“Thanks, I’ll take these please.”
I place the book and crystal pyramid on the glass counter, and turn my head as a young man enters the shop. He stares intently at me with an openness I usually only see in the mentally impaired. Normally people steal a glance, lock eyes momentarily with a non-committal expression before looking away. He greets the assistant and looks at my purchases.
“A crystal pyramid. Awesome”.
Oh, I get it. He’s The-Man-Who-Walks-Up-To-You-In-The-Pub. The stranger, perhaps seeing something too open in my expression, seizes the opportunity to connect.
“I just got back from a mad Summer Solstice festival, yeah, down in Breinton. Course, Covent Garden is the business. That’s where you can get all the proper pagan clothes. You see I’m a pagan and I HAVE to celebrate the solstice.”
“Yeah, Celtic gods, An’allthat.”
Ah, An’allthat, that’s a new Celtic god to me, but I bow before his enthusiastic knowledge.
His assumptions prickle, and I can’t help but say, “We did our ritual this morning.” My goodness, am I really thumbing my metaphorical nose at him? Who is the youngster here?
At which point he starts groping inside his shirt and pulls out an ankh, nodding and grinning at my chest.
“Oh, yes.” I wear an ankh as well.
“Yeah, mine’s got a garnet in. My birthstone. So, yeah. This festival, it was so …”
Don’t tell me, awesome.
“I hadn’t heard of a pagan festival nearby.”
“Oh, yeah, an’ then we’ve got The Big Chill coming up.”
I think the organisers of The Big Chill would be surprised to hear they are a pagan festival. Suddenly I wonder if the Summer Solstice festival he attended wasn’t actually a music festival. And my suspicions are confirmed as he reels off more known music events, that are about as pagan as the Pope.
“So,” say I. “Will you be going to the Ludlow Esoteric Fair?”
“No Ludlow Esoteric Fair.”
“Is that at the castle.”
I explain where it will be, and mention the main aims of the conference. I mention Madeleine Montalban and The Regency Group.
“Oh, yeah,” he interrupts. “I went to the Conservationist Group thing in London. Thousands of people there. Well cool.”
I pause mid-breath and feel very old. Is this the generation gap that is yawning before my feet giving me vertigo?
He looks at me blankly. I start shoving my purchases into my bag. This conversation is going nowhere fast. He flips out a phone, and dials MD for Major Distraction, as I wave and smile at the assistant. He studiously avoids my gaze and pretends not to see me leave.
I walk away and wonder when it became so “awesome” to be pagan and so easy. Buy the clothes, go to the festivals, wear an ankh (that archetypal symbol of all things … Celtic?) and proudly tell whoever will listen, “Cos I’m pagan, yeah.”
© starofseshat 2008