I had one of those lovely conversations over the weekend, you know the ones - a little bit of
grape juice to oil the tongue and a friend and I were putting the world to rights. Parenting, politics and the need to put children out of their misery once they hit thirteen, had all been dissected and dealt with.
Before long the topic slid into one that we have avoided in the past and I had always sensed that this was dangerous ground between us. The Catholic and the Pagan. A dodgy mix that could rock the friendship boat and sink our Saturday happy hour in one fell swoop.
I sometimes caught her eyeing my pentacle with suspicion and my use of the word 'Oh Goddess' in place of 'Oh God' had often elicited a slight shiver, so our differing views had become an unspoken agreement - it was a no go area and my favourite topic of conversation was off the cards. I often wanted to explain that I loved Paganism, not only for its deeply natural roots but also that it encompassed all religions, valuing each and respecting the needs of an individual.
I respect her religious convictions but I made a mistake. In referring to mutual friend I said that I was praying for the health of his very sick relative.
"But you don't pray." she said quickly.
"Of course I do." I said.
We looked at each other in horror. The line had been crossed, we were floating in uncharted water.
It would have been easy to move on to something else, the safe haven of the new one-way system in Strange Town or the latest arty bollocks that was adorning the walls at The Tate in St Ives.
Tentatively we discussed praying and gradually moved on to what drove our spiritual engine. With the exception of very few religions, I nearly always find that people's views of Paganism are stemmed in fear. My friend was no different. She was also surprised to learn that I was not a black candle burner, I didn't go in for ritual sacrifice and was unlikely have midnight chats with the horny guy who lives in the basement.
By the end of the evening I think there was a new understanding and I know that this topic will no longer be taboo. I hate having barriers and most of the problems in the world stem from the barbed wire that is religion. I wish we could all solve them over a glass of wine.