Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Out of the Cesspit-Into the Cauldron|
Posted: February 19th. 2000
Times Viewed: 4,605
The saying goes that nothing is as sure as Death and Taxes. Hmmm, yes, but in my humble opinion another thing is almost just as sure, and that is that it's almost never easy to come out of the broom closet just like that. In my case, coming out had far reaching repercussions not only for me personally, but for my loved ones as well-although some of them do not fully understand until this day of writing the trauma involved in my personal outing. At first I thought I had made the worst mistake in my entire life by facing myself for what I was and at the same time by taking the initial irrevocable step that had caused so much schism and heartache.
Let me begin where we all usually try to begin-at the Beginning...
I was born into a large orthodox Protestant family in what is known today as the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa-A piece of country filled with roaming hills and mystery. The land of traditional "witch doctors" also known as sangomas under the old Apartheid Regime, who in turn was overshadowed and greatly influenced by what we here in South Africa know as the Three Sister Churches, with their roots deeply entrenched in Calvinistic Orthodoxy. Anything outside of these institutions was viewed as Romish, Sectarian or Occult. Heksery or Witchcraft used to conjure images of the native ancestral witch doctors and their practices as well as the wart infested old crones of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm's fairy tales.
During my kindergarten years I used to attend every Sunday the service with my family at the local Dutch Reformed Mission Church in Empangeni, Natal, and loved to attend Sunday school after the service. Stories pertaining to the sacrificial death and miraculous revival of the god-man held a special mystique for my 4-year old mind, although I could not comprehend all the ramifications connected with the history attached to this god-man. During the week, in the afternoons while my two elder brothers were still at school, I had to take a nap with my mother every day. And it so happened that before Mamma could coerce me to fall asleep, she had to read me a story. And it had to be none other than Hansel and Gretel. In my childish little mind I was always hoping that the two kids would somehow be saved the ordeal they had to go through. Great was my relief every time when Mamma reached the point where Hansel and Gretel sail to the riverbank on the back of the whitest of swans, to be greeted by an elated father with (thank the Gods) this time a friendly and sympathetic new stepmother...
Running parallel with my Sunday school education on Sundays, I received a good dose of Folklore in the form of fairy tales and supernatural anecdotes hailing way back from the mists of my mother's childhood. Us three brothers used to listen in awe to all the strange and wonderful tales that Mamma used to spin till late into the night. About how she was jinxed every now and than by local witch doctors and how she barely survived their evil spells. About how my grandmother fought back in the only way she knew how, through a mixture of common sense and her own brand of Afrikaner Pow-Wow spiced with syncretistic Christian lore. Oh, how I loved those tales!
I will be last in line to try and claim to be a hereditary witch, but when I consider all the facts, well, ;-)
I married a lovely girl who adhered to the beliefs of the Watchtower Society (AKA Jehovas Witnesses). With her I used to roam from door to door peddling our religion. But something was amiss, and deep down I knew very well what the problem was. I just couldn't buy into the worldview as expounded by the Watchtower Society.
Every so often I would find myself roving the bookstores and ending up in front of the shelves holding the esoteric titles. I paged through the books, sat down in the isles, and read to my heart's content. This was the stuff that reached deep down into my psyche whilst striking cords which resonated even deeper into my being. There remained only one problem. I couldn't discuss my opinions with my wife-everything that was not in line with Watchtower theology was branded demonism.
Once, when I dared to check out two esoteric books from the local public library and bringing it home, it caused no small commotion. The end result was that my wife saw to it that the two books quietly disappeared-later I discovered that the books found their final resting place between the weeds in an open field next to the apartment block where we then stayed. I was angry and took her to task for her irresponsible behavior by not considering the fact that I had to fork out compensation for the library. As far as she was concerned, she did Jehovah a holy service by getting rid of demonic material and in so doing safeguarding her spouse from possible eternal extinction...
I joined up with an esoteric mail order book club and started to order books via mail to be delivered at my work address. I knew I had to be very careful not to let my wife know what I was up to. In the beginning I used to go to work very early to read the forbidden treasures. Lunch breaks were spent in similar fashion. Out of the blue I got the ingenious idea to cover the books with brown paper, sneaking them into the house on Fridays so that I could have something to stimulate my mind over weekends. One such title, which was also my introduction to "natural magic" and folklore and the world of modern day witches, was Marion Green's A Witch Alone. I really treasured that book! It opened my mind to the world of the solitary witch and really spoke to my mind and my heart. But my newly found happiness was destined to be short lived.
One weekend during 1993 A Witch Alone became A Witch No-More!-as well as a subsequent visit from the presiding overseer of our local congregation accompanied by the service overseer, two gentlemen whom I had a wonderful relationship with. They sat for hours with me explaining the evil and soul-destroying consequences of dabbling into the occult and witchcraft. I felt betrayed and consequently revolted against the mind-controlling practices of the Society. I said in so many words that it was my God-given right to think for myself and to carve my own spiritual path.
I know these two gentlemen really loved me (and me them). The only way open to me while retaining my sanity was to go underground and never again to mention anything that would cast a shadow of consorting with demons over me. I loved my wife, and I loved my little boy and girl who did not ask to be born into a house of discord. For some time I bowed the head and religiously attended all meetings for all Witnesses of good standing. For a while I was almost convinced that the devil really did get a foothold in my household...
That was way back in 1993. Somehow titles like John Matthews's A Fairy Tale Reader, A Glastonbury Reader survived unscathed on my bookshelf. Then, during April of 1997 I decided to drop into a secondhand bookshop in Johannesburg during my lunch hour. For some unknown reason the first book I noticed was Campinelli's Rites of Passage. My heart was beating faster and I secured the book for an unbelievably ridiculous price: R49.00 ($8.00). I tried to be a little cleverer this time round and made a photocopy of the entire book. The original copy I locked away in my desk drawer whilst pilfering copied chapters hidden between "work" that I took home. I was on cloud nine of pagandom once again!
But not for long. My wife's sixth sense somehow alerted her that something ever-so evil was once again threatening the spiritual equilibrium in our household. Result? During one of her officially sanctioned witch-hunts with the blessing of the elders of the Watchtower Congregation, Campinelli's Rites of Passage as well as my much prized Celtic Book of the Dead by Caitlin Matthews was used to build a magnificent bonfire in our backyard. Frustration is too tame a word to describe what I felt at the time. Powerless would be more descriptive...
After a last ditch effort from the elders and a stubborn response from this wannabe witch, it was eventually publicly announced in the local Kingdom Hall that I was to be regarded as an apostate to the faith and persona non grata. This was a terrible blow to my psychological equilibrium. I entered a state of depression that lasted for a protracted period of time. I had to face the fact that my spouse and I came to a point where the only two things we really had in common was our little boy and girl. We lived as strangers in the same household. No more did I have any friends. Due to the Watchtower Society being such a closely knitted fraternity, I was shunned.
Only two choices glaringly stared me in the face. ONE: I could recant and start the slow and painful process of rehabilitation back into the fold of Jehovah God. At the same time becoming a traitor to myself and the God/dess, whilst living a big, FAT LIE, or, TWO: I had to face the possibility of a divorce action and in so doing losing day-to-day contact and supervision and the joy of being with my children.
What made it so much worse was the fact that I knew no fellow pagans at the time! All my networking efforts at the time came to naught. I used to sit under the big old pine tree in my garden whispering petitions to God/dess to show me a way out. At that point in time my whole focus was to remain with my two little ones. I couldn't bear the thought of being separated from them. I so much wished that some wonderful miracle would be worked on my behalf to save our little family. Still I had to face the icy-cold facts of my wife being unshakable in her faith. I tried to reason with her. I tried every possible argument available, but all to no avail...
After a three-week visit during July 1998 with my mother and "kid" brother, I was granted some clarity. Divorce was the only way out. I had to sacrifice everything that I thought was dear and near to me. By now I realized that I was solidly hooked on a faith that meant more to me than anything else in the world. Allow me to mention here that I know that some fellow pagans might think that I am totally around the bend to have put my beliefs before my family life. Belief me, I am convinced that I had no choice in the matter! For the sake of my own sanity and the sanity of my wife and kids I had to take the final stance: Standing up for what I believe in. And standing up I did-not with a bang or clang of cymbals, no, but with the quiet but firm announcement that I was prepared to let everything go to be able to live a life of quiet worship in service of the Old Ones-and retain my dubious sanity...
Our divorce was granted and ratified by the High Court during 1999. I have moved away from my loved ones to start all over at the southern tip of South Africa. Today I am still walking the solitary path. I am reveling in my newfound freedom. I am able to study the Craft at my leisure without fear of being found out, because along the thorny way I have learned to Dare, to Know, and to be SILENT. At all times I endeavor to be as honest as possible to those who inquire after my personal path. To some I will say that I am Pagan. To others that I follow a nature-based religion. But it is still not very wise to call yourself a WITCH in the New South Africa. Therefor I do not use the word in public. I am not ashamed to be a witch-it is just so much the wiser not to say... Anyway, not YET.
Some may wonder what good my religion has brought me? A lot of good I can tell you! My ex-wife and I are at present best of friends. In some mysterious way, which I still do not understand, she became rather tolerant of my views. Without saying so, we agreed to disagree. We are in regular contact with one another via e-mail or the telephone. During September 1999, just before the celebration of Beltane in the Southern Hemisphere, I had the privilege for the first time in 9 months to fly to Johannesburg and visit with her and our two kids. I enjoyed a glorious shopping spree as far as pagan literature was concerned. And you know what? She even tolerated titles such as The Elements of the Goddess, The Elements of Shamanism, PAGANISM: A Beginners Guide, and Tarot for Beginners to lie around in her lounge. Her only comment at the time (accompanied by a wry smile) was, "You really DO believe in these strange things, don't you, Mr. Du Toit?" I didn't answer her. I only offered her a smile of happiness and gratitude.
The road forward is still steep and very long. What I couldn't understand then, I am starting to understand now, and that is that the God/dess will not accept half-hearted service. It is ALL or NOTHING. But once you have elected to rally to the fold of the Old and Ancient Ones, they will make your path more than just straight. They will be walking with you, side by side, ALL the way. Once you have encountered your darkest hour, once you have made the right and wise choice, you will never be alone again. Be true to yourself-Be true to the ALL-THAT-IS.
Be Forever Blessed
28 January 2000
Location: , USA
Bio: Afrikaans-speaking Arno EagleFox (OK, Cancerian as well) lives in Sea Point, Cape Town. His pagan-friendly buddy supplies him with everything new from the generous TWV. Devours anything from TWV and supports TWV single-mindedly.
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