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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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Responses: [2,666]

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

111. So, You’re Dead. Now What? - [59]

110. What’s Your Favorite Element? - [119]

109. The Broom Closet Revisited: What’s Your Current Occupancy Rate? - [129]

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105. Are Pagans TOO Individualistic? - [56]

104. Have You Changed Your Mind About the War in Iraq? - [258]

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97. What Natural Objects Are On Your Altar? - [103]

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 18,204,717  

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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 

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

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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!


Broom Closet? May 8th. at 5:02:38 pm UTC

Tuesday Grey (Somewhere in Minnesota) Age: 29 - Email

I'm creeping out of the closet. I poke my head out every once in a while to shout 'poppy***!' or 'rubbish' in response to the latest attack. I don't worry so much that pagans will bear the brunt of the next witch hunt- I worry for the goth counter culture- which has been my little niche for a long long time.

I don't feel the need to protect my identity as a pagan anymore so than I feel the need to just protect my identity in any case. At work- its kinda hard to miss the ring on my finger and the pendant ever at my throat these days...of course, my cube matew is also a pagan, so our conversations would give us away at any event. "Oh, I meant to invite you to the ritual this weekend- it was fabulous, the drumming and I nearly fell over after the serpent dance round the maypole..."

I've recently had a surge of spirituality, so I am walking tall and trying very very hard to smile when people ask me if I sacrifice chickens. (Okay, I say yes, but only if its a 12 piece bucket of extra crispy) ...

Depends Where I Am May 8th. at 6:28:25 pm UTC

Ninian Y Llygoden (LFP, WA) Age: 16 - Email

Right, so I am in several groups at school. One is the most strange group, but we accept all. One I really haven't let any religious stuff come up in, especially since two extreme christians joined. Others are a choir (founded by a daughter and wife to pastors in the christian field, only one other non christian than me, he's hindu) and the group of people who are truly crazy that I dont really talk near.
That being said, I am partially out of the broom closet. The first group are very supportive, as are a scattering of other friends, and my parents.
I am extremely worried about modern day witch hunts. There are too many people who, if I were to let them know I am pagan, would tell me I'm going to hell, and / or lower my grade in their class.
I relate my paganism to what ever I can, when I'm not surrounded by people who think my very exsistance is blasphemy (unfortunatly most of the time) but most of my friends know and are supportive of my beliefs.
Bright Blessings

Dont Have A Closet Really May 8th. at 8:13:46 pm UTC

lilith (lost angeles) Age: 33 - Email

i am old fashioned and more or less refuse to advertise in an overt way that i am a witch. i wear jewelry with tiny pentagrams from time to time. i get more flak for my goth clothes and hair than i get for any pagan/witchypoo symbol i wear.

i dont consider that im in a closet. i dont believe in proslytizing, never did, so i dont think its critical that i be open about something that is a personal path. however if the subject comes up i have no problem weighing in as a witch. its irrelevant to me what other people think of me. i never feel in danger.

as for politics, i never approach politics from what i would consider a pagan or witchy point of view. i keep my politics upright and back it up with logic and facts, not with my spiritual bents or beliefs. when i was a fundamentalist christian i believed firmly in the absolute separation of church and state, and as a witch i believe the same thing, for the same reasons. so where i am coming from personally has little bearing on my politics, which have always been pretty much the same. i was always an environmentalist, always a feminist, always a gun-ownership advocate, always pro-choice, and always anti-militarist. those are political positions-- i never thought other christians should feel the way i felt, and i dont feel other witches or pagans should feel the way i feel. i dont believe they have anything to do with my spiritual path, or anyone elses. that my spiritual path may have heightened my awareness of some of these aspects of my political life is also personal.

so, the broom closet, well, okay, so my mom doesnt know im a witch, so two of my three sisters dont know, so my dad doesnt know. im not open about it with most of my friends. and i dont think i would be one of those people who would show up at a pagans-for-peace rally or something like that. but i dont think thats necessary to my life, so like i say, i dont consider that im in the closet. if i were a lesbian and had a girlfriend after years of not telling anyone i was a lesbian i would simply show up and tell people she was my girlfriend and everyone would think i had been in the closet all those years when really i just never thought it was important until the girlfriend showed up. thats just me.

Local Withc Hunt?? May 8th. at 9:33:40 pm UTC

Suzanne Williams (Draper, Virginia) Age: 29 - Email

I usually could care less what people think of me or if they even think at all. I don't waive a flag that says "hey, look at me, and I dare you to say anything about me" no, should I share my views or opinions with people privately or publicly...I do so knowing fully well that they also have theirs.

Yesterday, my daughter answers the phone and loudly proclaims it's someone looking for a poison...yeah, ok, even she was giggling...but, instead of looking for a specific poison... (whew! I was really hoping she misunderstood them!) I was instead questioned as to where I lived and in a very inquistive way I asked if I could be of any help. I am instructed that the caller is calling not for himself, but for his mother. The family is a local restaurant owners and the entire top floor of their business is a large manger display with the typical triple cross display. Apparently, they "found" a contact card I share with those in the craft/or those with the same herbal curiosities that I have.

This would be the second time this year that a religiously based inquiry was pointed my way. Maybe I am paranoid or even overprotective of my personal business...but, I feel it is time for all the closets to swing open loud and proud in my area...a preemptive strike against the arrogance and politically religous based government in the area...yes, I said it...the church's are looking for "witch's", only they don't know what they are looking for. I propose an educational based demonstration of the pagan practices in the area to show unity through diversity and to prove we are not all out to steal their children and warp the values of this community.

I am not the only one feeling the crunch in this area, I receive emails from others close by who long for the day they can wear a robe to the store on their way to a meeting just as someone else might wear their local church's tee'shirt to the local football game displaying all their good deeds and accomplishments. Or how about those fish stickies on the cars!!! Heck, I am a member of the eastern star and get fliars stuck to my windshield proclaiming me as a satan worshippers and/ or worse!

I am tired of the closet, baby! Let's mount those brooms and fly...united we fly, divided...well, we fly alone!

Is That Light I See Peeking Around The Doorknob? May 8th. at 9:52:37 pm UTC

Laura (Massachusetts) Age: 25 - Email

Okay, so I'm not out of the closet yet, but I'm getting there. One of the things - ironically - that holds me back and yet keeps me going out that door is that pesky stereotype for Witches/Wiccan/Pagans/whatever. I don't want to be grouped into the goth subculture simply because so many of us find solace there. Popular culture seizes on the easy answer of "misguided youth that are rebelling agianst the establishment." It is easy, perhaps too easy to say that all Pagans must dress in black, listen to loud rock music, commune with crystals, wear at least 2 pounds of sterling silver at all times, . That's not in my BOS! (Although that might be fun . . . ) I also want to fight that stereotype by being myself: Pagan, proud, yet private.
One of my friends calls me a stealth Pagan. I have a bumper sticker on my car with a quote from "The Wicker Man" I wear a triple-moon pendant rather than a pentacle and I tend to doodle Theban or astrological symbols on the edges of notepads. To anyone on this path I might as well be holding up a billboard proclaiming my religion. Yet at the same time this keeps me safe from the eyes of those who wouldn't understand. (I paraphrase here) " The best to place to hide is in plain sight." I can be myself, within a certain socially-accepted standard of normality.
As to whether I think there will ever be outright persecution for Pagans, there is always the chance, but I consider it less and less likely. My personal opinion (for what it's worth) is that many ENJOY the feeling of belonging to a group of people that they perceive to fighting for religious freedom. It's exciting, it's romantic, and most of all it's another stereotype. Yes, we are trying to establish our place in the agnostic mish-mash that is our current social climate. But being paranoid about a potential montheistic rumble is a waste of all our energies. I think there is just too much going on for the average person to care overly much what their neighbor does in their spare time. When we lived in small groups, what our neighbor did was vitally important. I personally couldn't tell you what my neighbor does for a living, yet we've lived next to other for years. The few people not in Paganism who I've told about my religious beliefs are very much along the lines of "If it works for you, great, but I really don't want to know that much." This is not to say I live in fluffy-bunny land. I have been discriminated against, but those who have (luckily) have not been in a position to do more than spread nasty rumours that anyone who has ever met would know to be false.
When talking, writing, etc, I tend to not put that I am a Pagan unless directly asked. It's that steroetype again; I want to be identified by my ideas first, then my religion. I'm a person, not a faith.
I still am hesitant to discuss my beliefs with casual friends or strangers. If I were Jewish and said so, would that make a difference to you? Maybe if you were Jewish too, but more likely you would just file that fact away along with my hair color or skin color. Hopefully as more people learn that Pagans are just as normal (?) as the jogger thay pass on the street everyday, the old hippy selling homemade juice from the back of his van, or even their child's school teacher, they won't react with surprise, just acceptance.

My Broom Closet Is Too Small For Take-off. ^_ May 8th. at 10:04:38 pm UTC

Bonny (Oklahoma) Age: 23 - Email

I'm a cashier at a retail store, so I get quite a few comments on the pentacle and solomon's seal that I typically wear. (you'd be surprised how many people think I'm Jewish) But that doesn't slow me down a beat. In fact, I've had many customers actually walk away grinning when I share with them the true meaning of the symbols. It gets them thinking. You can see it in their eyes.
Then again, I've also been confronted by the "other" type.

We were doing customer surveys at the store for a while, and my scores were absolutely horrible. My boss suggested that I HIDE my pentacle and see what happens. My scores improved tremendously when it was out of view.
So, in that respect, I regretfully have to remain in the closet for my own good at times.
However, Mother is waking up, .. and we are all slowly and groggily becoming more tolerant of one another.
I believe that awareness is the key.
People fear what they do not understand, after all.
I take it upon myself to inform people. And many of them, .. appreciate every minute of it.

I Work For The Government, , I'm A Witch, Get Used To It! May 8th. at 10:27:10 pm UTC

Rita (Maryland) Age: 46 - Email

I have been Wiccan for over 30 years. At one time, especially while raising a child, I kept that information secret. While my son was raised with Wiccan beliefs, he really didn't call himself "Witch". Only after he was 16.

I have worked for the State Government for 23 years. In the last 10 years, I've felt very open about my beliefs, and have not attempted to hide my religion. And, this is a very conservative government that I work for. Some people know, some don't. I'm very highly placed in my position, yet have not been challenged about my beliefs. But, my "boss" is very right-winged, and if he knew about my specific Witch leanings, (or if he were intelligent enough to recognize the signs) , he would be horrified and douse me with either holy water or the flames of eternal damnation. Which brings me to my final statement:

When I leave this job, as I plan to do within one year, I will triumphantly march into his office and announce that "while you have had your head up your butt espousing family values and Christianity (while quietly screwing the hell out of the voters) , I have been in this office, and I'm a Witch! And I'm the GOOD GUY!"

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