October 10th, 2005

Brad @ Burning Man

One of My Superstitions: The Face of My Home

This can't be the source of my constant just-in-the-nick-of-time weird luck, because that pattern goes back to long before I got the item. None the less, I am very faintly superstitious about this particular piece of personal weirdness. I call it "the Face of My House" or "My Household's Face" or "the Face of My Home."

In the mid 1980s, not long after I got my first apartment, I was browsing for home decorations, but mostly just browsing for the fun of it, at a very funky and eclectic home decor and novelty shop in the Central West End, and these were on sale. This was at the very tail end of a fad among pre-Martha-Stewart craft mavens of buying these giant blank plastic masks and custom painting them with variations on the classic pierrot mask, and hanging the results as wall decor. I snapped up one of their largest ones, about 20" x 16" (50cm x 40cm). But I didn't want it for a Mardi Gras style harlequin mask. I wanted it to symbolize something I didn't have an external symbol for.

I was new to eclectic Neopaganism at the time, and had run across the Roman concept that every individual, every human bloodline, and every house has a minor god, the genii and the lares and the penates. So it occurred to me, when I saw this artifact, that if I put it on a plain white wall, with little or no paint so that it seemed to be growing out of the wall, it would do a great job of symbolizing the god of the place. Later, especially when I moved and moved with it, I decided that the image of part of the wall being alive and watching over me was a better symbol for whatever minor god watches over my home or household, wherever I'm living and whoever is living there. Ever since that time, it's been with me. It hung on the dining room wall of my second apartment. It hung on a wall in my computer room when I was married to Kim. It hung on the wall of the dining room in my third apartment. When I bought the Brad Davidian Compound, that house in Bridgeton where I threw all the Infamous Brad Parties, it hung in the stairwell from the driveway entrance up towards the bathroom and kitchen, high up and facing the exterior door. When I bought the Libertalia, my old 1989 Pace Arrow 37J class A motorhome, it hung on the aft bulkhead of the living room, facing the windshield. When the motorhome disintegrated and I spent some time homeless and couch surfing, it always moved with me, but I didn't have a place to hang it again until I moved into this apartment. Since day one in this apartment, it's been hanging in the kitchen.

I don't sacrifice to it, other than a stick of incense when I first bought it. A long time ago I decided it looked more like a natural extension of the home without paint, so I scrubbed off the flaking water-based paint and I don't paint it any more. I don't pray to it, or even give it any special care other than to dust it occasionally and wash the accumulated grime off of it every couple of years. It just hangs there. But if I lost it, I don't know what I'd do. It's become oddly important to me. I'm not sure any place would feel like "home" to me ever again if it wasn't there. And I doubt that I could still buy a replacement, since that fad was so long ago.

Do I really, actually believe in the literal existence of a minor god, attached to whatever home I hang this blank mask in, that watches over me and anybody else who lives with me? No. Well, sort of. Maybe. Yes. I don't know. My feelings are complicated, conflicted, and shift from day to day. So for now, just mark it down as one of my little superstitions.