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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: 24,934,134  

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Question of the Week: 4 - 8/27/2000

The Broomcloset-In or Out?... What's YOUR View?

Some Pagans feel that it might be better if everyone Pagan was just open about their beliefs. Some, on the other hand, are sick of 'in your face' Pagans or groups. Others feel that in some areas of the country being "in" is almost a necessity. But we've also heard some background grumbling that expresses rather resentfully that those who remain hidden are simply reaping the benefits earned-while experiencing none of the backlash-by those who are openly fighting for pagan rights.

The apprehension of what the impact of openly declaring a pagan belief might be on a family or work relationship is as much a concern in the decision-making process as what the reaction of a neighborhood or community might be in other cases. So, are YOU in or out? How far out is 'too far' out? What are the pitfalls or the rewards? Why should everyone be out, in, or just make his or her own decision about the broomcloset occupancy rate.

 Reponses:   There are 181 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

I Guess It's Not The Matter Of Either Being In Or Out... Aug 28th. at 1:46:34 am EDT

Zenith Nyte Shadowwit (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) Age: 18 - Email

I guess it's not the matter of either being in or out of your broomcloset, it rather should be is it necessary, or what are the consequences if you stay in or out? I think for a person like me, living in Malaysia, a rather Islamic country, I prefer to keep my broomcloset closed, why? Simply because it would not stir a controversy around the community.

I think it's a rather personal choice, either approach must be evaluated to suit your needs. Have anyone ever wonder why do we really need tocome out of the broomcloset, we're not an evangelical path, we hope as long as you keep to your religion, stay in your beautiful way, harm none, and we can mutually live side-by-side.

However, that is only an uthopian dream many witches would dream of, reality wise, is very very different. The truth with witchcraft is that it's a neutral path, many were left with the stigma of an evil wart-face lady riding on the broom. This of course, we know is not true, but seriously, have we ever thought of witches from other cultures? Indonesia is famous for witchcraft, and its malicious form is widely used, then how can we justify witchcraft, remember, by saying witchcraft is for the good, we're only defining ourselves, and if they cannot get a satisfied answer, they might harm us.

Therefore, if it's not necessary, I advise ourselves to stay in the broom closet, in that way, they can have their wild ideas about witchcraft and we can practice our own safe ways. Isn't it ideally what we really want?

It Would Be Nice If Everyone Stood Up, Opened That Closet Door... Aug 28th. at 1:50:44 am EDT

Rondy (Baltimore, Maryland US) Age: 22 - Email

It would be nice if everyone stood up, opened that closet door, and walked bravely into the sunlight. This is a very personal decision, I understand that completely. I do think it is important for us to be "out of the broom closet" so we are counted and have the ability to force Politicans to take us seriously and view us as American voters. Strange as it may sound, I myself am a very hardline Republican. I'm proud to tell my friends and those who walk the Paths that I am a Republican. I want to bring a Pagan voice to an old, tired Party that needs to open it's eyes and face reality. Do any of us want the Ten Commandments posted in PUBLIC schools? Hell no! What is the lesser of two evils in the White House, Gore or Bush? I had hopes for Bush until he made his ignorant comments about Paganism and Witchcraft, and I will not be voting for either candidate. We need more Pagans and Witches to step out and be counted, so we can enjoy what is supposed to be our Country as well. Perhaps we should start our own Political Party?

I Somewhere In Between Inside Or Out. Cuase I Have One Friend... Aug 28th. at 2:03:41 am EDT

Artemis Moonshadow (kfar Saba - Israel, Israel) Age: 15

I somewhere in between inside or out. Cuase I have one friend who I'm completly out with and acturally understand what it means to be Pagan.

My parents have seen my Tarot card deck and BOS (they haven't read it) and my brother orders books from the Internet for me. So I guess I am technically out.

I've just never said "Hey guess what, I'm a Witch", which I doubt I ever will.

My brother's figured it out, and makes fun of me, he's Atheist, but he loves me so he just makes a few jokes here and there.

My dad, everytime I light insense askes me If I'm doing an exorsism. My mother I think is sure but she's never said anything so I guess she's okay with it.

The family that doesn't live at home don't know. And I don't think they should.

I think that as long as you're under age, like I am and many other new comers to the Craft, you should tell the people you live with, also they don't get a heart attack when that find you chanting an invocation to Hecate, or talking to the moon about your day.

I also think that as long as your honest with your family or friends then you're fine.

I've never lied about my beliefs, no one in my family has ever asked me how I see the Diety, if they did ask me I'd say I'm an Agnostic, which I am but I'm also animistic and polytheistic in my veiws.

Most of my family is Atheist, but we keep Jewish traditions for the sake of tradition, I respect that, I used to believe in that, and you have to do as your parents tell you untill you're of age and I'm digressing.

Any way, if you're a teen and in the Closet and want to come out, try leaving around a book or start wearing a SMALL Pentacle, it helps.

If you're an adult, I don't know what to tell you since I'm not in your postion yet, but good luck any way.

May the Gods Bless

There's A Crucial Difference Between Just Being Out Of The Closet And... Aug 28th. at 2:18:22 am EDT

Lindsey M. Crossley-Freer (New York, New York US) Age: 19 - Email

There's a crucial difference between just being out of the closet and open about your beliefs, and being part of an "in your face" group. Personally, I will tell people if they ask, and I wear a pentacle, but if they don't ask, I don't feel the need to tell them. I am strongly against proselytizing of any sort, whether it be by Pagans or any other group or person with a set of religious beliefs. If I felt compelled to tell others I wouldn't be secure in my beliefs. I think feeling like "I've gotta tell someone" is really a feeling of the need for validity in ones beliefs. If you can't find that within yourself yet, then join a community of like-minded people, online or off. That's what churches for all groups are for- for people to come together in religious worship and in doing so feel that their belief systems are valid and that they are part of a community.

I Am Out Of The Closet With Close Friends And Family. And... Aug 28th. at 2:26:38 am EDT

Erica (Layton, Utah US) Age: 21 - Email

I am out of the closet with close friends and family. And with co workers who care to ask or make comments that irk me. Just so they know where I am coming from. But it all depends on where you are from. I am in the military so I have the possibility of going places where the culture is not as open as here in the states. I wouldn't be "out of the broomcloset" say in Turkey for example or Saudi, here I am okay with it. As long as people stay away from my family and close friends (who are almost all pagan) then it is fine. I haven't had any backlash from it yet. But I am aware of the possibility, especially because I am now in Utah. The center of the Mormon religion. Who by the way have no separation of church and state.

I Am New To The Pagan World, Having Been Brought Up As... Aug 28th. at 3:07:48 am EDT

malcolm fletcher (ipswich, Queensland AU) Age: 42 - Email

i am new to the pagan world, having been brought up as a christian and following that upbringing unto my present age of 42.

the debate of wether to declare yourself a pagan or not is going on in the christian church too, the question being somewhat altered (insert christian instead of pagan). there is no easy answer.

have i declared that i feel more like a pagan than a christian to my family and friends, no, because i do not want to hurt them and am afraid of the backlash it may bring. should i. the easy answer is yes, as that is the honest thing to do. what has the result historically speaking, of this honesty. well i have learnt that you call it the burning times, a time that you would not like to see returned. the christian church, out of which i have recently came, is celebrating a new resurgence of fundementalism, is this a cause for concern.

i cannot say, a former friend of mine, however, and a high up in my church, suggest that the "old laws" returning witches should be brought back as they were responsible for the evils now abroad in society, and the crowd to whom he was speaking (around 2300) cheered. it really comes down o how comfortable you feel declaring that you are a pagan or whitch or druid or whatever, and leaving those that are not yet ready, or have no desire to announce themselves to themselves. by declaring that those that dont declare themselves are gaining a benefit from "your declaratio" makes you sound more like a church or political party than some-one walking a path.

thankyou for letting me state my opinion and if you want to send me an e-mail please do so.

Merry Meet To All, I'm 18 And Have Been Practice For A... Aug 28th. at 4:23:07 am EDT

Alantis (Earth, Nevada US) Age: 18 - Email

Merry meet to all,

I'm 18 and have been practice for a little over a year and have not tryed to wear a pentacal yet. as of late I've played with the ideal but have not found just the right one. Does this mean I'm in the closet? No, but life is far to short to be so serious so after about three months I told my fairly openminded hippy type mom and she told the rest of the family with her jokes and so it became known at my house but no one really cares so we don't speak of it much. I'm not sure how it got out at school, I don't remember telling anyone, but a friend of mine asked if I would join her coven and when I asked her how she knew that I was a witch she replyed that I just seemed the sort. Well Ok so all I can say is that basically everyone knows except the people at walmart, sorry but one day I listened while my co worker completely spat on that name of witches she being a good christian and all and I proably should have stood up to her and told her that her friends kid had a right to choose what ever religion she wanted but I didn't. And the funny thing is that she still tells me how bad witchcraft is and how her daughter, who I know use, to be one but she came to her senses and sometimes I feel like saying I'm a witch please don't belittle my friends before me but I don't want to get fired and she would get me fired. What do you think I should do? In out?

Blessed is the journey

Merry Meet! I Think An Aggressive, "in Your Face" Pagan Stance Is... Aug 28th. at 4:37:13 am EDT

Paul Starbuck (Mentone, California US) Age: 61 - Email

Merry Meet! I think an aggressive, "in your face" Pagan stance is not much different from the Fundie proselytizing we (quite rightfully!) abhor. In this spirit, I maintain a kind of quiet, receptive attitude. Should the question ever arise as to what my religious beliefs are, I am prepared to state them succinctly and rationally. Short of this, when occassions occur in which I may educate non- Pagans re our beliefs, I do so with economy. I've found, for example, that the tenets of The Rede and The Threefold Way are almost universally accepted, even when quoted verbatim. Should one choose to exit the broom closet, such action should be preceded by establishing sound interpersonal communications, and emphasizing the "commonsensical" aspects of Wicca. Nor is it unsound policy to emphasize similarities, such as magick vis-a-vis conventional prayer.

I hope my opinions have been of service to our community.

Blessed Be,

As More And More Pagans Are Coming Out Of The Broom Closet... Aug 28th. at 6:12:51 am EDT

Morrighana (Houston, Texas US) Age: 14 - Email

As more and more pagans are coming out of the Broom Closet, I think it is safe for the "In-closet" pagans to step out and say:


But to those who wish not to declare thier beliefs, I understand whole heartidly. Everyone is given a choice, and I certainly do not think pagans should be forced to do something they feel is not right.

On the other hand, it is sites like the Witches Voice that have made me feel comfortable and at home in the pagan community; enabling me to open up to others who ask what religion I am.

When they look suprised, I only explain myself to them if they ask, otherwise, I walk away. Most people feel awkward after I tell them I am pagan, and others are quite interested.

Anyway, I would like to see witches come out and show themselves in the light.
It would mean so much to me and I'm sure, to many others.

Religious Beliefs Should Be Held In Conversation The Same As Sexual Preferences... Aug 28th. at 6:40:07 am EDT

Michelle Manchion (Greeley, Colorado US) Age: 31 - Email

Religious beliefs should be held in conversation the same as sexual preferences, in my opinion. There is a time and a place for everything. I guess I would be considered out of the closet because those who know me really do know me. I do not hide the fact that I am a Witch nor do I force it on anyone. The people who want to know what I believe will ask me, and I will happily explain what I believe to them. I wear a pentacle just as a christian might wear a cross. I am just as proud of my path as they are of theirs. There is no difference. I do feel that if we are to be recognized in our communities as capable contributors in a positive manner that we should be out of the closet. If more people were aware of the number of Witches there actually are in their community then they might be open to understanding or tolerating at the very least. Many people don't know of the beauty of the Craft, all they know is the sterotypes. How are these sterotypes to be corrected if all the Witches are in hiding? Along the same lines... how is our religious beliefs to be taken seriously as a valid religion if people don't admit that they practice?

Yes And No (that's Helpful, Right?). As A Wiccan Author It Is... Aug 28th. at 7:23:58 am EDT

Patricia Telesco (western, New York US) Age: 40 - Email

Yes and No (that's helpful, right?). As a Wiccan author it is hard for me to hide in a broom closet (not to mention my broom objecting). However, since not everyone is Wiccan, and not everyone looks at these books in the store, I still have a modicome of privacy. Am I ashamed of being a folk magician/witch? Nope! Am I carefully judicious about how I describe my books and life to others - you bet! I see no great need to hang a shingle on my home that says "Witch within." While I wish it were otherwise, this seems to invite trouble for our family (especially the children who already face tremendous peer pressure). When people ask what I write about, I often say "folklore, herbalism, history, new age stuff..." and other PC things.. all of which is true, it just doesn't scream Witch. Additionally I consider my faith a private matter (except where I choose to share it publically). Does this cause a conflict considering my vocation - yes. I struggle with it all the time -- How much to say, when to say it, when to remain silent and simply LIVE the magick. As someone else said "to everything there is a season" and since we don't stand on street corners thumping books of shadow, being out of the broom closet is a very personal choice - one that often accompanies the calling to educate the public or defend our faith. We need our public pagans and wiccans, and when called to such duties I have, and will continue to, respond as I feel it's part of my responsibility as a member of the community.

Out For Me For Sure! Being A Fire Sign, I Can't Stand... Aug 28th. at 7:34:37 am EDT

Jessica (Schenectady, New York US) Age: 26 - Email

Out for me for sure! Being a Fire sign, I can't stand having something to hide.

I've been open about what I am at every place I have worked, and so far the only reactions have been curiosity. If there had been anything hostile, I would simply have found someplace else to work. I don't bring it up at work necessarily, but if the subject comes up in conversation, I am honest about my spirituality. At my current workplace (one that I very much enjoy and hope I keep for a long, long time), I discovered that one of my coworkers was a Wiccan because I divulged my pagan nature!

I know that some people have a lot to lose by being open, but there is also so much to gain. It's a difficult decision for a lot of people, I know that--however, the rewards of coming out include a serious sense of relief. You're coming from a new position of power--no longer anything to hide, and there are some people who will respect you more for having courage.

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