Paganism interests me on many levels. A mystiskeptic, poet, and wayward academic (oh, but to go to grad school!), the first thing I note is the symbolism in Pagan ritual. It’s a language itself, you see. Words are symbols, as most who study the humanities and social sciences are aware, having had this notion beaten into their skulls with thick heavy tomes until even the lumps are gone and the idea is one with the bone plates of the cranium. Like words, nothing in a Pagan ritual setting stands for itself alone. The metal silver is linked to the idea of water (which stands in for the concepts of emotion and intuition) and the moon (which means hidden things, intuition, and healing). Other objects with this item can temper or change or specify meanings: a pearl or a moonstone or a black ribbon can alter the notions bound up in “silver” as elegantly as any adjective can modify a noun. A ritual can read like a poem. The objects of ritual are phrases, sentences, clauses.
This is why it pleases me so, mystiskeptic, poet, and wayward academic, to fashion ritual implements. I’ve taken to shaping wands on the lathe, carefully selecting wooden words to sand down and show off the grain. I’ve taken to carefully searching out stones, like verbs, to affix to my creations. I’ve taken to embellishing them with metal and leather, prepositional pieces incidental to the whole, yet providing for naught but clarity.
Now, one has to get components for a wand somewhere. Unlike a spoken sentence, these pieces of meaning are not formed of breath. I went to purchase stones for my wand-making at a New Age-y shop down south of downtown. I was looking for moonstone to go with the melaleuca and the silver (melaleuca is part of the myrtle family, myrtles sacred to Aphrodite even as melaleucas are invasive trees in Florida, native instead to Australia; a sentence naming the moon, vanity, the ocean, love, and perhaps reconciliation from the heart), and as I was combing through the trays of stones for purchase, a sales person walked up behind me.
“Can I help you with anything?”
“I was looking for some moonstone for a wand,” I indicated that I had already discovered the location of the mineral in question.
“You know, moonstone is a very good stone for women.”
A good stone for women? Women? Only women? What of my wand?
The stone, in a ritual, can mean any of the following: the moon, one’s intuition, healing, love, a trained and focused psychic ability, any other personal meaning that one attaches to it in one’s own complex system of signs and symbols… and it’s a good stone for women? If I attribute to moonstone the idea of lies and deception because it represents the moon, and because the tarot card The Moon is said by some to hold the meaning “secret hidden things,” then it is a good stone for women? Only women are associated with healing and love and intuition, thus it is a good stone for women? The moon is associated with a goddess, and goddesses are female, so it is a good stone for women?
Or is it, perhaps, that this sales person didn’t know a thing about the art of putting a sentence together? I suspect it was this last.