There are additional aspects to consider when coming out of the broom
closet. Essentially there are two groups of people who do it and the issues
and methods for each are very different. There is the group of individuals
who have become "witches" primarily because of the hype, shock
value, and attention getting aspects of the craft. Then there are those
who have devoted their lives to practicing, studying, and
learning from pagan spirituality, be it wiccan or other. Unfortunately
there are many more of the first group and their actions tend to get more
attention and hurt those in the second group.
Coming out of the broom closet has some very specific things that need
to be considered for both groups in American society at least. Paganism
and witchcraft are generally considered to be a call for attention by
the individuals professing membership to these groups. This is because frequently
it is the case and the decision is not based on a serious amount of faith.
Additionally it is not considered a "real" religion, or belief
system, by many. They consider it to be something people play with, that
magic doesn't really exist, and that spells don't work. Alternatively, some
people consider paganism and witchcraft to be "the devil's work."This
is, of course, far from the case, see Principles of Wiccan Belief for
more details. This reaction is generally seen in people who are very religious
practicing Christians. They perceive paganism to be far worse than any of
the monotheistic religions, or eastern beliefs like Taoism and as such
they can have extreme and unpredictable reactions.
Many people in the first group find "coming out" to friends
and family a way to garner attention for themselves. It makes them feel
different and interesting and gives others reason to gossip about them.
They make sure that people know they are a "witch" and frequently
wear pentagrams and other assorted mystical symbols from pagan, judeo-christian,
or eastern religions, prominently about their person. Coming out can also
be used as a tool by teens to get their parents to stop and pay attention
to them and the fact that they are making real decisions in their life.
Unfortunately this generally works against them because of how paganism
is percieved in our society. If the parents see it as something to play
with the child is thought less of for doing something that isn't real and
"pretending" it is. If they perceive it to be an extraordinarily
evil thing they may send to child to religious retreats, disown them,
force them to choose between them and the childs beliefs, physically punish
the child in sometimes violent ways to convince the child of how bad they
have been, and other assorted unpleasantries. For these people coming out
is an act of rebellion instead of one of faith and sharing. When they are
confronted for coming out they can easily further their superficial goals
by arguing and then being able to say that the other person is closed-minded
By pushing their difference and contradictory religion in others faces
these people tend to be the ones you hear gossiped about by word of mouth
or mass media. Frequently possessing little real knowledge of what it
is to live a spiritual life as a pagan, or what witches or pagans believe,
or do, these individuals present a warped, or downright wrong perception
of pagans. These are also the people who tend to loose interest in the
craft within a few years for various reasons.
People in the second group generally only mention their beliefs to others
when asked. We tend to accept the faiths of others and go about our lives
happily interacting with those people without needing to bring up the issue
of our personal beliefs. We generally come out to people because we believe
we feel a need to stand up for something or someone, because we want to
share a part of ourselves with those we care about, or to make others aware
that there are others amongst them with beliefs other than christian or
jewish. Generally we are far more careful about who we reveal ourselves
to and when we do it because, as with any religion someone believes in strongly,
it is a core part of our being, and to have it rejected is to say that there
is something wrong or bad with us. It can hurt on a very personal level
like being rejected by someone for being homosexual.
In "To Ride a Silver Broomstick" by Silver Ravenwolf (a prominent
wiccan writer and activist) she discusses, among other things, coming out
and her experiences with it.
- When I first began writing this book I was a closeted Witch. No one,
save my husband, knew my personal beliefs. As the book took shape, so
did my life in the Craft. I began teaching my children, my friends, and
now those that have come to my door for assistance.
- It has been a slow process, this removal of myself from the dark secrecy
of my faith. I do not live in a large city, therefore the minds of many
are not open to change or easily re-educated. It has not been easy. I lost
my job and found deceit, and I lost of a few vapid, selfish friends - but
I found a wonderful compliment of brothers and sisters. I am now an individual
that belongs to no one, but shares with many.
She goes on to discuss ways to handle common questions, disagreements,
and many other aspects of coming out. If you are new to the Craft I would
strongly recommend this book.
People considering coming out should generally first consider their reasons
for wanting to do so. Coming out when you haven't committed yourself to
a lifetime of paganism can, among other things, lead to a loss of others
respect for you and damaging the already bad perceptions of pagans today.