-area artist. Buy local, y’all. What are you doing to give back to your community?
This is a nazar, and it wards off the Evil Eye. And yes, keeping something like this around could possibly suggest a belief in Witchcraft, but a) it doesn’t suggest that I’m the one practicing Witchcraft, b) it’s still not inherently Pagan, and c) see “angry, high-maintenance homeowners” above. I honestly should’ve saved the receipt and written this off as a viable business expense.
Oh. Right. I kind of forgot about these. On top of the pile is the Portable Fortitude deck, which… yeah, I should probably take that home, but the rest are just normal books. About oracles. And Voodoo. Huh. Okay, you know what? The one at the bottom is a book of daily meditations by Demi Lovato. If you’re going to judge me for anything, judge me for that.
Now here’s a little something that is not Pagan in the least: A small ceramic dish that Sarah gave me for my birthday many years ago. The squid’s not even a totem animal: Sarah picked it out because I’m terrified of giant squid. So definitely not Pagan, just cruel.
Okay, okay, before you say anything, let me point out that the cauldron was a Christmas gift from my cousin, who bought it specifically for me to use as a paperweight. And I can’t let my family down, right? That would be un-Southern. Besides, while all of these various objets d’art are ultimately eclectic and eccentric and kitchy, it’s not like I’m burning candles or chanting incantations or leaving skulls all over the damn place.
I CAN SO TOTALLY EXPLAIN THAT. It was also a gift, and also produced by a local artist, and Día de los Muertos is a vital part of Texas history, people. This pillow is nothing but a cunning display of State Effing Pride.
Rationalizations aside, in looking at all of these pictures together, I will begrudgingly admit that I’ve gone a bit overboard with the pre-Christian clutter. But I’m also very lucky in that I work in an environment where my religion is a non-issue. “Be as you as you want” is the order of the day around this place, so long as we all get our work done and don’t blow up the building. Granted, banging away on my blog doesn’t really count as getting my work done, but hey, at least I’ll only get written up for shirking instead of blasphemy and bad taste.
My phone, which I’m told is “smart”, routinely removes numbers from my address book, for no apparent reason other than spite. As such, I often get calls and texts from unrecognized numbers, so while everyone else in the world answers their phones like it’s 2015, I’m back in the early 80s going, “Oh dear me. Who could be calling at this hour?”
Yesterday, I got a text from a number I couldn’t place that just said, “Yo witch.” This narrowed the texter down to pretty much everyone I know, so I wrote “What’s up?” back, hoping that he or she would somehow identify him/herself without any embarrassing prompting on my part.
And damned if he didn’t do just that. His next text was simply a picture:
Dogs and horses can identify their masters at a distance through scent alone. I, on the other hand, can identify my friends at a distance through their individual preferences in religious iconography. Check and mate, my quadruped lessers. Check. And. Mate.