Keeping It In The Closet


How dare you assume I’m Christian?
Trust in Goddess, She Will Provide.

     I collect those sayings. I've got 'em on buttons, on decals, on bumperstickers. Yup. I’ve told myself lots of times - I’m all about Wiccan pride. The first time I was asked by someone whom I didn’t know and trust, “Are you, like, a witch?” I said, “Yes. I’m Wiccan.” It was easy, no one refused to talk to me because of it, and I ended up becoming very close friends with my erstwhile interrogator. Everything was damn cool. I felt good about myself, my faith, my ability to be strong in my convictions. From then on, it just got easier every time I mentioned the fact that I practiced the Craft.


      So why, two years later, did I suddenly find myself at a new school, in a new city, pretending (or at least not denying) that I was Christian? Why, when one of my friends, after getting slightly drunk gleefully slurred, “Morgan’s a witch; she has a witchcraft manual in her room!” did I respond with something less than enthusiasm? Why is my “My Goddess gave birth to your God” button no longer on my backpack? Why, after over four years of being open with everyone who asked (and quite a few who didn’t) did I suddenly find myself back in the broom closet?

      Now, I’ve always bristled when someone suggests that Wiccans should never hide in the broom closet. For one thing, to assume that situations and personal circumstances allow for everyone to openly declare their beliefs (and thereby implicitly assume that the only reasons for not doing so are purely selfish) is gross oversimplification. Gross oversimplification is almost always a dangerous thing. Remember - gross oversimplification is what turns all Wiccans into Satan-worshipping fiends in the eyes of Joe Public.

      On a more cerebral note, aren't the Four Powers of the Wiccan “To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Remain Silent?” Isn’t broadcasting the fact that you’re Wiccan in direct opposition to those tenets? What about the old adage that to talk about spellcraft and magickal workings somehow diminishes their power? How can that apply to the workings of magickal intent yet not hold true for worshipful intent, which is, after all, a higher form of magick? I both believed these points, and argued them to anyone who cared to listen to me. But until this past month, I did so in a purely academic fashion. Certainly, I knew them to be true, but they had no immediacy because they didn’t apply to me.

      Not so anymore. One of the few cons of becoming a Witch at such an early age is that one’s environment is, relatively speaking, protected. If someone bashed my reputation or otherwise tried to discriminate against me because of my beliefs, I could count on my parents to step in and fight alongside me. (And a lot of young Wiccans can’t even count on that!) But now, I was on my own. No one was going to heed parental authority stepping in to defend me (and in truth, I didn’t want it, after all, you have to start fighting battles for yourself sometime). No one was going to pass it off as “another phase” or the result of my fascination with the latest Hollywood teen witch flick. In other words, no one was going to view it as harmless. This presented some very real possibilities, such as:

  • Losing my job
  • Finding it harder to become employed
  • Loosing friends (old and potential)
  • Being blacklisted by my entire community
  • Becoming the poster girl for well-meaning people who know that I’m just waiting to be saved

      Those are just the few examples I can come up with off of the top of my head! Of course, it might be said that by not openly and immediately declaring my faith in any new situation, I’m taking the easy way out. It could be argued that my faith should come before any worldly concerns. Well, it does, have no fear of that. Just please remember: I need to be spiritual, but I also need to live in relative comfort and security. Truth be told, I could never understand the people who drove car bombs into buildings or otherwise martyred themselves for their religious beliefs. Now, I know the message being sent is that their Gods are worthy enough for them to die for, but my personal feelings run the other way. How worthy are deities that don’t hold the life of their creations in high regard? Wicca, as no one needs to be reminded, is a life religion.

      That being said, it follows that with Wicca’s built in respect for life, no one should feel that they have to compromise their own personal security in the name of their faith. Yes, it would be nice if I could devote all of my energy to fighting misconceptions about the Craft, especially when they’re held by people I'm friendly with or otherwise interact with. I think most other Wiccans would agree with me there. However, to actually do so every time I confronted any prejudice requires too many resources - time, money, optimism, energy - than I, and most other people, have available. There’s a lot to be gained by picking and choosing one’s battles.

      Like other minority and/or oppressed groups, Neo-Pagans pride themselves on the fact that they’re different from the “norm,” that they have their own unique philosophy and outlook on life. It helps to build solidarity and give meaning to what is otherwise meaningless discrimination. Now, I’ve never been one to criticize a Wiccan for remaining in the closet - personal experience has taught me, very harshly, the benefits in being less than vocal about my beliefs, especially when there’s little chance that by doing so I'll dispell someone’s preconceptions about the Craft. So, I may occasionally decide to go into a new situation without my guns blazing - slip back into the broom closet, as it were. That doesn’t make me, or anyone else who does likewise, a bad Wiccan. If anything, it's saved me a lot of pointless grief.

     Let me know what you think! Email me!