Sauna Time

pentagramSomeone recently asked me, at the gym of all places, why I wear a pentagram.  This was an unusual question because ninety-nine percent of the time, I realize that if people see the nearly two inch wide wooden pentagram hanging on my chest I will get this question, so I usually hang it up in my locker first.  I just had a lot on my mind stepping into the sauna yesterday (the BEST post-workout respite) and neglected to take it off.

The person asking me this was an older lady of Chinese heritage, and we see each other often in the gym (not often enough, I need to make more time) and she asked with what seemed to me, genuine sincerity and not disdain.  It was just the two of us, so I didn’t try to hide my surprise that I was wearing the necklace or that she asked me, or even that she spoke to me for the first time ever.

I told her that it was a very profound expression of my religion.  She nodded, but asked me what I meant.  I liked that she didn’t ask me if I worshipped the devil, or if I knew that it was an evil marker.  My belief in her sincerity went up.

I politely explained to her that I was a Wiccan and we have many different ideas of how and why we display the pentagram as there are several traditions.  I told her that for me and my tradition, it was like a covenant between me and the divine, something real and tangible that shows my devotion and the oaths I have taken for my beliefs.

That brought a smile to her face and she nodded, and let out a little laugh.  Not a mocking laugh, but a laugh of understanding.

She asked me if I believed it had the same power as the Cross of Christ.

This was a rough and difficult question to answer.  I didn’t know if I was being baited, teased or if I should really worry about what to say;  I figured though, I had left it hanging out there, both physically and metaphorically, so I told her, that yes, it has the same power and for me it has more.

This brought a funny kind of look to her face, so I asked her if I could explain.  I told her that symbols, by their very use and belief are given power.  So in that sense, my pentacle had the same power as someone wearing their cross because each of us has put our own belief and symbolism into that physical piece of Jewelry.

I went on to tell her, since I was not Christian, and did not believe in Christ as any more than a wise man, healer and spiritual hombre, I couldn’t put the same faith in the cross as a Christian, so to me, my pentagram held me power.

It took a moment, but again she started nodding and smiled at me.  She told me, she liked that answer.  Immediately she went back to her normal routine of bending at the waist, to reach past her toes several times in rapid succession.

I felt happy, I was glad I didn’t get into a spiritual war in the sauna at 24 Hour Fitness, but I was even more glad that she listened and didn’t judge.  We live in a world where we still have to hang out in the broom closet and are often judged on our own symbols and beliefs.  Sometimes, we are deported or denied entry to this country based on our beliefs.  Sometimes we, as humans, are killed based on our beliefs, in fact, too much.

As she got up to leave, I will never forget her last words to me.  She stood up, gathered her towel and water and walked to the door.  She paused and, dramatically looked over her shoulder and spoke to me in broken English:

“I am glad I talk to you.  You not so fat as you were fat last week”

She then walked out of the sauna.  I am excited to see her again.

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