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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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112. Elders: Who Are They and Do We Really Need Them? - [74]

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 24,664,787  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 129

Lurker/Post Ratio: 254 to 1

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 

So Far So Good May 7th. at 9:06:37 pm EDT

Stormwind (Canada) Age: 25 - Email

Here in Canada I've yet to meet anyone bothered by the fact that I'm Wiccan. I wear my pentacle around town and to work, and when I'm in uniform (military) I wear it during my off hours so it's no great secret. I get a few curious questions but for the most part, either no one notices or no one cares.

I'm actually more open about my faith lately, as I represented the local Pagans in an inter-faith service held in City Park. I think Pagans will get more understanding if we're a visible presence, a presence that takes a place beside all other respected religions. We're not creepos running around the graveyard at night; we're people with a strong and legitimate and beneficial faith.

The only people I'm "in the broom closet" with are my 90 year old grandparents because I don't think they'd understand what Wicca really was.

Things might be different if I were American, depending on the part of the country. I have some friends who were interested in Wicca but in the part of Georgia where they live, even the big chain bookstores don't carry Pagan books. I sent them some secondhand books.
Conversely, in Maine the bookstores are PACKED with Pagan books.

I don't go around announcing that I'm a Witch, but I don't try to hide it either. If I knew I was in an environment that was actively hostile to my beliefs and I couldn't escape it, I might stop wearing my pentacle, but it would have to be pretty bad for me to take that route.

Q & A May 7th. at 9:07:57 pm EDT

Celticmoon (Oklahoma) Age: 54 - Email

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?
I am more out of the broom closet this year, BECAUSE of the current political climate.
I believe religion is an intimate individual journey, and I would not be discussing it with a stranger or casual acquaintance!

Are you worried or have you ever seriously considered that a modern day ‘witch hunt’ might target Pagans in the next few months/years?
No. I think we are in for some rough times with the current administration. I am hoping that will end in 2004. There are too many people in this country who believe in the Constitution, and realize if minority religions go, they might be next.

Have you taken extra precautions to protect your private information or Pagan identity on the internet? At work? In your neighborhood?
No, and I don't intend to.

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?
As far as political and social issues go, I see no need to bring up religion. It shouldn't matter. As far as religious issues would depend on the issue.
I am definitely not ashamed of my religion or beliefs, but sometimes I can accomplish more by not shouting from the rooftops that I am a witch! As much as I would like to shout it out, it would just take the attention away from the issue, and shift it to myself and the Craft which would not be productive.

Broom Closet? What Broom Closet? May 7th. at 11:04:54 pm EDT

Phyresong (Chattanooga, TN) Age: 30 - Email

I've been out of the broom closet for awhile.. got tossed out of it in high school. As far as currently.. I feel like I've been more out of the broom closet in the last year. I've seen too many things that truly frighten me about our current government and their actions. I know people who can't be open, and have chosen to be open, even blatant at times because others can't. After the current president stated that people that were pagan didn't belong in the military and things seem to have gone down in the last several years.

I've considered that there would be a modern day "witch hunt" and have often looked at people's statements and actions pretty closely. I grew up in the bible belt and the last year or so things seemed to have gotten worse. I'm wary that it may occur.. but that doesn't change my choices.

I take precautions about my private information, but not because of my faith, just because it is a wise choice now. I drive a car that is fairly covered in religious statements.. so my faith is open to those around me. I don't go into work on my first day with my "Wiccan Army" t-shirt on, but I don't hide it either.

I'm more inclined now, than I have been in the past, to identify myself as pagan when discussing and writing about issues I feel strongly about. I've also learned how to express myself much better over the last year.

Just my two pence.
Wind to thy wings

Two Toes Out May 8th. at 1:22:19 am EDT

Darkcrone (Knoxville, TN) Age: 32 - Email

I've been a witch for ten years; most of them spent snuggly in the closet. I live in very fundamentalist environment. I have co-workers who think that we should take over the entire middle east.There are a total of three people at work who know; one of them is my husband and another is a fellow pagan. At lunch a few weeks ago a woman became so angry upon discovering that I was against the was in Iraq that she practically jumped across the table at me. My new boss has asked me twice if I'm wiccan. She is actually a recovering pentacostle. My daughter and I began attending a Unitarian Universalist church here. At a meeting there I told a small group. When the minister asked me when I came out, I replied I think I just did. I've been at my job for 15yrs. At one time we had a group who were in to the satanic panic thing, I read all the books with them just for entertainment. My daughter is four and a half she tells everyone that we are witches. The staff at her pre school know. The Union County episode upset me a great deal. President Bush's comments don't bother me. Republican Presidents have historically pandered to the RR. I do wear various Goddess pendants. I have pentacles but don't wear them, the fact that they're trendy know turns me off. I have a Kali pin that my husband gave me; I wore it one day to the shot room get my allergy shots an LPN started yelling Pagan at me. Today I went to a walk-in clinic to be treated for an eye infection. On the forms under religion I started to write pagan I changed my mind and wrote unitarian.

The Closet Is Cosy You Know ;o) May 8th. at 1:51:06 am EDT

SilverRaven (Jo Marriott) (Nottingham, England) Age: 21 - Email - Web

I'm still well and truly in the closet. Why? Well, I'm still very new to this, I'm still learning a heck of a lot; I know we continue to learn throughout our lives, but there are things you need to know about your beliefs before you begin sharing them with the world!
Of all the people around me, my husband is aware of my interests - in the Craft and all related subject areas. But I have yet to confide in anyone that "I am a witch".
I will do one day. My parents weren't very religious at all (in the common sense of the word) , raising my brothers and I to study the world at large and make our own decisions. And my husband loves me for who I am, not what I believe/don't believe in. So it's not a matter of being scared about telling people, it's about knowing enough to be confident in myself and knowing when the time is right.

As for telling those outside family and friends, I think these days it's the same whatever you believe. If someone doesn't like it they harass you. At the moment, I live in a mostly Asian community (I'm white) - can you imagine what life would be like if it got out about my beliefs? The same as anywhere else - the fact that I'm a white person living in a predominantly Asian community is enough these days :o (

And, finally, unless the whole world suddenly decides to become Pagan, I'm sure there will possibly be some kind of "witch-hunt" somewhere along the line - particularly while other, more patriarchal, monotheistic religions are in the majority. It's a sad fact of life - people want to control people and when what they're using as the controlling factor suddenly seems to be losing following, those in charge do whatever they can to regain control.
Again, I refer to the anonymous author and his/her quote I often use: "The individual human being is highly intelligent...but people, as a group, are stupid."

Answers To The Questions... May 8th. at 2:04:05 am EDT

Rhonda (Rice, Texas) Age: 25 - Email

I've never been in the broom closet, so I'm still as open and out about my beliefs as ever. I can't change other areas of my life where I fall in the minority, so it never really occured to me to change the outward appearance of my religious affiliation. In times where groups of people are deemed wrong, bad, evil, etc., it's even more important to be a living example of the truth.

If there is a Witch hunt in the near future, the hunters will have to get in line behind everyone else that thinks I don't have a right to take up space on this planet. I don't think there will be, though. While there are Pagans that face persecution soley for their beliefs, I don't think the community as a whole has been considered a threat to society, but we're seen more as 'misguided'.

I've taken the same precautions to safeguard privacy online as any non-Pagan would. I'm more worried about financial or identity theft than somebody tracking me down because of my religion!

I identify myself as Pagan when it's relevant to a discussion, but otherwise I don't see the point. It would feel like wearing a 'Hi, my name is: Rhonda the Pagan' sticker all the time. If I'm gonna be labeled, I need a much larger sticker than that!

To me, living in hiding gives the impression that one has Something Bad to hide. Some people may say nasty things about my jewelry or beliefs, but guess what? They're likely nasty to fellow members of their own faith, too.

I won't let the thorns make me fear the rose!

Be Well,
* Rhonda *

Comment May 8th. at 4:16:25 am EDT

D (TX) Age: 22 - Email

I've never been expressive of my beliefs, it's no one's business but my own. I don't wear religious jewelry or suggestive clothing. If someone asks, I'll tell, in minor detail and let them take it how they want.

Closets Are For Old Shoes... May 8th. at 5:26:25 am EDT

Michael TwilightRose (Mesa, AZ) Age: 34 - Email

I'm out of the closet, and even though I live in a city that is dominated by a powerful, influential Christian sect (Mormonism) , I have never felt the need to hide my beliefs. One need only read my bumper stickers to find out I'm a Wiccan. I wear my pentacle all the time save when showering, although usually underneath my shirt because wearing it outside would make me look like some sort of 70's throwback. When people ask, I'll be as forthcoming as I feel is merited, which is sometimes not at all. But I won't hide. My family knows, and I was never given one ounce of trouble about it.

I've even helped friends come out of the broom closet, which has been to their benefit rather than their detriment.

Wicca is nothing to be ashamed of, embarrassed about or secretive of. We are here and we're not going away. We don't need to throw it in anyone's faces, we need only be true to ourselves. This above all. Heh. Shakespeare was Pagan.

Stepping Out Of The Closet May 8th. at 9:45:34 am EDT

Elle Hollinger (Massachusetts) Age: 19 - Email - Web

I'd definitely have to say that I am much more open about my pagan spirituality now than I was at this time last year. I think this is entirely due to the fact that I've found a support group (my college Pagan/Wiccan Collective) . It's so much easier to be open with non-pagans when I know I'll have people to turn to if I lose other friends. Luckily, my closest friends (all Christian) have had little resistance to my beliefs. I think this is because I make en effort NOT to make it an issue within our friendship. We can relate to each other on so many levels, so talking about religion is not something that is part of our everyday conversation.

I have to say though that I have had some problems being open in my larger college community. I took a class on the ancient city of Pompeii, which has beautiful frescoes depicting religious cult initiations and mysteries. At times I found the members of the class expressing disgust and annoyance with "occultists" and "Goddess-worshippers" and "pagans" of modern times who feel they can connect with the ancient art. It made me incredibly uncomfortable, and I felt too small to speak up on behalf of the Pagan community. This is also a professor that I will have to work closely with in the coming years, and I don't want my religious orientation to impact my relationship with her (or my grades!) .

I think it's too bad to find this sort of ignorant religious bashing going on, especially at a college that consideres itself to be very liberal and diverse. But I understand that I need to be wise in coming out of the broom closet. In my opinion it's better to gain someone's trust before letting him/her know I'm pagan because he/she is more likely to be interested in my beliefs. I have adopted for myself an attitude of "conform in appearance without sacrificing my values." Many other pagans take a different approach, one in which they are totally open and totally "free". I honor and respect these people, but I feel that being "too" liberal and witchy gives critics an excuse to write us off and not listen to what we have to say.

I don't feel that a modern-day witch hunt is likely. However, I do think that losing friends, jobs, etc. is a very real threat facing pagans and witches today. For the most part, we have white Christian males controlling our country, and it is easy for those on "top" to supress those down below. I see this problem being resolved by having more pagans and witches in positions of "power", although most pagans I've talked to have little interest in climbing up a social and political heirarchy. But if George Bush's found out that his best friend/colleague was pagan, I think he would be more willing to listen to our issues -- do you know what I mean? We need to disperse ourselves, not isolate ourselves. We need to make friends with people from all different races and religions. If everyone in the country knew someone they respected who also happened to be pagan, I don't think we would have to worry so much about persecution and oppression and all those things that come along when people are ignorant and afraid.

Elle Hollinger

Dispelling Fear May 8th. at 10:00:44 am EDT

soulspirals (Ithaca, NY) Age: 28 - Email - Web

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?

If anything, the political climate has fired me up to get out there and educate - and that goes for many things, not just religion. I have aligned myself visibly with the Pagan Cluster for the last several anti-war/pro-peace and creativity demonstrations of which I was a part.

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

No. I'm concerned that as a climate of general fear is built by the government and the media that ANYONE who seems different will be increasingly seen as threatening. I beleive the way to change that is to increase the visibility of diversity of all kinds, speak up about things like the PATRIOT Act and other injustices, and continue to have conversations.

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

No. I fought my own battles around my sexual orientation years before I identified as pagan. I believe that everyone makes their own choices about the privacy of their identities and beliefs, but that there is much to be gained in openness and education. So I'm happy to put myself out there to balance out those who can't or don't want to.

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?

I will always disclose personal information (sexual orientation, relationships style, religious beliefs and practices, etc.) whenever it is relevant or useful in a conversation. There's no need to bring it up otherwise. Personally, I have found a great deal of connection between religion, politics and social issues, and find that one always informs another. I've been particularly drawn to working with the Reclaiming Tradition (Starhawk) because of that sense of interconnection and obligation to action. Link to More info related to this post -- HERE

A Question That I Can Relate To May 8th. at 2:11:47 pm EDT

Kathryn (Nova Scotia, Canada) Age: 14 - Email

It's stuffy here in the broom closet, and rather uncomfortable. I guess I'm not as far in as others are, but I pine for the day where I can leave altogether. Around Ostara of last year, I became interested in Wicca. It a welcoming feeling; I've never been religious although my family claims to be Christian. I read about Wicca for a while, and it wasn't until September that I actually began practicing my beliefs. In about December, I confided in my best friend. That was the beginning of my escape from the closet. She was supportive, and intrigued, but decided that my beliefs were not for her. All the same, she insisted that I talk to my parents, but I was afraid that they wouldn't understand. Mid-March was when I finally came out of the broom closet to them. They were confused, and worried, thinking that what the mainstream media had to say was true, and that Witchcraft is a cult. Once they got past that part, they still had some repercussions, but now it's mostly a subject that we don't talk about. Lately, I've been dropping hints to my friends, both groups of friends that I have. With both groups, for the most part, I have established that I am not Christian as the think I am. With one of my friends, I have had religious discussions, that were very pleasant, but I still haven't been able to come out all the way with him. With another friend, who is very Christian, it's harder. She always changes the subject when religion comes up; making excuses.
In this way, I am more open about my beliefs than I used to be, even if it's just dropping subtle hints, and telling very few people.
As to a modern day witch hunt, I shrugged the idea off yesterday when I first read the QOTW. But today, I am a little more worried. In health class at school, we watched a video about racism, racist hate groups, neo-nazis, and skinheads. The film left me with an empty-pit feeling in my stomach, tears in my eyes, and fear in my heart. Even though the video was a few years old, it still left me wondering if there will be any racist hate wars in the near future, and this makes me think that however stuffy the broom closet is, it may just be the safest place.

Good Question! May 8th. at 4:03:02 pm EDT

Amorella (Roswell NM) Age: 22 - Email

Personaly, I could care less about the political climate... As an informed, intelegent pagan, I know my rghts and responsabilites.

I like to think that I am quietly out of the closet...Meaning, while I dont wear a neon Pentagram around my neck, any one who knows me beyond a very casual accuantiance, knows that I am a pagan.

I think it truly is a mystake to hide ones pagan identity, for it only gives the paranoied waccos out there more power.
I live in an area where Pagans are an extreem minority, and churches weild a lot of power, and yet, I have never had a real problam with anyone here, mostly beacuse, I can answer their questions honestly, defend my bealifes without gitting all worked up, and I have a strong base in my community.

As a Pagan couple, me and my Hubby have a whole lot of friends who are not pagans, and yet would go to bat for us in an instant beacuse they know us, and care for us. The attude the all Christians are out to get us is a little silly... I know there are trouble makers out there (many in positions of power) that stirr up muck... But heck with them. I refuse to hide, for I am doing nothing wrong.

As for the 9/11 thing... it has only made my resolve to live freely stronger. I may detest many of the poo heads that controll my government right now, but I do love my country... Even the people in it who are agenst my bealifes get my love and respect, for that is what I seek from them.

On a bit of a diffrent note, if some wacco DID decide to try something with me or my lovely family, they would find themselves looking down the barrel of a 9mm handgun... I may be a loving soul, but im not stupid!


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