I recently read a post from the heart at Ayslyn’s Corner about The Reality of Being in the Broom Closet, and I posted a short comment there, but decided to write something longer on the subject here. I feel the pain of her emotional turmoil and how to do this the right way. I guess I am going to have to be a little biographical to get this all in.
I was raised a Protestant Christian, went to church every Sunday, went to Prayer meetings Wednesdays, was head of the Youth Fellowship, taught Vacation Bible school, and I even preached in church and thought of becoming a minister one day. I was just very religious and that was the religion I had exposure to, and it felt good.
Then I went to college and by the second year I read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse where he talks about following your own inner voice instead of the outside voices of spiritual authority. Christianity just kinda sloughed off like a skin in only three days time. About a year later I dropped out of college, grew my hair long, and became a hippie. I hitch-hiked around the country all summer with just $100 in my pocket, visiting various ashrams and communes and national parks. Needless to say my parents were not happy! Basically I told them that I respected Jesus and his teachings, but did not believe Christianity’s doctrines any longer. My Dad was hurt the most because he was very church oriented. They were probably asking themselves “where did we go wrong?”
I started practicing Zen and lived for a short time in a Buddhist monastery as a monk. The barber up the street was ecstatic as I let him shave off my hippie locks down to a bald head! But that Buddhist system seemed so male and dry with no feminine balance at all. I have since recovered in the balance of Tibetan Buddhism. Then I lived for a short time in a Hindu Yoga Ashram where it seemed more balanced with a little more emotion to it. But that felt like a cult with all the Caucasian Americans walking around in white Hindu garb and chanting in Sanskrit, so I left that too. Telling your family you are a Buddhist or are practicing Yoga is pretty easy, once you explain that you are really not worshipping idols.
I never came out as a witch with my Dad before he died, because he would have had no idea what I was talking about, and he was pretty conservative. One day years ago my Mom asked about some stuff she saw around the house and I just explained it was “Wicca – a nature based religion where we think there is both a God and Goddess” and that pretty much made her understand it a little. I did of course have to explain that horns on a deity represents animals and fertility and not the Devil. With my brother and sister it was much easier. My brother was a Master Sergeant in the Army and Guard so he had some education there about respecting those from “other religions”, and he is pretty open minded. My sister is college educated, and she is a fairly dedicated Christian and believes it to the hilt, but she is not the intolerant type and it was easy to educate her about the subject. So she just “prays for me” which is fine with me. i could use all the prayer to whatever deity people believe in.
It was fairly easy to come out of the broom closet at work as I was employed in the medical field where people are pretty open minded. And of course nowadays if you mention you are a Witch and member of the ACLU they pretty much shut up because they don’t get sued for religious persecution. One story is pretty funny – I had a particularly crazy and belligerent co-worker and just wanted her to go away, and she was already working on that being pretty unpopular with everyone anyway. So I made a photocopy of her signature and shrunk it down on the copier to about the size of a thumb tack head and had a little spell going at work with it tacked to my cork board behind some other papers. Well one day she was nosing around at my desk and found it and took it to management and complained I was trying to put a curse on her. Of course they called me upstairs and when I explained what I was and what I was doing they just snickered, and then they asked me if I could teach them how to do that! No shit.
I am not “out” in public as I live in too conservative of an area. I do not wear pentagrams as I have tattoos of all those symbols, and they are hidden under my clothes. Sometimes its just best to appear as much like the locals as possible, so I would dress one way going to a local store and put on my black Baphomet t-shirt only if I was going into the city. I do not consider being a chameleon in public to be selling out as much as a method of not attracting unwanted attention. I could never put a Vote for Obama sign in front of the house because someone would probably shoot a hole in it if not my car and house also. I have a friend in the south where it is so conservative that if you put out Halloween decorations the ladies from the Baptist church come to your door to complain, I kid you not.
So back to the subject of “coming out of the broom closet with your parents”. I think that is probably something that mostly younger people (under 40) who were raised Christian conservative might run into then rather than when one is older. I am not a parent but it seem parents just want their children to be happy and only good things to happen to them. And when they lose their innocence or religion they take it personally. I think that is just natural and they are just trying to help. If you want them to start the conversation just let lay out some benign book on Wicca as a nature religion for them to peruse through. Probably the best thing is to just explain it once, like I did to my mom above, and then drop the subject unless they bring it up again. And I am not in their face about being a Witch. I would probably not reveal my witch blog to them as that may just confuse them, much like one keeps separate FB pages for family and friends. In my house the living room just has some Buddhist stuff and I even have a Christian looking altar, which are actually for the Vodoun Santeros. All my Witchcraft altar stuff is in a back bedroom which I use as a temple. So when family comes up, I just close that door, simple solution. Of course I have always been not exactly the black sheep in the extended family, because I have kept my nose pretty clean, but I am considered the weird one who is a little different. And as old as I am now I don’t think people care much what I am into. Bottom line is they all know I am a “good person” and would not be into anything “bad”, just maybe some things they would consider “weird”.
So that’s some poorly written and rambling advice from old weird Uncle Lee to a younger witch about whether “coming out” as a Witch is something that has to be traumatic or dramatic or if it can just be something that happens naturally in its good sweet time. Blessed Be.