The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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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
| Broom Closet? ||May 8th. at 5:02:38 pm EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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.
| Dont Have A Closet Really ||May 8th. at 8:13:46 pm EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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 EDT|
|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!"
| A Long Time ||May 8th. at 10:54:41 pm EDT|
|Mathias Schenck (Eugene, Oregon) ||Age: 22 - Email |
There was never a closet for me. I have been different from most of my friends and colleges for some time, but they (for the most part) have always known that I was a witch. Of course my parents did not know, but I made a point to talk to my mother about my religous choice. Pro-tem that included my father since they tell each other everything. Her first question for me was "You still belive in God, right?" I answered in the best way a 16 yearold can (I think. I told her that to me all gods were faces of one god, and all goddesses the face of one goddess. It is amazing how someone can be supportive in a quite way, and how important that can be to you; Even if you never fully relize it.
"The truth will set you free." Untill reacently I have never comprehended the full meaning of this statement. You must be truthful to yourself as well as everyone else in order to truly understand yourself. This of course means that I will tell someone who askes me exatly what I am, and how I feel on the subject of religion. I know my religion is different than some mainstream ones, and I know that there is prejudgice and hate. But my feeling is that If I act with peace, and love, then others will eventully get the point that some of the fudimental beliefs in every religion actually have a point to them and should be andheired to. Just the mild rablings of a sometimes philosophical man,
May the Lord and Lady smile upon all,
| I Fell Into The Broomcloset ||May 8th. at 11:54:31 pm EDT|
|goddess_eve (Raleigh, NC) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I am a Pagan. I am a Witch. My religion of choice is Wicca. But after a long embittered fight to leave the broom closet, I have found myself quietly going back in. It started in such small ways. After informing my Christian family about my choices they asked that I not bring it up or have any items in their home out of repect for their beliefs. I agreed that while I lived there that there would be no signs to alert my baby brother or granfather to what had happened. When I left their home, I was excited to finally come back out. I found that when you are stuggling for food and work that religion takes a back burner. Now I am secure in my living situation, I have found myself afraid to wear my pentacle to work. I don't discuss any religous opinion if it comes up around people that I don't know. I have felt like such a hypicrite by doing this. I am currently trying to connect with pagans in my area in hope that it will get me out yet again. I want my son to live and grow in a atmosphere that supports the Great Goddess, but right now my life does not reflect it. I am not sure when I can be open again. Before, I had nothing to lose. Now I have my livlihood and my son to protect from the horrors of the day. One day I'll be open again, but not today.
| Door Is Closing ||May 9th. at 12:19:10 am EDT|
|mike (usa) ||Age: 20 - Email |
I never use to worry i told my family the day i decided to be a Witch what i was doing. Now however i am begging to worry. I notice there is alot more christian t.v then there use to be and no pagan t.v . That to me is just a worning sighn. Now new bills being passed both surrounding and not surrounding religion are begging to make me sweat. bottom line the more things start to sway the more i start to close the door. this time i think that we can't sit by and watch them take loved ones away to be hanged or burned. if we see something comming up we need to make somekind of stand. As of right now i say that i am sending positive energy tword the whole situation and that i hope it all works out. Stay Safe
| In And Out ||May 9th. at 12:41:56 am EDT|
|Angel (Sweetwater, TN) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I am in and out of the closet. I don't really make any effort to hide my beliefs, but I don't go out of my way to advertise them, either. If somebody asks, I tell them; otherwise, I keep it to myself.
Due to the current political climate, I have probably become more open; when I'm angry about something, I tend not to keep silent about it.
I do not really consider something like a "modern-day witch hunt" likely. However, I do believe some amount of discrimination exists. Also, small pockets of hate crimes may spring up, though they would involve only tiny percentages of the population. At the moment, I consider a witch hunt more likely to be perpetrated against Muslims.
| Never Had A Closet ||May 9th. at 2:35:03 am EDT|
|Tarbh Nathroch (Eastern Mass, USA) ||Age: 32 - Email |
Being raised in a hard core Roman Catholic family, I mean they wouldn’t even pierce their ears cause the Bible says not to harm your body, and doing K through 8th grade in a Catholic school. I was a bit nervous about being honest with my family about no longer doing the Catholic thing. Being beaten by nuns for nine years will have that affect. I was pleasantly surprised when my parents said “as long as you believe in something and treat people as you would be treated. Do what will make you happy.” I have not really ever run into any actual prejudice, mostly just ignorance and ignorance can be fixed within one conversation. The funniest example from my life. While talking to a Harie Krishna (sp??) at an airport, if you can believe that, he asked what religion I currently was. ( I like talking to people of different beliefs, they all have something to teach. Especially someone with the strength to subject themselves to constant rejection and ridicule like the Krishnas or Jehovah’s Witnesses.) Well I told him I was Wiccan. “Huh, a what?” A witch I tell him. His response “Oh, That’s not good at all. To worship or glorify evil is never a good thing.” I had to tell him that that was the most ignorant statement I’ve ever heard, especially coming from someone who’s religion is a joke to 95% of the population. I was treated far worse when my hair was blue than any display of belief. Strength to those of you who are having a hard time of it.
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