”Coming out out of the broom closet’ is a widely discussed topic among pagans. OnYouTube there are a lot of videos by pagans on their experiences of ‘coming out of the broom closet’.
Looking back, I don’t think I was ever in the ‘broom closet’. It wasn’t really much of a problem with my parents. As I’ve said before, both in a previous blog post and on my video blog, my dad isn’t religious and thought that my fascination with paganism and the occult was just that: a fascination. My mother isn’t much of a believer either, despite coming from a country with many spiritual practises. So it was relatively easy to open with my parents about becoming a pagan.
School was a bit of a different story. I used to get teased a lot, and openly being a pagan or Wiccan/Witch, gave them something more to tease me about, particularly since I often brought my spellbooks into school with me during morning break-times and lunchtimes and during English class when we happened to be studying Macbeth. Being an oversensitive teenager like all thirteen to fourteen year olds, I reacted a little badly to it. Mostly by lashing out and hitting people. Now I know that goes against the Wiccan Rede and paganism in general, but at that point in my life I didn’t pay much attention to it.
It wasn’t all bad. Some were genuinely interested in why I had taken in interest in paganism and witchcraft, and sometimes asked my opinion on certain subjects, when we were talking between ourselves during Religious Studies class.
When I started university, I didn’t go round telling people that I was a pagan, even after joining the Pagan Society, since I’d learnt the hard way that it can gain you negative attention. When I made friends, I didn’t immediately tell them that I was a pagan, but waited until they told me their stance on religion in general. Although during a speed dating session, I did let it slip that I had an active interest in paganism, which didn’t go down very well as it turned out that he was religious fanatic; the kind with a holier-than-thou attitude and preach Christianity at you.
A lot of books on paganism and witchcraft, especially ones directed at teenagers, will have a section on ‘coming out of the broom closet’. And most will caution you against telling people that you are a pagan or witch, particularly if you don’t want it be known that you practise magick but also give you pointers on how to explain your chosen Path to family and friends. A good one to read would be from The Real Witch’s Handbook by Kate West, which I really should have read first rather than immediately telling people that I was a ‘witch’ after just reading a few books on magick.
Thankfully I’ve learned from those experiences and am now a lot more cautious about what I tell people about myself in regards to my ‘religion’.
Anyone who is thinking of telling friends and family about being a pagan or witch, talk to other pagans and read up on how to best approach the topic. Different people will have different reactions, so some may be worse than others. But always remember, your family and real friends will love you no matter what your religion.