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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: 24,929,960  

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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 

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.

Fortunately, My Mother's Side Of The Family Has Always Been Interested In... Aug 28th. at 7:42:27 am EDT

WyndeHawke (Fredericksburg, Virginia US) Age: 30

Fortunately, my mother's side of the family has always been interested in the occult/psychic abilities/Native American spiritualism, so my being a Pagan is, while perhaps unusual to them, is nothing anyone got excited about. My Dad very likely knows, but I've never come out and told him in so many words, mainly because of my stepmother, who is NOT open-minded at all. I just avoid discussions of religion with that side of the family. For the public in general, I'm out of the broom closet, but not "flaming." Like many others who have posted, I will answer questions if asked about my pentacle or why I don't go to church, but I don't advertise the fact. I tend to be a fairly private person anyway. For me, people who are too far "out" can be as obnoxious as the fundies.

I believe that coming out of the broom (or any other) closet is a personal choice and should be left up to the individual. That person may have a valid reason for being quiet about their beliefs. I really don't believe that I'm doing any extra work that they benefit from but don't work for themselves. I personally think that's a selfish way of looking at the issue. My biggest reward for being "out" is a tremendous feeling of peace, but I've had to deal with some self-appointed "saviors" as well. All in all, I'm glad I came to this faith 10 years ago - it's getting better and better every passing year.

Blessings to all...

I Hope We Reach A Place Where One Day I Am Able... Aug 28th. at 9:14:28 am EDT

justamom (Mechanicsvile, Maryland US) Age: 38 - Email

I hope we reach a place where one day I am able to wear my jewelry openly and state my religious beliefs without fear of the backlash. I am in the process of a divorce and I was warned by my attorney to keep quiet. I had to set my children down and remind them to never tell anyone about our magick and who are our gods/ess. Is it wrong - darn right it is - but I'm not jeopardizing custody of my kids. I live in a predominately catholic area - the world just isn't ready for all of us. Once my kids are grown though I too will openly join the fight for our freedom. Until now - I send my money via money orders to those organizations that can legally fight for our rights.

If A Christian Is Proud Enough To Wear Their Cross, Then Why... Aug 28th. at 10:02:55 am EDT

Rev. Rowan Jehanne (Williamsport, Pennsylvania US) Age: 26

If a Christian is proud enough to wear their cross, then why should I not be equally proud to wear my pentacle? If a Christian is open about wishing people a "Happy (insert Judeo-Christian holiday here)", then why should I not in return wish them a good Samhain, for example? I am proud of my faith and its history. The roots of our faith system stretch back millennia. Surely we are the elder religion. If a members of a young religion, for example Christianity, are allowed to be open in society, I see no reason to closet myself.

I must say, that I am lucky. While my area is not exactly tolerant and is having a revival of Jewish-Carpenter-Worship, I do not feel threatened to walk with my pent in the open. Sure their have been incidents...I mean, heck, I may not live in the Bible Belt, but I do live in the Bible Necktie. Caution and common sense must always be exercise, though. If you are a Witch with children and you live next door to a militant Born-Again, you may want to be careful. We live in an age when school children slaughter each-other over relatively small issues; Goddess knows what a self-righteous religious zealot might do.

I also had written on this subject previously. I am the authoress of essay #21 of Witchvox's "Out of the Broom Closet" essay series. In my essay you may find the amusing story of what it is like to be a Pagan at a Charismatic Christian wedding (it involves the Pagan being asked, [because she wore a pentacle!] to leave) and how it led to the Pagan divorcing herself of her S/O's family.

Choose your battles carefully, do not endanger your family or yourself, but DO be proud to be yourself. It's their Hell, perhaps they should test out the temperature for us...

Well, I Am Lucky. My Family Is Pretty Tolerant, Except For My... Aug 28th. at 10:15:29 am EDT

Euryale (South Jersey) Age: 21 - Email

Well, I am lucky. My family is pretty tolerant, except for my fundamentalist, born again christian brother. As you all can imagine, there have been arguments. I'll tell you it's a horrible feeling when your brother tells you that you worship Satan and are going to hell. He has been much more tolerant since that argument, I am happy to say. But there is still tension. As far as my work goes, they are pretty tolerant. I answer questions as best as I can. However, I try to be cautious and don't tell many people. I feel my religion is personal. I share openly with my circle and others that I know in the craft. But as far as others go - they have to have my trust.

I Am, For The Most Part, An Outside The Broomcloset Kinda Witch... Aug 28th. at 10:45:50 am EDT

Loyalty LionRose (Bethany, Louisiana US) Age: 20 - Email

I am, for the most part, an outside the broomcloset kinda Witch. Some people think that being out of the broomcloset means that they have to constantly be telling other people about their faith, like introducing themselves by their religion. "Hi, Im Susie, and Im a Wiccan!" That is not necessarily true. The way that I handle it is I simply dont try to hide my faith. I read Wiccan and Pagan books in the family room in front of my parents. I wear my pentacle everywhere I go. I keep an altar set up in my room. But I dont go around advertising myself. I know a lot of people who complain about Christians who try to "witness" to them, and I must admit that I have complained myself. It DOES get somewhat annoying. The fact is with Wiccans, any sort of advertisment of our beliefs is seen by everyone else as "Witches trying to convert people into sin." We have to be more careful about that. I only tell people about my religion if they ask. I only tell them about the symbolism of the pentacle if they ask. I know some people who might say that Im asking for trouble by not just coming right out and saying up front that Im Wiccan, because some people wont ask, theyll just assume they know everything. And thats true. But how many times have we sighed and rolled our eyes when someone approaches us and says "Have you heard of the everlasting love and joy of Jesus Christ?" Just imagine what THEY would have to say if some Pagan approached them with, "Im a Wiccan, otherwise known as a Witch, and I worship the Goddess!" Innocent from our point of view maybe, but not from theirs. At least with me, if they seem upset by what I tell them, I can just inwardly shrug my shoulders and think "You asked!"

First Off, I'd Like To Say That I Don't Exactly Like Being... Aug 28th. at 11:21:11 am EDT

Vivhianna (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CA) Age: 17 - Email

First off, I'd like to say that I don't exactly like being "in the broom closet". It's stifling, a bit scary at times, and I don't like to hide from people. Of course, there are some who know about my change of religion; my mother tends to lean in this direction herself once in awhile (?!) and I have a close friend whose cousin is Wiccan. I'm not ashamed of being Pagan--far from it, in fact. I just feel that at this time, it would be best for me if I kept quiet.

Lots of things went into consideration here. First, my father declares every chance he gets that "Canada is a CHRISTIAN country!" When he found out that I was studying Wicca a couple of years ago for a school project, he gave me a lecture about the evils of witchcraft. When I made the decision that Catholicism wasn't really for me, I felt as if I was torn in two directions. I didn't want to disobey my father, but I didn't want to be part of a religion I felt no connection to.

Second, I go to a Catholic school (not my choice). People tend to look down on Pagans there. The rumor that I was a witch back when I was doing that project ran wild and some very unpleasant things happened to me because of it. Just about the only good thing that came from that was that I found out who my real friends were. Eventually people forgot about that rumor, but my life wasn't too happy for quite some time.

Third, and maybe most important, I think I'm learning something from this. Since I made my decision, I've become more tolerant of other people's beliefs. I know what it's like to feel I have to hide and I know how helpless I sometimes feel because of it. It's not nice to be labelled and I think I've slowed down, if not stopped, my labelling of others because of the way I was labelled for awhile. Maybe when I feel I've stopped learning from being "in the broom closet" I'll make some ventures out, but for now I don't think I can afford to.

I didn't mean to make this so long, but there was a lot I wanted to say.

I Am Fortunate Enough Not To Have To Live With The Mops... Aug 28th. at 11:36:09 am EDT

Sabine (Avoca, Pennsylvania US) Age: 32 - Email

I am fortunate enough not to have to live with the mops. My company is one that promotes diversity and inclusion and luckily, I have supportive family and friends. However, being a single women (without children) what I do and say usually only affects myself. I have other Pagan friends who are not so lucky as they constantly worry about "coming out" and what effect that will have on their children. It's nice if you can do it, but for those who feel they can't, we in the community should be suuportive of their feelings and not ever intentionally "out" someone. But it is a nice feeling not to have to "hide". We can only hope that someday there will be no closet.

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