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: Nov. 17, 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
| It Depends ||May 9th. at 10:14:17 pm EDT|
|Steph (Midwest City OK) ||Age: 32 - Email |
I have a strange status: I work as an advocate for a Pagan organization, so I am very open online, but people in my local area aside from other Pagans generally don't know that I am a Witch. I don't feel the need to advertise, and I do not believe that it is wise to do as a mother of a small child in Oklahoma. Since I have had a child I am much more wary of exposing my beliefs to strangers, and truthfully, I am not the kind of person to pull a punch if someone were to verbally attack me in public, and I have the educational background that can make me quite formidable in both debate and personal insults. So instead of placing myself in a situation that will quite probably degenerate into name calling, I just keep my yap shut in most cases.
The current political climate, nationally now reflects where most Oklahoman Pagans have been for some time. So the national issue just drove the already existing point home.
Everytime John Ashcroft appears in the media with some new assault on civil liberties I worry about Witch Hunts, McCarthy-ism, National-Socialist issues, Jingoism, and redneck fatheads who don't know what those words mean.
I have taken extra percautions with my location and all but not because of the national issues, but because of the openly hostile nature of DHS and the court systems towards NeoPaganism. I have chosen to disassociate myself from my father's side of the family. When I was 7 months pregnant, an aunt I had not seen in many years walked up to me and informed me that she had heard from an uncle that I was a Devil-Worshipper. I have no desire to even deal with that, and these people are redneck fatheads, so I avoid them and I do not contact them or let them know where I live. After all it only takes one phone call to DHS to have a child removed, and these people are petty and mean enough to do it.
I readily identify myself at school, when discussing things in class. I even appear as a guest speaker in some humanities and sociology classes.
| Kicking Down The Door ||May 9th. at 9:22:27 pm EDT|
|Cunneware (Ontario, Canada) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I've gone through a few stages in the past five years since I've discovered Wicca. First I was overjoyed to discover this fantastic new religion and couldn't see why anyone would object to it. What a nieve 12 year old I was! I was taunted at school for wearing my pentacle and quickly stopped wearing it. I was so upset I actually stopped researching for a year. But I was inevitably drawn back to it again. At first I was very much in the closet. Only my close family had any idea. But then I discovered the wonderful tool of the internet and have met with many people, attended a few local events and learned of stores in my area that I didn't even know existed. I begin to realize that I was not alone.
I began to wear my pentacle from time to time, but was extremely self concious about it. Then I noticed something. I had a few (and still have) some odd looks and Satanism-related comments, but mostly, ppl don't seem to care all that much! Trust me people, its not as scary as it first seems. I even have got some "Hey that's so cool" remarks.
I've learned to not be bothered when people look twice at my neckless and raise thier eyebrows. Its my faith and I shouldn't have to hide. I view it this way; If they don't know at least then I'm educating them. If more of us are "visible" than the symbol of our religion will become a non-issue, and a higher % the public will be educated that Wicca is not a bad thing.
We need to support one another better. As someone else else has pointed out. Wiccans can be hard to track down! You really have to work at it to make connections with other people. When I was first starting to reach out to the community, as a young Pagan searching for answers, I got VERY few responses. Those I did recieve were from other youth Pagans. I have found that us youngin's have to fend for ourselves. I'm not sure if it is because the older generation thinks that we are too young and inept. I'm sure some are, I have encountered a few! But what about the rest of us? Our community will crumble if we don't stick together and help each other out.
| The Closet ||May 9th. at 8:55:29 pm EDT|
|Winterhaven (Conway, SC) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I live deep in the bible belt where you can do a mile without running into a church. I don't go out of my way to hide my beliefs, but I don't volunteer the information. I often wear my pentacle, but will slip it inside my shirt when going to my children's school. I have an altar in my living room that I don't put up when company comes. I perform rituals in my backyard, but don't wear a robe. My books are everywhere in my house. I happily smile at people when looking at books at the local bookstore while they stare at my selections. If I didn't have children I would be totally out of the broom closet, but I don't trust the school system not to discrimate against them. Do I fear a Witch Hunt? Yes, considering Bush is President and the things he says and does. Islam is his target now, but if he and his kind have their way, anything not christian will be targeted.
| WHAT CLOSET?? ||May 9th. at 8:01:09 pm EDT|
|Dragon Lady (AZ) ||Age: 0 - Email |
I'm an in-your-face Leo who pretty much wears her pentacle whenever she leaves the house. While I've gotten a few strange looks (but that might just be b/c I have bright, in-your-face, two-toned hair) , not many people actually ask and/or comment. And if they do, I tell them w/o apology that it's a symbol of my faith. I have no fear and if the public at large has a problem with it, I tell them, "When YOU start paying MY bills, then you can tell me how to live my life." I've had the occasional Jehovah Witless - yes, I intentionally spelled it that way - come to my door, whereupon I tell them that I'm a Witch, and if they don't get off my property, I'll turn them into toads! (Always good for a laugh.)
| Solo Pagan Pride ?? ||May 9th. at 7:58:03 pm EDT|
|Kalaah (South Florida) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I thought 10 years ago that eventually I would be able to walk around proudly as a Wiccan. I lived in the bible belt of East Tennessee and knew there was no chance there, relocation would surely be the answer!! When I moved to Florida I thought I would be able to open the closet door a bit, maybe even walk into the fresh sea air. Surprise... it's getting stuffy in here. Thanks to "The Witches Voice" site I have had the opportunity to SEE many names, groups, and events. I know there are pagans "out there". Research done, names found, emails sent.....NO RESPONSES!! What?? Pagans are "down to earth" people. We like people, new people even, right?.....I do. No time to answer an email?? I went to one gathering when I first moved here. Was well received, liked everyone there, had a great time. Called them a month later, they were gone, never to return. So here I am sending emails, going to any shop with a candle in it, hoping to meet someone, ANYONE who will give me a smile and say "are you pagan, so am I, lets talk". The point I am trying to make is I think part of our staying in the broom closet is our own doing. If we cannot communicate to individuals, how do we ever expect to communicate to the community as a whole. We need to take a chance. We don't have to start by announcing at the next board meeting that "I am wiccan an' some things are gonna' change around here". But we could try to be a little more friendly. We will forever walk around with our pentagrams tucked in our shirts, wondering if someone might notice that we don't go to church, or cringe at the word christian?? Or will we be proud of who we are??
--- Bright Blessings
| Depends On Location ||May 9th. at 5:58:33 pm EDT|
|Daron (Northwest US) ||Age: 38 - Email |
I am out of the broom closet at work and with my immediate family (wife & kids) . The rest of my family and other people have no need to know what are my personal beliefs. I do not advertise myself to others, but neither do I deny my belief if I am asked. I am Pagan and proud of my beliefs. Luckily the place I work at does not discriminate. I even have some fun inter-faith humor with my co-workers. A very good place to work.
| Half -n- Half And Sugar Substitute Please ||May 9th. at 5:41:56 pm EDT|
|Lady WolfMaiden (Breckenridge, MN) ||Age: 23 - Email - Web|
We all can understand that nagging feeling of being in the closet. It is stifling, hot, and quite frankly unbearable. Wherever you go there is a 'Bible Belt', and YOU happen to be in the middle of it. I say half/half because my immediate families are aware of my being Wiccan, the public of my town isn't aware of it as yet. Pretty soon that is about to change. I am a member of The Church of the Crescent Moon. We just formed last year, meeting new and interesting people. I have strong communication and people skills, so naturally when we as a coven step out of the closet; I MUST be there to publicaly speak about our group. It initially will not be easy, it never is. Thank goodness that I have now come to a big spiritual point in my life. But I remember those days very vividly, and will use those as an example for my daughter.
For the most part, I feel it isn't anyone's true business what religion I am. However I do answer questions when strangers come up to me. No I haven't worn my pentacle outside of home and coven meetings. But it will happen sooner or later. THe one thing that I will be glad for, as I age, I gain wisdom. I have noticed more older pagans/wiccans being more open and out. That is a totally awesome feeling! When youre young, no one cares what a "young hooligan" thinks.
I don't think or even worry about a modern burning of our 'people'. Because right now, all eyes are on Islam. I am out, I am proud, I am humble.
Sincere blessings to young pagans/wiccans etc...
co-founder of Church of Crescent Moon
| Happy In The Closet - For Now ||May 9th. at 5:21:56 pm EDT|
|Thalia Grove (Ontario, Canada) ||Age: 30 - Email |
As someone relatively new to the Pagan lifestyle and Wiccan path, I am sittling happily on the floor of my broom closet, feet planted firmly against the door and reading by candle light.
This is a funny image to me, but also not far from the truth - however it IS temporary. A beloved friend of mine introduced me to Wicca this past year, and I am currently researching and reading everything I can find about it... and fully enjoying the overwhelming sense of peace I get from each word, page, and practical experience. I believe in the power of witchcraft like I have believed in few things before, and I intend to walk the Path to the best of my ability for a long, long time.
That said, I have told no one about my new change, and don't intend to for quite some time. Please know that this has nothing to do with fear or shame - but rather a proud, private peace that is mine and mine alone to enjoy right now. I am revelling in my newfound freedom and beliefs, and look forward to sharing it with my family and the world when the time is right for me. I also want to make certain that I can pass this peace on to others in a concious, open way and that also means having all my own questions answered before trying to ask for the understanding of friends and family.
So for now I compromise - I have a full alter, but pack it away before guests arrive; I wear the Chinese symbol meaning 'change and transformation' instead of a penticle, but I know what I'm changing into; and at the moment, I read evermore on the floor of my closet... until the day I invite the world inside. And I think of it that way - wanting the 'outside' world to come in and learn about the new me that's been brewing in this little room. Besides, it will be less scary for them by then - at my rate it ought to resemble less of a closet and more a small library!
Peace to all,
| I Yam What I Yam ||May 9th. at 4:12:58 pm EDT|
|Dark Moon Panther (Rolling Hills of NJ) ||Age: 40 - Email |
I went through this evolution regarding my self-identity as a pagan, which I guess many out there will identify with. First, I tended to be a bit secretive (although I was never fully in the broom closet, even in high school) . Then I went through my "I'm Pagan and proud, I'm in your face and loud!" period. Now, I don't feel the need to be either of those. I just am. Been that way for about 10 or 15 years now.
So, have I been more or less in the broom closet? Neither. However, I am a Scorpio, and thus tend to feel that many things just aren't the business of others. If you ask, I'll tell you as much as you want to know. If you make a misstatement about my faith, I will set you straight. If you tell me I'm going to Hell, I will respond that it is your Hell, you burn in it, or something to that effect, depending on my mood at the time. I don't wear a pentacle or other pagan jewelry all the time, but I do wear it when I feel like it. I don't go about dressed in "witchy" clothes (meaning either Gothic, or big flowing things) , because I prefer outdoorsy clothes like jeans, hiking boots, and flannel shirts (infinitely easier to navigate in the woods dressed like that, by the way) . I don't go out of my way to proclaim my path at every turn, but it would be hard to know me for very long without figuring that SOMETHING was different.
Am I worried about a modern day "witch hunt"? Yes, but not one that targets pagan-types specifically. I fear that those who are "different" will be targeted, whether that be by ethnicity, religion (especially Muslims or those that might be mistaken for them, like Sikhs) , sexual orientation, that sort of thing. I feel that our civil rights are being infringed upon to a degree never possible before, through the so-called Patriot Act and the TIA system. Worse yet, most of these information-gatherings are overseen by secret courts, and the citizen cannot even find out who his accuser IS, much less face his accuser. I am concerned that the current administration's open contempt and active quashing of opposing viewpoints will lend legitimacy to those individuals who want to oppress those different from themselves. I am concerned that the HUAC may return, although they will name it something else of course, and its focus won't be on "Commies", but on "Threats to National Security". I won't change my actions due to these concerns, though, but rather fight any battle as it comes.
As to protecting my info, I have always been a bit paranoid about identity theivery, especially via the Net, and via certain forms of junkmail, like credit card offers. That level has not changed recently, though.
Finally, I have not changed my inclination to speak up about my religious affiliation when in discussion. I often don't find it directly relevant to political and social discourse, however. I prefer, as other respondents have stated, to base my politico/social arguments on logic, rhetorical skills, and available data, rather than appeals to religion. In religious debates, of course, religion is central, and I try to articulate my positions clearly and in a manner that neither proselytizes nor implies that other religions are "wrong".
I understand that my corner of the world is perhaps a little less blatant about intolerance than others areas - although it does occur, even here - and thus can respect the decisions of those who feel the need to stay hidden.
I hope that by behaving in a respectful manner towards my fellow humans (as much as I can - I'm nowhere near perfect, after all!) and my world that I will help to create a world where no one needs to fear practicing their religion openly.
Dark Moon Panther
| Broom Closet? ||May 9th. at 3:52:32 pm EDT|
|Mathair Cat (Clarksville TN..USA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
First off I have never been in the broom closet. I am very open with who and what I am. However, I know how to "cloak." That is, I am me but I don't go to strangers exclaiming I am Pagan and it's blessed wonders of being one. For acquaintances, if I get a good feeling off of them I tell them enough information that I think the need to know. Need to know information here lol. Of course some tell me that is the broom closet, I don't think so. I think it's being catious..I have been like this since I have had my children in the bible belt.
Of course I am worried about "witch hunts". Especially living in TN. I am very protective person and I have toned down my ways to make sure my children will not feel the brunt of it, of course-again--I have been told that isn't being true to myself. I call it being a responsible parent who knows there are dangers out there.
Geuss that's the best way I can describe myself.
| Broom Closet? What Broom Closet? ||May 9th. at 3:37:12 pm EDT|
|Alex (New Jersey) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I used to hide what I was from my mother till that fateful day I came home to find my mother reading the books I had borrowed from a friend.
Talk about shock and horror. Then she sat me down and asked me about how I felt about what I was reading. We talked for hours about Wicca and Paganism. She said that after reading the books she didn't mind if that was the path I wished to take. Went out with me in fact to buy my own set of books (so I could return them to my friend) and to get the supplies to set up my first altar I could call my own.
The only warning she ever gave me was to not burn down the house with the candles.
Since then I've never realy felt the need to hide. I don't go screaming down from the mountain tops that I'm a solo-practitioner in Wicca, but I don't hide it either.
I've been lucky for the most part, I've joined groups of free thinkers who invite each other over on weekends for tea and discussion (ok so it's more like Coke and Chips) on all subjects from Religion to UFO's to Last weeks episode of Babylon 5.
I have run onto the odd closed minded person on occasion but I usually can ignore them, or leave them trying to get thier feet back under them after I blew them out of the water with original thought.
Most of the people of the cloth that I've ever dealt with on a regular basis fit into one of two classes. Either they are open minded and secure enough in thier own beliefs that *mine* do not pose a threat to them, or they freak out when I tell them what I am.
The first kind are fun as they like to talk to see my point of view and I in return try to do the same. It's fun discussing comparative theology at a church whilst one is trying to drop kick thier server back into operation. The other kind is almost as much fun since they tend to be so closed minded that they trip over thier own dogma. They also tend to freak not so much at me but that I would *dare* to be any religon other than thiers.
Broom Closet? Nah. I'm wiccan and if you can deal with that little fact then you are welcome. If not then stay away and we can avoid each other till the end of days.
| ) O ( My Closet Is Only A Reach In ||May 9th. at 3:25:06 pm EDT|
|Laura (Pittsburgh, PA) ||Age: 28 - Email |
I was blessed by having a father who is a stealth/closet pagan, and a mother who believes " as long as you believe in something". My older sister is much more boisterous than I, I prefer my triple moon ring and pendant, and only occaisionally actually wear my pentacles.
For those of you who have experienced or are experiencing Religious discrimination, we have an advocates group (for those who don't know) called W.A.R.D Witches Against Religous Discrimination, and they are online, and national.
I am not worried about the decidedly Christian turn of things. Our "good Christian" brethern thought they had gotten us all 300 years ago. Their hate and ignorance is focused on their little brother, Islam.
The Goddess is Coming and she IS pissed!
Blessed Be Sisters and Brothers.
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