Workplace Wicca 101
Be Pagan on the job without getting fired.
by Tina Anderson
Ok. So you’ve found your religion — you’re a Witch. You’ve studied, learned and absorbed your path; some of you reading this have even been initiated into a coven. Witchcraft has become more than just something you do — it’s a part of you, it’s who you are. Like the poem, you are a Witch at every hour. Stop! What was that? At every hour? Well, maybe every one but those from 9-5 . . .
It doesn’t have to be that way. Integrating your religion into your workspace doesn’t have to be hard, nor do you have to “come out of the broom closet” in order to do so. What you can do will be limited by how “out” you are, but you can almost always do something comfortably at any level of openness.
Creating a Desk Altar
©2012 S. Tifulcrum
If you are lucky enough to have an office, cubicle, or desk of your own, you can create your own workspace altar, though I recommend leaving the heavy incense, athame, and photos of your last skyclad ritual at home. If you’re an open witch and your workplace is really laid back, go ahead and hang your framed picture of “The Charge of the Goddess” above an altar in the corner of your office. Lucky you! However, most of us need to stick to stones, vials of sand or water, figurines of dragons and fairies, feathers, and potted plants: objects with mundane appearances. Large, polished rocks, chunks of quartz and amethyst make beautiful paperweights, and potted plants are a perfect way to bring nature indoors.
If you’re allowed to burn candles at work, great. At one job, I shared a desk with three other people, so I couldn’t really create my own sacred space. As an alternative, I brought candles to work and burned them when I was working at the desk. Sometimes I charged them with certain goals, such as protection, peace, or workplace harmony while at other times I just let the color of the candle, its design, or the candle-holder inspire me. The idea caught on quickly among my co-workers, and pretty soon, even my bosses were lighting them in their offices, with great results. The whole workplace seemed to mellow out when the candles were lit. Scented candles are a wonderful alternative to incense, and can really influence the mood of your environment. However, be sure to use them safely. Always burn candles in a proper holder, don’t burn them near paperwork or flammable materials, and never leave them unattended — even while you run to the bathroom for “just a minute.”
If your workspace has walls or space to place a picture frame, you may want to consider displaying a framed picture or poster. Poems, charts, sayings (such as the Wiccan Rede), or pictures of the God or Goddess, magicians or wizards, witches, fairies, or fantastical animals make great choices if you are that open with your path.
If you don’t want to hang anything blatantly Pagan, you can display nature quotes such as those by Henry David Thoreau or Walt Whitman; pictures of plants, animals, or nature’s beauty; celestial scenes, bits of pressed and framed foliage; or pictures of mystical places such as Stonehenge. Whether it’s the triple Goddess, or a trio of kittens, choose an image that inspires you.
You can find Pagan-themed artwork at your local New-Age store or on the Web. Natural or inspirational artwork can also be found at craft, book, or stationery stores, and those mega shopping super centers that are popping up all over the place. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or want to display your own poetry, you can type it on the computer, print it on design paper and frame it yourself. You can even print out business card size sayings, laminate them, and carry them in your wallet to look at during the day. (When dealing with other people’s work, you should be sure that you’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright. It’s bad karma to appropriate other people’s hard work without paying for it — and that’s the last thing you want to introduce into your workspace!)
If these methods seem a little too elaborate for your workplace, you can always bring a little bit of nature indoors. I’ve created jungles in my offices with potted plants, framed pressed plants, rock gardens, and the like. Those little Zen rock fountains go for under $20 in many stores, you can make your own with a flower pot, rocks, and a fish tank pump. They’re perfect for adding a little bit of tranquility to your workday.
Be Your Own Altar
Many of us just starting out in the business world, as well as those of us in retail sales, or who work outdoors, don’t have an office to deck out in Pagan-styled décor. If you find yourself in this situation, deck out yourself instead. Rather than lighting colored candles to enhance your mood, wear different colored clothing or use aromatherapy by wearing a scent that you find brings out the mood you want to invoke. If you don’t have space for a potted plant, try to wear natural fibers or nature-inspired prints, or maybe carry your favorite rock in your pocket.
If you don’t have a wall to hang your favorite fairy poster on, wear a fairy around your neck instead. Jewelry can be functional as well as decorative. Take a stone, or piece of jewelry containing stones such as hematite or tiger eye, and magically charge it for workplace harmony, then wear it at work to achieve a more harmonious atmospere. I wear a pentagram under my shirt, close to my heart; just having it rest on my skin helps me feel empowered all day. If you’re leery of wearing a pentagram, try runes, suns, moons, stars, Celtic or Egyptian symbols, circles, or spirals — whatever inspires you. Only you will know what it means to you, to everyone else it will just be jewelry.
For those of us who have no space in which to express ourselves, or whose employers have a strict dress code, we are given the opportunity to realize that Paganism has more to do with what’s in your heart than in external appearences. Bringing your spirituality with you throughout the day takes little effort. It’ great if your work is spiritually fulfilling, such as working with charities or the environment, but even if it isn’t, it is almost always possible to make any job more fulfilling by being an inspiration to others and showing kindness to those around you. Prepare yourself by setting aside a few minutes each morning for meditation; take the time to connect yourself with the Goddess and bring Her energies inside you. Draw on that energy throughout the day whenever you need it. If possible, take your breaks outside and use that time to reconnect with the Earth: go outside and ground yourself. Or come in early one day and cleanse your workspace.
Out of the Workroom Closet
As always, the best thing you can probably do is live the Wiccan Rede (“Harm none”) and be a good person. Remember that if you’re known as a Pagan or Witch, you are, by default, a spokesperson for your religion. Our paths are often misunderstood: everything you do, for good or ill, may be attributed to your religion. Whether or not your actions are actually motivated by your spiritual path is irrelevant; many people will assume that they are. Always try to make sure your motivations and actions are ones that you can be proud of.
If you are not public with your faith, I have a word of caution — be prepared for someone to recognize that you are Pagan. No matter how careful you are, your secret may be inadvertently, or deliberately, exposed and it’s prudent to be prepared for handling questions or comments should that happen.
Most people are genuinely curious upon finding out that one of their coworkers is Pagan. If your workplace is small and you are friendly with your co-workers be prepared to answer questions — lots of them. I’ve been asked about everything from Pagan theology to whether or not I can fly on a broomstick. Someone once asked me (in all seriousness) how much I would charge to turn his “ex” into a toad! Nonetheless, most inquiries I have receive were asked in a spirit of sincere interest and the questioners accepted my responses with respect.
Dealing with Workplace Evangelism
You may encounter those who will try to preach to you or convert you to their faith. It’s not uncommon to come across those who are extremely harsh in their views towards Paganism, or any religion other than the one that they espouse, for that matter. I once had someone tell me that my 3-month-old daughter was “going to go to Hell” when she died, if I did not convert to his religion. As difficult as such a confrontation can be, it’s good to remember that, no matter how twisted their views, such folks believe that they have your best interests at heart.
These people may be annoying, but they actually believe that their way is the only way, and they are trying to protect you from a harm that they perceive. It’s usually best to deal with such a situation on a personal level; most people will back down if you tell them that you understand their concerns, but firmly state that you are not going to change your beliefs, and you don’t really feel that the workplace is an appropriate place to discuss such issues. If the situation is truly intolerable, you may want to get your supervisor involved. Of course, sometimes your supervisor is the problem. Here are a few things you should know before getting a third person involved.
Know Your Rights
The first thing you need to be aware of is your rights. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals because of their religion in hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment. It also requires employers to accommodate the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee unless to do so would create an undue hardship on the employer. Examples of such accommodation include flexible scheduling, voluntary shift switching, and work reassignments.
Basically an employer cannot maintain an unreasonably restrictive dress code or refuse the observance of a religious holiday. In1997, President Bill Clinton issued the Guidelines for Federal Employees Regarding Religion in the Workplace. The Guidelines allow religious displays in private areas, religious discussions among employees and the wearing of religious clothing or jewelry. Further, they state that supervisors are not allowed to coerce their employees regarding religion or require attendance at religious events. It also prohibits harassment and preaching to employees by other employees. While the Guidelines is only applicable to Federal workers, many companies use it as a framework for their own guidelines regarding religion. You will want to check your company’s Employee Handbook to be sure of what your company policies are.
If you need to appeal to someone other than your supervisor, begin by utilizing your company’s open door policy. A logical person to approach may be the Human Resources manager, whose job it is to know the ins and outs of company policy as well as the law. If you exhaust all internal politices and procedures and are still not satisfied, you may want to take your complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Of course, in such an case, you may also wish to consider whether or not such a workplace is right for you, and if you have the energy, time and money it would take to pursue your complaint. If you still want to go on, you can file a complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the original complaint. If there’s not an office in your area, call 800-669-4000.
Thankfully, integrating your religion into your workday is usually both uplifting and spiritually fulfilling. You, too, can be “a Witch at every hour.” Workplace magic is all about creating good energy at your job. Who couldn't use more of that?
For more reading on work-place magic:
- The Goddess in the Office by Z. Budapest,
- Gemstone Feng Shui: Creating Harmony in Home and Office by Sandra Kynes
- The Office Oracle: Wisdom at Work by Patricia Monaghan.
— Tina Anderson is a generic Pagan who currently resides in Dover, Delaware. She is the Local Coordinator for Pagan Pride Day in Dover and an Editor of Full Circle Newsletter.
» Originally appeared in newWitch #01
Support Your Path —
Subscribe to Witches&Pagans magazine.