I own quite a lot of cross pendants. It’s linked with my love of Gothic fashion more than anything else, as crosses and other Christian symbols are quite common due to the Christian overtones in many Gothic novels, as well as the link with Gothic architecture. I also do like visiting old churches and looking at Christian iconography, all of which I find beautiful and inspiring to my Gothic imagination.
But since I have decided practising Paganism, I have started feeling a little more reluctant about wearing crosses or other overtly Christian symbols. This has nothing to do with my views of Christianity, which have not changed at all since becoming a Pagan, but more to do with how other people might think of me as a result.
I realise this is really quite shallow and I shouldn’t care about what other people think, but the fact is I can’t help but worry. I don’t think I would ever wear a cross to a moot – not because I am afraid of causing offence (very unlikely since my moot, Medway Pagans, is a very open-minded and have an “anything goes” attitude), but because I feel that it might cause confusion. Items of jewellery worn to a moot tend to have more significance than they would when worn casually, so if I were to wear a Christian symbol to a moot, people might think that I practise a combination of Christianity and Paganism. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I definitely think it is possible to practise both together and I’m sure that back in the day many people did follow both religions to some extent – but that doesn’t accurately reflect my own path. Which, although eclectic, doesn’t really include Christianity, so I’d rather people know about the elements I do follow (Hellenism, Shinto etc). I suppose I might make an exception for the more “universal” cross symbols, such as the “Greek” or “Grail Cross” (a cross where all spokes are of equal length), or a Celtic cross like the one pictured, a design that many Pagans and Christians alike seem to appreciate. After all, the cross symbol is one that pre-dates Christianity.
Outside the environment of a moot, I am not so sure. Again, I feel that if I wore a cross, people who knew that I was Pagan might make comments of confusion as to why I am wearing a Christian symbol. Sadly, so many people seem to think that Paganism is somehow antithetical to Christianity, which I suppose is understandable seeing as how so many non-Christians were persecuted under Christian authorities in the past, and how the media seems to so readily equate Paganism with Satanic practises. I believe that certainly the two religions have their differences, but have plenty of similarities too (just read The Golden Bough to get an idea). But if I were to wear a cross, I might get comments of, “You shouldn’t wear a cross if you’re a Pagan, should you?” I suppose that, really, this shouldn’t bother me – after all, it could lead to an interesting discussion about Paganism and Christianity!