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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: 19,675,286  

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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 

Well I Am Out. I Hav Always Been A Public Witch But... Sep 2nd. at 2:21:48 am EDT

Fey (Hubbard, Ohio US) Age: 38 - Email

Well I am out. I hav always been a public witch but as I am sure you know it can be hazardous and always entertaining. ( car vandalized, threats, cat exterminated.) But I could not live in the closet. I have more than enough trouble being one person let alone two.

But all joking aside I really respect the members of our group for their choice to stay in the closet. I know this choice is a hard one because so much comes into play. You have the right to be an open witch....but can youu live with what may occur afterwards. So sadly enough that is what it comes down to...what is right and what you can live with.

But I also feel that to stay underground merely helps encourage the air of doubt and lack of knowledge that got us a little hot in past generations. Fear=Doubt=Suspicion=Hate. How can we blast away at the clouds surrounding us if everyone is not able to stand and be counted. So you see I am at a cross purpose. It is a rough call to make but in the end it is your call.

Well. I Used To Be Very Open And Didnt Care Who Knew... Sep 2nd. at 3:07:28 am EDT

Aspen (Gulf Shores, Alabama US) Age: 17 - Email

Well. I used to be very open and didnt care who knew that i was Wiccan.But i ran into a large problem.The majority of the people in my city and especially my school are, by their heritage, very descriminitory. That group of peple got the information of the members of my coven and started harassing us.Now this was not a just a group of kids harassing us with the usual "FREAK", this was a very large group of the more known people making threats on our lives.

Well we took the matter to the faculty and made complaints, and were ignored the first time. So the parents again scheduled a confrence, and were againg ignored, because the faculty knew we were not chirstian, and held that to mean that we were lowest priority. We took the matter to our local law enforcement and got some of the kids making death treats put in jail(due to their privious police records) and took the matter with the administration to the board of education, and had my principal "fired".

Im still open about my beliefs, but im more selective on who knows now. But I do belive that all pegans should be open to some extent, we dont need to be yelling out to everyone we pass, but we also dont need to keep it a secret.

This Is A Very Good Question For All Wiccans And Pagans To... Sep 2nd. at 3:47:17 am EDT

Dragonis Firemist (Harwinton, Connecticut US) Age: 41

This is a very good question for all Wiccans and Pagans to seriously give thought to. Some of the things to factor in are, your social position in the comunity in which you live, the type of job you have and the position you hold in the company. For example with myself I let the people in my comunity know my religious beliefs if they ask, followed by an explanation of what it is. Yet at my job there are people who know what my religous beliefs are and I am constantly being reminded to not let the clients I work with know. I am a counselor for troubled boys in a reform school and I have been warned that my religous beliefs are not open for discussion with any of them. I have also had to be very careful in some public settings as to whom I mention what my religion is, the other day I was in a shop which sold curio items, that so many of us Wiccans like to explore, when the clerk mentioned to me about a youth craft day sponsored by a local Christian church. The clerk new my position as a counselor, but did not know my religious beliefs, when asked I explained in detail and was told by another customer in the vicinity that my beliefs where sacriligous at the least and that society should still burn people like us. One must be careful what one says in public, there are still fundies who do not like us.

Personal Safety And Safety Of Family And Friends Should Be Taken Into... Sep 2nd. at 8:41:24 am EDT

Cellina Rhiannon (Madison, Virginia US) Age: 28 - Email

Personal safety and safety of family and friends should be taken into consideration while timidly stepping out of the closet. Everyone has a right to privacy especially in a world where that is slipping away from us. I feel that if one is comfortable with the pace of exposure, then one has a right to either linger in the doorway or come out with drums and horns blazing. It is up to the individual and should at no time feel threatened or harrassed. We are each unique and sensitive persons here to bring in the light of enlightenment to all. It is up to each how this done. The decision isn't just black and white, many parts of life are realy quite gray.

I've Always Believed That It's A Totally Personal Decision. I Must Say... Sep 2nd. at 9:42:59 am EDT

Hera (Boston, Massachusetts US) Age: 30

I've always believed that it's a totally personal decision.

I must say that I am selective about whom I reveal my beliefs to. What I definitely know is that in today's world, people are more aware of Pagans and Wiccans than ever before. I am surprised at people's reactions sometimes.

I have nothing to hide and I am proud of my beliefs and the path that I have chosen. I don't feel like I need to advertise to the world that I am a Witch, but I do believe that I have the right to speak of my beliefs just as freely as someone who is Catholic, etc, etc.

We've come a long way in dispelling the myths about Witchcraft, but I think we still have a way to go. As long as we continue to stand together, in time we will receive the same respect and be taken just as seriously as any other religion. Whether you choose to stay in the Broomcloset or not is a personal decision. Whatever your decision... You are Witch, and you should be proud!

Blessed Be!

I Am Out Of The "broomcloset", But I Am Also Not An... Sep 2nd. at 10:15:50 am EDT

Terre Wolf (Ynys Witrin, New York US) Age: 16 - Email

I am out of the "broomcloset", but I am also not an "in your face" pagan. I think that pagans should not hide in the "broomcloset" for fear of having people shun them. I also feel that the "in your face" pagans are a little extreme in their ways to make themselves accepted in Society no matter their beliefs. Pagans should get out of the "broomcloset" but not to the point of giving others reason to say paganism is bad. We pagans should be proud of our beliefs and be open with others about them. We should NOT however, flaunt our beliefs and make people sick of us before We are ready to fully gain our religous rights in Society.

I Have Chosen To Be In The Open About My Beliefs Since... Sep 2nd. at 11:57:32 am EDT

Tracie Montgomery (Inkom, Idaho US) Age: 39 - Email

I have chosen to be in the open about my beliefs since first deciding to follow the witchcraft path. I don't shove my belief system down anyones throat. I wear a small 14kt pentacle in open view everyday to work as a bank teller. I have had very few comments or questions, but when asked I answer the questions to the best of my ability being in a busy place of business. My co-workers don't hassle me, they respect my views, as I respect thiers. I dress like anyone else working at a bank would. I do see people that walk around town, wearing one of every type pentacle they can fit on their person, dressed in black. I even have one customer that is a very petite blond sporting gawdy pentacles, and a big black and pink pentacle tattoo on her forearm. I don't choose to make a spectacle of myself. I feel like if I don't want to be treated like a freak, I shouldn't present myself as such. People who want to be taken seriously, behave like everyday people, not some fashion enigma. I myself believe that the people who are really practicing the craft seriously, want to be taken seriously, and therefore don't try to scare or alarm the general public.

On my old beat up VW however I do have a small pentacle on the back window, and a wiccan fish. I see people all over with thier chistian fish, and darwin fish, so I don't feel out of place at all. I did have a JW corner me in the mcdonalds drive thru recently and hand me a watchtower. She felt that since I was openly advertising she had the right to try to save me. Oh well.

Ok, This Is A Hard One For Me. My Husband Is Celtic... Sep 2nd. at 12:20:00 pm EDT

Gray Boom (Ft. Bragg, North Carolina US) Age: 30 - Email

OK, this is a hard one for me. My husband is Celtic, and is very open about his beliefs. He is in the military and has tried to explain to people about our beliefs, although his has gotten many suprised responses, since they 'never would have thought he would be a witch'.(We are finding that not only are old sterotypes involved, but also new ones, such as 'Pagans are lazy slackers who sit around and do nothing and just use their celebration days to try to get out of working'~ geez!)

I am Eclectic. I didn't come right out and say it, but I hinted to my mother that I am a witch, and she got the hint. "I am very dissapointed in your decision" was her response, which stung at first, but I got used to it, even though I wish it were different. Anyway, most of our nieghbors know we are witches (we had a pentacle in our front yard, but it got overgrown-we were using it for a lattice). We have a foreign exchange student, which was interesting; the co-ordinator wanted to convert us, but just made us promise not to try to convert the student to witchcraft. I work in a church (Baptist); I don't think they know, I haven't said anything, but I wear my pentacle and wedding ring (it's an Irish cladagh [sorry-can't spell Gaelic]).

So with all that said, I think my point was simply this; I think it depends on the situation. I lost some family closeness because of it, I will probably lose my job because of it. I will fight for my rights as a Witch, and I am trying to organize something in our area because there are more pagans in our community than our small group can handle. All I can do is never give up the hope that someday everyone will learn acceptance of each other, both inside the pagan community and amongst those with other beliefs.

I've Been Openly Pagan For About 5 Years Now,(closet Pagan For... Sep 2nd. at 1:35:37 pm EDT

Terri Vega (New Carlisle, Indiana US) Age: 36 - Email

I've been openly Pagan for about 5 years now, (Closet Pagan for almost all the years prior in my life) although I don't broadcast it to the world on the street corner. When I'm asked about my beliefs I openly share them and do my best to disolve any of the crazy stereotype beliefs that so often accompany people who are uninformed about Paganism. I have found personally, that working with the similarites of religous beliefs, more often than not, result in a better communication cycle than if say, I were to explain the differences of belief. When one focuses on difference it seems to open the floor for arguement. When the similarites are found however, the non-pagan (in my experience)is more receptive and tends to view me as an equal. The human experience tends to pyscologically classify people into two groups-Us and Them. When a person sees you as an "Us", I have found they are more willing to listen to a different opinon when the proper time presents itself. I think patience and silience can be very powerful tools. There are those of course, who have fallen beyond any reasonable ability to converse on an open and intelligent level. In these extreme cases, I would choose not to continue any conversation and except the fact that the person or people are not spiritually ready yet. If violence becomes an issue...well, unfortunatly I would choose to fight back. I have no intention of allowing the blatent discrimination and dangers of the past to re-evolve. I strongly believe that unless we continue to come together as a community, our rights will be taken away. Therefore, I think the time is right for all Pagans, Wiccans, etc.. to make their beliefs known.

I Live In South Georgia, And It Is Really Hard To Come... Sep 2nd. at 2:36:47 pm EDT

Narisah (Americus, Georgia US) Age: 21 - Email

I live in south Georgia, and it is really hard to come out when you live in the Southern Bible Belt, especially in a small town with very few if any other Pagans around. The decision to come out of the broom closet is a personal should be up to the individual to decide if s/he wants to come out and to whom...friends, family, coworkers. It really depends a lot on where you live too. I'm out with my family and friends, but not with my coworkers, employer, or landlady. Living where I am, it is very difficult to be very out about my choice of spirituality. Others may not have a should be up to the Pagan her or himself, and such a decision should not be forced on a person by other people or groups. Freedom of religion is just that....the freedom to practice your chosen spirituality, or lack of it, without persecution or having to tell anyone else about your beliefs.

I Am Definately "out" Of The Closet...but Not Obnoxiously So. I... Sep 2nd. at 4:47:16 pm EDT

Tammy Wanzer (San Jose, California US) Age: 28 - Email

I am definately "out" of the closet...but not obnoxiously so. I feel that religious freedom is just that; I have the freedom to believe what I want when I want to. But I don't push it in anyone's face. Religion, spirituality, and the like are personal, private things. If someone came up to me and asked "Are you a Witch?" I'd say yes. Honesty is a big part of my personal belief system. And if someone is actually brave enough to ask me a question like that, I feel they deserve a honest answer. But I don't wave my beliefs in anyone's face. It's not something 'cool' to show off. But I am not embaressed of it either. I do feel that life in general would be easier if everyone was honest and proud of their Pagan practices. If we all stood up, it would be an impressive site. But I can not tell another what to do. I just feel it's a shame for so many to live in fear. "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust" as the old camp cheer goes. And I KNOW there are crazies out there who will do mean things to people who call themelves Witches, but in general I think 'in the closet' Pagans are more scared then they should be. We have so many ways of protecting ourselves; in every sense of the word; that we don't need to be afraid. If you are living a happy, loving, and spiritually pure life then you have nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to fear. Pagan and Proud!

Well What Can I Say That Kinda Ting Is A Personal Choice... Sep 2nd. at 5:01:07 pm EDT

Samantha Erickson (Ruckerville) Age: 17 - Email

well what can I say that kinda ting is a personal choice. When I came out of the broom closet I at first had a hard time yespecally from the uneducated but as the shock wore off and I was still pagan people began to accept me I think that all pagans should try to come out of the broom closet but all the advice I can give is this. It will be hard and you will have to fight because if you lest someone walk over your religon like it were a dirty rug then you do a disservace to them yourself and the gods if you come out of the closet be defensive make sure your religon is a line that cannot be crossed.

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