Coming out of the broom closet. That’s a phrase a lot of pagans and witches use when it comes to telling their families that they’re witches and no longer Christian, or whatever brand of religion they formerly practiced (or pretended to practice). I know all about coming out of the broom closet. Been there, done that. Having also been around for a long time I’ve been witness to a lot of comings out, too. While it’s hard enough for someone to come out as a Witch or Pagan, it’s even worse for Satanists and Daemonolaters. Especially when you have extremely religious relatives of the Evangelical variety. You know the type I’m talking about; the bible thumpers whose initial reaction to the news is to schedule an exorcism or gather the kindling.
I’m also the person a lot of people come to for advice when it comes to coming out of the broom closet because some people find themselves in impossible situations. Like they worry that their family and friends will abandon them, or they’ll lose their home or job, or that their spouse will divorce them and take the children. All of these things are valid concerns when it comes to having any alternative-to-Christian belief system. Those of you reading who are members of the GLBT and BDSM communities can also sympathize a great deal, I’m sure. I know all about being outed with regard to the latter, too. While sexual orientation and sexual kink are different balls of wax – they share that same element of difference and as we know, some people just can’t deal with different.
Some people with pagan or other-than-Judeo-Christian beliefs prefer to just keep it under wraps. It’s easier than dealing with a confrontation. There’s only one problem with that. While I don’t promote anyone running around shouting their spiritual differences from the rooftops, I do think that in the case of alternative-to-Judeo-Christian spirituality sometimes it’s better to just come out of the closet with those close to you. Mind you I’m not saying with everyone, just those people you share the intimate details of your life with whether it’s a sister, a child, your spouse, or your best friend.
Sure everyone’s situation is unique. If you stand to lose your home, your children, your job or there could be bodily harm involved, then by all means — keep it to yourself. However this doesn’t always work. At some point it’s very likely that you’re going to be found out by someone who wasn’t supposed to find out. Chaos often ensues.
Those are the e-mails I don’t like getting. They often start out, “Help! My [insert loved one here] just found out I was a witch (Daemonolater, Satanist, Magus, etc…) and threatened to [insert punishment for witchcraft here, usually divorce, loss of residence, loss of children, loss of friendship etc…]!”
This usually happens because a family member (or friend) finds a book or an email, a picture, or some other thing that tells them that the person they thought was a God fearing Christian is actually some flavor of pagan, witch or magician and they immediately fly off the handle. That’s when you find out how Christian this loved one suddenly is (even if it wasn’t evident before) and the ultimatums start rolling out. If you’re a teenager or you are living with family or friends or even your spouse you might even get, “You can’t practice this or read about this in my house…blah, blah, blah…”
It happened to me and it’s happened to a lot of people I know.
Sure – I know people who have been practicing for years who have somehow managed to keep their religion and practices secret. How I’ll never know. But I always wonder for how long. How long before you leave your Complete Book of Witchcraft, Satanic Bible, Goetia, or Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice sitting casually on your coffee table the same day aunt Martha and cousin Janet show up unexpectedly for a visit after Sunday mass?
Or you have your family over for dinner one night and decide to let the answering machine pick up only to have the High Priestess of your coven leave a message about the next Full Moon Ritual.
I’ve known people this has happened to.
Over the years I started telling people to come out to their loved ones as soon as they safely could. Now in some instances it may be in your best interest not to tell certain family members. As a matter of fact sometimes leaving grandpa or grandma in the dark is in everyone’s best interest. But your spouse — you have to tell them. They need to know. For a good relationship there can’t be secrets and if they find out they’re going to feel betrayed – even lied to. Then they’ll wonder what other secrets you’ve been keeping.
My husband and I started our relationship with him knowing exactly what I was before we even went out on our first date. Why? Because when I was dating I’d tried it the other way where I kept my religion to myself only to discover that the guy I was dating was a Christian and me being a Daemonolater was the deal-breaker. That is… unless I came back to Jesus. I’m sorry, but my spiritual path was not something I was willing to compromise. Not to mention it should never have to be something you compromise.
A person who cares about you — truly cares — will love you no matter what your beliefs are. That goes for siblings, parents, spouses, children, friends etc… If that love is conditional (i.e. you better change your religion or I’m divorcing your ass, disowning you, won’t be your friend) then I’d re-evaluate that relationship and whether or not it’s worth continuing.
Luckily my own experience with coming out happened when I was a teenager. I had enough opportunity to explain my religion to my mother and we have an understanding now. Nowadays she and my siblings collect my Demonolatry books right alongside my fiction even though they’re all happily Christian or Agnostic.
It’s certain members of the extended family who have chosen to pray for me and hope my atheist husband and I eventually find God.
Sadly a lot of Christians just don’t understand that those of us who have pagan and/or magickal inclinations have them for a reason. We’ve generally converted from Christianity (or a Judeo-Christian religion) for a reason. It didn’t work for us, we explored other options and found something better (for us individually).
So if you’re struggling with coming out – know that you’re not alone. Oftentimes these things work themselves out. It may take time and a lot of talking. There may be some fighting and tears and all that, but in the end it’s worth it to not have to worry about hiding your beliefs or practices as if they’re some dirty secret.
It’s nice to be able to hang your pentagram Yule wreath on your front door or leave your books out on your coffee table in your house if people drop by unexpectedly. It’s nice to be able to leave your altars up and keep your ritual implements within reach and out in the open instead of hidden in some back bedroom closet. It’s nice not having to lie about where you’ll be, what you’re doing, who your friends are, and who you are. Being able to be yourself with those you love will facilitate spiritual growth. Having to lie and hide and sneak around can be stifling. Not to mention it’s hard to integrate your spirituality into your life completely when it becomes a separate, secret part of your life.
Now I’ll step off the soap box.
So in the comments here – feel free to share your coming out story or your fears about coming out of the broom closet! Your comments may help someone reading this deal with their own situation.