(Please excuse me while I indulge in a little rant about intolerance. I would also like to go on record as saying that the pun in the title of this post is definitely in my list of 10 favorite puns. And I love puns.)
So I bought this beautiful silver ankh pendant this weekend. It’s not tiny, but it’s definitely not “bling”. I wore it twice, and since then it’s been sitting on my dresser, unworn. Why?
The truth is, for all that I blog fervently, attend meet-ups and group rituals, and serve my community as a priest – I’ve still got one foot in the closet. I don’t hide anything from my friends and people I meet at social events anymore. Even if I wanted to, I’d probably be outed by a well-meaning acquaintance. In all other things, I guard my beliefs closely.
I work in the Catholic schools system. I was raised Catholic, and I attended a Catholic school middle school and high school. I’m decidedly not Catholic anymore. If I’m ever questioned about my beliefs, I don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t discuss my religion in the workplace,” – because my workplace IS a religious institution. There’s an expectation that I’m on the same page, especially because of my educational background.
My parents, who are also not Catholic, encourage me to wear the ankh anyway. Their logic is that it looks enough like a cross that nobody will think twice about it. I’m not so sure. I think most people today have been exposed to enough TV occultism to know that an ankh is not a Christian symbol. I will sometimes tuck it under my shirt when I really feel like I need to wear a religious symbol around – which isn’t terribly often, in reality.
At the core of all of this is frustration and anger with how people are judged according to the gods they serve and worship. I know there are people who would be persecuted with violence if they wore an outward symbol of their faith. They would fear for their lives. I know that religious equality is more of an impossibility than a dream in many places. Being faced with awkward questions and an uncomfortable moment pales significantly in comparison, but it is a symptom of the same illness. It’s an infection of superiority. Nobody wants to believe that their God could be the same as the one of the people they revile. Nobody wants to admit that the truth is too complex and layered for any one book to explain. I am frustrated and feel bound by my own limitations, because it isn’t something that I personally can change. I pray that one day I will be able to walk into work wearing my ankh with plain meaning. I pray that one day we can all worship our own God(s) – or choose not to worship at all – openly and freely.
2 thoughts on “Ankhst.”
People will always try to find ways to define other people, along with all the baggage that comes with assuming certain things about people with beliefs. (e.g. Oh she´s pagan? She must worship the devil! She´s Christian? She must hate science!) I wore jewelry for quite a while and rarely got a comment on it (except I did make a good friend because he liked my ankh necklace and we ended up having a lot of things in common). Whether you wear jewelry or not, your religion is who you are, not what you wear. I don´t find private schools as being places particularly open to other religions. It´s private for a reason, you know? Not fair, but also not surprising.
It’s true – people stereotype instinctively, we are designed to try and fit the world into neat boxes to keep order in our world. That said, I still find my situation frustrating; I don’t work where I do exactly by choice, but because it was a job that came when I needed one. People can overcome the need to stereotype, though it’s hard.