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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: 19,661,105  

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Reponses: 181

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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, Myself, Am, And Have Always Been "out" Of The Broomcloset. I... Sep 1st. at 9:48:25 am EDT

Melissa Carsey (Tampa, Florida US) Age: 25 - Email

I, myself, am, and have always been "out" of the broomcloset. I just feel better being able to express my whole self to the world... it makes me more comfortable with me, and with others (because I don't feel i'm "putting on" others by hiding myself).

I do, however, understand the necessity for those who choose to stay "in" the broomcloset. Wicca, witchcraft, paganism all have had "secrecy" as a safeguard and as a lifeboat in history. Secrecy is the reason why this path is still around today, for us and others to choose to follow. Granted, today isn't like the days of the Inquisition, or the Salem witch trials.. but, secrecy nonetheless, has it's roots in our path.

So, although I am out of the broomcloset, I have no resentment towards those who are not.

Well... I Am Very Open And Most Of The Time The First... Sep 1st. at 11:42:17 am EDT

KT Schulze (woodstock, Georgia US) Age: 18 - Email

well... i am very open and most of the time the first person to tell someone that i am wiccan...
but i just ended up hanging out with the wrong people and went to jail for 4 weeks...

while i was in jail i felt the need to pretend that i was christian because i was affraid of what the other inmates might do to me if they found out that i wasnt christian and then to think of what they would have done if they knew i was wiccan...

so in mu opinion i guess there are times when its ok to be in the "broomcloset" and times not to be..
i guess its just what u feel is right ....

An Age Old Question...... Until 1951 It Seemed Being In The Broomcloset... Sep 1st. at 12:16:14 pm EDT

Raymond (Boston (now), Massachusetts US) Age: 25 - Email

An age old question......

Until 1951 it seemed being in the broomcloset was a matter of necessity. Now, it would seem, an open expression of your faith should not even be in question. I mean after all this is the beginning of the 21st century and even the Catholic church has "apologized" for its role in religious persecution. Well, in a perfect world, everyone could live as they chose. We are not in a perfect world. So when it comes to outwardly expressing your beliefs it is ultimately a matter of personal choice. There is not a right choice or a wrong choice, there is only choice. My personal opinion is live the best life you can in accordance with Wiccan laws, if you profess to practice Witchcraft. Living your life as a Witch out in the open does not necessarily mean being aggressive and "in your face." I know it is very frustrating to not be recognized by society as a valid member because you just happen to believe in the Lord AND Lady, BUT (and this is very important) these kinds of tactics are not our way. Witches (at least this is my understanding) were not and should not now be known for the confrontational tactics most often adopted by (forgive me for this...) fervent religious right groups.

There are enough Jerry Farwells in the world now, we don't need the Wiccan version. I believe we should live as Witches and be mindful of who we are and what we believe. When we are questioned about our beliefs, we should be honest about them and try to educate the ignorant. We don't have to go around waving the pentacle flag and shouting "We're here, we're Witches, get used to it..." We have to remember those who followed the old ways of Magick were the teachers and community leaders. We need to reclaim this status. I personally feel many of us have succumbed to the pressure of responding in kind to many persecuting groups. The reason the Craft has survived for so long is because those who knew, knew how to not respond. How many religions have been stamped out because its followers went to war for what they believed? This is not the answer. Allowing people to see you as a Witch and as an upstanding moral, functioning member of society may serve to ease some if not all of their uneducated concerns. So when the question of "in" or "out" is posed, I answer out, but use your head and your heart. I am originally from the Southern U.S., the heart of the bible belt. My mother does not know about my beliefs because she has not asked. She is VERY religious and I'm sure would not take well my chosen faith. I would, however, tell her the truth if she asked. This would undoubtedly cause me to lose my mom (my closest relative) and I would be devastated. If this happened, I don't really know what I would do, but I do know this, I would recall the stories of the many Witches who were tortured and killed for what they believed and the many Witches who lost so much more besides family because they didn't believe in the religion of the day. I would recall this and kling to this, because this would get me through that very tough time. I know my mother, she would eventually come around, 'cause she loves me, not because she's a bible-toting christian, but because she's mom...the Goddess on Earth. Don't fear....have faith. I do......
Blessed Be!

I Think That Each Person Should Make Their Own Choice To Be... Sep 1st. at 12:30:59 pm EDT

Kaylara Nightshade (Ocean Twp, New Jersey US) Age: 19 - Email

I think that each person should make their own choice to be either in or out of the broom closet. Personally, I am out of the broom closet and very open about it, but I understand the reasons why some people are uncomfortable with coming forward. I will fight for pagan rights even if some people don't like that "in your face" attitude and/or don't support me. It's their decision and their life. I can only live my own... Blessed be!

I Think You Can Be Both In And Out Of The Broomcloset... Sep 1st. at 1:11:05 pm EDT

Correne (Waterloo, Ontario CA) Age: 20 - Email

I think you can be both in and out of the broomcloset. I am very careful of who I tell about my religious preferences. My close friends and family are aware of my choices, but other than that, very few know that I'm Pagan. I have never been a fan of 'in your face' religions and it's my goal to never promote Wiccan or Paganism as being one of them. I simply follow the rule of "if I trust them enough to tell them, and it could possibly affect them" I'll say something. In most other situations I keep quiet. If someone asks me, I'll be open, and I'm not afraid to wear my pentacle... but you will never catch me screaming out "I'm Pagan and proud of it."

Ok, First And Foremost One Must First Review All The Pros And... Sep 1st. at 2:03:57 pm EDT

the everchild (Manlius, New York US) Age: 22 - Email

Ok, first and foremost one must first review all the pros and cons of coming in or out. There are pros and cons...

Pro : One may live ones life openly without fear.(and many other pros depending on individual circumstances)

Con: One could get hurt, ignored, ostracized, ect or your children for that matter or even worse. (and many other cons depending on individual circumstances)

in my case it was a whole lot easier to respond to questions or simply wear an ornament, due to my care free nature in many aspects of my life. When asked of my opinion I would give it as straight and clear as possible. Sure, I did not have the problem of being ostracized by those inmeadiattely around me for they were really understanding. My mother, being a pentescostal evangelic did not agree but she had to accept it one way or the other. My ex-companion firmly believes that my beliefs would eventually turn me to evil, hence we could not relate in a spiritual degree, and even still we are trying to find out a way in which we can bring up our children beleiving in something, a hard task unto itself. Yet I decided to go out by the age of 17 under the guidance of Saga, and I suffered too little to almost no harrassment in my past jobs. So I can say I was lucky, sure there exists extreme religious intolerance where I come from in Puerto Rico. But little by little I hear it has gotten better.

Yet not everyone lives in favorable conditions all the time. There are people (younglings for example) who get beaten by expressing their beliefs, or other who just lose thier jobs and cannot bring a paycheck to their houses. Others get divorced. And many other extremely hostile enviroments that one must take into account.

I for one am in a good position to express my beliefs, so I do. Yet even then I am carefull so as to not let the consequences of my actions affect those who do not deserve to be affected (as my children, friends, ect, ). And I know of others who are in a not so well a position and cannot risk letting their beliefs known due to the persecution that will ensue.

So what do I propose, I propose that those who have the courage to step up under any circumstances... to do so, not only for themselves but also for those that will lose too much by doing so. Theres nothing worse than being in a place where your thoughts can get you hurt or worse, and I recognize that many people live in fear that way.

After the burning times and the hangings and all that has transpired afterwards, I cannot blame those who choose to stay hidden... instead they must be praised by holding to their beliefs under such adversity, and hope that they may find people with whom they can share their thoughts (so that eventually they group up to the point that they can become a strong healthy influence in their comunity).

Not everyone is a one human army.

And to those who choose to fight openly... I praise with much fervor, for without those who band together to fight (and I re-enfasize in BANDING TOGETHER) then we would all still be in hiding.

It is wrong to force another into coming out just because I did. In time the person will decide what to do, wisely. And my sincere recomendation is that if one wishes to express ones beliefs openly but fears coming out because of the mayhem that comes afterwards... seek others of like mind. That always helps. A candle alone can be blown out by a gentle breeze... but woe to those who try to quench an inferno. Or better yet, a single drop of water can evaporate quickly depending on the heat, but try to evaporate a whole sea in a second. Alas in simpler terms: in unity there is strength.

Weigh your options... and make a wise choice.

No Matter What Religion One Believes's Not Good To Be... Sep 1st. at 2:47:01 pm EDT

Belle (Fort Collins, Colorado US) Age: 26 - Email

No matter what religion one believes's not good to be "in your face" - noone appreciates someone who tries to tell you that their way is the only way. Right? However, I don't believe in hidiing who you are - and religion should not be hidden because it says a lot about a person. Our goal should be to educate and help people understand paganism - not be "in their face". In most situations I am proud to say I am a witch; but there are certain times when some things are better left unsaid; you can not change a mind that won't listen to rationalization.

Out of the closet and LOVING IT!!!

I Have Some Pretty Strong Feelings About This Subject. I've Been Out... Sep 1st. at 4:01:34 pm EDT

Gryphontamer Azurewing'd (Corona, California US) Age: 29 - Email

I have some pretty strong feelings about this subject.

I've been out since the day I figured out I was pagan. I started out studying Wicca, then recently discovered that Druidism was what really spoke to me. I'm now part of a grove in my area (this all happened within the past two weeks). I have a pentacle on my car, I wear a pentacle and an amulet bag at all times, and if anyone asks, I'll talk about my faith ("Yes, I'm a witch. Specifically, I'm a Druid. What would you like to know?"). What I don't do is walk up to people wearing crosses or crucifixes and get in their face about my faith or theirs. But if asked, I don't hide what I am. I couldn't do that and still be true to myself.

My husband is Catholic and doesn't really understand. He complains about me going out in the middle of the night for ritual. I can understand that. But at the same time, it's when I practice.

I'm out to my mother, my mother's partner, my father, and just about all of my friends. I would like to be out to my brothers, but I never see them -- one is away at school and the other lives in a house with no phone. I do know my younger brother and his wife are Goddess worshipers, but I'm not sure what flavor of paganism they follow (at least, not yet).

I shocked an ex-coworker who called the other day to invite me to her Foursquare Gospel church when I told her that I was attending our local Unitarian Universalist church and that I was not Christian. It turned out to be a much pleasanter conversation that I'd hoped for; she understood when I said "many paths, one destination." I'm not out to my husband's family, although I think my sister-in-law would understand, because his mother would freak. There's no way that she could ever understand what I believe.

I do tend to be rather "in-your-face" about my beliefs with people who challenge me on them or tell me I'm going to hell. But I don't go up and "witness" or proselytize at people who are obviously Christian. That's not my way. I just ask that my beliefs be respected.

As far as "should you be out"? That's a personal decision. Personally I don't insist that any of my other pagan friends come out. But I will be out, and I will not be quiet about it if someone attacks my faith. So I guess I qualify as an in-your-facer when it comes to that. But I sympathize with those who want to be out but can't be, for whatever reason.

A friend of mine in my grove is 15. His mother is Native American. He's Druid, like me. His school started yesterday and for the first time he wore a pentacle to school. Everyone was asking him "What's that?" And his simple response was, "I'm a witch." Nobody had a problem with it, apparently. A lot of the other kids responded "Oh, how cool!" That's the kind of world I'm hoping for for my own children.

If I don't stop now, I'll probably keep going :)

Blessed be.

I May Choose To Discuss My Religion When I Am Comfortable Doing... Sep 1st. at 4:08:03 pm EDT

Fareesha (Nelson, British Columbia CA) Age: 33

I may choose to discuss my religion when I am comfortable doing so. I am both in and out of the broom closet :) Then again, I don't believe that people need to run around announcing their political or religious beliefs anyway unless the occassion permits/suits the need.

Personally I Am "out Of The Broomcloset" When The Question About My... Sep 1st. at 6:41:25 pm EDT

Kerri (Windsor, Ontario CA) Age: 18 - Email

Personally I am "Out of the broomcloset" when the question about my faith comes up, I answer honestly and volunteer to answer any questions. However, I don't scream it from the mountain top that I am Wiccan. I am proud of my faith and of my heritage but I'm not going to throw it in other people's faces. I feel that your faith is something personal, you wouldn't announce to the world that you had great sex last night would you? People who are "in your face" about their faith bother me, no matter what religion they belong to, whether it's the streetcorner preacher, or the "Witch" at school who flaunts her faith like it was a Gucci bag. Your personal relationship with God(s) is something to be proud of and draw strength fron, answer questions honestly, but if you're too flamboyant with it you'll find that you'll turn people off. No one likes a Bible thumper, or a magic thumper for that matter.

I Like To Show People The Courtesy That I Expect From Them... Sep 1st. at 7:12:54 pm EDT

blackthorne (walnut creek, California US) Age: 35 - Email

I like to show people the courtesy that I expect from them. I don't expect the question about religion to come up with people in the workplace because I consider it rude, and I also do not want to know what religion the other workers are..If they want to tell me fine..but I don't want religion to be a game of show and tell. Even people who are pagan-friendly can be obnoxious with thier questions. I have had occasion to tell people about it at times, and I have had

the most wonderfull of not caring. Total Apathy. I think that we can all revel in what a wonderfull think in these times.

I Like To Think That I Have One Foot In And One... Sep 1st. at 8:08:17 pm EDT

Spicy (Victoria, British Columbia CA) Age: 26 - Email

I like to think that I have one foot in and one foot out.I have been rudiculed so many times about my religion that it is hard for me to maintain the "out of the closet".I wear my pentacle with pride and I answer questions openly and honestly to those that really want to hear.Others just give the "look" and carry on.My closest friends and my family know my religion.However my mother being a baptist had a problem with it in the beginning untill she took the time to listen to me and to stop thinking of me as a "broom-riding satanist".I feel that society has driven people to think of evil when they hear the word witch or when they see a pentacle.I was told at work to not wear my pentacle and I took it off right then and there and asked them to take off their cross.Discrimination, hatered and ignorance has what kept me some-what in the closet for the saftey of my children and my home.

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