This is the project about the gay witch boy. First two chapters of what’s probably going to end up being quite a long book. Enjoy a look into Eric’s world!
I walked down the hall of my janitor-and-sanity-foresaken school for the umpteen-millionth time, without giving so much as a passing glance to anybody. It was April of Senior year and I was over it like a bridge. I was aces on the swim team, I was always flirted with, chased after, asked to speak to the underclassmen about how to be an achiever and other such bullshit, and I had a full ride ahead of me to pretty much any college I wanted to attend. But I was scared. Damn scared. According to pop culture and modern think tanks and the intelligentsia, I had nothing at all to be scared of, apart from a few religious extremists.The world had prorgressed. Everybody thought and felt differently. Jocks like me listened to Lady Gaga and and claimed gay and bi dudes as some of their best friends.
Not here man. Not in this town. Or rather, this very white, wealthy suburb of a rather progressive city, which had yet to catch up to said city’s enlightenment. The gays were still sinners and sickos. The emo kids still got beat up. The rockers and the druggies were outcasts. To be anything but extremely good-looking, an overachiever, and with your nose planted always firmly against the grindstone meant you were a cipher.
So where did that leave me? In the closet, in a constant costume, always putting on a show. It was exhausting, but I wanted out of this town, and to get ahead. After that, maybe I could think about being who I really was
School had ended for the day, and all I was thinking of was getting home, soaking in the hottub in the backyard for an hour, maybe doing some yoga or some meditating, and then a full-moon ritual. There was a lot I needed to manifest. I could focus on homework and social networking later. Magick always came first. Even before quitely obsessing over cute guys. Even before swimming. Magick, and magick alone, was my religion, my passion, my life. It was the backbone of everything else I did. It defined me.
“Hey, Eric!” someone called out to me.
Who was disturbing my very precious and sought-after loner time?
“Damn, slow down, cutiepants!” Oh, it was Elizabeth. Gods love her, she would never get that I was gay. Hard for her to, obviously, if I didn’t outright tell here, but she was one of the few people I dropped some pretty obvious hints around. She was a pretty girl though, and she had this personality that bubbled and flowed with an ease and warmth. It could at turns annoy and somewhat enchant me. Today it was accomplishing more of the former.
“What’s up, Liz?” I said to her, in a manner that I hoped convey that I wasn’t in a chatty mood.
No such luck.
“Oh, me? Not much. I was just wondering what you might be doing tonight,” she continued as we reached the school’s exit.
Of course, it was Friday, so that meant I must have some bitchin’ plans to go out, get wasted, make an ass of myself, and then wake up the next day feeling like shit. No, thanks.
“Not too much, hon. Just some business to take care of, some work to do, and I’ll actually be turning in early.”
“God, you’re so serious!” she said, scrunching up her face.
“Yeah, well, ya know, little things like life and my future are serious business.”
“Mhm. Well, anyway, you totally have my cell if you change your dark, broody mind and get the urge to text me!”
“I do indeed, Liz.” I said, as we split ways, heading to our respective cars.
For real? I mean, was I going to have to come out and say it? Did she not see me check out guys’ asses like, every day as we walked to lunch together? Was I not hinty and vocal enough about my celebrity crushes? But if I was being honest with myself, the problems were all with me and my lack of honesty and owning up to who I really was. I was gay, and most of my friends were probably just waiting for me to say it out loud. There was this fine line that seemed to exist between people “knowing”, and people knowing, and the line seemed to stretch right across one’s mouth, and was only severed when the individual in question, in this case, me, decided to just say that he was queer. And that would only be one form of coming out I’d have to take care of, at least with my closest friends. One thing at a time.
My phone vibrated against my leg.
Fantastic. I’d been out of school two minutes and already had (I pulled out my phone and checked) two new texts and three email alerts? Yep. And both of the texts were from girls, Jenny and Josie, respectively. Both were flirty in nature, one of them even going so far as to tell me that she was coming to the swim meet tomorrow morning just to check me out in my Speedos.
Clearly, something had to be done, and fast.
I decided to make the main focus of tonight’s ritual the one thing I seemed to be lacking in spades: Courage.
For the mile walk home, I put on my iPod and cranked some Coheed and Cambria, which segued into the Sex Pistols, and it was finally Green Day that brought me to my door. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” no less. Ah, syncronicity!
When I got inside I smelled something cooking. I was ravenous, and so went to check out the source of the deliciousness. Mom was making salmon, fresh veggies and pasta. She knew the way to a hungry, frustrated and slightly angsty athlete’s heart.
“Hello, Eric” she said, turning away from her handiwork for a brief second, all smiles, all sincerity.
“Hi mom,” I said, reaching for the cookie jar, which was filled to the top with sugar cookies, or what mom ridiculously refered to as Snickerdoodles.
“And how was your day?” she asked.
“It was alright. Practice this morning was pretty brutal, but we have a meet tomorrow so that’s understandable. School kinda sucked.”
“School usually does, son. “
She looked up at me, we both laughed.
My mom was this sunshine burst of awesome in my life. Everything about her was antithetical to what most teenagers claimed about their parents. She was kind, supportive, non-judgmental, and pretty lax on the whole discipline thing. The one time I got busted for smoking weed, she had admonished me for about ten seconds before starting to laugh and telling me that I shouldn’t bother, she’d smoked enough for both our lifetimes.
And if my mom was lax, my dad was practically checked out. Not in the sense that he didn’t care about me, but his style of parenting was incredibly laid-back and near hands-off. He truly believed in letting me live my life and experiment how I wished, do what I wanted and needed to do, and from such behaviors a pattern would emerge in which I’d discover my true path and would lead the life I was meant to lead. My dad was fairly rad. He attended a drum circle every Monday, a men’s group every Tuesday, and he belonged to some sort of “secretive fraternal organization”, as he put it, that met pretty regularly, but he said he didn’t think I was quite far along enough on my “dharmic walk” to know what that was all about.
My parents were outcasts in our town, which was really just a suburb of a fairly large city in the midwest. A fairly large, wealthy, mostly conservative city, no less. And while my parents were respected, as they were both business owners , entrepeneurs, and philanthropists, they were also shunned, on the sly, for how “weird” and “liberal” their behavior was.
Obviously, it was not my parents that were keeping me closeted about either my homosexuality or my pagan proclivities. It was, honestly, everyone else in my life. And when you were one of the most popular guys in school, in a wealthy, Fox News-loving community like mine, you did not go trumpeting the fact that you were gay or did rituals by the light of the moon.
Speaking of which…
Dinner was awesome. Another huge score for mom and her culinary kick-assitude. The conversation had been kinda lame, but that’s because my mind was so adrift with where I was going to take myself later tonight, in the dark of my room, candles lit, incense burning, feelings of sanity and normality coming back to me after another day of faking it at school. I didn’t bother mom and dad with all this because it would just upset them, concern them, and fill them with questions of what they needed to do to help. I didn’t want them involved. This battle, if it was in fact a battle, was one I would fight on my own.
After tooling around on Facebook, Twitter, and Paganspace for awhile, working out and doing yoga for ninety minutes, and then taking a long shower, I lay down in my bed and began to mentally prepare for my ritual. First things first, though, I turned off my ever-busy iPhone.
It was 11:45, and if I started my ritual at 11:50, I would be at the peak of my working just as the new moon made Her appearance. I had intended, at first, for tonight’s ritual to be all about manifesting a possible win in the meet, a higher salary at my part-time call center job, and maybe finally meeting the guy of my dreams on any one of the three gay dating sites I belonged to. (I had turned eighteen in March, hell yes!) But, remembering to keep things simple, and really spell for that which I needed, and not necessarily what I desired, I decided to make the entire focus of the ritual a courage-building exercise and chant. I had even decided to incorporate special breathing techniques and drumming.
My dad, drumming circle guru that he was, had gifted me a sweet-ass djimbe drum for my birthday, and this I sat right in front of my altar, at what would be the pinnacle of my east-facing Magick Circle.
I then set up candles at the four appropriate points, lit incense, put on some Dead Can Dance, who just happened to be the greatest Pagan band ever, and stripped. I did all my rituals “skyclad”, because I felt clothes bound me up, kept me from feeling the energy I was supposed to feel within the Circle.
I checked my watch. It was 11:55. Set up had taken longer than I thought, and I needed to get started with the casting of the Circle. Once that was done, I began my incantation, which I’d written and set in the middle of the Circle. It was a short poem to Apollo, asking for strength and courage. I then invoked the watchfulness, protection and wisdom of Diana, Bastet and Mercury, and then went for my djimbe. I brought it to the middle of the circle, and started to drum along with one of Dead Can Dance’s mid-tempo Pagan jams. I kept in my head a vision of courage, of what I thought courage would look like, feel like. I started to drum courageous beats, to breathe courageous breaths. I imagined myself as courage as I inhaled the incense, felt the heat from the flames of the candles, and let the beating of my djimbe perfectly match the beats of the song booming from my computer’s speakers. I was sweating. I was in a frenzy. The music and my ritual was reaching a climax. And as the song on the computer came to a close, and my drumming slowed to silence, I ended the ritual, closed the circle, and thanked the Gods and Goddesses for their presence and assistance.
I was standing, basking in the glow of the candles, smelling the sweet musk in the air, feeling the sweat sluice down my skin, sensing the energy pulsate around me. And the door opened.
Light came pouring into the room, and my dad stood in one place like an idiot and started chomping air with his mouth.
“Um-um-um, well, um, I uh, um, yes, well okay. I’ll come back later. Ya know, I always told your mother we should have put a lock on your door once you turned seventeen. Goodbye!”
He slammed the door.
Standing in the middle of my candlelit room, naked, sweaty, music playing, all I could do was laugh.
Seeing my usually cool father come unglued and go all stuttery was quite hilarious, if for no other reason than that it was something he simply did not do.
My amusement turned to slight anger and frustration, not at the fact that dad had just sort of nonchalantly burst in my room, but more at the fact that had he done it a few minutes earlier, he would have totally intruded on my ritual. I wasn’t embarassed, I didn’t feel “caught” or weird. I was just kinda ticked off. But clearly he needed to talk to me about something, or he wouldn’t have even come to my room like that, all sort of in a hurry and without knocking.
I got dressed, blew out my candles, and headed downstairs to talk to dad.
When I entered the living room, he was sitting there, casually, in his chair, reading a new age magazine. One of about five he subscribed to, actually. Sometimes I picked them up and paged through, slightly curious. I was on my own path though, and not really worried too much about what dad was up to in his private spiritual life.
He looked up and feigned surprise.
“Oh, hey Eric!”
“Yeah, hi dad,” I said, letting him know that I wasn’t gonna let him get away with acting like nothing had happened. Of course, maybe that’s exactly what I should have hoped for. Just to kinda worm past that little upstairs experience.
He looked at me, and a smile broke out across his broad, tanned face.
“You know, Eric, um, I’m all for creative ways of punishing the bishop, pleasuring yourself in an original way and all, but really son…”
“Dad, wow, hey!” I stopped him as fast as I could. “That… was not what I was doing. At all.”
“Eric, you’re eighteen, you have hormones carombing off every inside facet of your body, you’re going to need to let loose every once-“
“Dad, seriously, stop with the jerkoff talk! God!”
“I know, Eric, you’re a very private boy, always have been. I try to respect that. But dammit kid, when I walk in on you naked in the middle of your room, you can imagine I’m going to have a few questions.”
“It was a ritual! I was doing a new moon ritual, okay?!”
Wow, that felt good!
My dad cocked his head to one side, put down his magazine, and began to slowly nod his head. I couldn’t read him. He had a great poker face. But he didn’t really seem like he was upset.
Finally he said, “Son, did you do a banishing before you cast the Circle?”
I was stunned.
“Oh. Um. I, well, I lit incense, I lit candles, I bathed beforehand.”
He sat. He thought for a bit.
“I see,” he said after an annoying pause. “Look, do you know about rituals for banishing negativity before engaging in a ritual to make something manifest?”
So… my dad practiced Magick? Holy shit.
“Well,” I started, “I know about smudging, ritual bathing, mentally preparing, that kinda thing.”
“I see. Well, come with me, why don’t you? I think it’s about time I showed you something in the library.”
In the library? But I thought I’d combed through practically every book in there. Most of them were pretty dull. I followed dad anyway, to see what was up.
When we got to the library, dad went to the huge oak desk that sat at its center, opened a drawer, and removed a golden key. He took it, walked over to the row of shelves where he kept most of his fiction, and bent down. Below the first row of shelves was a tiny lock, into which the key fit perfectly. He turned it, and opened what amounted to a hidden drawer underneath the stack of books above.
He pulled out a red tome and handed it to me.
This was some surreal shit going on here. I’d never noticed the lock before, I now realized, because it was painted the same color as the rest of the shelving, and why would I have been looking for a lock anyway? And this book, what was it? There was no title or author listed on the front. Just a lush red cover.
“Open that book to page 93, read, study and learn that ritual, and practice it before you do any magickal working, and I think you’ll be very pleased with the results. Got it?”
“Why yes sir, I think I do. Um, you’re not, well, I mean, you don’t have any questions for me about what you saw, anymore?”
“Not now, I don’t, no. I think it’s all pretty clear.” He winked. “What was it, by the way, you were spelling to manifest?”
Without a moment’s hesitation I replied, “Courage.”
“Ah, I see. First of all, you just broke one of the main rules, ‘to keep silent’.”
Dammit, he was right, I knew better than that, even with the small amount of knowledge I possessed.
“Second,” he said, laying a hand on my shoulder, “I think courage is something you come by naturally, but have yet to believe in or accept. And that, of course, is where the true magick happens, anyway. The accepting of, and believing in, your own greatness.”
I shook my head in disbelief, then smiled up at this new man in my midst who was my father.
“Dad,” I said. “You’re a bit of awesome.”
He put on a mock-smug face.
“I’m pretty damn cool, alright. Now, go to sleep. Don’t you have a meet tomorrow?”
“That I do.”
“Alright, well kick some ass, son.”
“Oh, I certainly intend to. Goodnight.”
I headed for my room, shaking my head, a thousand questions on my mind.
But as I got ready for bed, and really thought, I realized that my dad’s easy acceptance, not to mention his hidden knowledge, really should not have come as much of a surprise to me, if only I’d paid a little more attention to the life he was leading right in front of my face.
I went to sleep with a giant smile on my face, Dead Can Dance plying on my sound system, and spent the night having dreams of my dad acting as a wizard who oversaw some ridiculously opulent Magick school.