Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prompt Thursdays: Wow, It's Dark in This Closet

I’m a huge fan of Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom. The blog is absolutely great. The author, Mrs. B, put up a prompt last night:

Today, think about what the most frustrating part of being a pagan is. Being "in the broom closet"? The cost of gathering appropriate tools? Finding the time to actually get out in nature? Not being able to find other pagans in your area? Then consider what you can do to change that thing.

I think the most frustrating thing for me is the fact that the other day I realized that I was, indeed, back in the broom closet. I’ve been left longing for the days when I was a teenager and didn’t care what anyone thought about my religion – I was so brave and enthusiastic about teaching others about this great subject I thought I knew everything about.

Last week I asked for Samhain off from work, because I plan on having a giant feast for my mother, boyfriend, and myself. (Fortunately I have a great relationship with my mother and am completely out with her, who raised me with her own brand of Buddhist/Taoist/Pagan/Methodist beliefs.) One of my co-workers was standing there, and asked “Do you have a party to go to that night?”

I froze.

I was terrified.

“No,” I replied, hoping we could leave it at that.

“Oh, you have kids! You’re going to take them out that night,” she guessed.

“No,” I said. “It’s… Sort of a religious holiday for me.”

I prayed silently that we could leave it at that.

“Well, what kind of religious holiday?”

It was at this point that I was getting more and more worried about what she’d think of me. Of course the smart-alek in me wanted to say, “I’ll sacrifice puppies to my Dark Lord.” I managed to keep myself from saying it.

Instead my mind fortunately jumped to the next (better) answer - One that could easily be written off as Catholic due to All Saints Day or any other possibilities. I found myself explaining as carefully as possible, “I celebrate my ancestors and those that have passed on that night. I hope to have a big dinner that night, so I want the day off to prep for it.”

Thank the Goddess, she didn’t ask any more about my religion! I was so relieved. Instead we went on to talk about dinner parties, then I scurried away to clean out a fitting room.

It was later that evening that the whole situation really started to get to me. I started questioning exactly what it was that made me so nervous about it. Granted, I don’t know the woman very well. We don’t work together all that often. But even my coworkers that I consider friends I don’t feel comfortable telling.

Could it be their crosses that they wear? Why can’t I wear a pentacle without worrying about it?

Could it be that I live in a place where the population is predominately Christian? And what do I even care what they think about me?

Could it be that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to believe that spirituality and religion, like politics, are personal things that you shouldn’t talk about? No, that couldn’t be it. I love religion and want to hear all about others.

So why, exactly, is it that I’m scared to be out of the broom closet? I do know that I’m annoyed when it’s assumed that I believe in Christianity. I do know that I’m not ashamed to believe in what I do.

I do know that I love my religion and wish more people understood it, but apparently I’d like someone else to do all the teaching to them.

Why is it that on my Facebook page, I have “Unitarian Universalist” as my religious beliefs instead of Pagan?

The fact is that I’m still pondering all of these questions. I’m trying to decide if I’m really truly uncomfortable with being in the broom closet at work or with people in general (many that knew I was a Pagan as a teenager). Maybe I’m not. Maybe my religion has taken a more private place in my life as it’s become more serious.

I still feel like it’s almost a sacred duty to teach others about Paganism. It’s important for others to understand that we aren’t all “sacrificing puppies to the Dark Lord.” But then maybe someone else would be better about it than me.

Me who had a very profound moment in life where I felt the calling towards ministry. Me who loves her religion. Me who actually loves religion in general and wants to know what other people believe, despite the fact that a lot of times they’d think I was going to hell if they knew the truth.

I’m a Pagan. I’m in the broom closet.

I have a lot of thinking to do.

4 comments:

mrsb said...

Great post! This prompt has had more of a response than any other. And every post that I've read so far has talked about being in the broom closet.

Though pagan beliefs are starting to seep into the mainstream, and more and more people recognize the words "Pagan" and "Wiccan", there is still so much misunderstanding about what they mean - and that bit of downright hostility in some situations.

I totally understand why so many people are "in the broom closet" for the safety of themselves, their children and/or their jobs. It's just so sad that it has to be this way.

Desiree said...

You don't sacrifice puppies, dear. Only bunnies. On the serious side, I am in the closet again, too. For a long time I wasn't and then I went through some big religious decisions and married a raging atheist who thinks my beliefs are crazy. This is tempting me to really come out on my blog but I know my husband will see it and that's uncomfortable. Thank you for being honest and open about it.

Meganne said...

Desiree, I completely understand about the atheist deal. My live-in boyfriend is a secular humanist, which is almost an out-and-out atheist. I'm out with him, but it's kind of an uncomfortable thing where I don't know how far to practice around him. And heaven knows I stay awake at night wondering what's going to happen when we have kids.

Stuff On My Blog said...

WHat helped me to come out of the closet was moving to another continent lol. Ok, I'll be serious now, it is HARD when there are established relationships that may be at risk by uttering the 3 little words 'I am pagan'! I never came out & told my mother or father, they lived across the country and it didn't affect them.

I did tell coworkers & friends (although admittedly my circle of friends has always been very small) and never had major dramas there. But it was always a bit nerve wracking.

However when I moved to Australia, I made a conscious decision to BE out. I didn't walk around with a dinner plate pentacle, but I did wear my small one out & proud. When people asked questions, I answered in plain english (no mysterious mumbo jumbo for me). When I met my now in laws, I made no secret of my faith (of course, all of their sons are pagan/ pagan leaning lol).

It's incredibly FREEING to not have the 'what if they find out who I am' issue hanging over ones' head.

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