Saturday, April 12, 2008

How To Be A Pariah

It's easy in a closed-minded society. But let me tell you how I managed it 25 years ago.

My one semester in college occurred during the Satanic Panic fervor. 18 and thick as a brick, I naively thought that people who went to college were more open-minded than other folk. Gives you the idea that maybe, just maybe, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed. But I have learned a lot since then. Big lesson learned: most people are terrified, narrow minded sheep. If this were the middle ages I would have been burned at the stake a long time ago. But since there are laws preventing "good" Christian folk from burning evil polytheists at the stake these days, their blood lust now goes unthwarted most of the time in this society.
I was drawn like a moth to a flame to anything containing alcohol, and my tongue was loosened. I gleefully told everyone about my ability to talk to ghosts. And when the subject of religion came up I openly told them about being raised Catholic but having found polytheism. Lo and behold, I was now a pariah.
My room mate moved out, fearing that I, the "Satan Worshipper" would sacrifice her like a goat one night in her sleep. Unbelievably, I still had a few friends but most of the other dorm dwellers talked in whispers when I came by, left rude missives on my message board, and ducked into their rooms if they saw me coming. My mental health took a turn for the worse. I was always getting blasted or high, often with people I didn't know. In one case using beer bongs at a party till I lost count, wandering off in a state of oblivion until I knocked on the door of some more people I didn't know, who turned out, luckily, to be a very mellow, pot-smoking grad student couple who called a cab for me between tokes. I went to the student health center because my stomach hurt terribly, left when it stopped hurting, met another group of people I didn't know and partyed with them till daylight. Another time didn't turn out so well. A bit too trusting of a fellow whom I met in line for concert tickets for AC/DC I went with him to have a few drinks and get high. He wanted "payment" for the drinks and weed. I didn't want to give him payment but was too wasted to fight, so he took his payment. I ended up a worse mess than ever psychologically. Somewhere during this psychological hell I met and began a codependent relationship with my ex husband.
Since then I have developed a "don't ask don't tell" policy when it comes to topics like psychic phenomena and religious beliefs. Even then I generally just tell those who ask that I'm a Buddhist, which is, in fact, part of the truth. I go to the Buddhist temple to meditate when I can. I put up Tara and Buddha statuettes on my desk while working at night. With Buddhism, one is working on improving their relationship to themselves and the Universe, not telling others what to think and do. So yes, I am a Buddhist. But while I don't deny my Pagan beliefs I don't tell too many people outright either. The place that I work is run by a Christian organization, so you can see that this wouldn't go over too well. I'm not going to pretend that I'm a "good" practicing Christian, but I'm going to protect myself too. Because in this case, being a pariah can mean loss of income, and I'm just not ready for the lesson of being homeless yet.
And I sure as hell ain't gonna blurt out that I wrote a book with the help of a ghost or that I've been talking to ghosts for a goodly portion of my life. Because Cie Cheesemeister didn't write a book with a ghost--Lily Strange did. Very few people that I have personal contact with will ever know that the two are one and the same. Luckily, I don't think that my "big ole Satan worshippin' book of sin an' evil" will ever be something to catch the attention of most bible thumpin' Corset Christians. Unless they're burning it, of course.