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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 24,664,882  

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Reponses: 129

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Question of the Week: 109 - 5/7/2003

The Broom Closet Revisited: What’s Your Current Occupancy Rate?

Are you living more or less in the broom closet since last year? Does the current political climate make you more or less open about your beliefs with strangers or casual acquaintances than you used to be?

Are you worried or have you ever seriously considered that a modern day ‘witch hunt’ might target Pagans in the next few months/years?

Have you taken extra precautions to protect your private information or Pagan identity on the internet? At work? In your neighborhood?

Are you more or less inclined to speak up and/or identify yourself as a Pagan when discussing or writing about political, religious or social issues these days?

 Reponses:   There are 129 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I'm Not Exactly ... May 12th. at 6:37:26 pm EDT

Leafy (Albuquerque, NM) Age: 63 - Email

... a Pagan by some definitions, but by others (religions that existed before Christianity) , I might qualify. To answer the question - I don't feel as comfortable telling people "I'm a Buddhist, " as I used to. People seem more inclined to criticise and get belligerent about it these days. It hasn't been long since I was treated by a very unfriendly speech from a neighbor who went on and on, rather angrily, about my "dead" religion. I finally told her Amida Buddha was as real to me as Jesus was to her, except that I knew Amida was a myth. I told her (very politely) that it is everyone's privilege to believe in myths if they choose to. She hasn't bothered me since. She is typical of how people react nowdays. It used to be that I'd say I was a Buddhist, and people would ask me questions about it. Very interesting and informative exchanges. I think the religious climate is becoming intolerant. To many Christians, anybody who isn't "us" is "them, " and therefore evil.

So yes, I am careful. May I join you in the broom closet if I bring my own broom?

To Be Perfectly Honest... May 12th. at 6:49:08 pm EDT

Josh Welch (Sartell, MN) Age: 18 - Email

I don't care about anyone's opinion of me...George W can go screw himself, and I feel the same about the rest of the closed-minded bigots of the world. I'm just as open as I've ever been, and people that confront me on it are normally stunned because of the fact that I fight right back, and prove my point. I HAVE looked into Christianity, along with several other "religions, " and I have found the path I'm on to work for me, so I'm going to stick to my guns no matter what anyone says. The only opinion that matters to me is mine.

Depends May 12th. at 7:51:03 pm EDT

Mica (NE FL) Age: 33 - Email

My immediate family (siblings, parents) and closest friends know about my religion and have little or no problem with it. I tell others on a case-by-case basis. My neighbors don't know. At my current job, I am more tight-lipped than ever before, even though the company touts diversity. I live in a more conservative area of the south than I did before. My boss is a hard-core Christian. I think it's unprofessional to flaunt one's religion (even if it's the accepted one) at work. In the past, though, I have felt able to quietly tell a few trusted people at work about it, but only if things they say or do indicate they will be okay with it. I will drop hints with those who are kindred spirits, even if they are not outright pagans (mention horoscopes/astrology, discuss basic mythology, etc.) and if they're even a little knowledgeable about paganism, they will guess. So, if someone picks up the vibes and guesses, great! If not, that's okay, too.

Why Hide The Truth? May 12th. at 8:56:27 pm EDT

Jay (tampa bay, FL) Age: 27 - Email

I wear a pentagram ring and necklace. My wife's car and mine each has a bumber sticker that says "Pagan and Proud". I don't run aroud and tell everyone what I am but it is not difficult to see what I believe. My wife feals that in my job position being so open might hurt my career. I would rather be hurt by the truth though then protected by a lie. The funny thing is that my father and stepfather are each being ordained as ministers. My father feals my wife corupted me and stole me from Jesus (what he doesn't seam to get is that we met in a chat room "ASK A WITCH" I was already there on my own.) My step father listens to what I have to say and even told his church during a sermon that Christmas was just superemposed over the winter solstace to take it from the prexisting pagan holiday. So one is open while the other is closed. Oh well thay are still my fathers and I love them both.

It's Funny, But. . . May 12th. at 11:41:46 pm EDT

Erin (Searcy, AR) Age: 22 - Email

I've been studying Wicca since about the age of 13. I was always afraid to admit it, since I live in a VERY small, back-woods redneck community that lives by the creed ' if it ain't baptist, it ain't christian, and if it ain't christian, it just ain't right' but I finally worked up the spine (not what I want to say, but keeping it 'family-friendly = ) ) and came out of the 'broom closet' a year ago, and it isn't anywhere NEAR as bad as I expected! The only thing--it's not even really a 'problem'--is that people see my pentacle: all they see is star, think star of david, and they think I'm jewish! The only problem i've ever had was explaining to people that 'no, I'm not jewish, this is not the star of david, it's a pentacle' anything they ask after that is purely out of curiousity, and I'm more than happy to oblige! = )

Witch Hunts Will Return.... May 13th. at 12:06:07 am EDT

lynda (california) Age: 31 - Email

I am very open about my religion and my sexual orientation, I speak out when others are misinformed about wicca and I try to dispel rumors. I also know for a fact that the witch hunts will return soon because I can feel it in my soul...If you look out at the world today we as humans are still afraid of our own shadows...It's in use to destroy what we fear....even with all the technology...cell phones, t.v.s, lights in ever corner of our homes...we still fear the night and what it entails. I know that one day I will have to make a choice between what I believe in and possible death....What will I choose...I don't know...I know that we will all come to that cross-road some day..I hope you all out there will make the right choice also. Some will say that I don't know what I'm talking about others will agree...if your open to the truth and see whats REALLY going on in the world and in our too will see it....its waiting in the shadows and it will come...I pray to the Goddess that it won't so lets hope for the best....thank you.

Blessed be!!

Oh Yeah, Got Reminded May 13th. at 6:27:56 am EDT

Starlight Bunnybutt (FL, USA) Age: 26 - Email

Someone else mentioned this. When you're out of the broom closet, there are a lot of folks who aren't intolerant, just very curious. You become like a little zoo display and they poke at you and ask ALL kinds of questions. Sometimes it's easy to take "So, do you believe in God?", and some times I just get plain fed up "Can you give me a spell to make Johnny love me?" and the worst one "If you don't cast spells, doesn't that mean you're not a real witch?". I don't think I have to explain to most of ya'll.

Mostly thats why I keep things low key, not so I don't have to deal with screaming fundies (bring it on man) , but so I don't flip my lid around people who don't mean any harm.

Oh, and I didn't mention before, but I'm not out to my family. Hard to explain to your Catholic mother "Hey, I'm a born again Goddess worshipper, and oh by the way, I'm bi!" Right, no thanks. Mom does her thing, I do mine, peace rules supreme in the fambly.

(And here's a spell to tell them when they want to "make Johnny love me". Try talking to the guy and feeding him. Usually works wonders.)

Well... May 13th. at 8:54:35 am EDT

Rawiya Storyteller (Canada) Age: 21 - Email

To most of my friends, they know my religious choice. I'm open with most people. However, there are certain situations in which I do not discuss it. With teachers, employers, etc. -- basically anyone who can use the information to cause me harm or damage or whom the fact will alter their perception of me -- I do not tell.

Family is different though. I come from a strong Catholic background, and although I don't believe in the Church, I respect the views of my mother and her parents, who think the sun rises and sets on the steeple of St. So-And-So's Catholic Church.

However, the other night I was telling my mother about a dream I had -- a friend of mine had a baby yesterday (Monday morning) . The Saturday night before, I had a dream where a woman came to me (I think that it was my vision of the Goddess, the Celtic goddess Brid) and I asked, "Is it a boy or a girl?" and I heard a voice say "It's a boy." I told my mother (I stretched the truth a little) that I HAD in fact seen the woman who spoke with me -- that it was the Goddess Brid and my mother found it very interesting.

Does that mean she'd accept my Wiccan faith? Probably not. But it's a nice thought anyway.

Heathen May 13th. at 10:53:34 am EDT

Hearthstone (Michigan) Age: 41 - Email

Immediate family and friends know; extended family, acquaintances and strangers generally don't. I do wear my hammer (in or out, however it falls) but I don't think the hammer is as much of a magnet for fundamentalists as the pentacle is (i.e. they don't know what it is :) ) . It isn't a topic of conversation that comes up often; however, it's also not a topic of conversation I'm likely to bring up myself.

What I Believe, Is What I Know, And So I Also Live It Out. May 13th. at 11:43:40 am EDT

Rede Seeker (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) Age: 48 - Email

Those words, courtesy of Guido von List, the great Armanen Runemanster sums up my position.

If the subject comes up, I am open about my beliefs. I wear the pentacle, hammer, or valknot when I feel called to do so. I lecture on runic topics at Psychic Festivals and Pagan Pride days; I ask for 'newWitch' magazine at the information counter of my local bookstore. I'm an 'up front' kind of person anyway so the people who know me, know this about me. I'm also somewhat lucky. When I do tell folks what I am (Asatru) , I receive respectful questions and general interest. Being female in a male-dominated field has hampered my career more than being a heathen.

I'm interested in the age demographics of this survey. My theory is that as one approaches Elderhood in their Way of Choice, they also 'come out' - either consciously or by example and association. You cannot choose a way of life, follow it 'religiously' and not have it reflected in your daily life - an Elder 'also live (s) it out'.

Being Out Is Important So People Can See We're Not Freaks May 13th. at 3:21:04 pm EDT

Robin (New Mexico) Age: 40 - Email

I am very open about my beliefs and involvement in the local pagan community. I fortunately work in a setting where respecting diversity is strongly valued. I have not had any overtly negative responses in the years that I have been "out" (about 4 years now) . I have had one fundie tell me she'd pray for me - oh well, she was annoying but I can always use more prayers to any deity on my behalf. I have had more positive responses than I can count, from the curiousity many others have described to other pagans in this setting who are closeted but very relieved to make contact with another pagan. I work with many young adults and so that openness to support them is very important in my mind.

Only when people get through their head that witches are not all those awful things they've been taught will we be close to being safe. We aren't safe now, but then a lot of other groups aren't either. Familiarity makes it a lot harder to demonize something. People need to know that we are contributing members of society trying to grow and do the right thing, just like they do in their ways. More are okay with that than are not, around here, and in part I think it's because we have a very large and open pagan community.

Out, Out And About May 13th. at 3:29:22 pm EDT

KatRivers (Central Kentucky) Age: 38 - Email

I believed in the Goddess before I knew anything about her and I've considered myself a pagan since I was 8 years old. I have always found it difficult to ignore her presence in my life and in my spiritual/physical/mental being. My family has always known I was "different" and, really, they've always been fairly accepting of my spiritual beliefs. (However, I should say that I was raised in southeastern Ohio (Adams/Brown/Highland Counties) and folks there tend to fall into two religious camps: (a) fundamentalism or (b) it's all a bunch of B.S. anyway, so one set of beliefs is as good as another. Also, even though my maternal grandmother called herself a Methodist, she was also an herbalist, practiced animal husbandry, and claimed to have cast a curse over her ex-husband.)
Anyway, I have self-identified as pagan since I was very young and I have called myself a witch at least since I was 12 or 13 -- maybe even younger. This did cause me problems in high school. My classmates always thought I was a bit odd and my boyfriend chalked up any emotions he felt for me to being under a spell! However, my close friends accepted me (one of whom was also Wiccan) and I had a high school science teacher who practiced Wicca. One of my aunts, a staunch Jehovah's Witness, was convinced that I was doomed to go to hell and constantly pushed anti-Satanism/anti-witchcraft literature on me. Because I lived in a Christian culture, this literature did sometimes lead me to fear for my soul, etc.
In college, in the mid-80s, I embraced my witch self, disembraced it, embraced it, etc. In 1995, I squelched my religious beliefs because they upset the man with whom I was living. I was miserable. Recently, (in 2000) , I decided that I was going to be who I am and not worry about it. Now, I am a faculty member at a college and I proudly display a grapevine pentagram on the wall of my office. Although I don't proselytize, when religion is discussed in class and my students ask me what spiritual path I follow, I don't hesitate to tell them. This has offended exactly two people in the past six years (both of whom were uptight Christian fundamentalists) . I freely admit to my paganism in front of my co-workers. Although I feel certain that I am the object of a certain amount of gossip around campus, no one has said anything to my face and I can't see that my openness has negatively affected my job evaluations.
I don't think that witch hunts are going to return to America, despite the fact that the Moron in Chief has publicly stated that "Wicca ain't a religion." Hey, I think he ain't really presidential material, but that doesn't change the fact that he's the prez!
Someone responded to this message by saying that the more "elder" she becomes, the less she cares about whether people are upset by her spiritual beliefs. To that I would say, "Blessed be, Sister." Finally, I was reading an article the other day in which a woman wrote (I'm paraphrasing here, but I think I'm writing close to what she wrote) :
When we're eighteen, we care what everybody thinks of us.
When we're forty, we don't really give a darn what anyone else thinks of our actions.
When we're sixty, we realize that no one was ever really watching us to begin with.

I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying: I'll never be in the closet again, even if I have to rearrange my life around my spiritual beliefs. As I tell my young nieces and nephews: It's your life, so let your freak monkey swing. - Kat

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