Well, I warned you I might do it, and now I am. There were other candidates for my second D post, including (the) dead, disir, dark half of the year, devotion, and divination, but I’m exhausted due to a massive fibro flare-up, and not feeling inspired enough to hold forth on any of them right now. Instead, what’s uppermost in my mind this week is my taking up of the veil, which I had mentioned in passing last week. And so, you get to hear my thoughts on that.
“Taking up the veil” is such a loaded phrase, and it’s meant to be. In truth, I “took up the veil”–after a manner of speaking–when I first married Odin, going on ten years ago now. Although pagan god-marriages aren’t exactly the same as a Christian nun’s symbolic marriage to Jesus (my own marriage being not at all symbolic, for one thing), they are similar enough to comfortably share a lot of the same concepts and trappings, and the wearing of a veil is among these. (As one of the other members of a Facebook group on veiling I recently joined commented, it’s funny how many godspouses are numbered among the pagans who at least part of the time cover their heads.) In spiritual terms, a veil (like the one worn by the High Priestess in the Tarot deck) marks the wearer as set apart, as not quite of this world, as being shrouded in, and a keeper of, Mystery. Culturally (and not just in the east, but for hundreds of years in medieval Europe as well), a veil traditionally marks a woman as married, as claimed, as partly hidden from common view, with her deepest secrets reserved for her husband. The veils worn by nuns (and by some godspouses) encompass both these categories of meaning.
In practical terms, as many of us have found, a veil (or at least, wearing something over one’s head, whether a snood–my own favorite option, a scarf, or a hat) protects the crown chakra, lessens the amount of meaningless stimuli the sensitive among us are bombarded with constantly, helps hold rampant empathy in check, and overall assists us in keeping a spiritual focus as we move through our mundane daily activities.
For me, it also serves an additional purpose related to my particular path and focus, and starting with yet another D: discipline. I’ve written here before about my view of a godspouse as a sort of royal consort (or at any rate, that seems to be where my own role and duties lie, at least in part), and about the type of comportment and demeanor that is expected along those lines, neatly summarized by the notion of noblesse oblige (or, “nobility imposes obligation”). Well, let me tell you right here (for those readers who don’t know me): I am no saint. In fact, quite apart from being one, I am a rather short-tempered (and sharp-tongued) redhead, very opinionated, easily irritated and prone to emotional responses, and often quite insistent on having my say. My work with Frigga (which I’ll go into more when we get to F) is partly focused on developing the ability to choose my words judiciously and with a cool head, and often on knowing when NOT to speak at all, both of which are invaluable skills for a queen or consort, whose behavior must unavoidably reflect on her royal husband. But I’m far from perfect in this, or in my ongoing efforts to suffer fools a trifle more gladly (or graciously, at any rate) than I’m naturally inclined to do, so I make use of whatever tools I have on hand to help me in this effort. For example, a few months back I adopted a “work persona bracelet” to wear at the day job as a reminder of the specific persona (or mask, if you will–an appropriate enough concept for a godspouse of Odin) that I need to assume at the office. And now I am finding that the wearing of a head covering when out in public (including at my job) is acting as a tangible and sensory reminder to me of the type of behavior expected of me as Odin’s consort, a constant reminder of my role, in much the same way as a queen’s crown or a nun’s veil might–all at the same time as the head covering itself aids me in being able to manifest that behavior by limiting the irritating stimuli I’m exposed to. What a nifty tool; no wonder my god-husband has not been opposed to my adopting it! (Even though it doesn’t seem to have been entirely–or exclusively–His idea.)
In last week’s post, I mentioned that I wear skirts and dresses almost exclusively when out in public, and have been doing so for about five years now. This mode of dress was adopted at Odin’s request and was His initial way of marking me visually as being set apart from the bulk of society. In effect, the skirts and dresses were my veil, and they did serve a similar purpose in terms of disguising my physical form somewhat and reserving its precise contours for my Husband alone. Yet, it only went so far towards isolating me from mundane society (since long skirts are not terribly uncommon, at least in Oregon), and did not help at all towards the all-important shielding and filtering functions for my crown chakra. So recently–no doubt partly due to the influence of both Frigga and Anne Boleyn (the latter being one of my disir–another D!)–I had begun to get the increasing sense that more was needed, and to feel strongly pulled towards veiling my head as well as my body.
This is already beginning to have the desired effects (cutting down on outside “psychic noise,” acting as a tangible reminder of expected comportment), but it’s also having one additional and less welcome effect I had not foreseen: in social terms, wearing a veil marks you as an anomaly. I now understand why Jo, a few years back when she first began to cover her head on a daily basis, waited to start doing so until she was also starting a new job, at which no one had existing expectations of her. I’m not going to stop wearing it now that I’ve started, since the benefits far outweigh the annoyances, but it is certainly more than a little irritating to have a different co-worker comment each day that they like my scarf, or to have one in particular tell me she likes “that gypsy thing you’re got going on,” at the same time as she touches my head.
I can only hope the novelty will die down in time; after all, I only just started covering my head everyday this week, and when I first started at this job I already wore skirts on a daily basis so no one has ever commented (well, maybe once or twice) on that. So, it appears the downside of adopting modes of dress that set you apart is that…well they set you apart, even the ones that are supposed to be laden with connotations of modesty and withdrawal from the world. Most 21st century Americans are woefully ignorant on the subject of symbolism, and not even the least bit schooled in tact or reserve (sadly, especially here in Eugene). Which makes those behavioral adjustments I’m trying to perfect even more of a challenge, I suppose.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on veiling for the moment. If anyone reading this is also a pagan who veils, feel free to chime in with your own two cents!