The Bougie Witch

Banksey’s (late) Camden Maid

I started this post back in April and couldn’t seem to make it fit in the grand scheme of things. Right now, reflecting on my Olympics consumption, it seems to have resurfaced.

I had started out with the suggestion, “So fire me, I hired a maid.”[1]

I guess I was feeling guilty and a little un-Pagan-like for having hired domestic assistance. The irony is that if I hadn’t had so many income-sources[2] from which to get fired, I wouldn’t have needed a maid.

Why am I defending myself?

It’s like the time when The Bad Husband asked me what I was wearing to an Esbat and I told him, “The black Kenneth Cole shift-dress and my Chinese Laundry boots.”[3]  He, still in his Izod polo, linen trousers, and fifty-dollar haircut, laughed and had the nerve to call me, “The Bougie Witch.”

The pot calling the kettle . . .

Again. Why am I defending myself?

Mind you, I was not brought up affluent. I fought for this muthafu-shut-chyo-mouth tooth and nail. I put myself (and The Bad Husband) through college by doing some, um, unsavory – we’ll go with “unsavory” – jobs. I inched my way out of a Chicago South Side neighborhood shooting distance from The Robert Taylor Homes and into a crappy burb (shooting distance from everything else) and into a less crappy burb and into a blue-collar urban neighborhood and – then, from there, to Alabama. First a row-house then a craptastic house with a jungle of a yard and great bones. Paid half what she is now worth.

Now, eight years later, I have an amazing house and a great yard – the part of it we’ve managed to tame, one kid whose sport of choice is Dressage (aka Stephen Colbert’s Sport of the Summer), and another who fences.[4]  And a maid. Or had a maid.

My reason for sharing this is was to talk to you about the prospect of un-Paganing my house to avoid being judged by The Majority. You ever have to do that? Like when your in-laws come over for Thanksgiving, when your Evangelical relative shows up unexpectedly, or when some state authority apparatus knocks? I used to do it all the time but do it less and less now. I really only close the door (and curtains) to my altar-room. Everything else stays as-is.

But when The Bad Maid came over, I thought – Hmmmm, pentagrams in teenager’s bedrooms. Might be a sticking point. Then I thought of the grapevine pentagram that used to be on the stone of my fireplace. And the spiral goddess over my sink. And the ancestral shrine. And The Bad Witch’s fairly wicked set of scrying balls. And The Wyrd Sister inventory and … and … and … And so, I said, Fuck-it. Why in God’s 72 names would I “clean up” my own house? And – where would I put it all? It’s not like I can sweep it all under a rug.

Or into a closet.

So I decided, I’ll just tell her up front.

And I did. I said something like, “I know that you are a Christian woman and I just want you to be comfortable in my home. You see, we are not Christian. You will see things in my home that you were likely taught were demonic. They are not. They are simply not Christian.”

Ironically, her reply was: “That’s OK; I don’t judge.”

All I could think was, “How Christian of you.”

Only people who judge tell you that they don’t judge.

It’s like the time a student asked me why I was wearing a “demonic symbol” – and I, in turn, asked her why she was wearing an execution device.

Or the time when I said, in a room full of Southern Baptists, “But I’m not Christian,” and was met with, “Oh, well, that’s OK with us,” as if I needed their consent.

Or the time a fellow-grad-student looked at my white skin and red hair[5] and Ferrigamo’s (bought on eBay, btw) said, “What do you know about being anything but privileged?”

Or the time a student told me that she was dropping my class because she didn’t want to learn about cultural diversity “from the likes of” me. Attendant finger wagging included. I don’t think she meant “little (bougie) white chick.” Though all of that might have served to stand between us far more than religion. My religion anyway.

Why is it that in telling us, “We don’t judge,” there is the nasty after-taste of judgment?

Like, “I’m not racist, I have a black co-worker,” or, “My best friend in high school was gay,” or, “I don’t have a problem with Jews; I love bagels and lox.” So, judgment in the guise of tolerance? Affinity? Or is it judgment as rejection of affinity?

And, again, I ask: “Why am I defending myself?”

Not long ago, my fifteen-year-old son (who, in first grade, decided that Pokémon was “indicative of a very Marxist concept”) came home t’other day and asked me something about being upper-class. I corrected him in my best Eliza Doolittle, “Naaaahhhhhooooooo. We aren’t upper-class, we are very middle-class, Son. Upper-middle at best.”

He corrected me, “Look it up, Mom.”

So, I did.

I am the 2%.[6]

My family has crept from the bottom 30th% to the top 5% while my older brother and sister hover around the 50th% . Even my “really bougie” sister – the one who retired in her early fifties – is only around the 85th%.

Why am I telling you all this?

It’s just to talk about stratification of all sorts. Like the non-Pagans with whom I have recently had run-ins, Pagans can also be pretty judgmental. Having openly talked about my horses, dressage, fencing, my home, my wardrobe, my education, my DVfreakingR, and my vacation has earned me a little bit of backlash from a couple of Pagans who, it seems, expect other Pagans to be perpetually destitute.[7]

But don’t we believe in changing our lives? Changing our destinies? Don’t we believe that we can attract wealth and success into our lives? Or do we think that we are just supposed to believe in all that? And when it actually works out for someone, do we believe that it is a result of some kind of cosmic unfairness? How twisted is that?

I guess my big point is that we don’t like it when non-Pagans judge us for being Pagan. We don’t like to have to un-Pagan our living space when the Christians come to call. But, how do we like it when other Pagans judge us for being “Pagan-but-different”?[8] Do we repurpose our Paganism to fit the expectations of whatever comes a-calling?

Hell no.

And yet. . .

We judge each other for political positions and, in the case of the last PantheaCon, the shape of our genitalia at birth. Are we really going to start judging each other for things like income and education? When we do that, do we stop being Pagan and start being something else entirely?

B, Q, 93,

TBougieW


[1] But I ended up promptly firing said maid for ineptitude. And for touching the stuff I said not to freaking touch: “Please do not Windex that particular mirror,” “No, no – that’s not dust,” “What do you mean you cleaned off the ‘cluttered table’?!”

[2] I am loathe to call them all “jobs” as some require little to no “work.”

[3] Contrary to the belief of some, this – and sometimes a very little circlet – is as close as The Bad Witch gets to “priestess-garb.” Sans underpants is as close as The Bad Witch gets to skyclad.

[4] Back in my day fencing was not done with a foil but with smoking-hot watches and “Mike from the corner.”

[5] Which, I assure you, made me stick out like a very sore thumb in my Cherokee-Creek family and my Puerto Rican childhood neighborhood.

[6] However, as we all know, the difference between me and the 1% is a galaxy.

[7] Of course they make no mention of charitable donations, contributions made to local households, or the time I make my kids spend in “service” activities with me. Pffft.

[8] Stratification is stratification. Wiccans to the left; non-Wiccans to the right. Among those, Gardnerians to the left; non-Gards to the right. Ceremonialists to the center; Heathens, take the margin. Fairy-folk, go over there; Native Americans – Oklahoma.

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22 comments on “The Bougie Witch

  1. Nancy Meese White says:

    Good reading and lessons to be learned. Thank you.

  2. Ishara says:

    I think it is an inherent trait to judge on some level, even if it is never verbalized. I get your points,though. I have, at times, found myself ‘depaganizing’ my space as well as my appearance, and come to think of it, my car. LOL…perhaps the car should be explained…
    You see, I loves me a clever Pagan bumper sticker or four, but I never wanted to actually stick them to the bumper of my car for two primary reasons; 1) because they eventually fade and look bad and damage the paint job; 2) because I wanted to have the ability to travel as “Pagan n’Proud” or to blend, chamelian like amongst the Cowan folk when it would better serve my needs. That said, my compromise was that I mounted 4 well chosen bumper stickers on a plain plastic car tag, which I either set up in my back window, or took down and stashed as warranted. More times than naught, the stickers were visible. So I was driving on one of the main drags through my hometown one afternoon, when I heard someone behind me honking their horn. I was accustomed to the occasional honk since one of my stickers had a picture of an Ankh that said,”Ankh if you love ISIS”. This time, the honking went on and on, and I saw a blue minivan flying up behind me. I thought,”They must be having an emergency and need to get by”. I changed lanes to let them by. The van pulled up next to me. The driver was a middle aged woman, who had a crazed, excited look on her face, and enthusiastically motioned for me to pull off the road, all the while honking her horn, mind you. My next thought was,”She’s either crazy, or Pagan, or both. Let’s do this!” I pulled into a parking lot off this busy four lane highway. She swung in right behind me. We both got out of our vehicles and she approached me with an ear to ear grin, exclaiming to me in about 5 seconds flat, “You’re Pagan!!! OMG’s I didn’t think there were ANY Pagans here! I moved here 8 months ago and haven’t been able to find any Pagans! My name is ___! Merry Meet!” So, I introduced myself, assured her there really was a thriving local/regional Pagan community, gave her my phone number and some community contact info, and invited her to the upcoming Pagan gatherings…..and then we parted company. I never saw or heard from her again, neither personally, nor anywhere within the community! That was one strange, yet positive encounter (or so I thought). Conversely, I had an different experience that about scared the hair off of me. One night I found that I absolutely had to make a run to the local mega-retailer cuz my beh beh needed diapers and the fur children needed food. I strapped Little One in her shmancy car seat, and off we went. Everything was groovy. Got us a good parking spot close to the mega entrance. Put my girl in a buggy, and listened to her giggle and babble at everyone we passed in the aisles while I gathered our necessities (plus a new toy for her and some mommy extras – like chocolaty ice cream and new mascara) and proceded to check out. Everything was still groovy. I put the purchases in the car, strapped my girl in her seat, then….just before I got in to leave, I saw a small peice of paper tucked under my driver side wiper blade. As I pulled it out, I looked all around me. Seeing no immediate issue, I read the hand scrawled note on a bank envelope. It said, “Please accept Jesus into your heart. Don’t eat the baby.” My heart began to race just as fast as my dander went up. Once again, I surveyed my immediate surroundings, looking at every person and into every car near me looking for the note writing lunatic to slap the shit out of or run over. Shaken, I got in the car and took a looong drive home to make sure no one had followed me. It was after that incident that I became uber conscientious about letting my spirituality peek out my back window. How dare anyone be so brash and stoopid over MY bumper stickers. They weren’t really all that ‘in yor face’ PAGAN!! Really, these are what I had showing: (ankh) if you love ISIS; Isis, Isis…Ra! Ra! Ra!; My other car is a broom; and … (drum roll) Where there’s a Witch, there’s a way.
    So in sharing these two stories, we have two sides of the judgment coin. Something so innocuous, yet still attracting both positive and negative experiences. Everyone we meet – good or bane – is looking at us and making judgments about us in some way. I believe it’s rather natural as we must instinctually ‘size up’ all that we encounter in order to implement discernment and make decisions. Is it good? Bad? Benign or dangerous? Annoying or pleasant? Etc….
    By the way, why didn’t you hire a Pagan maid? Had to ask…
    Love and Lammas Blessings…
    Ishara )0(

    • I had a similar conversation with a mutual acquaintance not long ago. Of course we “judge” by way of making decisions about things on an instinctive level. Benign judgement is not at stake here. I can judge how much I need to buy at the grocer to feed my clan – but that doesn’t affect anyone or anything outside myself. I think that in our culture when we talk about “being judgmental” – using that colloquialism – it goes more toward an expression (either conscious or unconscious) of bigotry. Speaking of which, I love the baby story.

  3. Cin says:

    ~claps~ Be proud of what you accomplished. It drives me crazy when pagans are all “But we should all be living in the woods off the earth, never shopping from the evil of the commercial world”
    Sorry. I like malls. Shopping is my fave sport. I worked my butt off to be able to do the things I like. I take care of the earth and I can still buy things from stores other then the thrift store and still be a good pagan.

    • Folks forget that one of the worst things we can do to land is agriculture. That’s not “natural.”
      TBW says: go find some cute shoes and think of me when you wear them. (Unless they give you blisters – then think of someone else.)

      • Cin says:

        I told my hubby I had to buy new cute shoes. He asked why and I said “another witch blogger told me so” And he shrugged and went back to ironing. Then he asked “Can I help you pick them out?”. lol. So he’s on board with it.

      • Note to self: Cin’s husband is *awesome.* Men who iron are hot.

  4. Camylleon says:

    I have *never* understood the Pagan MUST EQUAL poor equation. NEVER. I think there’s some sort of anti-hero myth in modern paganism…that it’s so much cooler, we’re so much more spiritual, if we don’t have anything material that’s not absolutely necessary. Don’t work for the man, never shop at a mall (but shopping at Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree is apparently ok…never mind the implications of all that cheap crap from China), and never-ever-ever ascend the socioeconomic ladder. Pfffft.

    My suspicion is that most of these rules were created by people with severe suburbanitis, still rebelling against their middle class white families. They’re just not *cool* enough. Suffering is, after all, so much cooler.

    If they had the life you’ve had, and the lessons you’ve learned…they might know better. *shrug*

    Granted, the number one task in whatever religion we’re following should be about love. Loving the land, the spirits, our gods, whatever.

    But if our lives aren’t improved by it…we’re doing something *wrong*.

    Conveniently, the vast majority of my religious stuff is in one room…easily closed up and locked away from “unworthy” eyes. Better than that though, no one really comes over but my father-in-law and my bestie. She’s like me and he’s…well, married to a Jain so he’s not exactly going to criticize my religious statuary…lol. I don’t worry quite so much about being judged anymore, myself.

    So basically…(taking the long way around, of course)…who cares. Let them judge. It’s on their head, not yours. If they bother to get to know you, they’ll learn better. If not, they’re not worth meddling with anyway.

    My two cents…;-)

    • There is nothing glamorous about the ghetto, baby. It it *not* like it is on TV or heartwarming movies about overcoming. *This* is what overcoming looks like.
      Ooooh – I teach world religions as part of my cultural diversity class. Think Dad might answer some questions about Jainism? My kids sometimes outsmart me with their queries.
      I appreciate your support, my friend.

      • Camylleon says:

        EXACTLY. I never understood suburbanites who romanticized the ghetto…seriously. Mind boggled. Likewise, things aren’t particularly romantic when living off the land, either. (I’ve got some great suburban girl gets freaked out in the corn type stories…lol)

        I would be happy to try asking Pops about Jainism…I don’t know how much he knows exactly and I don’t see my SMiL as often as I’d like (she’s been caring for her invalid parents and spends have her year in Mumbai, the other half here with them). But I would certainly ask her when I do see her again if Pops doesn’t know…it’s worth a try! 😉

      • Thanks! I’preciate it!

  5. Pixie says:

    I don’t know about you but… I am a proud member of the card carrying, day spa going, vacay taking, degree holding bougie witch. And that wasn’t how I was brought up: my dad reminds me of that all the time. I worked hard to get into my fancy ass college, I worked hard for my degrees, and I work hard at the work I do. I deserve to “play” and live however I want: and other folks deserve the same. I am still pretty liberal with my economic policies: but not out of some moral stance only out of an economic stance.

    I wouldn’t hire a maid though – not because it’s bougie, I am the queen of bougie in my family. Mostly because I don’t think a maid would actually be able to deal with my “spooky stuff.” Even a Pagan maid, I don’t think I could trust because a lot of the Pagans I know are pretty hard up for cash: and that’s okay. (I mean not really because I love them and want them to do well but you know what I mean I hope.) But it’s not okay to resent other people who have more than you do – and that’s the attitude I often encounter so I’d feel like anyone I hired who was in the know about this kind of thing would touch something out of spite. I think that: even though I have been a maid. Also: because I was a maid, I think I’d be a horrible boss lady since I am super particular.

    • Kinda hence why I fired her. I am too picky it seems.

      • Pixie says:

        On the maid subject do you have any of those cleaning services near you that work hourly? I used to work for a green cleaning service locally where we worked hourly for between $12.00 and 15.00 an hour (depending on the size of the room) and only would do three rooms or certain rooms. We also charged flat rates for certain tasks (organizations, stovetop and oven cleaning, etc). Maybe something like that would work better for you? Depending how particular you are about your clothes, maybe a laundry service would free up some time for you?

      • Sadly, no. We don’t even have a Merry Maids closer than 45 minutes away. What we have are corporate cleaning services for doctors’ offices and such that do homes on the side. Also there are some individuals who do domestic services and yet have bonded and licensed. And . . . there are the uber wealthy who have private maids. Alas, that’s out of my ballpark.
        Things have quietened down now. I cut back my work schedule and have dismissed some time-sucking projects from my life. I found that it wasn’t worth the stress of leaving instructions and checking schedules and such. Some of us control freaks really are better just doing it ourselves, no? LOL?

  6. Ishara says:

    I don’t think anyone should feel a need to explain their prosperity level, or the way they choose to live. Most people don’t harbor any real envy toward others for what they do or don’t have materialistically. I was taught that there are always people who are better off and worse off than me and anyone else.
    The question I would put forth is, if you are Pagan, and have concerns about your particular needs regarding your spiritul’stuff’, why not hire a Pagan person who is conscientious and qualified? Why would a Pagan be less trustworthy? Pagans need jobs just as much as anyone else. We should make every attempt to help each other, including patronizing Pagan owned businesses or individuals offering labor or services.
    A Pagan maid would understand why altars and magickal items should not be touched or cleaned without permission. Everyone should be respected, unless they give a reason to not be.
    Blessings,
    Ishara )0(

    • I understand the point and agree; whenever possible, we should give each other patronage. I didn’t hire a Pagan maid because, as licensing and bonding goes (a real necessity I have learned the hard way), there wasn’t one available.

      The post was not so much about the maid; it was about being judgmental. And, in real life, I was mostly amused that she kept Windexing my mirror. In real life, I let her go based on the number of surfaces that were left uncleaned, the amount of time it took her to do a task, and the number of times she left Eldest’s entire wing absolutely untouched. I didn’t think it was appropriate (or very interesting) to to rip on her in a post.

      And in the end, the post was mostly about being judgmental. And yes: everyone should be respected, unless they give a reason to not be.

  7. […] The Bougie Witch « The Bad Witch Files […]

  8. kat praemedona says:

    I absolutely live to read what The Bad Witch is going to come up with next. One of the better blogs out there. Smart and funny with none of that fluffy BS. Thanks!

  9. Nance says:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304451104577390392329291890.html

    oh, and it appears you have confused wealth with income…

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