How to Be a High School Pagan or Wiccan
Welcome, young seeker, to the path of of Earth-centered spirituality...
Being a teenager going to high school can be hard enough. Being a Pagan or a Wiccan teen is especially challenging. You want to just live by your faith and explore your spirituality, but often there are few references for you, and little support. Pagan religions -- Wicca in particular-- are often misunderstood religions, and some people have a knee-jerk reaction out of fear and can make life difficult for you.
There is nothing wrong with being a Pagan, but sometimes minority religions can leave teens in the lurch wondering what to do, or how to handle the issues that might arise. Here, I hope to help you with some of those questions you might have.
Should you join a coven, or maybe start one yourself? The answer is here.
Teen Pagan Poll
Are there a lot of Pagan teens in your high school?
Teen Pagans or Wiccans
Ellen Dugan is a fine writer for the modern Pagan, and this book is a great intro for teens.
Are You In the Broom Closet?
To Come Out, or Not to Come Out
Should you "come out of the broom closet"? That is a serious question that every Pagan has to evaluate for himself. Some questions you might want to ask yourself before you let anyone at school know about your religion:
- Do your parents know you're Pagan? If they don't know, there is a good chance that it will get back to them if you let people at school know. Are you ready to open that can of worms yet? If not, then it's probably best to keep your religious beliefs private until you're ready to break it to your folks.
- Are your parents cool with it? If your parents know you're Pagan, or interested in Paganism/Wicca, are they okay with it? If so, then you should ask them how they feel about you being openly Pagan at school and ask if they'll have your back if there is any troubles. If not, they may take your being openly Pagan at school as flaunting your defiance-- you don't want to turn your religion into a rebellion, or something that creates a rift in your family relations. Until they get used to the idea you might want to respect their feelings and not advertise.
- Are you worried for your own safety? Depending on where you live, there could be some harsh reactions to people finding out you're Pagan. You might lose friends who are not understanding. Even worse, you might make yourself a target for small-minded bigots and bullies. This might be students, but it might also be teachers. You don't have to be a martyr to the Pagan faith-- it is better to protect yourself than put yourself in that pickle.
- Do you want to throw it in people's faces? If your whole motivation for letting people know you're Pagan is to get attention, to look cool, or to "show them" that you're different and you don't care-- you should probably reconsider. The Pagan community still fights hard for respect-- making a spectacle of yourself is simply setting a bad example and it reflects on all of us. If your main motivation for being Pagan is what others will think of you, you might want to reconsider your religion altogether.
- How long have you been Pagan? If you're very new to Paganism, you might want to give it some time before throwing it out there for all to see. A religious conversion is not something that happens in a moment-- it's a transition that spans months, or years even. Take some time to read and learn, and figure out what your path really is, before you decide to make any formal announcements.
As you can see, the decision to tell people your beliefs or not isn't always an easy one.The best way to handle it may be to just tell your closest friends, be yourself, and let others figure it out. Unless it happens to come up, there's no need to tell people what your religion is.
If you do want to tell others, it's not something you need to broadcast over the loudspeaker. You don't need to walk in donning all black, dripping with pentagrams and offering tarot readings. That's a little too attention-seeking and is a bit over the top. You would get negative reactions-- and deservedly so-- for trying to be such a show-off. Just imagine if a Christian child walked in wearing Jesus t-shirts, cross jewelry and telling people to read the Bible. Anyone being that loud and obnoxious will get a negative response.
Have you "Come Out" Yet?
So, have you "come out of the broom closet"-- so to speak?
Stand for Justice
Know Your Rights
There are a lot of crazy ideas running around that the government only approves and gives rights to certain religions. This is simply not true. The U.S. government doesn't officially recognize any religion; not even the mainstream ones.
You have a right to an education, and you have a right to be treated like all the other students. This means you should not be singled out for your beliefs-- if the school allows some kids to wear their religious jewelry or symbols, then you have a right to wear symbols of your faith. If the school allows faith-based student-run clubs, such as a Bible club or a Jewish teen club, then you have a right to start a Pagan club with your friends.
You also have a right not to be bullied for your faith-- by students, or by teachers. If students are bullying you, you're not "asking for it" and don't have to change your religion to appease bullies. You are entitled to the same protection as any other student, and bullies are subject to the same consequences. Likewise, teachers cannot single you out to tell you your religion is wrong or to preach to you; if this is the case, you need to approach your principal.
If students are allowed to carry and read (in your free time; not during class of course) books about Hinduism, Islam or Buddhism in your school, then you should be free to carry and read about Pagan religions-- given, of course, that the materials are age-appropriate.
If you feel you've been the victim of true discrimination and treated unfairly, and appealing to the faculty or school board does not help, you might consider getting legal advice. Contact your local chapter of the ACLU.
Share your experience
Have you faced prejudice or discrimination in school for being Pagan?
Know Your Responsibilities
Being Pagan doesn't mean we always get our way. Sure, there are times to stand up for your rights. But there are also times to sit down and recognize that we're not the only people with rights.
For example, if your school has a dress code that says only plain red collared shirts are allowed on regular school days, you can't cry discrimination that they won't let you wear your black t-shirt with the glowing pentagram. If the school bans jewelry during phys ed, then it's not discrimination to ask you to take yours off. If the school does not allow religious-based student groups or clubs, you can't start a formal group.
Being Pagan doesn't make you exempt from rules that everyone else has to follow.
You also have to remember that your parents have rights, too. And in many cases, their rights trump yours.
Before you cry the Constitution gives you freedom of religion, you need to know it means the government cannot prevent you from practicing a religion. That does not mean your parents can't make rules about what you read, what you bring into the house, or what you wear.
You also have a responsibility to the larger Pagan community, as you are a reflection on all of us. Carry yourself with dignity and respect, and be a shining example of Paganism for the world to see. This makes it easier for the next Pagan kid who comes along.
What about your parents?
Are your parents okay with your religious beliefs?
Pagan & Proud
Keep in mind...
Remember that your high school existence is going to be a relatively short period in your life. It may feel like it's taking forever, but one day it will be over and done with; you'll be an adult and you'll be off on your own. You can practice whatever religion you want. There are many places you can live where people will be generally open and accepting.
So if things get tough, try to keep them in perspective. Hang in there. Wearing public displays or having everyone accept your religion is not what makes you Pagan. What makes you Pagan is your relationship with your Gods, and living your life as a responsible, compassionate person who tries to grow and improve. No one can take that away from you.
Please give me a shout-out to let me know if this article helped you by leaving a comment below.
Browse some of my other articles for beginners in Wicca, Witchcraft or Pagan religions in general-- and if there is anything you would like to see, I do take requests. I'd be happy to answer any of your questions.
Bright blessings, young one, and may your path serve you well...
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