Drug Out Of The Broom Closet? Don't Panic
Be Brave, Even When It's Scary, Dear Ones
I know, I know, based on past experiences I'm not a fan of people knowing what I am either. I write under a pen name not only for privacy's sake, but safety. But sometimes, it can't be avoided. You see, people know I write online and eventually people want to see what I write. Now, if I met them online, no big deal, right? If my readers don't know I'm a witch by now I'm worried about them.
But what about real life? In real life I tend to be quiet about my faith, mostly because people around here like to destroy altars and sacred spaces, so I don't want to find out what they would do to me.
I will give away my profile addy if people seem excited and don't seem to be the type to resort to witch burning, but otherwise I keep a low profile. I do have one outdoor altar you've all no doubt seen by now, now done up for Yule, but I also have problems of my own for it.
Three different people destroyed my backyard altar space at one time or another. And what makes me angry is that they made me feel violated. The small bust of Pan was in an isolated, private area I was sure to screen off and keep private was attacked so many times I finally brought it inside, so I hear you.
All that said, not all people are jerks and you can do things to minimize the impact being drug out of the broom closet will have for you.
A Sacred Space Helps
Assess The Damage
This one can be hard. The neighbor to the front of my house can act friendly at times but at others he blasts Christian rock music comes out of his house and glares at me with his arms folded. And I'm doing nothing more mystical than reading a book or having a cookout on my porch.
The other repeatedly tried to destroy Pan's altar and threw away spirit bottles. Now, as I have to live with these people I let it go. For one, from their worldview I know they think they are "saving" me. I obviously don't need saving, but I can't convince them of that. They are actually happy to admit to the property damage as if they slew the Devil himself. (Which I don't believe in, by the way.)
Otherwise the guy in back is friendly if a bit sneaky and religiously intolerant at times. I say sneaky because he has to sneak onto my property and had to have been snooping to see either the Pan statue or spirit bottles.
But try and assess the damage after the initial reactions wear off. The damage in my case was two intolerant neighbors (who fancy themselves the good guys here) and when two local family members found out they starting pushing Church, Jesus, and Marriage to a 'good man' on me. These things are rude, intolerant and sometimes the anger or property destruction is frightening because I know it could escalate, but there isn't much I can do other than call the cops.
I understand that your case may be better, some folks do get positive reactions, or far worse. But whatever they are, access and accept them. If you do have to call the cops, do so! They might not like your religion either, but they do have to protect you from harm.
And if there is job or home loss involved, involve lawyers.
The Pan Bust
Be Calm, But Realistic
Unfortunately, a lot of us suffer every time Hollywood or some writer gets the idea that magical lads or teens, or witches are a good sell. Some of it is tolerable, wanna be wizards and witches, because they came from positive sources, mostly. Some is annoying because the new witchlets came from sources where magic is all about being a rebellious angry teen and using magic to blow stuff up.
And some is frightening because someone watched one too many horror movies and based everything they know about witches or pagans on them. And these spooky folks can give us a bad rap and they are a huge part of why we get such negative reactions and only get attention, here in the States, around Halloween, or when people want something.
So most folks have a head full of fairy tales of evil witches or fairy tale magic and have no idea that yes, Wicca is an actual religion, and no, we don't hurt people. In my case I know the neighbors or family members won't change. They come from a religion where their God will personally punish them of I am not converted or wiped off the face of the Earth.
And luckily they haven't chosen the latter. But they don't speak for all people of the same faith. Some are fairly open. They might even ask questions that are sincere, so give the best answers you can. I know it's hard when you've suddenly been drug out of the broom closet and you are frightened but if you are honest it helps.
Making up the answer you think they want to hear such as "I'm just studying other religions." or "I wanted to try it out." won't help things when you don't leave your experimental phase. And I know this because it was my answer when I was first found out and people kept waiting and waiting for me to give up my Gods. And the longer they waited the angrier they got.
My honest answer is that my Gods called me and I answered. That's it.
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Don't Fight Fire With Fire
It can be tempting to fight back, but don't. I get attacked fairly regularly for my beliefs in articles comments, another reason I write under a pen name because I don't need these folks having a witch roast, and the anger can be frightening and fear can make us angry too. Don't take the bait, it's hard, but don't.
I know, I hear you. They just attacked you, your belief system and your God/dess with a lot of hateful words that aren't true. You know what? They'll most likely be religiously intolerant until the day they die and expect a reward for it too.
I am sorely tempted all the time to hoist these jerks on their own petard but I don't for two reasons. One, I'd humiliate and dishonor my Gods by brawling like we were on the playground after school. Two, it is truly better to walk away. We aren't a conversion religion. If the Gods aren't calling these people watch your back and remain calm, no matter how hard it is.
You may be avoiding future violence, so say a prayer and get out of there.
Praise For The Crone
Get To Safety
Sometimes things can get ugly and get ugly fast. Then, my little witchlets and baby pagans, I want you to run and run fast. You run to whoever will give you shelter and if you have to keeping running to the next place and the next, you do. Most people, thankfully, frown upon actual violence. No matter what they feel about witches or pagans they aren't going to hurt you.
Again, they may not be thrilled with why you are running, but if they actually practice their religion they will help you until the cops arrive. I'm very careful around those who have exhibited anger in the past. The level goes through the roof and I can tell they are ready to hit me or worse.
I also avoid them when possible and remain polite and calm when I can't. I never bring up my religion, in fact all the dangerous individuals I've ever encountered only had vague suspicions, and I pray to my Gods for safety.
I don't want to scare new witches, but it can happen and thankfully, in most cases, we can get to safety. Sadly, that isn't always the case and pagans and witches, their children, families and homes do get attacked. We can only remember that things will eventually change, I truly believe they will, and be brave for now.
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Hopefully you got some good advice. I wish I could tell you that people finding out you are a witch or pagan will be a wonderful experience, but honestly? My first reaction when people find out is still fear. Fear that I'll loose a friend or family member that I care about, or worse, things will get ugly.
I sometimes wonder if today will be the days things finally escalate, and I only get found out in real life when there's no other option. I came out as a writer because I'm passionate about my religion and needed an outlet. It's turned around and bit me more than once, I never thought that all those dangerous folks might be online too, but it has also done me some good.
There are groups and covens online. There are plenty of friendly pagans and witches and things are slowly changing for the better, though it is sometimes hard to believe. There are petitions we can sign so things don't retrograde on us, and thankfully the general public is coming to realize we are fairly harmless even if they think we are silly, misguided or a bit strange.
I invite readers to share their experiences, good and bad after being drug out of the broom closet. And feel free to share advice. As this wasn't an article about whether or not you should come out, someone already outed you, please keep it in mind when giving advice.