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Coming Out Of The Broom Closet

For some Pagans or Witches, the idea of telling friends, family, co-workers or others around them what or who they are seems terrifying. As a Pagan, a Witch and a member of the LGBT community, I would say most Pagans face about the same level of fear when coming out as member of the LGBT community usually do. You may face discrimination, anger, fear, and even violence on occasion. You may risk loosing your friends, and even your job. And worse is when overly fearful family members choose to remove your from their lives. Unfortunately, it all happens. I've even heard stories where neighbors came to violence after discovering there was a Pagan living next door.

Personally, I have never been afraid to announce my faith. But I too have faced some opposition from people close to me over it. My grandmother at one point refused to allow me in her house. My mother constantly makes nasty remarks about my faith... And my own husband won't talk about faith for the most part because he's not completely comfortable with it - of course he really isn't comfortable with his own faith either... So while I was never really "in the closet" I do understand the fear surrounding coming out of it.

And honestly, I'm not going to tell you it's always the best idea. Sometimes screaming your faith from the roof may sound like a good idea, but the issues it causes simply aren't worth the trouble. So I am going to encourage your to thoroughly think through your choice to come out before you proceed in doing so.  While telling your Bible thumping boss that you couldn't give a rats ass about church because your Goddess doesn't require you to go, if it's going to cost you a job that you need to feed your kids, is it really worth it?

I suggest you consider these points BEFORE you decide to explore the possibility of "coming out."
  • WHY do you want to come out? Is it because you have an honest to goodness pride in your faith or because you want to shock your family or cause drama with your friends?
  • How will the people in your family, circle of friends or at your job react? Will they be accepting or ban you from their home? Are they strict in their faith or more lax? 
  • Are you facing a situation where they will find out without your telling them? 
Regardless of your why, and even how you believe they may react, you need to be positive that the benefits of your coming out outweigh the risks. Because there is simply no going back once you make that announcement!

Now, by no means am I suggesting that you should stay where you are, lie about who and what you are and keep your true beliefs and feelings about things to yourself. Instead I'm asking you to simply ensure that, before you take this step, you make sure it's the right one for YOU. If you're not at the right point in your life or if this isn't the right time for you, you always have the option to come out later.

So, lets talk about HOW to come out...

First, lets consider coming out to family. For many people the idea of hiding who they are from their family is quite painful. Many people consider their family to be the most important people in their lives and do their best to have strong healthy relationships. Because of this it's sometimes difficult to keep the truth about who you are to yourself, even if you know the truth may cause some drama.

Especially if you have a family with strong religious convictions it's important to approach this subject delicately. Stomping in and saying "I'm Pagan and you better learn to deal" isn't usually the best option! Consider who you want to tell first. Generally I find it best if you "divide and conquer" on this issue. If you have a sibling, cousin or other family member who you are extra close with or who is more "open minded" than others, it's usually best to talk to them first. They can help give you support, encouragement and guidance when it comes to how best to approach the issue with your other family members.

While I can't tell you exactly what you should say to family, it's usually best to get them in a pleasant situation first. Blurting out in the middle of an argument that "Oh yeah, by the way, I'm a witch!" has never made coming out easy for ANYONE!

It's best to let family members know you want to talk to them about something important and have them sit down. I've also found that food helps for just about any important "talk" like this! Sit them down and tell them that you have something to tell them and you would like a chance to express everything you have to say prior to them reacting. While that does tend to put people on edge it also tends to allow you to get the entire thought out before someone jumps in with "My Daughter Is NOT A Witch! I won't have it!!!"

I do suggest you plan what you want to say! You may even want to write down some notes or even your entire announcement. Make sure to go beyond "I'm Pagan." You'll want to explain some basics. What does it MEAN that you're a Pagan? For the most part, the only thing people know about Paganism is what they see in movies or hear about at church, which will give them a deserved cause for worry. I mean, think about where they are coming from - if all you hear is Pagans are devil worshipers who sacrifice children and pets and attend orgies in the woods while high on X, would you really want your family member being one?  I wouldn't. So you need to express what it means to you and what it will mean to and for them.

It's also important to at least decide, even if you don't include it in your explanation to them, how you feel about some basic factors... For example, do you believe in Jesus, how do you view God, what do you believe happens after death, how do you view spell work, divination and magick, if you have children do you plan to or do you involve them... And so on... Do your research on your families faith, if you don't already know it well, and know what the common teachings on such things as how they view other faiths, death, birth, and so on BEFORE you decide how to answer their questions about them.

Words like Witch, Pagan, Wicca, Druid and the like are usually very misunderstood and become "hot button" words in conversations like this. So it's sometimes best to keep them to a minimum. Now, I DO think it's important to use them, but don't over do it. Be conservative about how you use and how many times you use these terms to avoid some of the shock factor.

You'll need to understand that this news may come as a shock for them and they will need to both vent their feelings and question your choice. EXPECT IT! And do your best to respect their feelings and understand that this can be both a scary situation and quite overwhelming for them. Do your best to answer their questions kindly and calmly!

If things get heated, I greatly suggest calling a "truce" for a day or two and coming together later after everyone has a chance to calm down.

When it comes to friends, the process is in most ways very much the same. However, friends tend to be slightly more accepting to things like this than family are. Family tends to have very specific expectations of who they want you to be because they believe it is their job to shape you as a person. While friends tend to love you for who you are rather than who they think you are or who they believe you are. BUT, that said, like the old saying says "Blood is thicker than water." Meaning while family will always be family, friends can start ignoring your calls within hours of shocking news.

Coming out to friends don't actually have to be quite a serious as the "family coming out" is. You may chose to simply stop hiding it and let them come to you with questions. Or, you may choose to do a "coming out lunchin" where you can talk to them all together. Really, it depends on you and your friends. Regardless of how you choose to do it, I greatly suggest you prepare in much the same way you did with your family. Try and focus on how you feel about the big ticket issues and keep their feelings in mind when you answer their questions.

When it comes to work, personally I don't see "coming out" as a big deal. Unless you work for a religious business or organization I feel it's best to simply stop hiding your faith - if you choose - and answer questions if and when they come. For the most part, people prefer not to discuss religion at work, so it's generally not an issue unless you want someone to cover for your shifts while you go to Esbat Rituals or something...

All that said, it IS beneficial to KNOW YOUR RIGHTS before you decide to take ANY steps towards coming out at work. If you are in the US, it's generally illegal to fire someone based solely on their faith. BUT, depending on your state, your employer may not need a reason to fire you. So if you have an overly Christian boss, you will want to know what you can and can't do before you decide to wear a pentacle to the office. It's also worth it to think through how can opposing co-workers make your life at work miserable simply because of their feelings. So take all things in to consideration prior to deciding to make any changes that could affect your job. INCLUDING what would happen if you did loose your job because of this issue. **As I said this is usually not legal, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen, especially if you work for a private company.

In the end it comes down to just ONE thing - How YOU feel about coming out. If YOU don't feel your 100% ready, and YOU don't feel comfortable telling your family, friends or co-workers, DON'T! If on the other hand you can honestly say "I am 100% ready and sound in my faith and want to include my friends and family in this aspect of my life" then go for it... And remember, you don't have to tell everyone you know in 48 hours. You don't even have to tell everyone you know. If you have friends that you simply don't feel will take the news well and you prefer not to tell them, you don't have to.

This is about YOU, as much as it is about them, really more. So make sure that YOU are ready, sound in your beliefs and ready before you jump in...

Charity, a part of life and a factor of faith...

If you're a long time reader of my blog you've seen my posts about "living your faith." I am one of those people who believes that actions speak louder than words, and every day actions speak louder about who you are than the "holiday" actions do. For me, my faith is a part of who I am, it's not something that shows it's head on Sabbats and Esbats and then forgets all about it on the day to day.

For me, a major part of practicing my faith is working to create positive change. Of course my first goal is to create positive changes in myself, but I don't stop there. I aim to create a better world for my children and grandchildren, for the poor, the hungry, the sick... For everyone! Today and tomorrow!

Obviously, I am not super woman. And unfortunately I don't have the option to twitch my nose and end hunger, illness or war. But I do have the ability to give every chance I have. Charity, for me, is very much a matter of faith. I am a firm believer in equality, nature and creating a more positive life, a more positive world.

I'm not rich, in fact income wise, I'm not even considered "middle class." But in no way does that mean I can't be charitable. Charity is defined as "generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless." So from where I sit, you don't have to be monetarily rich to be charitable. Instead you simply have to be able to act in a generous way which aims to help those in need.

With that in mind, I wanted to talk about some ways that ANYONE can give charitably of themselves.

    The most obvious and easiest way to be charitable is to donate to a cause for one thing or another.  (See my list of "favorite charities" below)

    Donating clothing, shoes, toys and other every day goods to shelters, or other "in need" groups like Good Will or Red Cross.

    Donate Blood! One donation can save 3 lives!

    Be an organ or body donor! I know it's not something most people want to think about, but
eventually, we all gotta go, so why not make sure you do some good on your way out. If you aren't picky about where your body goes, just become an every day donor... If you prefer your body goes for education or forensic study you'll want to do some research and make arraignments early.

    Donate your time! Libraries, soup kitchens, park services, homeless shelters, medical clinics and hospitals are ALWAYS looking for volunteers. You can even join with groups like Habitat for Humanity to help provide housing for low income or in need families. Even things like cleaning up local beaches, parks or camping grounds is beneficial for those who live around them - or for those who have to sleep there...

    Grow a garden, and share the extras! Fresh fruits and veggies are very pricy and for a great many families they are simply out of the budget... Sharing your extra tomatoes, cucumbers, apples or other home growns helps provide families who normally can't provide good, healthy foods for their families feed them well.

    Work with friends to start a drive. Drives get the whole community involved by encouraging everyone within a town, district or other area to give together, which allows for much more to be given in the end.

    Start a "children exchange" in your area. Our area does these from time to time. It's like a multi family garage sale where everyone can get rid of their kids stuff. But everything has a "flat rate" rather than having each family come up with their own prices. And usually the last day they do a "fill a bag for $5" event where you can really save big! Things like this allow families who can't afford clothing, toys or other children's items to buy what they need - or sometimes just want - without breaking the bank.

    Start a blog or website! Believe it or not something as simple as an awareness raising website can make a huge difference. If you have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING else to give, you can still help raise awareness on an issue, illness or group... Blog about an illness, abuses, the homeless, or even about inspirational people who are making a difference and encourage others to do the same. Sometimes the best thing we can do is just get people motivated!

There are so many ways you can get involved, don't limit yourself by the steps others have taken. If you see a need out there, jump in and take action. When we act to change the world for the better we improve everyone's lives.

While many may not see this as something that charity as a matter of faith, remember that the Goddess Empanada rules over all charitable actions as well as hospitality and asylum. From where I stand she's a Goddess we could all get to know a bit better!


Now, as promised here is a list of my FAVORITE Charities!

National Vaccine Information Center - As a victim of Vaccine injury, I am a rather vocal proponent of vaccines and other unnecessary medications. However, I am a firm believer that medical choices should be made only after educating one's self on the issues surrounding them - Vaccines are no different! NVIC is dedicated to providing people with a rounded education about vaccines, vaccine laws and both pros and cons of deciding to or not to vaccinate yourself or your family.

Somaly Mam Foundation - Founded by sexual slavery survivor, Somaly Mam, the foundation supports rescue, shelter and rehabilitation programs across South East Asia, where the trafficking of women and girls, some as young as five, is a widespread practice. The Somaly Mam Foundation also runs global awareness and advocacy campaigns that shed light on the crime of sexual slavery and focus on getting the public and governments involved in the fight to abolish modern day slavery.

The Somaly Mam Foundation has taken on this challenge. Founded in 2007 by trafficking survivor, Somaly Mam, the Foundation is dedicated to ending sex slavery around the world with a results-oriented, three-step approach: Action, Advocacy & Awareness.

Dollar4Life - Dollar4Life is a grass-roots campaign to raise awareness and one million dollars for researching ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Donations go to Prize4Life, a results-oriented 501(c)(3) organization founded to accelerate ALS research by offering substantial prizes to scientists who solve the most critical challenges in developing a cure.

Free Rice - Play a simple game, expand your brain...  And feed a child! For each correct answer you get on this multi-choice trivia style game The World Food Program is donated 10 grains of rice...  According to the United Nations, about 25,000 people die each day from hunger or hunger-related causes, most of them children. Though 10 grains of rice may seem like a small amount, it is important to remember that while you are playing, so are thousands of other people at the same time. It is everyone together that makes the difference. Thanks to you, FreeRice has generated enough rice to feed millions of people since it started in October 2007.

Child's Play - Since 2003, over 100,000 gamers worldwide have banded together through Child’s Play, a community based charity grown and nurtured from the game culture and industry. Over 3.5 million dollars in donations of toys, games, books and cash for sick kids in children’s hospitals across North America and the world have been collected since our inception.

Children Of The Night - Make a difference in the lives of hundreds of children each year. Children of the Night's commitment to rescuing these children from the ravages of prostitution is shared with a small but committed group of detectives, FBI agents, and prosecutors in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, other areas of California, Las Vegas, Portland, Billings, Montana; Seattle, Washington; Miami, New York, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Phoenix, Hawaii and Washington D.C. — all stops on the child prostitution circuit. And our numbers keep growing as more and more dedicated individuals become concerned about the welfare of these desperate children.

Heifer International - Heifer Intl. was founded on a simple idea! Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. TEACH a man to fish and feed him for life. This principal has been of great use for these wonderful giving people! Rather than putting your donations towards simply sending food, Heifer Intl. has mad a point to TEACH! Their foundation not only helps to provide animals for third world and hungry nations but they actually take the time and effort to teach these people how to farm, how to grow and how to create their own new food source...What a blessing to know that your small donations are literally able to create change - not just for one person or for one meal, but for an entire village forever!

Planned Parenthood -  While many rumors fly around where PP is conserned, the truth is this - Planned Parenthood provides numerous health services to and for men, women and children who can not afford traditional medical care. These services include, but are far from limited to: Cancer Screenings, Basic Health Services, Sex Education as well as OB/GYN services and on occasion, abortion services. Because Planned Parenthood provides services for low or no income clients, they rely on the donations and support of the general public to enable them to continue to provide the services they do. Your donation not only pays for doctor fees, but also for preventative medications and treatments for illnesses, as well as ongoing care for all types of ailments and family planning services.

If you know of others, please feel free to share them in the Comments area! I would love to check them out!

Check out what else I'm writing!