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From 1997... The cry for Unity has been building strongly over the past 13 months in the Witch/Pagan community. This section celebrates our efforts and dreams in this area. Is it possible? Will it be difficult? Do we have some common ground? There is lots of hard work ahead and the Witches' Voice will do its part to both support and evolve this issue. United we stand - So Mote it Be!

Survey Results: Witch, Wiccan or Pagan? ... How Good is YOUR Teacher ... Working with Groups ... A Religion or a Personal Belief ... Out of the Broom Closet ... Witchcraft in the Public Eye

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Initial Thoughts from the Community (the first 24 hours)

YOUR comments on...

Coming out of the Broom Closet
(as of Tuesday 8/19/97 10:00 pm)

Survey Sez...

"Being out for me is a reflection of loving myself and my Mother the Earth. I call myself a witch because I love the Goddess and see her manifest in all living things including myself. Being a witch to me means honoring the feminine principle in a sacred way for the first time in my life. As a woman it makes a lot of sense to me to honor female divinity because the Goddess is in me and I am a woman. Being a witch is an organic container of my feminism. I never felt that I had to out myself as a feminist. I just was one and I spoke my truth from that place. My spiritual practice and the way I live my life is in accord with my politics as I do not believe they can ever really be separate. Educating people about what the word witch means is part of what I do. Changing the stereotype of that word is big work. I am not threatened in my community by being what I am. Therefore I feel a responsibility to be a published witch a vocal witch an educator witch."

"You have to think about if you really care what others will think. I'm sort of out but sometimes it seems inappropriate like parents and some people. If you are okay with it and don't think any negative action will happen go for it"

"I am currently in and have no plans to come out in the immediate future. The area I live in is a very closed minded and prejudice area ruled by one religion. With this kind of control it is hard to come out in the open as it would mean loss of job and alienation for myself and my family. Some parts of the US are not yet open to complete religious freedom."

"Comments on the Questions28. Friends most but not all. Immediate Family They know I am interested my Dad more so than my Mom. Co-workers classmates yes Portland OR a large city it is open minded but not to all faiths. It is important to avoid coming out for the sake of Idealism in situations where it may be dangerous. - Mooncub"

"I am still in the closet about my pagan beliefs to my family. Some of my friends know and are fine with it. I am reluctant to tell my family because they are all Christian and would have the expected reaction of devil worship or satanic things just plain evil. I think my parents would eventually accept it after much discussion and teaching of real witches and their beliefs. I hope one day to be able to live my life the way I see fit without anything holding me back."

"I love being out as much as I can be This is not to shock people but to show others that Paganism is a legitimate religion. Many people have never heard of it."

"I am out to some and in to others. Closed minded friends and family are left in the dark but my house mates and my close circle of loved ones know of my faith. I told my boss so he would have a reason why I needed to take days like Samhain off. The response I have gotten from those who know has been good. They understand that it is a free country and i have my right to worship who I please. The best thing about it all is my town is very ignorant to the outside world. In other words the people I tell want to know more because they haven't even heard of the word PAGAN. Just be prepared for their shock. Not every one will hate you. Just try to associate their point of view with theirs. Answer all their questions. Don't show hostility. Most of all if you are a kind loving and Harm None person they will look at you and understand that you haven't changed and they will associate Witch and You and Love all in one."

"I am not yet totally out of the closet but I hope that some day I will be. I am most concerned about my Bible Thumping parents they will call me every day for the rest of this lifetime just to tell me that they are praying for my soul. I get tired of that but maybe I can do it slowly enough that they will respect my decision and not harp on it. I hope that the acceptance that I have gained from my friends and co-workers will help me to make the decision soon."

"I am not yet totally out of the closet but I hope that some day I will be. I am most concerned about my Bible Thumping parents they will call me every day for the rest of this lifetime just to tell me that they are praying for my soul. I get tired of that but maybe I can do it slowly enough that they will respect my decision and not harp on it. I hope that the acceptance that I have gained from my friends and co-workers will help me to make the decision soon."

"I first started Studying Wicca in my freshman year of high school almost 6 years ago. The only person I told at the time was my father. Surprisingly he read many of my books on the subject and treated it as if it was for real. So I told some of the other members of my immediate family who took it seriously not at all. As sometimes happens to young men my age my practice slipped and soon I had many other things on my mind other than religion. A few years passed and so did my father. It was cancer. I was watching him die right before me. I had prayed for the first time in years that he would pass quickly and painlessly. This was my first answered prayer. The Lord and Lady answered my prayer and I found faith for the first time in years and I decided not to stay in the broom closet at all. I told my mother a Roman Catholic. She doesn't know what to think. I told my brother a soon to be born again Christian. I don't want to know what he is thinking I told my sister. In her I found a little of the understanding that I had found in my father. All of my friends know most of them think its neat to have a witch friend but I have had to make it clear to many of them that I choose who knows and doesn't... not them. Some of them truly understand Gods Bless Them and these are the ones that I truly love the ones that made it worth it to come out of the broom closet. Bright Blessings"

"Being young and always seen as the golden child incapable of wrong makes it hard to tell older people that I have become a witch. To them a me being a witch would make me one of the horrible hags they have brought up to believe in. My peers and younger people are more open to the idea due to the shedding of past stereotypes of Wicca that have been coming about. However older people still cling to the beliefs they were raised with and have a difficult time understanding. If I see a person is able to have an open mind I am more willing to share with them my choice in religion. If not I simply don't share with them unless the question is asked. I then proceed to explain the truth about Wicca the best that I can without offending them. I would love to share my religion of Wicca with everyone but unfortunately not everyone wants to hear the truth and I have to sadly suffer for what I believe in like my ancestors before me."

"I am a Naval Officer and was very worried about how it would affect how my superiors would view me. I didn't want to be labeled a nut. I do not broadcast that I am Wiccan but I do wear a Pentacle necklace openly and will answer truthfully when asked. I will and often do spend time answering questions about Wicca to people who have never heard of it or just are interested in my views. Since I have come out most everyone has been great. I have had no one give me any grief and most have been very supportive. The religious coordinator for my ship has even arranged a space for me to celebrate the Sabbats when we are at sea. I feel lucky for the military seems to be very open to other faiths and ideas. I do not regret for a moment coming out. I can now truly live Wiccan with out worry. I feel that more of us need to come out and then the greater community can see that we are here to stay and a true religious movement. If you are still in and are not sure see if you can find a local Pagan store or book shop. Test the waters around the people that you spend time with. Start with a close friend that you can trust. Then slowly work yourself to other people. Trust your heart and The Goddess. I did and am very glad of it."

"In 1993 I decided it was time to make a declaration to family and friends. There were the usual questions and the concern that I was "part of a cult" but they have been put to rest. If there are further questions no one has bothered to ask. Family have voiced the opinion that they don't understand but I have tried to explain and if they still continue to not understand there is nothing I can do about it. Some of my friends have chosen to not continue our friendship and in that case I have come to the conclusion that they could not have been very good friends thru thick and thin anyway."

"I've been out of the broom closet since I recognize myself as a Witch in 1968. Since then I have done numerous print and broadcast media work on behalf of tolerance for Witches and our beliefs and have founded or been an officer with several organizations to provide educational workshops and public relations work on behalf of the Craft community as a whole. I have been very blessed by Isis that I live in the Greater Los Angeles area which is extremely tolerant of a variety of religious beliefs and practices. Because I approach my public work professionally and use my real name I find that I am taken seriously by the media and earn greater respect from the general public. I am a county government employee . . . another blessing . . . and have no experienced no problems from fellow employees for my openness. Since I have been truly blessed by my circumstances I feel that it is an important part of my work as a Priestess to stand before the public eye as a representative of our community as a whole and it is my honor to do so. I encourage every Witch who can be open and/or do public work as a representative of our religion to step out of the broom closet. Not everyone can but the more of us who do will make our society a better place to live work and worship freely as Witches. Blessed be. Rev. Marsha Smith Shaw DD"

"I came out of the broom closet slowly and with caution. Several of my friends were/are devote fundamental Christians and at least one preached to me about the dangers of going to hell before I was out with him. An amusing story about that... I came out completely by accident with him. Although I've been openly wearing a pentacle for about three months that's really not anything special in a college town like mine so he really didn't put it together. What finally did it was when he came to my house to go swimming and changed in my room. Now because I rarely entertain and then even more rarely do my guests enter my bedroom I have my Wiccan books in an very easy to reach spot on my shelf and my desk a permanent alter of sorts is always littered with candles cauldrons incenses and infusions in various states of completion. Suffice to say he left that day with a very relieved expression Most of my other friends and family have been if not supportive at least understanding of my choices and I thank the Goddess and God for that."

"My sister and brother and law and most of my friends know I'm a Wiccan but my parents grandparents and co-workers including ballet students I teach do not know nor do I know how to tell them"

"I was never in the broom closet. When I decided that Wicca will be my religion people didn't suddenly start coming up to me and asking what do I believe in. My family noticed that something has changed and when they asked I told them I'm a Witch. Got some funny looks over that but they got over it. Basically if a situation comes up where I am asked to say what religion I belong to I tell the truth. There is no point in running around and telling every single person what religion I belong to. If they didn't ask chances are they don't care."

"As a child I followed behind a woman who held magick in her pockets and carried a small magickal bag with stones and tarot cards inside. Sometimes she went to a circle meeting and it was a place she would never take me and seldom discussed. I asked my grandfather about this meeting that took place each month and he told me it was a woman thing and he probably knew less about it than I did. She taught me kitchen magick only it wasn't called that. She grew beautiful flowers and herb gardens. She told me that I was a direct descendant of one of 19 young single women who came to this country to save their religion. Granny said they left behind family and friends and were courageous young women. I thought and said it was odd they did not marry to come to an unsettled country and she told me that some of them did later marry but their soul purpose was the survival of their religion. Granny said that someday this would prove very important to me. I always told anyone who asked that I wanted to be a Gypsy when I grew up and around age 20 I announced to the world that I was a Witch by birth. Friends and family encouraged me to drop this notion or possibly face commitment. I tried to be Christian and went from one branch to another feeling lost and secretly following the kitchen Witch teachings. It wasn't till I found the Seventh Day Adventists that I understood. It was they that said out loud what I had always known in my heart Adam's mother was Mother Earth. I walked away from Christianity and found my way to the Goddess and Her love and glory. Granny's last years on this plane were spent in a nursing home where she seldom knew who I was. It wasn't until after her death that I read the story of the 19 women who secretly came to America to save the Craft. My courage then grew and I announced at work that I was a witch. I read somewhere that courage is what you have when others do not know your fears. My path since coming out may not be easier. But my life is better and my light shines brighter inside where it really counts."

"I'm in the closet to 5 people in my life - my sister brother-in-law and three nieces. They are VERY much die-hard Southern Baptists and find it very hard to accept beliefs other that those that they have been hearing since childhood. Not a path I would choose to walk but then that is their journey not mine. I stay in for them for one simple reason - when I came out of the other Gay closet they were the only genetic family that I found that I still had. They love me they have come to terms with my being gay vs. Baptist doctrine via the no one is without sin Christian loop-hole. I can accept this - I know what ideological challenge it was for them. They know that I do not share their Christian beliefs and they know that they do not want to know what exactly my beliefs are. For them I can deal with this because if they knew how I view the universe and how I relate to my Creator I would go from no one is without sin to the inner circles of Hell in a split second. I don't think they could find a loop-hole for me there and I don't want to force them to try."

" I have some advice for younger Witches Pagans who are trying to figure out how to tell their parents or siblings of their path. I'm not saying this approach will work with all parents but it worked with my VERY Christian relatively close-minded parents. Go into the conversation with enough knowledge to field the inevitable questions. I ended up discussing everything from the meaning of the pentacle to the Law of Three to ritual. If you think things may actually get physically violent over this issue tell them over the phone when you are away at school or on vacation. Explain that you are not worshipping Satan--you don't even believe in him Explain that you follow a code of ethics for example--explain the Rede if you are Wiccan. Stress that you LOVE them and you want to share your beliefs not to try to convert them but because you wish to be honest with them about your path. Gently remind them that ultimately they are not responsible for your soul. On Judgment Day to use a Christian term for those with Christian parents they will be accountable for their only their souls. Assure them you are not joining any kind of weird cult and let them know you are aware that there are such groups. And above all show them with your actions that you are following a positive path. If you live for Wiccans the Rede etc. they will not be able to help noticing how thoughtful loving and mature you are. Actions do speak louder than words The next couple of suggestions are simply personal--ones that I used in my situation. I realize some may object but keep in mind that these are only ideas I stated that I would be happy to explain any ritual item etc. that they wished to have explained and I would give them literature about Wicca that was written with friends and family in mind--if they wanted. But if they didn't want me to be open about it I would respect them and keep my stuff hidden while in their house. I personally stayed away from mentioning Witchcraft or Wicca. I told them I was Pagan and asked them to respect my beliefs. I would rather be able to explain my religion without the negative connotations those words would have for my parents. I stressed that I do not hate Christianity or any other positive religion. I respect and accept as necessary all paths to the Divine and the people who choose to follow those paths. I hope I can help someone out there who is contemplating coming out of the broom closet to their family. Blessed Be"

"As an AnarchaFeministWych being out is and always has been a highly purposeful and very public political statement. I declare my position not to win friends for Paganism but rather to challenge the system a system which promises much and delivers little in the way of real freedom under a constitution that is arbitrary and weakly enforced at best. Additionally and more importantly I declare my position in order to aid in the reempowerment of other wombyn in our fight against the patricapitalist system. The Rituals I enjoy in the privacy of closed Coven gatherings is luxurious and thoroughly self-serving the WychCraft I practice in public venues is decidedly Revolutionary and calculated toward my grandchildren's eventual real freedom Salud GlitteRevolution Kostya Branwen Sudice"

"I've found family and friends very accepting of my choice - of course most of my friends are Pagan anyway. When questioned in public about my pentacle or when someone new is told of my faith I've found that most people are open-minded enough to put aside the stereotypes long enough for me to explain. Of course there are always those who still think I'm a flake due to this but they are few and far between. In general I've found positive responses from those with whom I've come in contact."

"I have always been open about my beliefs but it is only basically since I started with the WLPA last year that I started to stand on Hills and shout out that I was proud to be a Witch. Those feelings have only strengthened with my association with the Witches Voice. My only advice is that you must be 100 sure of who and what you are s there will be many who will want to question you and as long as you can answer convincingly and honestly MOST not all people will just say cool and leave you alone. With Family try to get as much info as you can to them so that they can read about it and see that you do know what you are doing. I came from a Christian Background where at one stage I was an alter Boy but by letting my family see a little bit at a time they came to see that I was what I was and that I had been for some time. Don't Burst your Broom closet doors Open them slowly and let people get used to the Idea.."

"I have never been one to make my feelings and/or beliefs a secret therefore I've pretty much been out for quite some time. I have lost several so called friends when they became aware of my religion however the true friends have stuck by me. I have faced ridicule and harassment from God Fearing Christians among them my own father-in-law a Baptist Minister. I have even come home from work to find a huge painted fabric banner hanging from the front of my home bearing the announcement Witchcraft is the Religion in this house. Recently during a small impromptu circle with a few friends one of our coven members parents dropped by the house. Upon walking in and seeing the altar and candles she loudly announced that she didn't even want to KNOW what we were doing. Note Our coven is made up of grown adults from late 20s to late 30s I feel that it is attitudes such as these that add to the incorrect information and slanderous stories about us. The only advice I can offer is that through all of this I have stood fast in my beliefs and taken solace in the fact that I am happy in my religion. I know that my beliefs are to Harm None and I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure everyone else knows it too. ---Rowan--- you can use my name"

"I don't know if my story is unique but the defining issue about being completely out depends on a co-worker of mine. I is a kind and generous man who cares very much for the well-being of all he people around him but he is a Born-again Christian. While I'm out to most of my other co-workers even my boss I have never explained it to him. He knows I'm not Christian I usually skirt the issue of my religion. I think if I ever open to him Ill be confident to open in daily life in public."

"I'm out to my mother who was happy with my choice of religions but not my father who's more conservative. I'm generally open if the subject comes up. I have been harassed by a fundamentalist Christian at college. I go to a Lutheran College so I tend to feel alone. I think there might be one other Wiccan on campus who I'm trying to find. I had been going to change on my school record what my religion was because you are supposed to report that sort of thing but then they would not hire a professor of Eastern Religions because she was not Christian. Then some of the international students wanted a place where they could worship. Some of the editorials were just so awful. After that I did not wish to let the school know for fear of losing my scholarship. I cannot afford to get kicked out of school there are no non-Christian schools around that offer Latin majors."

"I am in because I am afraid people will make fun of me and harass me"

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