In Which I Violate the First Amendment
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," your front row seat to the comedy of life! Boatloads of mirth, for what it's worth!
In 2004 I lost my job to corporate greed. I decided that one way to recoup a little of the income was to become a substitute teacher. Thus, in the fall of 2005 I found myself climbing a set of concrete stairs into a Vocational-Technical school whose student body is 65 percent Hispanic, 30 percent African American, and 5 percent Asian.
Mindful of the Establishment Clause in the Constitution, I've never confessed to bringing my faeries with me, although I wear one or the other of them to school every time I go. (They travel with me in wearable-sized witch balls.)
A few months ago, one of my students noticed Puck and said, "That's a witch's ball. Are you Wiccan?"
Could have knocked me over with a feather.
I replied, "Actually I'm a Druid." Because I was only answering the question, you know?
He started peppering me with questions, which I demurred because of my faithfulness to the Clause. (And because I was supposed to be teaching them about John Stuart Mill or some other excruciatingly boring dead white guy.)
This conversation occurred during a long-term assignment I had back in the winter. Last week I went in to school on a daily gig, and the student was in my homeroom. He was reading a Goth-looking book about "Night Magick," big Pentagram on the cover. He showed it to me proudly.
There was another teacher watching me at the time, so I didn't say anything. But I've been worrying and fretting about ... emm ... let's call him Orlando, there's only about 25 Orlandos at this school.
See, I wanted to make sure he wasn't boning up on black magic or some other negative stuff. But I couldn't query him about it with another teacher in the room, or even with other students listening. I could only hope that he hadn't gotten his hands on some piece of sensationalist claptrap.
You know, it's funny how the bored gods work. Because I went to the Vo-Tech this week, and I was supposed to cover for Teacher A, but Teacher B didn't like the substitute assigned to her class, so I got switched. Orlando was in Teacher B's class, writing a book report about his magick book.
How's them apples?
So Orlando turned in his book report, and I read it, and it turns out the book was okay, theologically sound where bored gods and goddesses are concerned. In fact his "cast of characters" consisted of a long list of bored deities! (Too bad I'm not grading the thing, I'd give him an A for the year.)
Quickly and quietly he and I went over the Threefold Rule, and I asked him what specifically interested him about magick, and he said he was psychic. I told him I know a medium, and he should work on developing his talent.
Then I guess I broke down and slam-dunked the Establishment Clause. Because I took a sticky note and wrote on it, "Isaac Bonewits." I told Orlando to Google the name.
Okay, okay, I don't always practice what I preach. But there are so few of us Pagans, and it's not like I stood up in front of the class and wrote Bonewits's name on the chalkboard. In fact, the secrecy of the transaction appealed to both Orlando and me. He pocketed the sticky, and no one else paid any attention.
I'm not sure I'll be back at the Vo-Tech this coming fall. I have to drive there, and I live within walking distance of another high school. If I have to give up the Vo-Tech, I sure will miss some of the students there. Especially every one I've ever had named Orlando. There's magic in that name.
Please don't tell the ACLU about this, huh?
THE MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS