Venus and the TSA

The TSA decided that my idol of Venus is too dangerous to fly in my carry-on luggage. I have a sculpture of Venus that has been a central figure on my altar throughout most of my practice. She inhabits a hollow log. Being able to take her with me to various spiritual events was an important consideration when I had her commissioned. So, she's small enough to easily fit into carry-on luggage.

I've had very little trouble flying with her until my most recent trip. We were moving from the Boston area to Denver, and so we had all our most fragile possessions with us. The TSA agent examining my bag called over his supervisor because he was concerned that Venus was a club or bludgeon. She doesn't have any good handles. I mean, yes, you could hit someone with the sculpture--you can hit someone with anything--but it would be awkward and relatively ineffective.

The process was entirely humiliating. The supervisor demanded my documentation that Venus was religious art. When I stopped to think about what paperwork I had with me--did I have any of the discussions with the artist or any pictures of her on an altar--he insisted I answer immediately. "Yes or no! Answer now." Later he made jokes with the agent about how they didn't let baseball bats through, and so they certainly wouldn't let this through. (The sculpture is smaller, less dense, and less designed for hitting than a baseball bat).

I overheard him saying that the agent was right to ask for help; this was on the edge, and he considered letting the sculpture through, but it was always best to be safe and not let something through when there were doubts.

There's a huge cost to that. My spirituality has been tainted with a feeling of powerlessness and helplessness. There was no way I could protest his actions. He refused to even document his actions and formally write down his decision. I still struggle approaching Venus to avoid thinking about how I had no way to stand up for my spirituality- -no way to be strong.

And this has irreparably damaged my ability to bring the symbols of my path to events. If I bring Venus I'm going to be dreading the entire airport experience, worried about what I will face and whether she will be damaged as checked baggage. If I don't run into trouble getting to the event, it's going to be a low level anxiety that I cannot step aside from during a time where my mind should be faced on my spirituality. And of course if I don't bring her, I'll be reminded whenever I realize her sculpture is not there that I have allowed our culture of fear and non-consensual dominance to intrude onto my path of personal power and love.

In closing, if you were going to use a club, would you rather be stuck with a hollow log with no easy handles or a nice big solid crucifix with a cross-bar to swing from. Who wants to bet the TSA would have been as reluctant to let me take a crucifix through as a pagan artifact? No takers? Really? Yeah, I'm not surprised.