In or Out or All the Broomclosets Inbetween

Recently, I had the opportunity to hang out with an awesome group of eclectic Pagans from my area.  We just got together for some tea and conversation.  About halfway through the evening, my phone goes off because my best friend had texted me.  I explained to the group that normally I wouldn’t take it, but she’s going through a rough patch and I needed to answer the text.  Kind of out of the blue, someone in the group asked if she knew about my Pagan activities.  I answered truthfully, no she does not.  To be fair, this friend and I have known each other for eleven years and I wouldn’t be surprised if she suspected.  But because of her conservative religious leanings perhaps this is one subject better left avoided for the preservation of our friendship.  And I’m okay with that; I’d rather be friends with this person than not.  But the person who asked this question was really put off by what I said, as if it were an unenlightened perspective in an age of more transparency for Paganism and Wicca.

Well. Huh.  Alright I admit it; I was annoyed.

The question of whether a Witch or Pagan should be vocal about their faith and practices is one that is extremely personal.  Let’s be real: while I maintain that discrimination against Pagans in the modern context is rare, societal pressure from (at least in the U.S.) a one part scientific and one part Judeo-Christian religious culture, judgement from peers, and outright ignorance is real.  Unless the Witch generally gives no fucks about what others think, it can be extremely hard to be an open Pagan.  Some can do it (the fabulous author Deborah Blake and all the wonderful Youtube witches come to mind as an excellent examples), but a lot of us cannot be completely out of the broomcloset, yours truly included.

For me, it comes down to a case-by-case basis and a real hard look at the relationship.  I grew up in an extremely conservative part of the country and have family members and lifelong friends that make my life so beautiful who would think I was off my rocker for believing in the divinity of nature and the perfect love of the Goddess.  But, you know, they think that Jesus is the only path to salvation and that hell is a thing.  So everyone’s religion is a little wonky.  In a perfect world everyone could see past that shit and practice a little tolerance.  But this isn’t a perfect world (thank Goddess) and sometimes we just have to respect other people’s beliefs and prejudices.  For some of the people in my life, that means acknowledging that they will react adversely to my religious beliefs.  As I still want that person in my life, I tend to keep my practices quiet around that person.

Let’s be real. The in-out or in-between status of any Pagan, Wiccan, or Witch is not up for comment or judgement by any person.  Not up for discussion.  Of course there are varying degrees of being out as a Pagan.  For example some people decide not to tell their coworkers to maintain professional relationships, yet are incredibly active in their local Pagan networks.  All of the degrees are perfectly acceptable ways to live a full and spiritual Pagan life.  Also, there is no reason to feel any shame if you’re not as out as you like to be.  As long as you are living your life in a way that is ethical and true to you, then that is all that matters.

© Ariadne Woods

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “In or Out or All the Broomclosets Inbetween

  1. We were just having this very discussion in a training coven I’m a part of. Some of us blend Christianity with Wiccan principles and others are Wiccans. Those of us who practice the Craft can’t be out to everyone. I also believe that in the age of Facebook where some people post everything about their lives, we are still entitled to a private life!

    1. I completely agree!!! A private life is incredibly important to personal growth and establishing boundaries.

  2. Thank you for this post. I’m in the same kind of situation at the moment. It’s not that I’m ashamed that I’m a pagan/witch, but I don’t want everyone to know (co-workers are a good example). My parents know, my grand-parents on mother’s side, my boyfriend, my best friends, 2 co-workers who I consider to be friends. But there are a lot of people who don’t know: my other 15 co-workers, my in-laws, my grand-parents on father’s side,…) And these are the people I don’t really want to know either, so I tend to be strict on who sees what on my facebook account. A couple of monthes ago (January I think) I accepted an event for Full Moon celebration in your own home, (Ritual Apart but Together 🙂 ) and one of the co-workers who didn’t know asked me what it was and why I was doing this. I explained a little about the phases of the moon and my interest, without going deep. I felt really akward doing this. But then again, my boyfriend knows, and I still feel akward talking to him about magic and witchcraft. It’s just something I don’t really like to talk about to someone who does not experience…

  3. I understand what you’re saying hon. My mom is the person who mostly knows about me being a Wiccan. I have a few friends who do know that i’m a Wiccan, but it is hard to come out when you feel that you may be judged. My brother-in-law already judges me. He told me that my god was a false god. He found out through facebook unfortunately, because I had a group at the time. It’s our choice to reveal our religions. I hope you have an easier time though.

  4. This is a conundrum I’ve been in for a long time. It’s not that I’m ashamed, it’s because I need to protect my children. And I don’t like it. We chose to move out of the city and are fortunate to live in a very scenic, very beautiful place. (portions of Twilight was filmed near here) However, small-town living can also mean small-town-minded people. The biggest problem is that I have children, and I have to protect them against being ostracized or teased, or even bullied. I also volunteer in the classroom and am a part of the PTA not to mention, my kids play sports (soccer moms can be mean, lol). The biggest thing that breaks my heart is that I have to tell them to be hush hush about it. They can’t tell their friends about the Goddess or what we did at Imbolc or what ‘Halloween’ really means to us.

    I have 2 friends in the community that ‘know’ about me.

    The school district is great. It’s won national awards, etc. My daughter has had class sizes below 15 kids. My oldest son is a senior and his graduating class is less than 40 kids. In spite of this I’ve even met with three different homeschooling groups in the area (within 20 miles) but each one includes bible teachings and church every Sunday is expected. I’m all for religious tolerance and want my children to understand the major religions in the world and have allowed them to attend church with a friend once in a while. But I refuse to live a lie. I refuse to pretend to be something I’m not. But isn’t that what I’m already doing by hiding in the broom closet with my kids? People are always asking me to go to church and I tell them I’m Catholic (there’s no Catholic church in town) which is sort of true. I mean, I was raised Catholic, I’m just not a practicing one. Gawd, that sounds awful of me. But hey, it is what it is and I’m doing the best I know how.

    All I can say is I’m grateful we have friends in the city, a group we have rituals with, a children’s pagan group, etc. I facilitate a monthly Tarot group and volunteer on council for a women’s Pagan organization. It’s a 45 minute commute to the city each way, but If I didn’t have that connection, that outlet, I’d lose my mind!

    It’s hard to be a witch. So what else is new?

    Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

    p.s. would you mind if I posted my comment on my blog? I can add a link to your blog post if you’d like.

  5. I am fortunate enough to live in a place where I can be open (and indeed, I generally give no fucks), but it isn’t that way for the majority of pagans, witches and various other magic users in the world, and when some pagans get snippy over someone simply ensuring their own safety from a position of social privilege, it gets my goat-headed one.

    There are people across the globe who can’t even be openly Christian, or Jewish. Why people think it’s easier or safer to come out as something people are trained to react to with indoctrinated fear baffles me. It’s never a crime to stay safe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s