Don’t look at me like that, I mentioned plenty of times that I grew up Catholic.
I have been a devil’s advocate my entire life. My mom will joke about how I used to argue with her company just to be contrary, until she banished me to my room when she had friends over. My Sunday School teachers either loved or loathed me, depending on how they felt about having a student who asked a lot of complicated questions.
So while I prayed to Jesus, and I talked to the saints, I sympathized with Judas, who was caught up in something so much larger than himself, and with Samael, whose job is to be that asshole that asks the obnoxious questions.
(… I have a lot of assholes in my personal pantheon, don’t I?)
I have no doubt that it was my sympathy for the devil and my tendency to ask obnoxious questions that made for a very easy slide into paganism. And ironically, that was the point where I learned to shut the fuck up.
The Witch’s Creed, in case you don’t know, is “to know, to dare, to will, and to keep silent.” (Is there likely to be anyone reading this who doesn’t know that?) Knowing has always been my strong suit, I’m almost always willing to try anything, and anyone who grew up with me will tell you I took any dare you could give. Keeping silent, though…
I’ve never been good at talking to my parents, but for a long time I was very good at saying the worst possible thing at the top of my lungs when I was upset. It wasn’t until I was sticking photocopies of drawings of Athena on my wall and hiding books by Amber K under my mattress that I realized that there were secrets I really, seriously had to shut the fuck up about.
As time went on, the art of shutting the fuck up became more nuanced. I still played the devil’s advocate in so many settings, including pagan club meetings and, later, community lectures or study groups. Instead, shutting up meant learning when to let someone have the rope they needed to hang themselves and getting out of the way, or when it was time to back off simply because there wasn’t any point to the debate.
Many people view “keeping silent” as a defense mechanism of one kind or another – either to keep you safe from the Christian majority, or to keep you safe from enemies. I’m not very loudly out of the closet at work, so maybe I take advantage of some of the former. For the most part, though, I tend toward the latter.
I’ve talked here before about how I get nervous about sharing things. I worry about jinxing good things by talking about them. I worry about making myself a target. I worry about certain people taking pleasure in it if I write about bad things happening. The jinxing is my own fear and I’ve always had it. The latter is more recent, and comes from my ex. It goes on and on, because that’s how the obsessive thoughts and the magical thinking work. So I keep silent, I shut the fuck up, and then I wonder why I’m struggling to post on this blog.
I work at overcoming that, and there’s a part of me that wonders why I’m working to overcome it. Keeping silent is a virtue, isn’t it?