One of the most common backstories in Paganism are of those of us who came to Paganism after having been raised in Christianity. As I've written before in my blog, I certainly was. After I was left disillusioned with Christianity and I found that Dream Spells book at Target, which sparked my initial interest in Paganism to begin with.
I was, for the most part, in the proverbial Broom Closet for several years after that. I was 21 when I became a Pagan. Naturally, one of the things I greatly feared was my family finding out -- particularly my mother. I'd grown up having the evils of witchcraft drilled into me, including the opinions of Harry Potter when those books first started coming out (but, somehow, "The Wizard of Oz" was ok.......how's that for logic?) I think something I found especially funny later on was an article I'd heard touted about among some of the people in my home church. This Christian-written article went on and on about how J.K. Rowling had "done research into the occult" when she'd written the Harry Potter books. After I'd read them and had begun learning about Paganism, I had a massively hearty laugh over the memory of that ridiculous article.
I was confident and happy enough to live relatively out in the open about my beliefs pretty much everwhere in my own realm. It was easy in that regards, for the most part, seeing as how I was living in Texas at that time and she was still living here in Colorado. Mind you, I tried not to be overly obnoxious about it, but I was open enough to wear my pentacle out in the open without shame......unless I was going to have to be around my parents. Then it was hidden under my shirt. I was so afraid of my mother's reaction about my becoming a Witch, I even found myself writing an essay for her for if/when my time in the Broom Closet was ended.
I ended up coming out of the closet to my mother when, during one of her visits, we'd ended up visiting with a then friend of mine who was a Pagan. Mom saw some of this friend's books and when I saw that she'd seen them, I knew that my coming out of the Broom Closet was not long in coming. Sure enough. The next day, Mom brought up P's books and asked about my own beliefs. Holy hell. I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest as this moment I'd long dreaded was finally at my doorstep.
As time went on, I gradually became more comfortable with being myself even where she could see it rather than being afraid of what she would think of me. I wouldn't automatically move to hide my pentacle, be it around her or around anyone else in the family. And for quite a while, I thought my mother was actually becoming more open-minded about things. I mean, I guess she was, but recent events have happened that have felt like a huge step back and I don't fully understand why. I'm not gonna lie: In many ways I feel like I have lost my whole family. A recent altercation with my mother, one of the most important people to me in my family, has made me feel again the gap between us. I'm not going to go into all of it, but one thing she'd mentioned was darkly expressing "I love you even if I don't agree with all your choices, like religion". Mind you, that's not verbatim, but that was basically what she was saying and when she mentioned the religious aspect, I felt myself bristle.
I had to remind her that just because I don't follow the Christian path doesn't mean I've turned my back on God or anything. And I pointed out, as respectfully as possible but also bluntly, that my spirituality is between me and God and no one else. I also pointed out that I have felt a greater freedom in Paganism to draw closer to God (and Goddess) as I feel I should rather than being forced to do so the way Christians think I should. It was very frustrating to me to have to re-explain things that I had already told her the day I came out of the Broom Closet.
Why am I writing about all of this? Certainly not to scare anyone away from coming out of the Broom Closet if they should feel that it's time for them to do so. Some people have it easier than others, for true. Others have had it far worse than I have. I know people who have had their books destroyed in a violent outburst of rage from parents who thought that such behavior would bring their offspring "back to Jesus" or whatever. I have known people who face the risk of being disowned and actually were when they took that risk. Making the choice to live out in the open as a Pagan even in the face of those who might turn their backs on you is not an easy choice. And it's certainly not one to take lightly. I have a friend who falls into the Possible Disownment category because her parents (particularly her mum) are Jehovah's Witness, which would basically require her mother to no longer have anything to do with her if her beliefs were to be brought to light.
Some people never really feel the call to come out of the Broom Closet. Others, even in the face of possible difficulties, have faced it because they felt that it was time. Don't ever feel pressured to do one thing or the other. If the Goddess calls you out, fine. But there are still Asshole Pagans out there (I've met them) who have actually had the balls to pressure people like "Oh, well, you're not a REAL Pagan if you stay hidden," and other such nonsense. It's ridiculous how many Pagans out there who really think that they have the right to push their opinions upon people like that. "You're not a REAL Pagan if you don't celebrate every Sabbat and do an elaborate ritual every Esbat!" Bleh.
In whatever ways you can, find the courage to be yourself even when stuck in the Broom Closet. You don't have to be ostentatious with your spirituality. It's something we walk every day and we can do it without having to draw attention to ourselves. Just because I'm out of the Broom Closet doesn't mean that I walk around wearing some weird clothes like from "Harry Potter" or anything. Really, I don't do much of anything different than what I did when I was in the Broom Closet. In fact, continuing to show ourselves as being normal, everyday people can often be the best testament of ourselves that we can give. Because when someone finds out that you're a Witch and they've known you for X-Amount of years, they're going to sputter and go, "But you're so normal!"
Exactly. Which means that we don't fit the horrid stereotypes that have been attached to Witches for so many centuries.
Be yourself as you can. You're beautiful that way.