- My Nana started training me in strega — specifically, in practicing strega protection rites — starting when I was a teenager. I don’t talk about this in specifics very often, because my religious practices, while deeply important to me, are also honestly pretty private.
- Omertà is, you know, kind of an important fucking thing? And as I have said here before, omertà is not just about mafioso bullies with guns, although of course when most people without the cultural knowledge that I have hear the term, what they think of is the Cosa Nostra.
- But my very recent ancestors stood down the State and the Mafia more than once, so? (There are some pretty incredible family stories about my great-grandparents. I will tell them here some time, but that is for later.)
- Omertà, as I understand it, in it’s very old world, pre-mafioso meaning, is more about the preciousness of some things. About what’s for insiders and what’s for outsiders. Sometimes, you just don’t wanna give everything away, esp. to people who aren’t gonna get it.
- So. I don’t talk about my religious practices in much detail. Some things are best left between you and your makers.
- And: I just sent a note to a friend in the queer community who is in particular need of protection right now, offering up my services in that realm. Because I have been trained well.
- This didn’t feel casual, but it did feel natural to me. Like, you know, it’s just something I fucking do when someone needs help, right? The same way I pass on the name & number of a good therapist or clinic or arts space or publisher or whatever the hell else. That this is just another resource to provide, another connection to build, the same ways I provide resources and connections to lots of people every day. Like, what?
- And then I had The Lightning Bolt Moment of: “Oh. Wow. Damn… I am officially my grandmother’s granddaughter.”
I had an idea for tattoo today that combines both a pervert flagging element and a strega protection rite.
Thoughts I had after the idea came to me: Too irreverent? Just the right amount of humor & bawdyness & delight? Will my ancestors & patrons be mad, or will they cackle & wink?
Today was a very, very, very good day. I feel awesome and bad-ass and in my power and energized, in short.
That said, I am a liiiiiittle sad that I forgot that it was Ash Wednesday and forgot to go to services tonight.
Esp. because the last time I went to church on Ash Wednesday (last year):
1) The priest was hella sweet & hella queer.
2) The priest loved my St. James Infirmary hoodie and was hella excited that I was a former St. James employee & connected to sex worker community.
3) One of the other parishioners recognized me from a bathhouse (specifically, from an all-genders sex party that was held at a bathhouse that is usually dudes-only). He was all adorably like “Hey!!! I know you from…” and then he looked kinda stricken and dropped his voice to a whisper “Oh, wait, should I say that out loud? Oops.” (I smiled and said it was fine, ‘cause it was.)
I am really thankful that a church like this exists, and that it is not even the queer church in town (but it is obvs a church with lots of queer folks front & center). Just… First off, it is amazing to live somewhere where there is more than one spiritual community option for queer genderqueer pervert sex worker outsider me. And it was pretty amazing, last year on Ash Wednesday, to go to this church I’d only heard about in passing, and pretty magically & unexpectedly have all those parts of myself acknowledged & affirmed, to have all of those parts of myself actually get to come to the table.
I’m realizing as of late, for a lot of reasons, that I really need to get myself back to church. And to that church, specifically.
I almost fell to my knees in prayer while star-gazing at The Wave Organ tonight. Honestly, the only thing that stopped me was realizing that my crip knees would not take kindly to concrete. I did, however, make the sign of the cross. You can take the girl outta the church, but you apparently can’t take the church outta the girl?
— From Jeanette Winterson’s “All About My Mother.” The whole piece is riveting & gorgeous, but this bit in particular made me pump my fist in the air.
Just sayin’ (and some of you have heard me say this before): I know that religion is probably not the first thing people think of when they think of me, but religion is actually a big, albeit kinda private, part of my life. I was raised a mix of Catholic & stregheria by my Calabrese Nana — and yes, I do believe in it, and yes, I do still practice*.
Being religious does not make me less queer, less feminist, less of a pervert, less sex-positive, less smart, less critical, less political, less radical. It actually connects me MORE to all those parts of myself.
*Happy All Souls day to those of you celebrating/mourning/remembering, by the way.