Acceptance: It's Getting Better All the Time
Article ID: 3547
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,912
Times Read: 6,437
Author: Ginger Strivelli
Posted: July 14th. 2001
Times Viewed: 6,437
Horror tales of Witches coming out of the broom closet to all sorts of rejection, discrimination, and prejudice are sowed and harvested, across the Internet, like the crops that spill from Mother Nature's cornucopia. But they are usually the same handful of stories being passed about, exaggerating their numbers and their meaning. Are these mesmerizing tales works of fiction or non-fiction? Likely some of both. Surely there are some people out there who peek out of the broom closet and see no welcome wagon waiting.
However, in many cases, in most cases in fact, people come out of that closet and find complete and total acceptance, or at the least an apathetic 'whatever' from their friends, family, co-workers, and society in general. Most persons do not suffer the terror described in these tales of woe that are so infamous in our community. But we don't feverishly type out their tales of acceptance and pass them about in cyber-space like a chalice of Bacchus' ritual wine. That is reserved for the tale of Lady so-and-so who is in the middle of an ugly divorce case where the 'religion card' has been pulled out along with all the other cards and the kitchen sink, in the bloody battle over custody of their children. Hence, the urban legend that "you can lose your children for being a Witch." Religion is not 'material' in any court cases. That is a plain and simple law of the land. (Praise Lady Liberty!) The fact is, often in ugly divorces, one parent will charge the other with all sorts of abuse and neglect against the children in attempts to gain custody. Sometimes these are true charges, often times they are completely false. And often times, if one parent is a Pagan, the abuse will be claimed to be 'ritual abuse' within the coven/group, likely because people are apt to believe such charges, whether true or not. In such cases Judges must take the charges of abuse into account... .but religion, its self, is never an issue. It is in fact illegal for a judge to use it as an issue. So few of us know that... because we've been force-fed tale after tale after tale of so-and-so losing their children.
I can say that in my 15 years as a Practicing Witch, I have never personally known anyone who lost their children because of their chosen faith. Do Witches lose their children in divorces? Certainly... .in every divorce someone loses the children, Pagan Parents, Christian Parents, Jewish Parents, Muslim parents lose children in custody fights. It is the sad nature of a divorce that one parent loses the children and the children lose one parent. But it has nothing to do with religion.
The misinformation against us being accepted upon our coming out does not end there. There are horror tales of Lord so-and-so being disowned by his whole family after being outed as a Pagan, or tales of so-and-so losing her job because she admitted to being a Witch, or tales of another so-and-so losing their home, or a husband/wife. It seems one loses everything but their hair when they become a Witch. It is such a sad thing, that this danger is so over-blown in our community... because so many people hide in their broom closet for years out of this unrealistic fear. So many Witches live double lives, constantly mortally afraid of being found out to be a Pagan. That is beyond sad. If one can not be proud of their faith, then they really should convert to a faith that they can be proud of. No one under Hina and Quetzalcoatl should have to hide who or what they are, to do so shows that they are on some level ashamed of who or what they are. That is a real tragedy.
Most Pagans are NOT homeless, NOT childless, NOT jobless... .and are actually quite accepted by their friends and family. But alas, their tales do not make for good email forwards, so we are likely to keep hearing all the shocking tales about the unaccepted Pagans out there, who are said to be losing everything. Lets try to keep in mind why these tales are so shocking... because they are in fact shocking... because they are unusual. That is why they are shocking!
Alas, we should hear these shocking tales, so we can rally the troops and come to these few poor unaccepted fellow Pagans' rescues. However, we should stop letting these horror tales terrorize our whole community into thinking we are all in danger of losing everything and body we hold dear, and we are all as unaccepted as these infamous few cases. That is simply untrue.
It is illegal in Lady Liberty's land, to lose ones job, or home, or child due to one's faith. Each one of us has a sword as fearsome as Ares' weapon against these fears. That sword is our "Freedom of Religion!" Sure, you might have to bother to stand up and demand that right; it might not be served to you on a silver platter, unasked for. Nevertheless, it is there for the claiming.
Now the stories of one losing the affection of loved ones, being disowned by family, are sadly more common and do happen more regularly. Sadly there are no laws against being a bad friend/parent/relative. But one might gently point out that any loved-one who would abandon you, and disown you simply because you chosen a different religion than them, never truly loved and supported you to start with.
Now, we will keep hearing these odd shocking unusual horror stories of unacceptance, they do after all, make for good news stories and emails, but keep in mind, they are just that. Odd. Shocking. Unusual. They are stories, as entertaining as Spider Grandmother's own, with varying degrees of fact behind the plots. But they are not the normal account of the level of acceptance that most Pagans find upon venturing out of their broom closet.
I am a very well known Witch in my local community. My husband, our 5 children, and I have all been seen on the television news, and in the newspapers, with "Pagan" or "Witch" listed with our names. Yet, I have received complete acceptance, from family and friends. Not even the public has rejected or disrespected me. I am recognized, approached and asked about the religion of Witchcraft two or three times a week, in line at the grocery store, in the gas station, at the doctor's office... . Nearly everywhere I go. Not once... (let's all savor this sentence)... not once has any one of these strangers approaching me, had a single negative comment. My family has not disowned me. Neither my husband nor I have ever lost a job, or a home, or a child, or a glass slipper due to our faith being a well-known public fact.
The government doesn't send the police around to take all children from any cars with Pagan bumper stickers, the laws against discrimination in the workplace don't have a loophole that reads, "unless the worker is a Pagan, then by all means you can fire them." The Equal housing laws do list 'religion' in the list of things that can not be used to deny housing to persons. Normally, Pagans do not lose homes, jobs, children or anything else, simply because they are Pagans. The odd shocking horror tales of unacceptance we hear have simply overblown the fears associated with these cases. This is 2001, not 1501. This is America, not Iraq.
Lastly, now that I have hopefully dispelled a lot of the misconceptions about the true actually low level of unacceptance in society against Pagans, let me remind you of something, that all of you magicians worth your salt (and water) know. If one expects to be accepted and treated fairly, and respected, they most likely will be. However, if one expects to be disrespected, and discriminated against, and mistreated, then they likely will be mistreated thusly. So lets stop fearing losing everything and being rejected because of our ancient and honorable religion and start expecting to be accepted. We generally are already, and we all should, and can be.
Location: Weaverville, North Carolina
Author's Profile: To learn more about Ginger Strivelli - Click HERE
Bio: Lady Ginger Strivelli is the Leading Priestess of the Appalachian Pagan Alliance. She is a poet, a writer and an artist. (She writes regularly for Circle Network Magazine and also writes Fantasy and Science Fiction professionally.) She is a proud member of the endangered species of 'homemaker and stay-at-home Mother.' Ginger, her husband Sean, and their children; Merlin, Destiny, Amethyst, Sybilsue and Balthazar live in a magical forest in Jupiter, NC with a large and varied assortment of pets.
Other Articles: Ginger Strivelli has posted 6 additional articles- View them?
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