Sjoberg siblings – Carl, Robert, Hattie, Elsie and Della. The three girls all had different Swedish names before they became citizens. They were Hatta, Alla and Lillie.
Those are my Uncle Bob’s guns, no one else owned any.
I said I came out by the Oops method because I did. I had been moved out for a while and for some reason was over at my parent’s house gardening, I think, and my mom must have started at least four sentences with “when you get married”. I finally lost it and said I wasn’t getting married and she lost it. She lost it at the top of her lungs. She kept screaming, “You’re just like your brother!” Well duh?
She had met all my friends who were out and she liked them but my being out meant her stakes in the “I have to show off my grandchildren at church” lottery had dropped astronomically. What she never figured out was that even if I had been straight she would never have been allowed near my kids. She was just too mean and self-centered a person. To the point that when I had an emergency hysterectomy many years later I had to ban her from visiting with Security because she said she was going to stop it and I was being a hypochondriac. Even when told I was going to die without it, it didn’t matter to her because everything was about her and according to the surgeon after I was about 2 weeks from dying from gangrene.
She really didn’t want grandchildren, she just wanted to have them to show off to everyone. My mom was all about her image and how she looked to others. Sadly, my sister and I, by being the least girly girls ever had started embarrassing her in public early in our lives. I was an obvious nerd by the time I was 6 and a lot of people fed that and considering that was in 1960 that says a lot about whom they were.
Example? At the yearly Choir retreat, the men of the choir went diving and brought up a huge kelp tree onto the beach and it was full of creatures. I am told, I ordered them to stop and not touch anything until I got my books on sea creatures, tidepools, shells and other beach life and they honoured that request of an excited 6 year old and I went and got them and they helped me identify everything and collect everything that I wanted to save in my plastic bucket. That was an error in 6 year old judgment because I collected a teeny tiny lobster along with a really tiny octopus and some small starfish. The lobster put a hole in my bucket and the water ran out and they died sometime in the night but as a 6 year old I had established my nerd/geek propeller head status. So not a girly girl.
Other people at church or at least, the choir loved us and didn’t really care. They knew us from birth, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise when we came out. I do have to admit my parents lost some close friends from their Sunday School class/social group because they obviously “hadn’t raised us right.” But no one from the choir ever loved us any less that I know of. Mom’s best friend did give her a book called “Where do I go to resign” about de-gaying your kid but for the most part no one ever said anything to me or Cam.
Once she had me drive her to what was allegedly her psychotherapist at church. I don’t remember why she didn’t want to drive but sometime during the drive I figured out if I went in with her there would be a full court press to get me to REPENT and go straight. So I just politely refused to get out of the car when we got there and she got really mad and she had to go inside without me because she couldn’t tell the truth about setting me up. She was convinced she wouldn’t get into heaven if we stayed queer. And she felt she looked bad.
It was when she found out I was a witch and went blabbing all over church that I was worshipping Satan things got said. But I wasn’t and anyone with a brain should have known that but I haven’t been back to church except for my dad’s funeral since. Mom had the minister do an altar call at my dad’s funeral because she knew my coven and some of the Temple of Isis were coming. I have never been so furious in my life and I was glad I was sitting with my aunt and cousins and not up front with her or there might have had to be two funerals.
I had a graveside service for mom and gave the minister readings that were really stealth pagan readings like the Gaelic blessing, Deep Peace. It made me happy, it made the Christians happy because they sang the incomplete version in choir and it made my pagan friends happy.
I did go to both Cam’s funerals at his Episcopal churches, one near where he lived in northern California and one at the one he went to in Pasadena before he moved up north. At the one up north I was asked to read something at the reception. It was a little easier because I only knew a few of his friends. I read the Hymn to Osiris from the Book of Coming Forth AKA the Egyptian Book of the Dead. I did announce that I was a Priestess and pagan and watched some mouths drop open. That was kind of fun. Mom couldn’t go and I was very glad. The SF Gay Men’s Chorus sang because he was a member. It was really beautiful.
I guess for most people Coming Out is a process that never really ends. You are always coming out to someone new whether coming out as a lesbian or as a pagan or as both. And lot of times it doesn’t make the bigots happy. It makes people question themselves and they really don’t like having to questions their own life choices.
I have lost many friends over the years over one or the other. It hurts but you learn that the ones who always love you no matter what are the ones that matter and the ones that don’t are the ones that you have to leave behind on your journey and maybe you have made it easier to love the next gay or pagan person that comes into their lives. Knowledge does create change. And love is all that really matters and we choose our families the older we get and if it means we lose blood family, were they really your family?
Two years ago yesterday our Heiromum died. Laura Janesdaughter was an amazing woman and she led the Temple of Isis Los Angeles with strong heart and mind and I miss her so much. She was the one who ordained me. She was the one that got ordained as an Arch Druidess with the Druid Clan of Dana/FOI just so Mary, Denise and I could have a grove and now the Hazelwood Grove exists and before her memorial that year the three of us were created Arch Druidesses ourselves by Linda Iles and DeTraci Regula. It could not have been a more fitting time and thing to do to honour Laura and all her hard work for us. Laura was the face we showed at the Faire and at workshops and rituals. She was our heart when we needed a center.
Laura had a way of knowing when it was time to push you to the next step. When you had gotten stalled in your growth and needed to see the next place to leap and she showed you how to cushion the fall, when you did.
Laura, Callista, Denise and Inanna were the other cohorts at the first appearance of the goddess, BunniHoTep and she never doubted BunniHoTep was real or that she was a goddess. When others in the Temple didn’t understand about BunniHoTep she defended her and she defended me for writing her stories and scolded me more than once for saying she was a madeup goddess and not a rediscovered goddess.
I’m not generally one of the ritual priestesses or leading events. I’d rather be in the background and observe and record unless I get shoved into the light. Laura let me be our archivist and record ritual and when people complained about being filmed she pointed out we were in public and without documentation pagans don’t have a record of existing.
When I was laid off and unemployed for 5 ½ years, Laura more than once stepped in and kept us from being homeless or hungry and was offended when I told her I would pay her back. I never got the chance. She died in the small space of time between the temp job that lead to this job and the start of my permanent job. I’m so grateful I was off work because it allowed me to spend that week being part of the women that were holding space that week for her. It allowed me to sing to her, to say the Grove prayers with her that we had created. It allowed us to simply be, with her. It was a great gift to be able to do those things.
So Laura, where ever you are in journeying, may blessings be showered down upon you and may you were loved deeply and always will be. What is remembered lives.
“My heart, my mother, my heart, my mother, my way of understanding” Women with Cakes chant
I’ve had an awful lot of people pass in an out of my life through the Veils. In the 1980’s it was a lot of the gay men in my life including my best friend, Art. I’ve lost all my great aunts and uncles and my grandparents when I was a lot younger. When I was a kid babysitting it was a baby we babysat at church who was born with an incurable and identifiable disease. In the 2000s I lost my parents and my little brother. That one will never stop hurting. Two years ago we lost Laura Janesdaughter, our Heiromum to multiple myeloma. Now Mary is on that path.
I know you aren’t allegedly supposed to grieve before someone is gone but it’s very difficult not to and even more difficult when you are well aware of the process. Because what they don’t like to tell you is that grief is cumulative. Every death is another stone on your chest and a piece of your heart that is missing. Every death is painful and they lie when they tell you it fades, it doesn’t. It ebbs and it flows and can hit you hard when you aren’t anticipating it. It can be set off by the sound of a stranger’s laugh that sounds like your loved one. The scent of a perfume or flower or of a food you ate with them. It can come when singing a song that you used to sing with or for them. It can be watching someone walk down the street and the walk is like theirs.
I’ll be 61 in a month and a day. My first funeral was my great-grandmother’s when I was 5. I still remember her and I remember sitting with my grandmother while she made her handkerchief into a hopping rabbit while she kept us quiet with chocolate mint Lifesavers in the back of the car. My great-grandmother was 92 and I remember her heavy Swedish accent at the holiday dinner table but when she died I really didn’t understand what death meant. At 60 I’m well aware of what death means and the pain it can make a body endure.
Never let anyone tell you it gets easier. It does not. They are saying that because it hasn’t happened to them yet. When my brother died it took a year before I stopped bursting into tears every time I thought of him and it still reduces me to jelly if I get hit unwarned by something like someone wearing my brother’s cologne or a book we read together or a song we sang together. It’s been 10 years this July and sometimes it could be yesterday.
So this is a familiar if unwanted journey. I know it’s even harder for M and D. Someone you thought you would grow old with way into the future isn’t going to be there. The future is just not going to be what you thought. As a priestess of Hecate and a past on-call clergy with the AIDS Service Center gives me some framework but when someone is close to you, all you can do is hold a circle of love and the memories and hope it’s enough for all of you.
I have no good memories of Easter. Easter was torture from the outfits forced on me, to the egg hunts that were impossible for a blind kid to the hours long torture of never ending church services when I didn’t find anything useful to believe in.
Don’t I look thrilled.
Little girls in the 50’s and 60’s were forced into hideous outfits bought new for the day. Socks with lace edges that doubled as buzzsaws when they hit the other legs. Petticoats that were so new and stiff and full they threatened to pop up if you didn’t forcibly hold them down and when you couldn’t always do it you heard a chorus of “I see London, I see France”. Hats always dorky and especially dorky if you had to carry a matching handbag that had el zippo inside except maybe a hanky your grandma gave you. A Lilt permanent given the day before that stunk to high heaven and was just gross for a kid with stick straight hair. And my mom hand embroidered my dresses which now would be worth tons of money but at the time all I wanted was to wear a store bought dress. And to the piece de resistance, patent leather shoes that Dad had to take out and sandpaper the bottoms so you didn’t slide and land on your butt.
One year, this lead to an incident at Sunday School. Mom always had to buy them too big because I would “grow” into them. They were too big and since my left foot is 2 sizes bigger than my right, the right one was way too big. Somehow there was a high kicking contest and my new right shoe landed on the roof of the Sunday School building. Can you say swift swat to the keester on the way home?
When I joined the kids choir and we had to get into robes, we had to take off our hated finery or we looked like Rose Parade floats with those petticoats on. And of course, put the flaming things on again after we sang. Church was normally 2 services and an overflow. Church held about 1500 people and on Easter would be full of Easter and Christmas Christians so they had to add a third service. If you were in the adult choir which I eventually graduated to that meant sitting through 3 sermons that were longer than normal that made you start thinking you were going to gnaw your leg off you were so hungry and when you finally got home a big meal with ham or lamb neither of which would I eat.
I only got taken to a public Easter Egg Hunt at the park once. Dad thought it was a fun thing to do but somehow he forgot I couldn’t see very well. Kids were running all over grabbing eggs and by the time I finally spotted one some kid would swoop in and take it. I remember standing there in the park crying because I hadn’t found a single egg and my dad telling me I hadn’t tried hard enough. Yeah, we didn’t do that again even after I had eye surgery. We had them at home where Dad knew where they were all hidden and could help point them out.
It didn’t help that for some reason the minute I saw my Easter basket full of candy I used to have to run and get sick. No idea why except that it happened every year. The only good thing I can remember was way back in the dark ages before backpacks girls carried their books in woven lined book baskets and after I got to Junior High my Easter basket was a new book basket since by this time in the year mine would be thrashed. We all had one hip and shoulder high than the other from carrying all our books around in them because everyone in my neighborhood walked to school.
Kind of like this one but with raffia handles and lined with bright cotton fabric.
Anyway, Easter isn’t a holiday I remember fondly so as a pagan, I don’t miss it a bit.
a coven of the Wica in the south Puget Sound
Ritual, Myth & Archetype
AwayPoint: Between An Island of Certainties and the Unknown Shore
pilgrim roads, rituals & destinations
A life in threes
Human In Progress
Retired USAF Chaplain; Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, DeFuniak Springs, FL
I have a dream
Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...
our voices matter
Gods, goats, gythia
- A Collective Memoir from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
the impressions are nonverbatim and are not to be taken literally, chew it thoroughly to avoid indigestion.
A votive Work in honor of the Goddess Isis
WAY over the rainbow - old and slow but not hopeless
Things You Might Want To Know
The journey of a jotun-souled hippie Lokean
Behind the scenes look at Culloden Battlefield and the National Trust for Scotland