Monday, November 2, 2015

A Witch at Church

Julia's writing prompt today: It's NaBloPoMo day 2!
Prompt: write about what you wear at church (your best clothes, your comfy clothes, robe, stole, etc.). What does the phrase "church clothes" look like in your world?
This last weekend included All Hallows' Evening - which has been shortened to Hallowe'en on most secular calendars. It is an ancient Christian holiday, appropriated from a Celtic celebration (more info here). A lot of Christian holidays have appropriated the holy days of other religions, as any scholar of world religions can trace. I believe those days have been appropriated because someone somewhere realized that there are rhythms to life that cannot be denied. On the dark days of the transition between seasons, maybe people needed a reason to gather and have fun.

All Hallows' Eve gives Christians a chance to poke fun at death and darkness, knowing that God through Christ is the Eternal Light that no darkness can overcome. We seriously believe what Paul said about no darkness being able to come between us and the love of God. We seriously believe what John of Patmos teaches us in Revelation about God being the ultimate winner of any universal contest between dark and light. We act silly and playful, dress in costumes, trick or treat, and generally revel in God's victory and steadfastness. We get to hear readings that are nowhere else in our regular Sunday lectionary: the Witch of Endor, Eliphaz the Temanite, the battle between the dragon and the angels; it's all fantastical. 

I think we look like Twins!
As an almost 50-yr old American woman, I do not mind the insinuation that I am dressed as my true nature in this picture. When I don a witch costume, I am trying to don the feminine mantle of Professor Minerva McGonagall, Mrs Molly Weasley, or even one of the unfortunate women chronicled in Kepler's Witch. Kepler's Witch tells the story of Christians convicting women of witchcraft merely because they were smart enough to notice the rhythms of life, remember which herbs and plants cured which symptoms, and maybe were bit more enlightened than others in a pre-enlightenment era. There is much discussion among middle-aged American women about embracing our inner Crone as we grow older and wiser - as we grow into being a witch by Kepler's definition.

As an Episcopal priest, I know that there are people who call me a witch in undertone, meaning it to be a derogatory utterance. When I don a witch's hat and cape, I am claiming the title in order to take away it's power to place me in a powerless position, as the Imp advised the Bastard to do in one of the Game of Throne books (I cannot remember if it was when Jon Snow was just leaving for the Wall or when Tyrion Lannister visited him at the Wall). A religious woman with strong convictions certainly fits the definition of a witch to a lot of people who have a tough time separating faith from magic and prayers from wishes. 

I do believe there is some criticism that could truly be leveled at my costume choice: Paul tells us not to eat the meat offered to idols if it causes our less mature members to stumble. In a society of people who do sometimes have a hard time separating faith from magic and prayers from wishes, maybe it is dangerous to dress as a witch wearing a priest collar. Also, just as it is inappropriate for me as a white woman to make up in black face, I should not dress as a practitioner of Wiccan when I am clearly not Wiccan. [Aside: all of the Wiccan practitioners I see in movies and TV dress like me on any day I am not wearing clericals. That gives me a giggle.]

Thank you for the prompt Julia! Reflecting on my choice of church clothes this last weekend was enlightening to me. 


  1. Oh, well done, well written. Proud of you.

  2. I would never classify you as a witch, but I am glad to count you among the strong women I know.

  3. Love this! I'm excerpting it in the weekly email tomorrow.

  4. I love this, too, Amy! Thank you for your witness!!


Please be graceful with me and others!